Questis Geshtar, part 1: The past's future
by Kaeli
He awoke in a soft bed, burning up because of the fever which haunted him. The first thing he felt was pain, nothing but pain that seemed to lurk everywhere in his body. Each of his limbs was numbed by dozens of wounds. Even remaining conscious was hard: he lacked the strength to keep himself from slipping away into his dreamless sleep. Deeper and deeper he fell, into the darkness that his mind had become. All sorts of questions came into his thoughts: "Who am I? Where am I? Do I belong here?" But he had no answers... yet...
- "Oh, Seyma, he's waking up!"
- "Good work, mother. Do you think he'll fully recover?"
- "I hope so... That piece of scrap hit the soil real hard. Maybe he'll have amnesia."
- "Oh, that wouldn't be good. Wait, he's trying to say something!!"
His lips moved, forming three words. Every letter seemed to deliver him great anguish. And Seyma, the young woman whose mother had healed his wounds, heard them: "Cleanse... Geshtar's... soul..."
Seyma felt a shiver running down her spine. Geshtar was a name well known in the world: he had committed hundreds of atrocities as a mercenary in service of Emperor Vandole. Also being a master mechanic, he had built great war machines for the Empire's conquests. But, luckily, his machines were obliterated by Lorima's missile attack, and Geshtar himself was smashed by the Mana Knight and his friends. "Maybe this man was Geshtar's last victim?", she thought. He WAS found in a pile of broken machinery... He HAD been seriously wounded... But why that sentence? Why did he need to cleanse Geshtar's soul?
The wounded man slowly regained consciousness, thinking of only one thing: the phrase he had spoken. Geshtar had a familiar sound to it, but why? And why did he need to cleanse this man's soul? He needed to find out who he was, first. "Knowledge is power", a single thought came to him. Yes, he had to find out as much as he could about himself. Then he could go search for this Geshtar and help him.

Seyma saw the man slowly making progress. He was already eating good, healthy food (if baked Rabite with Healing Herbs could be called healthy...) and he was able to speak again. one night, as she came to bring him his dinner, he grabbed hold of her arm.
- "Tell me how you found me. It was you who found me, or wasn't it?"
- "Yes, I did find you. One day, after the Mana Knight Hopper had defeated the Mana Beast and smashed the opposing Imperial forces, I..."
- "Wait! Tell me about these Imperial forces!"
- "I suppose you know of the Empire, a large country not so far from here. Well, the Emperor was called Vandole. He was very ambitious, but wouldn't have resorted to using the Mana Fortress as a means to obtain total dominion by himself... No, Vandole was a man who sought power, but rather by bribing and diplomacy than through violence. All of that changed when he hired his four bodyguards: Thanatos, Sheex, Fanha and Geshtar. Sheex was an Underworld Demon, his real name was Aegragropollion. His summoner and lover, Fanha, was an archmage that had gone bad. Her powers existed through her ability to metamorph her body. Then, there was Thanatos: a vile wizard that was black to the bone. He was a spirit of many millennia in age, surviving by obtaining host bodies. And the fourth one, Geshtar, was a very extraordinary one. He possessed a great aversion of magic, so is said. He was a master mechanic, and a mercenary of the worst kind. When the Mana Knight went to the Sunken Continent, he met them. First, he faced Sheex, who was defeated when in his true form: a demon, a huge mouth on two thin legs. Then, he found the Emperor Vandole, dead, on the stairs to the Mana Seed. Killed by Fanha. When the Continent was rising, he faced Fanha, who fought him in a highly annoying form. She fought as Hexas, a naga woman mage. Not that it helped her: she too was defeated. Then, Geshtar showed up, fighting the heroes as a giant mechanical knight: he too was smashed. But it wasn't until the very last moment that the Mana Knight faced Thanatos, who had been forced to turn into the ultimate manifestation of his dark power: the Dark Lich. The Mana Knight fought valliantly and defeated him. Thus the root of the evil was extinguished. And when the Mana Beast fell, so was the main consequence of that evil."
