Matthew stood on the deck of Nasir's ship. It wasn't that long ago that he felt the feel of the sea's wind rushing through his hair. He had spent only three months on Tellius before he had to turn around and head home. It was a good feeling thought despite the reasoning behind it. Soon he'd be back home and be able to see his mom and dad again. He hadn't really gotten to spend much time with them after his adventure on Weyard before he was sent off again. Would his dad still be in Kalay with mom and Ivan or would he be back at the cabin trying to get into Mt. Aleph?
They had already been at sea for a month and a half and were starting to get tired of one another. Lethe didn't look too excited about being on a boat. Matthew figured it was because she was a Cat Laguz and normal cats didn't like water to much. Ike spent his time working on gaining his strength back and sparring with anyone he could. Matthew had fought him yesterday and could tell that Ike was pretty much back at his normal level of strength, a month and a half of almost not stop training will do that for you. Nasir and Eoleo were both quiet and stayed near the ship's wheel most of the time taking turns and comparing the way the other ran a ship. Those two were really becoming pals over a thing as simple as sailing. Janaff took to the skies around the ship being one of the two on the boat that could actually leave the confined of the ship. Reyson joined him a lot but when Janaff wasn't flying around the ship he could be found flirting with Lucia, hardcore obvious as all anything flirting. Lucia was eating it up like no guy had ever paid her a compliment before. Which Matthew knew that wasn't the case as Ike talked something about a guy named Bastian who was just as much a flirt with Lucia as Janaff was being.
Rief had spent the first part of the journey fussing over Ike and Lethe the later suffering from seasickness. Now he spent his time reading books he'd gotten from Elincia and making sure the Lethe could keep her food down. Gatrie and Boyd were the ships trouble makers trying to keep everyone in light spirits by messing with the other ship members. They weren't helping though and ended up making the others simply mad with them instead. Rhys talked with anyone who needed an ear and was the most upbeat member of the group always wearing a smile on his face.
Matthew's saving grace on the ship was of course Sveta. They kept each other sane and from strangling Gatrie and Boyd. Nasir had been kind enough to give the two their wish and they shared a cabin. To prevent a lot of annoyance though neither of them spent much time in there except to sleep. Lucia was clearly annoyed that Nasir had let two dating teens share a cabin. If they did happen to spend any time together in their room it wasn't long before Lucia would come and interrupt them even though all they were doing was talking. Did she really expect them to go at each other on a ship full of people?
The remaining few weeks on the ship passed by slowly for those aboard. It was a glorious day when Janaff and his amazing eyesight spotted land on the horizon. Thanks to his insanely good sight though they were still hours off from landing. Everyone stood on the deck of the ship trying to be the first to spot the landmass. Well Lethe sort of hung over the side of the ship and waited to see if her last meal would be added to the churning waters below while Ike rubbed her back soothingly as he kept an eye out in the direction that Janaff had pointed earlier.
Boyd was the one that spotted land next and pointed it out to the others. Everyone shifted to see if they could get a better view. As they got closer to the land off in the distance Matthew could make out where they were exactly. They were approaching Nihan. Gaia Rock or as it was named by the citizens of Nihan, Mt. Mikage could be seen in the distance. Matthew had heard tales of his mom's journey to the mountain. They had fought a dragon there and his uncle had learned a new Psynergy called Sand that had proved to be helpful throughout their journey. In terms of Matthew's own journey to Yamata city where they had recruited Himi and started the quest for the Umbra Gear with her new Search Psynergy.
Matthew heard Nasir ask Eoleo what the island was and the pirate gave him the name of the small place. The largest settlement on it was Yamata City. Eoleo told Nasir that they would have to stop there and let Susa, Himi's father, know where she was at. Nasir understood Eoleo's request and the group needed to stock up on supplies anyway. They still had enough food for a few more days but it would be nice to gather some fresh supplies to go with them and eat real food in Yamata. Like they had to do in most places on Weyard Nasir had to drop anchor at a nearby beach and they took two rowboats, which they had made sure to have, to the beach. It was the first time anyone Tellius had set foot on Weyard soil.
