“Sell it? Ocarinas are quite expensive in these days. And this one is special,” Minerva said.
“The price doesn’t matter!” Sara insisted.
“Twenty million Stallias,” the old wizard said.
“Hey!” Sara claimed.
“Calm down, girl. It was just a prank. Take it if you want. I know it will be useful in the future,” Minerva said.
“Really? Thanks!” Sara cheered, as she obtained the thing she had been saving money for. She even hugged Minerva.
“This is weird. She usually doesn’t talk to anyone,” Eric whispered to Subaru.
“Oh, yeah? Who cares,” Subaru said. He looked worried.
“I mean it. I hope to see you again in Terranide,” Minerva said.
“Sure!” Sara said, filled with joy.
The old lady disappears right in front of the crowd. They all gasp in surprise.
“What a weird old hag,” Andrés mentioned.
“What is that thing for, milady?” Eric asked.
“Ocarinas are rare magical artifacts that allow the user to teleport to places on their memory,” Sara explained.
“Good. Now let’s get going. It’s getting late, and I’m worried about…” Subaru said.
“Don’t even say it, please. I believe we were thinking about the same thing,” Iris said. She was nervous as well.
“I promise to help as much as I can,” Eric told Sara.
“Yeah, yeah. Don’t look at me that weird,” Sara said.
The knights and the villagers wave their hands.
“We’ll come back! We still need supplies!” Subaru exclaimed, as he waved his hand.
“That was a bit rude…” Iris said, as she waves her hand and forces a smile.
“I will miss you, Eric!” Sophie cried.
The group rides a chariot to the northwest. The forest was getting a bit creepy as the sun was dyeing orange the afternoon skies.
“It’s good they lent us this chariot. I’m too tired to walk, and Mr. Knight here has some severe injuries. My potions aren’t as effective as my grandpa’s. If your wounds open once more, you are dead,” Sara said.
“Seriously?” Eric asked. He turned pale.
“Just kidding. My potions may not be as good, but this kingdom has really good herbs and mushrooms growing all over the place,” Sara said. She was eating an apple, and stared at Eric because he annoyed her just for being there.
After a while, the temple is finally at sight. Eric stops the chariot.
“Its doors are really sturdy. I cannot open it by force, and I think they are even repel magic. The only way to get inside requires the use of this key,” Eric said.
The knight inserts the key in a stone mechanism. The doors slowly open to reveal an amazing sight. Eric couldn’t believe it.
“This is horrible! Who could have done this?” Eric said.
“What a huge pit! I can’t even see its bottom!” Subaru exclaimed. The floor of the temple was completely gone. A dim light was at the bottom. “It seems something dug this thing.”
“Could this be Carlos’ doing?” Iris asked.
“No, that king was too greedy. We would have found the gemstone in his room. The compass points east now… Could the gemstone be moving underground?” Sara warned the group.
“It makes sense now. This was dug by the mole men,” Eric said.
“Mole men?” Sara asked.
“Do they even exist?” Iris asked.
“There is one legend in Terranide about them,” Eric added.
“Great… Another legend…” Sara said. She was upset.
“Excuse me, my princess,” Eric blushed.
“Eric’s cute when he blushes. Someone is in love,” Iris said.
Sara is astonished by her statement, and Eric is embarrassed.
“Hey, Iris!” Sara claims.
“Now Sara blushed!” Subaru mocked.
“Whatever… The gemstone isn’t here. We should go inside that pit and follow whatever stole it. Go ahead and tell your stupid legend now, Mr. Knight,” Sara said, upset.
“Yes, milady. It is said that many creatures live under Terranide. But the most dangerous creature that inhabit the underground are the mole men. They are humanoid, with brown fur covering their bodies, and huge claws they use to dig the soil.”
“So, do other creatures live there as well?” Subaru asked.
“Maybe elves… And dragons…” Eric said.
“Dragons!” Iris exclaimed. She jumped down inside the pit without even thinking about it.
“Are you crazy, Iris? Wait!” Subaru jumped after her.
“Hey! I don’t plan to do that! Earth Spell: Giant Jack!” Sara aims at the bottom of the pit. A huge stem grows, and Sara and Eric grab it. The stem starts to shrink and takes them safely to the lower level.
“Are you injured?” Eric asked Iris.
“These huge mushrooms here helped us withstand the fall,” Iris said. There were some bioluminescent mushrooms at the bottom, they came in all sizes, and some of them were incredibly big.
“I just hope you don’t do that suicide jump again, Iris, even if it’s to find a dragon,” Subaru said.