- "Wow, I didn't know all this. I'm really learning. Now, you were saying how you found me?"
- "Uhm, yes I was. So, one day after the defeat of the Mana Beast, I went to enjoy the snow. It has snowed for two weeks, you know... I went outside, since it was very pleasant in the desert. And near the Fire Palace, I found you. You were nearly buried alive under a big heap of snow, metal and sand! I quickly dug you out and dragged you here... You were so gravely injured, I really thought you'd never recover. But my mother has taken very good care of you. She healed you, fed you, washed you..." Seyma saw the man blush. "You don't need to be shy, my mother has four adult sons, you know. My father has taken your armor and weapons with him for repair. He's gone to Gaia's Navel, where the dwarves live. They're master blacksmiths."
- "Thank you for all this care. Without you, I'd surely be dead."
- "Hey, it's my pleasure. You looked so vulnerable, I couldn't let you die out there..."
He started yawning, so she said good night and went to her mother. Two hours later, she went back to look. He was still awake, so she sat down next to him. He sought for her hand as he turned around to face her.
- "Why are you still up? Are you thinking of your history?"
- "I wish I could, I don't even remember my own name!"
- "Hey, tomorrow my father will be back, and he'll know what you can do and where you can go. He's a wise man, my father, he's a caretaker for Salamando and the Mana Seed in the Fire Palace. Salamando has gifted him from birth on with a character of flame."
- "You judge characters by Elemental? Tell me then, what kind of character would I have?"
- "You... I know, either Water or Nature. I think you're more like a Water type than a Nature one, because you have soft, small hands and greenish hair. Maybe you come from a family of Water characters?"
- "I wish I knew..." And after saying that, he softly fell asleep, still holding her hand.
- "Goodnight...", she whispered. His hand hadn't loosened its grip on hers, so she was stuck sitting in that room. Her eyelids quickly became heavy... so heavy...

He dreamt he was young, dressed as a water spirit but feeling more like a water demon. He cried, while in front of him stood a woman, well shocked. Next to her, a mermaid-shaped spirit. Undine, the Water Elemental. His eyes were filled with tears, and all he could do was look at his hands, which were encased in a thick layer of ice...
Ice... Undine... Water... Pain! His hands were shaped like big claws, curled up in the layer of frost. He saw everything as if covered by a heavy fog. And, gathering all the air in his lungs, he screamed...

- "NNNOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!!"
Seyma awoke from her deep, deep sleep by the man's cry. His face was pale, in his eyes stood terror... and pain.
- "There, there, you must have had an awful dream... Screaming like that... Tell me, what was it that made you so scared?"
- "I... dreamt of Undine, and a woman, who were looking at me. My hands were frozen, it hurted so much, so very much...", he gasped.
- "Undine, hmmm... That woman might have been her caretaker, Luka. She has been a sage for over 200 years, born in the night after the first Mana Beast attacked. It was Luka who uncovered the "Veedios", and who sought out the Elemental of Water, Undine. She's a good woman and I'm sure she wanted to help you in your dream."
- "I... I don't know anything anymore. Maybe she appeared in my dreams to clarify my mind. Hey, it might also be a memory of my youth! I seemed to be only fifteen or so..."
- "You do seem about twenty-five, you know."
- "Yes, I'm amazed of it too... I must be around that age, I guess..." He shivered, because his hands looked exactly like the claws underneath the ice from his dream: every muscle tensed, the utter energy pulsating through them, as though to cast...
- "Brrrrrrrrrr... I HATE MAGIC!"
- "Huh?" She looked into the stranger's eyes, who showed anger and a deep hate that made them glow like stars... "Stars in the darkness...", she whispered.
- "Huh? What did you say?" He looked like he could fall asleep any minute.
- "Oh, nothing. Go to sleep now, you need to rest."