They headed through the open areas and were met with a true Weyard greeting. Bulky Bugmen and Vile Dirges had surrounded them in no time flat. The giant purple beetle like insects and the blue winged avians wasted no time in trying to turn the heroes into their lunch. Ike sent waves of energy off of Ragnell and into the nearest Bulky Bugman the energy tearing into the hard shell and reducing the creature to a slop of bug juice. In only a minute the entire swarm of bugs and birds were gone. The Tellieans were great in the fight not letting the monsters catch them off guard.
"So you guys dealt with those things during your journey?" Boyd asked cleaning the bug guts off of his silver axe.
"Yep." Matthew answered. "These guys were pretty strong when we first came across them. The more often we passed through the easier they became. You've guys seen the Eclipse monsters we faced. We didn't run into anything stronger than those so you should be fine."
"I hope our weapons hold up then." Lucia said noticing the niches in her silver sword.
Matthew dug into his pack and brought out a small notebook titled Shops of Weyard. He leafed through the pages until he came to the one he was looking for. Matthew read down the page before he looked up at the group.
"Well since we'll be stopping in Yamata City you guys should stop by the armory and pick up a weapon. I'm sorry Gatrie but no one here sells lances. In fact I don't think anyone tried to sell us lances." Matthew said.
"We still have some mythril silver though that we can take to great-grandma to have her forge something for him." Eoleo said reaching into his own pack to pull out the item.
"Should we really give Gatrie a weapon forged by Obaba though?" Rief asked the other Adepts. "She makes really powerful weapons after all."
"We also don not know if she will even take a request. She normally just made what she felt we needed." Sveta added.
"We have a ways before we reach Champa so let's wait until we head out to sea again before we decided if we have Obaba forge Gatrie a weapon." Matthew said.
"You are forgetting one thing though Matthew. We don't have that much gold on us." Soren pointed out holding up a small bag of coins. "We spent most of what we had buying tomes and staves along with elixirs, vulneraries, and food for the journey."
"Check the bodies of the monsters." Matthew instructed. "They love shiny objects and most likely have a bit of gold with them."
Sure enough tucked in the shells of the Bulky Bugmen were piles of gold. Matthew informed them that the Vile Dirges most likely swallowed the gold and they had only taken gold out of their stomachs when they had been really desperate for money. They had also drawn sticks to see who had the messy chore of doing that job during their adventures. The Tellians agreed that they weren't that in need of gold at the moment and took only from the Bulky Bugmen. Sveta did spot a Sacred Feather on one of the Dirges though and plucked the lighter blue feather from the monster. Psynergy in the air would gather in the feathers of monsters and produce such an item. Sveta tossed the feather into the air and it shone with a light that bathed everyone.
"That should prevent more monsters from attacking us. They don't like the Psynergy aura the feather creates." Rief explained to the confused.
Thanks to the effects of the Sacred Feather the rest of the walk to the city was met without incident. Entering the town Matthew pointed them in the direction of the shop. Lucia and Boyd would head over to pick up new weapons. Soren went to hand over the small sack of gold they had left but Matthew stopped him. Reaching into his pouch Matthew produced a smaller pouch that held his own gold. He tossed it to Lucia trusting her with it over Boyd. He told them to check the artifact section of the store as they had sold a few rare items at the shop that might still be there. Ike shouted after them to make sure to find out what the item was for as an item such as an Elixir might have a different effect than they thought. When asked how Ike knew that he simply reminded them that he had traveled with Felix to many other lands. Lucia and Boyd were to meet up with them at the palace up ahead.
Matthew led the rest of the group to the palace where Susa and his wife Kushinada would surely be. As they passed a pair of guards Matthew stopped them to let them know that a woman with long blue hair and a man with dark green hair would be coming in after them soon enough. The guards assured Matthew that his friends would be allowed inside without hassle. As the laguz walked past the guards Reyson and Janaff were given odd looks as no one had seen a bird beastman before. Lethe for once didn't get a second look at all as the people of Yamata City just thought her as another one of the beastmen like Sveta.