“Oh, right! The dragons!” Iris exclaimed, looking around her. It was a series of tunnels, so it was hard to see anything.
“Let’s just follow the compass, Sara,” Subaru said.
“It seems to be pointing to the southeast, but it’s way too dak… I know! Light Spell: Beacon!” Sara said. The tip of her wand glows enough to safely explore the dark tunnels.
The group moves in the indicated direction. After walking for a while, an eerie light comes from inside a cave in front of them.
“That looks like fire. Stay alert,” Subaru warned them, and he unsheathed his new blaze sword.
“It might be an enemy group,” Eric said.
“They are coming!” Iris pointed out, as a shadowy figure approached them. It was followed by smaller creatures.
“Wait. Please do not attack us,” a cute female voice said.
“It’s an elf! And she comes with several gnomes!” Sara exclaimed. She had only read about them in books.
“My name is Tea, and these are my friends,” the elf said. She was a medium size humanoid creature of yellow skin. Her shoulder size hair, her eyes, and her clothes, they were all deep green. She had pointy ears.
Seven gnomes escorted her. They were really short, and they all looked exactly the same. They all had long white mustaches and beards, and they all wore green clothes and red conic hats.
“They are Lemon, Peach, Oolong, White, Green, Black, and the last one is Kukichang,” Tea added.
“Is it possible to tell the difference between them?” Sara said.
“What do you mean? They all are unique,” Tea replied.
“Do you live here?” Subaru asked her.
“We are forced to live down here. I am afraid the humans in this kingdom fear and hate the unknown,” Tea answered.
The group follows Tea to her underground village. The roots of great trees above covered the walls of the cave, and they glowed orange, just like fire.
“Amazing!” Subaru exclaimed.
“I can’t believe something this beautiful could hide under the ground,” Iris said.
“This is…” Eric said, enthralled by the beautiful scenery.
“Just like a fairy tale!” Sara exclaimed.
Groups of fairies danced above a crystal water lagoon in the middle of the village. Female and male elves played cheerful melodies on various instruments around a bonfire. Mushrooms of several sizes served them as tables and chairs for the inhabitants of that impressive place. More gnomes were in the village, but they looked exactly the same. Man flowers, grass, and small mushrooms covered the ground. There were some mossy boulders as well. Some trees were growing underground as well, and they had a metallic shine.
“Our magic lets the light and oxygen from above pass through the roots of the many trees in this kingdom, filling our village with life,” Tea explained.
“These trees here are like my armor. This must be Metalio, right?” Eric noticed.
“Correct. Metalio grows freely here. We also cultivate it and use it,” Tea replied.
“So, are you able to forge things with it?” Subaru asked.
“Gnomes are experts working with it. In fact, the armor you wear was a gift from gnomes to humans,” the elf answered.
“Excuse me, Tea. We are looking for a sacred gemstone. An elderly lady told us it was known as Rosa Esmeralda,” Sara asked.
“The gnomes saw a group of mole men earlier. They were carrying a green jewel,” Tea recalled.
“Do they live in this village?” Iris asked.
“No. We just use their tunnels, but they are hostile. We once suggested them to live together, but they attacked us. We defended ourselves with magic. Luckily, they seem to despise the smell of Metalio, so we started growing it,” Tea explained.
“They headed to their warren,” the seven gnomes said at the same time.
“Do you speak? At the same time? You are indeed unique!” Sara mocked.
“Let’s go after those mole men and get the gemstone. I’ve had a bad feeling for quite a while. I’d like to return to the ship soon,” Subaru said.
“Allow me to lead you there, please!” a male elf said. He was medium size. He had an athletic build, and he had green skin, red eyes and red short hair, and pointy ears. His clothes were brown.
“Are you sure, Soup?” Tea asked him, worried.
Meanwhile, Ronin and Akio keep an eye on Sephtis. They had never trusted him, and they knew he was hiding something.
“The Kingdom of Ysterim is one of the twelve western kingdoms recorded in books, but the island were we found him was completely empty. I’m pretty sure Sephtis lied to our naive friend Subaru,” Akio whispered.
“I agree. We all met in Lavastol and decided to become a pirate crew. This guy appeared out of nowhere and told us to go back to Solunar, and what for? I mean, Iris said he didn’t even leave the ship after we sailed all the way back there. Then, we met Kantaro and Sara, and their compass… And he said he had done whatever he wanted to do in Solunar. It does not make sense! Unless he is actually after the gemstones,” Ronin whispered.