His sleep then remained dreamless, and he awoke the next morning with a deep calmth in his mind. Although he wasn't fully assured that the dream he had that night was a good thing, it didn't trouble him that much anymore. Seyma's mother came in to bring him breakfast: a good portion of Silktail milk, some toasts and a little egg on the side. It was the first breakfast he enjoyed eating in months, he realised. Sure, he could remember general things, like what day it was, the world and the Elemental powers, the many monsters,... But his personal history was blurred. His conversations with Seyma had taught him many things he couldn't remember, such as the atrocities committed by the Imperial forces. Especially the four bodyguards had done many of those acts of evil (he remembered Seyma saying : "Geshtar had assaulted a young girl in plain sight, I know because the Empire guards confessed that after the siege of the Fortress. Sheex had laughed when he tore away her clothes and... well, he didn't let her live to tell, anyway. Geshtar slid the throat of an innocent girl because he wanted to have fun, without Emperor Vandole or Thanatos knowing it." He still shivered, the Geshtar she talked about was a cruel, cold-blooded, black-hearted man. He was glad that that monster was smashed by the Mana Knight.) and the worst one of them appeared to be that man called Thanatos once: a lich with powers beyond darkness. And he had also learned the names of those Mana Heroes: the Mana Knight was called Hopper, his two allies were a girl named Nasha and a sprite called Stine.
Suddenly, the conversation of the past night flashed up in his mind. He had exclaimed that he hated magic... It was a subtle but strong hint towards his personality and past. If he hated magic, surely he wouldn't have used or approved it in the past? Or did he?

Seyma's father had returned in the meantime, and of course he visited the wounded man rescued by his daughter. Seyma accompanied him to the room where she had put him up. Her father's first reaction was fear, she could tell by his step back and the terror on his face. What was wrong? Her father, however, wanted to say nothing about it.
- "Ah, you must be that young man my daughter has saved..."
- "Yes, indeed I am, sir. If I remembered my name, I would tell it to you."
- "Hmmmm... A temporary name would be handy, that's for sure..."
- "Ah, yes, you do have a point there, kind sir. Call me Geshtar."
Seyma saw her father flinch once more: then he shook his fear off.
- "Are you sure you want to be named Geshtar? It isn't a name with much good attached to it... Surely Seyma has told you..."
- "Yes, indeed. She has told me of the Imperial lieutenant named Geshtar. But I assure you, I will give that name honor again!"
- "Ah, but are you sure that you can restore it to its former glory?"
- "No... but I will give it all my effort."
Seyma made her father come to the point. She wanted him to hurry his little meeting with Geshtar, so she could ask him why he had flinched twice in a row about him.
- "Dad, you brought him his armor and weapons, remember?"
- "Why, yes, I'd almost forget! Here, these are the armor and weaponry that we found along with you. They must have belonged to you, they do now anyway. Go ahead, try them on!"
Geshtar took the armor and slid his torso in the breastplate: his arms and legs were quickly done after that. Last but not least, he putted on the heavy armor plates that protected his hips and other weak spots between loins and thighs. At least those spots still unprotected by his chain mail, which he already wore (the armor plates seemed there only to hide the small, but awfully hideous laces which held the leg armor in place). The sword and its sheath were beautifully crafted (he wondered where he had gotten those), and all of his stuff had the same blueish-green color, like waters from the sea. This confirmed his thoughts: he had been living in or near the Water Palace. Maybe he should go there: Luka might know an answer...
- "Seyma, tomorrow I'll be leaving, I have got to go to the Water Palace."
- "I already know you have to go. I knew from the moment you put on the armor. You're one of Luka's kind. Maybe a disciple or something... Who knows?"
- "Maybe... Will you help me pack my stuff tomorrow morning? I'll leave real early, but not before dawn..."
- "Why wouldn't I help you, Geshtar? See, you made me have good faith in that name already. Now the rest of the world!"
He laughed about that, because she still seemed uneasy to hear the name. But it was kind of her anyway, to reassure him like that. She was a very nice girl, he had figured. But young... a little too young for him...
That night, Seyma talked to her father outside, so Geshtar couldn't hear them. Her eyes gave away her concerns, and her father immediately realised she had seen him stepping back and flinching. His face was expressionless nonetheless.
