The group stepped out of a tower at the edge of the city.
Leon gathered everyone’s attention, “There’s an underground passage through the Southern Mountains. I’ll lead the way.”
Walking with Nedim, Sara asked, “So, how did the Persians and Anubians come together?”
“It was during the Ancient War,” Nedim began, “Long before the Pelasgians ever stepped foot on Rhea. In that time, the other races were more powerful than either of us. My people and the Persians realized the only way to survive was to join forces. That’s how Hegira was formed.”
“Leon said Rhea united when the Pelasgians invaded.”
“That was only temporary,” Nedim said, “It’ll probably be the same thing this time too.”
Several yards ahead, Leon and Janah led the way.
“We both know the dangers involved,” Leon said.
“That’s why I volunteered,” Janah said, “You always get the exciting stuff.”
“Janah,” Leon said bewildered, “You’ve never even seen a Pelasgian, and I’ll tell you right now, there’s nothing exciting about them.”
Janah grinned, “To be honest, as nervous as I am, I’ve always wanted to kill one.”
Leon laughed, “You’re a great fighter, Janah. I’ll give you that, but don’t underestimate the Pelasgians.”
“Sara just needs to see the Shadow Realm, right,” Janah asked. “Avoiding any Pelasgian should be no problem. One step in, one step out.”
“Well, my friend let me tell you from experience,” Leon answered, “It’s never that easy. Plans never go according to plan.”
“Then I have to ask,” Janah said, “What kind of trouble do you think we can expect?”
“I could ask you the same,” Leon said, “Go ahead and try to think the worse and I bet you it’ll be a lot worse.
Kamala and Gillan were only a few feet behind Sara and Nedim.
“So, Sara, you’re a Guardian?” Gillan asked, “I’ve heard stories of your fighting prowess.”
Sara cocked an eyebrow, “I see my reputation precedes me.”
“I’m sure!” Gillan laughed.
“We’ve all heard of how cunning the Guardians can be,” Kamala said, “There are stories of how a small group of you once disguised yourselves and spied on us for several days. That’s why no one is allowed to wear their mask in the city anymore.”
Sara was stunned, “Really? I never heard of any assignment like that. Did you catch them?”
“No,” Kamala answered, “They escaped, or that’s what they say. I don’t know how we would survive without our ability to control the elements.”
“Can I see that?” Sara asked.
Slowing her pace, Kamala looked to the ground. With a wave of her hand, a melon-sized rock quickly floated over and hovered in mid-air just in front of her, “My caste, the Komodo, can control the earth.”
“I’ve heard.” Sara said, “The Typhon can control fire. The Draco, air. And the Leviathan-”
“Water,” Gillan said, forming a perfect, floating sphere of water in the palm of his hand.
Sara looked in awe, “Wait a minute. Where did that water come from? I thought you had to be within a certain distance.”
“Believe it or not, it’s in the air all around you,” Gillan said, “In small amounts, of course.”
“Well, good to know dehydration won’t be a problem,” Sara said, opening her canteen and holding it out for Gillan to place the water in.
Kamala cast the rock aside, “Of course, we have limits. Much like the Vesuvians, our level of control depends on the amount of practice.”
“At least you don’t need to drink blood,” Sara said.
Kamala and Gillan cringed at the thought.
The group passed the boundary of the city. Several yards away was an outcrop of boulders surrounding the entrance to an underground tunnel.
“Oy!” A Vesuvian cried out, running towards the group with Caycee right behind him.
“Darek?!” Leon said, “What are you doing?”
“We’re coming with, lad.” Darek answered.
Caycee was a little bit more dressed up, armed with a bow and arrows, and a rapier.
“I never would have figured you for an archer.” Sara said passively.
Caycee held her arms out and bowed, “In case you haven’t heard, the Siena are the greatest archers in the world.”
Leon scratched his head, “By the time we get to the Shadow Realm, we’re going to have an army.”
Darek grabbed Leon by the shoulder, “Why do you always want to go it alone?”
“The fewer people I have to worry about, the better,” Leon replied, “I’m going to take the lead, you cover the back.”
“Sure thing.” Darek said.
“Sara,” Leon called, “It’s going to be dark.”
Sara quickly gathered the material and used her flint to light the torches. In the cave, she could only see a few yards in front of her.
At first, the cave was short and narrow, but after several minutes, they came to sections that were as large as several houses and some that were absolutely enormous. Openings in the earth allowed for some extra light.
Sara was near the back of the group by Caycee and Darek, “Do you use this cave often?” she asked.
“Not anymore, really,” Caycee said, “It’s part of a much bigger system. There are dozens of ways in and out.”
“You could move an army through these caves.” Darek said.
After several hours, they came to a huge area with an amazing waterfall. A short distance further was a campsite with several large piles of wood strewn about.
“We’ll rest here,” Leon said.
The group set up a small campfire and told stories.
“So, there we were,” Gillan spoke, “The Typhon against the Leviathan. It was the final match to see who would be the grand champion. Fire against water!”
Kamala laughed, “You’re never going to let it go, are you? You just love telling this story.”
“It’s a good story!” Gillan insisted, “Anyways, the Typhon had to melt the Leviathan Glacier, and we had to stop the Typhon Komigi eruption. The Typhon were spitting their fire all over the place, pretty much engulfing the whole thing. We called up a huge storm around the mountain. Both sides were going at it for almost four minutes until-”
Kamala couldn’t resist, “Until Gillan thought it would be a good idea to take the Glacier and cap the Komigi with it!”
Gillan pumped both fists in the air, “We won!”
“Please!” Kamala waved.
“I got bonus points for originality!” Gillan declared.
“If ever there was a cheat.” Kamala said.
“Hey, the Typhon could have just as easily used Komigi to melt the Glacier.” Gillan pointed out.
Kamala turned to Sara, “It caused the biggest uproar in the history of the Element Games.”
Several in the group laughed.
“It sounds like your people are very powerful.” said Sara.
“Young Gillan here is considered something of a prodigy actually,” Kamala said.
Janah snickered, “Tell Sara about your Hybrid.”
Nedim groaned tiredly and lied down.
“Hybrid?” Sara wondered.
“A famous Khothu legend, “Gillan answered.
“My kind likes to tell stories about one who mastered all the elements.” Kamala said.
“It’s hard enough learning one element, let alone four.” Gillan added.
Kamala nodded, “But it’s becoming very common to find Khothu that can control two elements fluently. And there are a few old ones that know three.”
“Wow.” Sara said, “A Hybrid would be very powerful.”
Kamala nodded, “That’s what makes it a legend.”