A strong wind blows. Kantaro turns around and noticed the loyal crewmates of Subaru stare at them. Sephtis notices them as well.
“Ronin! Akio! Join us… We have some sake…” Sephtis said, with an evil grin.
“Why do you want to help us, Soup?” Iris asked.
“He looks like some sort of dragon man,” Sara said.
“I have a bone to pick with Molly, the mole men queen,” Soup said, he seemed to be mad.
“It is about his brother,” Tea mentioned.
“What happened to him?” Eric asked.
“He was kidnapped by the mole men! They wanted his magic to make all sort of magical objects,” Soup replied.
“I bet they kidnapped gnomes too. Since gnomes are good blacksmiths, they might be forcing one to forge artifacts. Then, thy force the elf to use his magic on them to give them magical attributes,” Sara analyzed.
“You are right. They also kidnapped the twin gnomes: Agaricus and Bisporus,” Tea said.
“Oh, Stew! I will make those mole men pay for what you have suffered,” Soup added.
“Why haven’t you saved him?” Subaru asked.
“You do not understand. The mole men forced them to make several magic artifacts, and they took them through different tunnels than the ones they usually use to mislead me. When I finally found them, they had been turned into stone statues,” Soup said, furious.
“They drained their magic?!” Sara screamed in horror.
“What do you mean, Sara?” Iris asked.
“Elves, gnomes, fairies, and many other magical beings are made of things like plants, clay, or flowers, and magical energy. There are some methods to extract that magic and exploit it, with evil intentions. After the magic is drained, they turn into stone,” Sara explained.
“I would love to ruin their plans, so helping you take the gemstone back from them will be a satisfying revenge for me,” Soup said.
“Elves are really peaceful. I’d have gone after them and beat the crap out of them,” Subaru said.
“Do not get me wrong, but you are just more violent than us. There are also dark elves out there. Also, if we could get back the magical objects they have, I can bring back my brother to life,” Soup said.
“So you want us to take by force what is rightfully yours?” Subaru asked.
“Please take care, Soup,” Tea said.
Soup guided the group through a seried of tunnels until they reach an enormous underground structure. It was like some sort of clay tower, with several entrances all over the place. Hundreds of figures surround the tower. Some odd rocks illuminated the structure.
“There are too many of them,” Sara whispered.
“This might not be an easy task,” Iris said.
“That is their main warren. I will wait for you here,” Soup said.
“Go ahead, Soup,” Subaru said.
“M-Me?” the elf replied, in a fearful tone.
“You know the place better. Besides, we are pirates, so I can’t guarantee we’ll help you after bringing us here,” Subaru said.
“I knew it. Humans are not to be trusted,” Soup said, upset.
“Wait, elf. I promise to help you get the artifacts, but I need you to do me a favor in return,” Eric said.
“What kind of favor?” Soup wondered.
“I need a sword, and a shield. Tea mentioned that gnomes are excellent working with Metalio, is that true?” the knight said.
“Sure. If you help me, I will convince Agaricus and Bisporus to forge a powerful sword and an unbreakable shield for you,” Soup replied with a smile.
“Then you have my word,” Eric said, and shook the hand of the elf.
“Great deal, Mr. Knight… But how are you going to find the magical objects that Soup is looking for? He has to go down there with us,” Sara pointed out. She was acting like a jerk again.
“I forgot it. I am probably the only one who can detect those artifacts… I see myself as a strong elf, but I will not be useful in battle,” the elf remembered. He didn’t really want to go there.
The group starts to descend.
“Ice Spell: Mist…” the young wizard pronounced. The cave is filled by a thick white fog.
“What is this?” a mole men asked. Eric runs through the cave and knocks out the confused creatures with his amazing strength.
The group runs after the knight.
“There is an entrance to the tower right there,” Soup said.
The pirates and the elf enter the warren. Eric keeps knocking out the mole men he found with ease, and after descending through a series of even more tunnels, they finally reach the queen’s chamber.
“Who are you?” Molly asked. She was a mole woman, of red curly hair, brown fur, white eyes with no iris to be seen, a star-shaped nose, and a somewhat chubby appearance. She wore what seemed to be an iron crown on her head, and white robes.
“M-My name is Soup, and I came here to t-take back my brother’s magic,” the elf said. His legs were shaking. The queen couldn’t help but laugh.
“And what are you going to do about that? A pacifist coward like you can do nothing!” the queen mocked.
“He might not do anything, but we will. Besides, we are here to take the gemstone you stole from the temple,” Sara said.