Once actually in the palace they walked up stairs to where Kushinada had lead the prayer vigil when Himi had collapsed into her coma. While there wasn't a prayer vigil going on there were the sounds of people praying. Kushinada was knelt before the altar alone chanting. She stopped when she heard the thundering footsteps of everyone walking up the stairs. Let's face it a group that large isn't going up a set of stairs quietly. Kushinada got up and faced the group of heroes. Like her guards she was a little taken aback by the sight of the Bird Tribe members.
She spoke in a quiet voice that had a ring of authority to it. "Where is my daughter?"
"Is Susa around I'd like to explain it to you both at one." Eoleo requested.
"I will fetch him, please wait here." Kushinada said as she left the room.
"That's Himi's mother?" Boyd asked.
"Yeah. Kushinada. Why do you ask?" Eoleo answered.
"Well Himi's loud and she looks like a quiet lady." Janaff said gesturing in the direction Kushinada went.
"WHERE'S MY DAUGHTER?!" Susa's voice was recognizable to the Adepts and they cringed as Susa came storming down the hall.
"Himi takes after her father." Eoleo told Janaff but it wasn't really necessary anymore.
"YOU!" Susa shouted pointing at Eoleo. "You promised me my daughter would be safe if she traveled with you!"
"Calm down Susa." Eoleo said. "Himi is just fine."
"THEN WHERE IS SHE?!"
"Well you see..." Eoleo, Pirate King of the Eastern sea, was slightly scared at what Susa's reaction would be when he told him that Himi was still across the sea staying with in country full of beastmen-like people. "Himi has some things that she still needs to get done over across the sea. She's staying with a good friend of ours and she's in the best care Susa I promise."
"I can vouch for that." Ike said. "It's my friend Ranulf that's looking after her and you won't find anyone better to protect your daughter than him."
"Sorry if I do not take you at your word sir but I have no clue who you are and cannot tell if you can actually vouch for this, Ranulf." Susa said in a calm but highly irritated tone.
"Susa." Matthew spoke drawing the man's attention to him. "You know my Uncle Felix right? He helped you thirty years ago to defeat the Serpent."
"What does your Uncle have to do with anything young Matthew?" Susa questioned.
"My Uncle traveled with Ike and they became friends." Matthew explained.
"Is this true sir?" Susa asked turning to Ike.
"For a long time it was just Felix and I traveling together and I would say that I'm his friend." Ike answered.
"Hmmm." Susa murmured as the thought. "I suppose if Felix trusted you enough to travel with you than you are a man of good character and would not lie to me about the safety of my daughter."
"She's in the hands of some of the strongest people I know." Ike said trying to reassure Susa that his daughter was in good hands.
"She better be." Susa said in a tone that made it clear the conversation about Himi was settled. "Now what brings you to Yamata City?"
"We need a few supplies before we head off to Kalay." Eoleo told him.
"Thank you Eoleo for bringing news of my daughter. You are all welcome to stay here for the night." Susa said to the group.
The group thanked Susa for his generosity. As everyone exited the palace Lucia and Boyd were walking up the stairs both were sporting new weapons. Dangling on Lucia's waist was a blade that Matthew remembered Amiti using a lot, a Tisiphone Edge. There were a few of them in the world and they were found in odd places such as the inside of a Great Dragon from their time at Crossbone Isle. Bouncing against Boyd's back was the Giant Axe. Matthew's team had only eve found the one at a shop. Once Eoleo had gotten his Herculean Axe they had sold the Giant Axe here in Yamata City while they were stocking up on herbs and the like. Matthew wondered if the two would be able to use the unleash powers of the weapons or if it was something only Adepts could perform.
Ike filled them both in on what had happened and told them that they were going to be staying the night at the palace. Boyd practically leapt into the air with excitement at being able to sleep in a real bed again instead of the bunk he had on the ship. Everyone set off to explore the city and for the Tellieans it was a great getting to experience an entirely new culture. The Adepts walked around talking with the citizens of Yamata City to see if they were having any problems with the Tuaparang. Nothing was amiss in the city but they had heard of a few people going to Mt. Mikage and running into monsters that weren't normal around there. It looked like they were going to be paying Gaia Rock a little visit before they set off for Kalay. With any luck Matthew hoped that he'd be able to learn the Sand Psynergy like his Uncle did the last time he was there.
