After a hazy moment, Cobal found himself and his companions standing on the sand of the shore again, where they were the previous day. After a quick look around they saw the other spirit, which hadn’t introduced himself at all. Upon seeing them exit the gate his eyes went wide as he rushed to Kimi’thania. “I thought I’d never see you again, I was so worried.”
“I’m happy to be back here brother, thank you for waiting for me.”
“I would never leave you behind.” He smiled and hugged her again. He then turned his attention to Cobal. “It appears I’ve misjudged your character, I apologize for being rude to you earlier.”
Cobal shook his head. “Don’t worry about it, I’m happy I got you to change your mind in the end.”
Kimi took a step back and looked at her brother with a strange look on her face.
“Brother, I made a decision earlier. I want to go on a journey.”
Her brother looked at her, confused. “What do you mean, you only just came back here.”
“I know, but I feel like I should go with these people. I feel like there’s a reason they came here and saved me.”
“Let’s take a moment to think this through.” He turned to Mana, Cobal and Cassandra. “My name is Kori’thania, thank you all for saving my sister.
“A pleasure to meet you, Kori,” Mana said with a smile on her face. She looked up at the stars in the night’s sky and Cobal followed her gaze. “Let’s head back to town, we’ll see you two in the morning.”
Both spirits nodded and floated off a little ways away.
As they walked around Cobal remarked, “soon we’ll have an entire platoon of weirdos traveling with us.”
“The more, the merrier,” Cassandra replied.
“Just not too many,” Mana said. She looked over her shoulder. “Although one more than we have right now can’t hurt I suppose.”
The three made their way back to town and into the small inn they were staying at. There they could finally relax again.
“Long day?” The innkeeper asked. He’d dozed off in a corner of the room, but was woken up by the trio entering loudly.
“You can say that again,” Cassandra said, plopping down on one of the chairs, almost tipping it in the process. “There’s some crazy stuff going on near the beach.”
“Best stay away from it then,” the innkeeper said.
“Some beers please,” Cobal asked.
“Coming right up.” He stood up and went behind the bar.
“So, what do we want?” Cobal asked.
“I’m all for it,” Cassandra said.
Mana nodded. “I think it’s a good idea to have a more diverse group, it’ll make the journey more interesting.”
“It’s decided then,” Cobal said right as the bartender came over with their beer. They drank for a little while before heading off to bed.
They stayed in town for a while that day, and only went to go back to Kimi and her brother later in the day. Cobal bought some knives and other things that would help them traverse the dense forest ahead of them while Cassandra went and bothered the local blacksmith with all sorts of questions until she was kicked out eventually. Mana mostly stayed in her room, to the surprise of no one. Eventually they all congregated in the inn’s main room where after a late but quick lunch they decided to see if Kimi and Kori had made up their mind.
They found the two sitting on the torii gate, seemingly talking about something.
“Hey guys,” Cassandra said, waving at the two when they noticed their approach. They floated down to the trio.
“Any decision on what you’re going to do?” Cobal asked.
“You could always both come with us,” Cassandra offered.
Kori shook his head. “We talked about it at length last night. I’m not a traveler. I’ve called this place home for a very long time and I’ve grown accustomed to living on this beach. Someone needs to watch over this gate and make sure it stays here as a reminder of Lord Might and all he’s done for our country.” He looked at his sister with a smile on his face. “Kimi should go with you. But only if you promise to come and visit every so often.”
Kimi smiled. “Of course I will, as often as we come by these parts I’ll always come say hello.”
“And with that out of the way, let’s celebrate!” Kori said. “Follow me.”
Wondering what he meant with that, they followed him a little ways off to a grouping of trees. Next to it, in a small pit lined with rocks, was a fire going steady. There were some skinned rabbits and several vegetables lined up. “Time for some good food and music,” Kori said, looking at his sister. “It has been far too long since I’ve heard the music of Kimi’thania, the legendary spirit of music.”