- "Father, why did you fear Geshtar? What's wrong with him?"
- "Dear Seyma, you... I have seen this man before, more I cannot tell. Salamando knows of him, go seek him tomorrow and you will find out what's wrong with this Geshtar of yours."
- "Father, I can see by the look on your face that it isn't a pleasant thing. Accompany me tomorrow, I will return by myself. Salamando's all-seeing eye is great, but the things he'll tell me are going to be a real burden, I can tell by your expression."
- "Good, I will go with you. Now, go to sleep, Geshtar wanted you to pack his stuff."
- "Fine, I want to leave tomorrow at noon."

Geshtar awoke the morning after with a feeling of great relief he was going. He was finally setting out to find answers! Seyma came in with a big cup, filled with nice hot tea made of palm leaves and coconut milk. He looked around: all of his stuff was already packed! How long did he sleep?
- "Hey, sleepy! I wanted to wake you up, but you just had that peaceful look on your face. It's been an hour since sunrise!"
- "Oh, dear, I must hurry! Well, you did a great job: all is packed in one bag!"
- "You didn't have that much with you: your armor, weapons and some personal stuff." She leaned over to him and whispered: "I've secretly put in some underwear. You, erm, hadn't got any on when I found you..." She blushed when she thought of her mother's remarks about... well, about that. He blushed too, ashamed of himself.
- "Oh, dear... You haven't, errm, you know... seen... anything?"
- "No, thank Heavens I didn't!" His face didn't change. She couldn't bear telling him that she once DID see. The mere thought made her shiver, more of fright for him being shy than him being angry. He was better off not knowing.
- "Well, it seems allright then. Imagine that, a girl like you..."
- "Hey, keep quiet, my parents are awake too, you know!"
He grinned: "Oh, yeah, and the protective father isn't supposed to know that his daughter took in a guy that didn't even have underpants on..."
- "Indeed, although he has probably heard all the details from my mother. Which makes me wonder if my mother really had no problems seeing you... You're not one of her sons, and not even acquainted to her until you awoke!"
- "I felt uncomfortable when you told me she, well, saw me: but your mother is one tough chick!" He didn't bother to talk about it any more. The subject was not exactly suited for his savior and not even for him: he was ashamed of himself, covered with wounds as he was. He got up and dressed himself (Seyma turned around wisely, she had already seen enough...) so he could leave. After saying goodbye to Seyma's parents (he told them he'd send them a reward for their services, but they declined, saying it was merely their duty), he went outside. He had known he was in the desert town, Kakkara, but he didn't know it was that beautiful. The palm trees glistened in the light of the sun, that was already high in the sky. Dew covered their leaves. The sand was sparkling: it looked like a sea of jewels was put under his feet. Two little ponds lay calmly in the city, and their water was amazingly clear. He watched his reflection and noticed that Seyma had been right: he had a very calm, smooth face, with green hair like water from a high mountain spring. His hands seemed fragile. He wondered again if he REALLY hadn't used or approved magic. But the thoughts vanished as he heard Seyma's voice behind him.
- "Hey, Geshtar, shouldn't you get moving? It's almost noon..."
- "Yes, but I was just marveling the beauty, the infinite splendor of this desert city."
- "Hey, the Water Palace is hundred times more amazing!"
- "Why did you come? You saved me for a reason, I know: I can tell by the look in your eyes... And why was your father so shocked by me yesterday?"
- "My father says that we both will find out our own way why he was shocked. And I came to see you off. And to tell you that you're always welcome in our house. Come to visit us once more when you've found the answers... And when you need help finding them, I'll be glad to be of any assistance."
- "Seyma, you are a great girl. I'll return, but stay out of trouble in the meantime. I'll bring you a present..."
- "Oh, you're trying to impress me? Don't need to do that, you know... We're friends already, I was your friend from the moment I saved you, you were mine from the moment you were so polite and suave."