After talking with Ike and Soren it was agreed that a team of five would head over to Gaia Rock and see what was going on over there. Soren wasn't exactly thrilled about taking the extra time to investigate a silly town's worries but when Matthew made told the Arch Sage that there was a good chance he could learn a new Psynergy the tactician was more open to the idea. The team that would be going was Lucia, Boyd, Matthew, Rief, and Sveta. The first two wanted to come so that they could get used to their new weapons before they had to face the Tuaparang with them.
Quickly heading out of Yamata City the five warriors headed towards the large mountain that dominated the island nation. A few more of the Bulky Bugmen and Vile Dirges tried to attack the small group but they all met a quick end at the hands of experienced fighters. Reaching the mountain the five stood outside the entrance but so far had not noticed anything out of the ordinary. It seemed that they would have to traverse the inside of Gaia Rock in order to find what the people of Yamata City had been talking about. Walking into the cave opening everyone stood ready for what might leap out of the shadows. There were a few unlit torches on the walls as they headed in signs that the people of the island still frequented the cave. With a bit of flint they lit the first torch and took it with them lighting the passageway as they went.
Scuttling sounds echoed in the dark cave and Matthew could feel the presence of monsters. It was the simple sense of a trained warrior alerting him to the shifting in the dark reaches of the cave. They reached a passageway where a few stones laid in their way. Matthew used his Move Psynergy to remove the obstacle from their path. Then they came to a room with three exits plus the way they just came. Growing in the center of the room was a small flour leaf clover looking plant.
"Alright which way?" Lucia asked as they stood in the middle of the room trying to figure out which path was the best.
"What's with the plant?" Boyd asked as the clover twitched in the still air.
Matthew, resident Venus Adept, took a look at the moving plant. There was no reason for the plant to be moving. Curious as to what would happen Matthew supplied the small plant with a tiny bit of Psynergy. One of leaves started changing as it absorbed the Psynergy when it had its fill the leaf changed into an arrow shape pointing towards one of the exits.
"Uh well. That's what's with the plant Boyd." Matthew answered.
"Do we?" Sveta questioned.
"Don't see why not." Rief said with a shrug.
The five took the doorway that the plant was pointing to and came into another room that looked like a carbon copy of the room they had just left. Matthew approached the plant in the center and supplied it with Psynergy again. Like before the plant grew an arrow pointing in another direction this time. This time they didn't question the decision of following directions from plants and headed through the door. After a few more rooms of casting Growth on plants the gang came out into a hallway littered with pieces of metal. Without a word everyone took out their weapons and prepared for what might be at the end of the hall.
Coming out at the end there was a large room with four crystals and a giant dragon statue in the center. The detail on the statue was amazing. Matthew could see every little scale and even a few gashes like it had been in a battle. Those two things looked natural in the room. All around the rest of the room were machines that were hooked up to the four shining crystals and the dragon statue. There was a great whirring sound as the machines did whatever it is they were doing. A few Tuaparang grunts stood at the machines fiddling with the dials and making sure that everything in the room was going according to their plan.
Before they could start their approach on the Tuaparang soldiers Eclipse monsters appeared out of the shadows. It looked like the people of Yamata City had been right about different monsters being here. Cursed Soldiers and a few Fenrirs appeared and the Soldiers started the assault on the heroes. Lucia's Tisiphone Edge met black steel of a Cursed Soldier and the two started a duel. The others were soon engaged in their own fights. The Fenrir monsters were savage in their attacks biting at the legs of the fighters. The Soldiers would charge in and start trying to cut one of the heroes in half while the Fenrir kept trying to go after their legs. It made for a very tough fight having to fend off sword attacks and teeth from two separate monsters. The three Adepts didn't want to use their Psynergy in case any of the Tuaparang grunts over by the statue turned out to be an Umbra Adept in disguise. While it took them awhile to defeat the Eclipse fiends they did manage. All five were a little out of breath from the attacks of the two monster types.