Kimi blushed. “I’m not that legendary, I’m only just starting out.”
“Nonsense, I’ve not heard a more talented musician in my entire life and I’m not saying that just because you’re my sister.”
Cassandra popped up right next to them. “What kind of music do you play? Can your flute turn into any instrument you want or is it limited? Can you play every instrument? How does it work, is there a hidden mechanic of sorts?”
Kimi and Kori both exchanged a glance before bursting into laughter.
“Just wait and see,” Kori said, throwing another piece of timber on the fire as the sun slowly started setting.
Kimi took her flute from the satchel on her waist and held it in front of her. With a swift hand motion she grabbed the end of it and in a flash it turned into a small violin. “I call this piece Mighty Long Fall.” As she started playing a lovely tune they all talked, laughed and ate, for a moment forgetting about the journey and everything around them. When Cobal glanced at Mana he could see that even she seemed to be forgetting about being in a strange world for a little while and it was the first time he’d seen her that way. It truly made him feel happy for a moment. Their relationship had been very strained so far but they seemed to be on the right track. Perhaps they could eventually be friends as well. That was Cobal’s goal now.
As the evening progressed, Cobal found himself staring over the waves as Kori joined him on the rock he was sitting on. “You know, you have a very tough road ahead of you,” he said.
“I do, don’t I. She’s a handful for starters, but getting her to care about the kingdom and train at the same time is going to be difficult, isn’t it?”
Kori nodded. “I don’t know the specifics, but I believe she has reasons to be hesitant about trusting you and the kingdom. Something might have happened with Might that you and I don’t know about.” He looked at Cobal. “I fully believe you’re a good person with a good heart, but the royal family isn’t well received everywhere in this kingdom and I think that’s a very valuable thing to know about as you travel.”
Cobal thought about this for a while. Until recently he would have dismissed this as one disgruntled person, but now he wasn’t so sure. Kori seemed honest and he’d heard some talk here and there on the road. On top of that, Mana really didn’t seem to trust him early on and although that was improving, he felt that part of this was because they were so far removed from the royal capital. One of these days he would have to confront her about it. But for now he was enjoying the music and the moment. “I promise we’ll take good care of your sister,” Cobal said. He looked in the direction of the forest, which was still a while away, “as best as we can while traveling strange lands of course.”
Kori nodded. “I appreciate that, but she’s probably stronger than you so she might protect you more.”
Cobal laughed. “That’s good to know.” The sun had gone under and with no real energy to travel back to the inn they all just decided to sleep in the sand.
Morning came early as the sand wasn’t as comfortable in the morning when they were no longer tired. They woke up to the pleasant sound of waves hitting the sand though, which was reminiscent of their stay in Ravadier. Cobal thought he’d be the first one to wake up but when he woke Mana, Kimi and Kori had all woken up already. Mana was standing in the water, overlooking the waves. Kimi and Kori were out of sight. “What are you looking at?” Cobal asked Mana. She heard him approach and looked behind her for a moment before gazing back at the distance. “I saw in the capital that there are other continents out there and it makes me curious. This world is so vastly different from mine. Not that we didn’t have continents, but the layout of the world was very different from the maps I looked at. It kind of makes me wonder what’s out there.”
“Well, maybe one day we get to travel beyond this continent. But this continent isn’t small either, there’s a lot of places to visit here as well. As long as we remember that the survival of the kingdom is important too.”
Mana chuckled. “I doubt you’ll ever let me forget about that.” She turned around and faced him. “Shall we head towards the forest and find this sage then?”
Cobal nodded. “Let’s go.” They made their way back to where they were sleeping where Cassandra had been woken up by Kimi and Kori returning. “Everyone ready?” She asked.
They all nodded and after Kimi said her goodbyes to her brother they made their way north. The forest was only a couple days away and if the weather stayed nice it would be a quick journey. Now that they were four it really felt like a group and Cobal thought it was great that Mana was starting to open up more. Things were looking good.