He smiled, he felt the great warmth of friendship spread through his soul: he knew he'd have a friend for life. And she felt the same way. As they said goodbye to each other, they embraced. Seyma felt, oh she felt... love? friendship? She didn't know... "Don't be ridiculous!", she said to herself as he flew off from the Travel Cannon, "He's way too classy for you, and you have no idea of his past!" She turned around, towards her waiting father, and headed for the Fire Palace.

"....aaaaaaaAAAAAAAAAAAAH... BAM!!!!!"
Geshtar landed in front of a mansion, that was so familiar he started crying. Once this house had belonged to his parents. He even remembered their names: Gerbert and Malyssa. The memories flooded back into his head...
- "Mommy, why do I have to go to the Water Palace?"
He saw himself as a young boy, maybe aged eight, ten? His mother stood in front of him, her beautifully dark hair loose and flowing around her head like clouds around a mountain peak.
- "Because you were born with green hair, and all green-haired are destined to serve Undine."
- "I know, Luka has green hair too. I think it's beauiful!" He scratched through his hair, which was the same blueish green it still was. But at that time, it was short and curled slightly.
- "Dad, do I have to? Really?"
His father came in: a strong but vivid man, with very muscular limbs. Streaks of grey were hidden in his dark brown beard and hair. The look on his face was emotional.
- "Yes, you have to. Although I'd rather not put you there..."
He ran towards his parents, hugging them once more. "I'll miss you! Oh, I'll miss you so much!"
He noticed he was crying, and he wiped away the tears. At least he had figured out who his parents had been, and that he was destined by green hair to serve Undine. So maybe Luka WOULD know the solution to his problem! He quickly found the Water Palace (hard to miss it, a big blueish-green palace in the middle of nowhere). But, by now, it was evening: the Cannon Travel had taken him long, thus he needed to rest. He went back to the old mansion, which had become an inn called "Neko's" and was aptly runned by a cat. He fell asleep immediately, dreaming of Seyma and her good cares...

In the meantime, Seyma had travelled to the Fire Palace with her father. He was one of the only ones who knew the way through the palace. Travellers who sought to see Salamando were blindfolded and then transported there by her father. The same happened to her. Her father wrapped a black piece of cloth around her head, so she couldn't see where she was taken. And he did not remove it until they arrived at Salamando's room. Her father respectfully greeted the Fire Elemental, introduced her and explained why they had come.
- "Salamando, I seek to find out the man I saved, who he really is."
- "Very well, young Seyma, you shall see who he is. Do you know who are on this picture?"
- "Yes, it's the Im... Oh, dear, no... That's him... No, it can't be! It CAN'T!!!!"

Geshtar awoke early in the morning by a little bird that was chirping next to the window. It gave him a feeling of great relief. Seyma had often told him that the world was nearly destroyed. Afterwards, he had enjoyed waking up again...
His thoughts quickly turned towards Luka and the Water Palace. He decided to wear his armor, so he'd look his best. He found a little note pasted on the back of his breastplate: it was from Seyma. He read it and soon his cheeks turned deep red.
"Dear Geshtar, I think it's highly unfair that I didn't tell you. I did see you. And you don't need to be ashamed of yourself, your wounds don't lessen you. You're handsome, and you need to know that. I'm waiting for you to return. Yours truly, Seyma." She had...? She, so many years younger than him, thought him to be handsome?! He wasn't surprised, because he somehow seemed to be younger than he was, but she...? He felt his mind slipping to her image: a slender woman, about twenty years old, with the most beautiful sun-bleached brown hair. Her skin was also tanned: she had told him he'd get a tan too if he came back on a vacation (she really wanted him to return, and he wanted to see her again, too).
His mind came back to dressing himself and going to the Water Palace. Within twenty minutes, he stood before the great gates to the mighty palace. They opened easily when he pushed them, and he entered a hall so great and amazing he nearly didn't dare to breathe. The water, running down from the walls, glittered in the light of the big bowls of holy fire placed on either side of the walkway. Every wave casted sparkling little lights throughout the hall, and his armor reflected some of them. He was like a spirit in a spirit world: he fitted in. He belonged in this palace. His armor shone brightly in the holy light: the gods seemed to welcome him again. Again, because he knew he had once lived and worked here, with Luka. The question was, what had happened between his time here and the present.