Turning their attention towards the still working Tuaparang they all heard the clicking sounds of crossbows bolts being loaded in. Boyd cursed as everyone looked up to find the ceiling hold a dozen or so Tuaparang soldiers hanging by their grappling hooks their crossbows all trained on the five. Saving Psynergy no longer mattered to Matthew and he let loose a Stone Spire. The stones appeared from the ceiling directly above the hanging Tuaparang and dropped down. Rief and Sveta unleashed Ice Missile and Destruct Ray on the fallen soldiers making sure they wouldn't be getting back up any time soon if at all. Now they had the full attention of the working Tuaparang.
"Don't let them get to the machines!" one of them cried grabbing a crossbow from a nearby desk and loading it with a bolt from his belt.
The twenty plus workers all produced weapons. Six of them had long swords and the thicker armor. As Lucia charged forth into the fray she dodged bolts like she could see them coming at her. Boyd wasn't far behind her trying to close the distance as bolts flew at them both. The Adepts supported the two Tellieans with Psynergy. Matthew used Earthquake to try and get the grunts off balance and caused a small number to fall to the ground before they could fire their weapons again. A raging Tornado appeared within the group as Frostbite started to crystalize in the air around the soldiers before it exploded outward in a spiky ball.
Lucia's Tisiphone Edge started to glow and it let out a cry as energy inside came out in the form of the sword's Vorpal Slash attack as Lucia attacked one of the heavier armored Tuaparang. The unleashed attack managed to hit one of the other soldiers next to Lucia's original target. At the same time Lucia's weapon performed an unleash Boyd's Giant Axe did the same. Stones leapt up from the ground and followed the Giant Axe as Boyd tried to cleave a normal Tuaparang's crossbow. The axe blade made quick work of the weapon and the stones slammed into the wielder with enough force to knock him out. Matthew no longer needed to wonder if non-Adepts could trigger a weapons unleash even though Felix had told him that they would be able to. Maybe it was with the newer weapons that had been forged after the release of Alchemy that could unleash no matter whom used them. Either way the Tuaparang were getting their butts handed to them by the team of five.
When there were just three crossbow wielding soldiers left a purple light appeared on one of the machines. A great rumbling filled the room as the dragon statue began to glow with the same eerie purple light. Cracks ran up and down the statue and soon it was no longer a statue but a living breathing very hungry green scaled dragon. If Matthew had a free hand he would have smacked himself silly for not realizing that the so called statue had in fact been the petrified remains of the Serpent that his mother and uncle defeated alongside Sheba and Piers. Now somehow the Tuaparang had revived it from its stony state. The four crystals that shone around the Serpent shattered along with the stone that had incased the Serpent. Now remembering the story that his mother had told him they had used the light of those stones to weaken the Serpent before fighting it and that was after Susa had been feeding it Dragonsbane.
From what his mother had told him Matthew knew that the Serpent had an ability to regenerate even in its weakened state. Matthew only hoped that having just awakened the Serpent wouldn't be at its full strength. An earth shattering roar echoed throughout the room as the Serpent woke from its sleep. What was odd looking about the creature though was a black collar wrapped around its neck. One of the remaining Tuaparang let out a laugh as he took something out from a pouch on his belt. It was a black rectangle box with a dial on it. The soldier turned the dial and the Serpent roared louder as if something was now causing it pain.
"Now my beast, attack these invaders." The soldier holding the device said.
Instead of heeding the commands of the man the Serpent turned him into a thirty year late lunch. Armor and all went down the creature's gullet after a few seconds of crunching. Rather than try to command the Serpent like their fellow soldier did the remaining two Tuaparang members tried to make a run for it and one ended up under the beast's claws while the other met the same fate as the man with the device had.
"We really should help him." Matthew said pointing the Sol Blade at the trapped Tuaparang soldier.
"I suppose we should." Boyd agreed hefting the Giant Axe onto his shoulder.