“Gemstone? That pretty green rock is now mine!” Molly yelled. She makes a weird sound, and the ground starts shaking.
“There are enemies under us,” Soup warned.
Three mole men emerge from the ground.
“Here we are,” an enormous creature said. It was quite larger and more muscular than any other mole men they had seen. He looked like a mole man doppelganger of Ulises. It wore a green helmet.
“Intruders, huh?” a mole man with a yellow helmet said. It looked just like the other mole men, but it had a creepy, evil grin.
“I will bury them alive!” a mole man with a red helmet said. It looked normal as well, but its claws were larger. It arched its back.
“These are my elite warriors: Mauro, he who wears green, as strong as ten mole men; Topaz, he who wears yellow, my tactician; and Monda, he who wears red, the best digger. Now, kill them! But capture the elf alive. I want more magical objects,” the queen said.
“I can feel his magic. It is hidden on the warrior’s helmets and the queen’s crown!” Soup warned.
Molly takes a small stone chest that was near her iron throne, and she flees through a tunnel right behind it.
“That must be the gemstone!” Sara noticed, and runs after her.
“Where are you going?” Mauro gets in her way, and attempts to catch Sara with his strong arms. The mole man is sent flying out of the clay structure as Eric punched him with all his might. Eric gets out through the hole he left in the wall.
“Are you strong? So am I,” Eric said, defying him.
“That did not even hurt, boy” Mauro stands up.
Topaz and Monda run after Sara, but Subaru threatened Topaz with his flaming sword, and Iris makes Monda trip up by kicking his leg. Sara ignores them and runs after the sluggish queen.
“Calm down. Let’s fight in a different room. This is the holy chamber of our queen. Please respect that, and follow me,” Topaz said.
“Whatever… Soup, I want you to help Iris, unless you don’t want to get those helmets back,” Subaru said. Soup gulped, nervous, as the captain left the chamber. Topaz was leading the pirate with an evil grin on his face.
“I guess Topaz is right. Let’s fight somewhere else. I do not want to cover this chamber with your dirty blood,” Monda said. The mole man leads them to another room. Iris and Soup follow him, as he descends to a lower cavern.
Sara uses her freezing spells against the mole men that got on her way.
“There are too many… I guess I’m still weak after casting Ice Princess earlier… I’ve used too many spells today…” Sara said, as she starts to look exhausted.
“You will never get this stone! It is mine!” Molly exclaimed.
“Come back here, you rat!” Sara exclaimed, and keeps running after her while freezing the mole men who shielded the queen.
“I bet you want the reward for this stone as well, but it is mine!” Molly yelled, as she kept running.
“Reward?” Sara inquired.
“At dawn, a mysterious woman appeared out of nowhere while I was sleeping. It was an astral projection, actually… By the way, she was so ugly…” the queen remembered.
“Molly, right?” a sexy female voice asked. The queen slowly opened her eyes, and she gasps in surprise.
A tall woman, possibly one of the sexiest woman to have ever existed, was floating over her bed. She had short, scarlet hair that didn’t even reach her shoulders. Her skin was pale white. Her bloody-red lips were as sensual as her deep black eyes. Her hips and breasts made her waist seem non-existent. It was hard to imagine how many men have lost their minds thinking about her elegant body, as she wore a revealing, long black dress. She can only be described in modern age terms as a model, a femme fatale.
“Who are you?” Molly yelled.
“It doesn’t matter who I am. I need you to help me get something,” the mysterious woman said.
“Why should I help you? I am a queen! Get out!”
“I thought you’d say that, but you are just the queen of the mole men. I mean, you are not a true queen,” the woman said.
“Insolent!” Molly yelled. She made the weird noise that she uses to summon her warriors.
“You are wasting their time. Only you can see me. I’m talking to you through a powerful magic spell, from a distant kingdom. What you see in front of your eyes, it’s a plain illusion.”
The warriors emerge from the ground.
“Sorry. It was a nightmare,” Molly lied.
“Ugh… Good night, my queen,” Topaz said in disappointment.
The three warriors leave the chamber.
“That’s better… One of my men is on Terranide. I just want you to enter the temple of Rosa Esmeralda, and deliver the gemstone to him. Of course, I don’t expect you to do it for free… I know your desires, your wishes, and I can make them come true,” the mysterious woman said. She smiled, revealing her large fangs.
“Really?” Molly asked.
“My biggest wish is… Begone, nosey kid! I am sick of running” Molly said, turning around to face the wizard. Sara was surprised, and she wondered who could be after the gemstones.