He proceeded, and reached the Chamber of the Mana Seed: a huge room, filled with the sound of tingling water and rushing streams. A voice, soft but soothing, resounded.
- "Proceed, Geshtar. I knew you were coming. Please, step forward. Surely you'll remember how you create the bridges..."
And he did, the switches were well hidden but easily found. He came across a big pond, then he stepped onwards, over the second bridge. There she stood, in front of the Seed, her one hand clutching a spear. Luka, his mistress... once. He kneeled, his head downwards.
- "Luka, I come here to seek my past. I have..."
- "I know what has happened. I know your past, but am not allowed to tell you anything directly unless you ask me."
- "Well, then at least grant me the honor of being taught by you again."
- "Why, that would be MY honor! Come here and sit down, Geshtar. Let me tell you the legends of Mana again."
Quietly, he sat down and listened, like he knew he had done before... Luka started to tell him of Mana:
- "Once, when the gods were restless, they created this world out of the spirit essence called Mana. Beautiful trees came from the tree spirit, seas and flows from the water spirit, the moon from the lunar spirit, the stars from the light spirit, the night from the dark spirit, the sun from the fire spirit, the air from the air spirit, and the earth itself was made from the earth spirit. The spirits settled down on this world to ensure it never ceased to exist, and in order to ease things, they named themselves: Undine of Water, Gnome of Earth, Sylphid of Air, Salamando of Fire, Shade of Darkness, Lumina of Light, Luna of Moon, and Dryad of Nature. And indeed, for many millennia this world lived in ease. The spirits, then called Elementals, were honored by the humans and chose from amongst them servants. For example: we, Undine's servants, are chosen by natural hair color: this blueish green. But this world had its problems: humans became more and more self-centered, greedy of power and possessions. They wanted to defeat all above them: and, using the spirits' essence, Mana, they created their ultimate weapon in the battle against the gods: the Mana Fortress. Of course, the gods did not permit that: they sent their beasts to smash the threat. The most powerful and fearsome of the beasts, aptly called the Mana Beast, pushed the Fortress under the ocean, where it could be held. Then, afterwards, the Beast eradicated all humans except for those in the Elementals' grace, from which the new humanity was born. Among those was I, born in the night that the Beast had left. On the island now known as the Pure Land, he first planted a seed. It became the Mana Tree, controller of all good and evil. It produced three things: firstly, a set of eight Mana Seeds, in which all Mana Power could be locked away; secondly, a family of Mana Keepers, the men to become Mana Knights in times of trouble, the women to attend to the Tree; and last but not least, the Tree made from it's own powers the legendary blade forged and maintained by the spirit essence: the Mana Sword, only to be held by the Mana Knights. The world knew peace for more than hundred years. Humanity evolved in the same way again, this time only much more dangerous: the Empire tried to use the Mana Fortress to smash the kingdom of Lorima, but was stopped by Lorima's missiles destroying a great part of the lands and the destruction of Lorima, above which the Fortress already hovered. It was pushed back on the same place, but this time the Beast had pushed it less deep. Maybe he knew that the Fortress was soon to be resurrected again...