With a cry the two charged the Serpent trying to get its attention away from the man under its claw. The tactic worked like a charm, maybe too well in fact. A long green tail came whipping around from the back of the monster and slammed Boyd right into Matthew. The sheer momentum they were hit with sent them flying into the wall. Rief was next to them so fast you would have though he had the Teleport Lapis in his possession. Casting Pure Wish on the two Rief helped them back onto their feet. Sveta and Lucia were now trying their luck at an assault on the green scaled Tuaparang eating fiend. Their attack went much better than Boyd and Mattthew's. When the tail came whipping around again the both leapt over it like it was nothing. A light purple energy surrounded Sveta's fist as she slammed her Umbra Knuckles into the Serpents face. There was a flash of a Jupiter Djinn as her fist connected and lighting shot through the monster. Lucia's blade cut deep into the back of the creature causing it to roar in agony as pain rippled through its body. Both girls jumped away from it as its jaws tried to shut around them.
That's when things became disheartening. Scales started to grow over where Lucia had slashed and the scales scorched from the lightning of Sveta's Djinn faded away leaving the Serpent looking even better than it did when it had first woken up. Well Jenna certainly hadn't exaggerated the healing abilities of the Serpent. Matthew readied Ivy. He hoped that the Djinn would be able to not only hold the Serpent still but also prevent it from healing. It was a long shot but it wasn't like there was a blaringly obvious another option. Golden yellow energy gathered above the Serpent as Ivy released its power.
"Now!" Matthew shouted.
Rief and Sveta had seen the Djinn appearance and had already readied their attacks. Sveta transformed into her beast form and dashed forward with incredible speed. Her claws tore into the hide of the Serpent. The earth around the Serpent opened up as the power of Mother Gaia erupted below it slamming stone and Venus energy into the frozen maw of the beast. Boyd and Lucia joined Sveta in her attack on the beast. Rief cast Ice Missile causing dagger like shards of ice to appear and tear into the hide of the Serpent. Once their Psynergy faded away Matthew and Rief leapt into the battle with the others and used their Djinn to cause as much damage to their foe as they could before the effects of Ivy wore off. It wasn't long after the two joined that said Djinn's power started to fail. They all unleashed one more attack on the Serpent before the jumped back and out of the way.
Sveta reverted back to her normal self to save her Djinn from draining as they waited to see what was going to happen. With another mighty roar the Serpent shook off the last effects of Ivy and started to turn to stone from the claws up. The Tuaparang grunt was still stuck under the petrifying claw and wailed as he realized he wasn't going to get out of there anytime soon. Realizing its death was soon at hand the Serpent stuck its neck out as far as it could and tried to bite Matthew in two. Before it could even attempt a snap the dragon was once again stone. Everyone walked over to the stone claw holding a Tuaparang soldier.
"I have a deal for you." Lucia said to him as she glared down. "You tell us what you were doing here and we'll get you out from under there."
"Deal!" the man said quickly. "This group is part of a team that's trying to gain control of all of Weyard's stronger monsters. I don't know the specifics, I'm just a soldier, but every few days a squad would come in with Psynergy Crystals to power the machines. I heard that they supplied the Serpent with Psynergy that it would need to revive itself. The collar on its neck was supposed to help control it but we all saw how well that worked. There that's all I know now get me out of here!" he pleaded.
"Sveta would you mind checking his story?" Lucia asked the Jupiter Adept.
"Not at all." Sveta replied as she closed her eyes. Rief and Matthew felt the use of Spirit Sense and could see the thought waves being transferred to Sveta as she dived into the man's mind. "He speaks the truth." Was all she said.
"Boyd." Lucia commanded.
The Reaver took his axe and slammed it into the Serpent's petrified claw. Stone chips flew through the air as Boyd did what someone should have done thirty years ago. Felix's old team really should have done something about the petrified remains of the Serpent just in case this ever happened. The Tuaparang soldier tried to hightail it out of there but was caught by the collar of his undershirt. Lucia held firmly onto the man as she turned him to face her.
"I said we'd get you out from under the claw. I never said you were free to go." Lucia told him. In the blink of an eye she unwrapped the cloth belt the soldier wore and used it to tie his hands behind his back. "Let's go back to Yamata City shall we?" she asked everyone with a small smile.
"Damn that was awesome." Boyd said in reference to Lucia's capture.