Anyway, that last time, before the beast could destroy the entire world, the Mana Knight named Serin arose and took the blade in his hands. He slew the body of the dragon and thus gave humanity a chance to learn from its mistakes. He was still young then and hoped for the best. But nearly fifty years later, he was slain by the evil lich called Thanatos in the war between Tasnica and the Empire. Even then, he knew that his blood line wasn't extinct: his wife, main caretaker of the Mana Tree, had given birth to a young boy. The woman knew well that he couldn't grow up in the Pure Land, that he had to grow up near the Mana Sword, so she sent both the Sword and her son to a small village called Potos, near the Water Palace. Serin's spirit went there too, to make sure his son took the sword when the world was in need. And so, when Mana was fading away and the Empire was up to trouble again, he made the sword sparkle, so Hopper (his son) went there and took it. Hopper was cast out of Potos because his removal of the Sword made monsters live again. But he knew well enough, and I brought that knowledge into his conscious mind, that the monsters had awakened because of the fading Mana and the mischievous acts of the Empire. He proceeded, gained the support of each and every Elemental, sealed every Seed, found two allies on his path and defeated all the evil he encountered. But he knew he had to defeat the root of that evil before he could gain the power to defeat the Beast itself. The Imperial Forces... He easily found them and defeated them. Then, after having defeated the true evil one, Thanatos, he was able to face the Beast." She paused, and then looked into the water. "It is evening already. You can stay here, Neko's is a little expensive for a man with no income. Your former bed is still here, just as you left it." She turned around and left him there. Weary of having listened, motionless and nearly breathless, to Luka's legends, he went down, to where he knew Luka had his bed installed. She was right, it still stood there without his sheets and pillow. He remembered what had happened, although a little faint...
- "No! I've had it here!! Undine has frozen my hands, Luka. They might never hold another sword again, do you realise that?! I'm of no further worth as a Palace guard!"
- "Geshtar, I want you to stay..."
A bright flash came then: Luka stared at him at first, but then lowered her head and started crying.
- "F-fine, Geshtar... Go and return i-if it pleases you... Ne-never forget m-m-me... promise me that!!"
- "Luka, I'm sorry if I hurt you by doing this, but I feel like it's destined that I leave this Palace."
- "Geshtar... i-it is... Go now and search your fate..."
He took the sheets and pillow with him, looking back only to see Luka once more. He saw her crying, he cried too...

Luka came into Geshtar's room very late, and was surprised to hear him crying his eyes out. She silently walked over to him and whispered:
- "It's allright, you're safe here..."
- "Luka, what happened when Undine froze my hands?"
She bowed her head, he saw tears glitter in her eyes. "You had gone out and returned early in the morning, drunk. I was with Undine at that moment, so when you didn't find me in the Palace, you came to the cave where Undine resides. When you reached Undine's room, she was a little upset: she didn't know what had happened to you. She had no idea what drinking did to your body, and felt a little offended. Suddenly, you tripped and touched Undine's shoulder when she didn't expect it. The moment you touched her, she froze your hands out of fear. You were immediately sober, and all you could do was look at your hands and cry. I took you into the Palace, called upon the warmest of all streams and waterholes to warm your hands: the desert ponds in Kakkara. When they touched the ice, it melted... but the water became steam and thus couldn't return to the desert. That's why the two ponds were empty for a long time. Luckily, Hopper saved them: he found a Sea Hare's tail and brought back cool water to the desert." She stopped to wipe away the tears from her cheeks. "You were so upset because of it, you left. When I wanted to stop you, Undine's image came before me, telling me not to stop you from leaving. She said you would return after you did your other tasks in the world. And you did." She raised her head again, her light blue eyes peering directly into his deep green ones. "Go to sleep now, tomorrow we'll continue our lessons."

And they did so: the next morning, Luka spoke of the services of the Elementals and the rituals in summoning one. Geshtar listened and learned a great deal. Then, after they had had lunch, she took him to a mirror behind the Water Seed's pedestal.
- "This is the mirror I use to communicate with Undine. I'll show you how to use it. You hold the mirror and say her name in a clear and loud voice. Like this: Undine!"
The mirror's surface flickered, then showed a beautiful mermaid, holding a trident and floating in mid-air.
- "Hello, Luka, my friend, what brings you to speak to me like this? Usually you just visit me..."
- "Not today. I was explaining the use of the Mirror to my disciple."
Luka stepped back to reveal Geshtar, who bowed and said: "Greetings, Undine."
- "Geshtar?! He did return after all...", she said to Luka, and then she turned to Geshtar: "You once were Luka's disciple, but you left because..."
- "I already know, Undine, and you don't need to be ashamed of it. I know that you did it because you were afraid of me then. But now I have a question to ask of you."