A/N: So sorry that it has taken so long to get another chapter up finally. I have had major muses for this fic so new chapters will hopefully be coming out more frequently.

Rise of the Hero

A Legend of Mana Fanfiction

Chapter 2 The Lost Princess

As I walked under the sign that said Domina I gazed around the seemingly quiet town. At least it seemed quiet, more than less a nice community. My attention soon turned to a man walking by wearing a green mantle. He didn't even seem to notice me as he walked towards one of the buildings straight ahead. I couldn't help but notice that his right arm seemed to be made entirely out of crystal.

"Hey! If you're going to go around harassing people, the least you could do is tell us your name! Seriously that's just rude!" a short man that looked like he was wearing an onion for a hat yelled, as he tried to catch up to the man.

'So much for being a quiet town…,' I thought as I focused my attention on the scene unfolding.

The green-haired man stopped only for a moment. Long enough to turn his attention to the onion man. He remained silent, a very stern look on his face. His eyes narrowed coldly as he seemed to consider whether or not to give his name. His crystal hand was clenched tightly in a fist.

"Elazul, though if you were wise you would forget it," he stated before turning away and walking into the building.

"People like him really make me sick…," muttered the onion man as he began to walk away. However, he stopped and his attention quickly turned to me. "Hey there! Welcome to Domina. I am Duelle the Onion Warrior, are you new around here?"

I made my way over to the short man, not sure what to make of all that I had just witnessed. "Yeah, I guess so. My name is Leif."

"What do you mean you guess…? Oh I get it, You're an adventurer aren't you? You don't stay in one place for very long then I take it," he replied, obviously curious, if not just a little bit confused about me.

"I guess you could call me that," I replied with a small nod. 'Sure feels like an adventure already anyway.'

"You're not very decisive are you?" Duelle asked, now apparently even more confused about me. I wasn't quite sure how to respond to that one, so I decided to change the topic instead.

"Anyway… what was all that about?" I asked, my eyes turning to the pub in case he didn't get my meaning. "Oh nothing, that guy has been bothering a lot of people even picking a few fights. Apparently he's looking for a lost friend or something like that. He's not very nice about it though. If I were you, I would stay away from him," Duelle replied, obviously not very happy about Elazul's activity.

"I see, well nice talking to you Duelle," I said, my focus back on finding the rabbit-man Niccolo

"Well then, if you have any questions don't hesitate to ask me. I'm usually over at Mark and Jennifer's house right over there," he stated, using his spear to point over to a nearby house.

Without even waiting for response, the Onion Warrior walked away. It was apparent to me that he was heading toward the house he had just pointed to. Which left me to wander, and the first place I wandered to was the building that Elazul had entered. Just as my hand reached out to open the door though it was forced open from the inside. I managed to jump back enough to prevent getting hit by the door though. Standing in the doorway was looked to be a large rabbit-man wearing a poncho.

"Out of the way please, it's rude to block someone's path you know," the rabbit stated quickly an evident smile on his face despite the scrutiny of his words.

Caught off guard in the moment I didn't realize at the time that this was Niccolo, the rabbit I was looking for. However, by the time I had thought to ask him, he was already gone. My attention turned back to the door and as I opened it I could hear a lot of noise, mostly yelling. I quickly rushed inside to find Elazul, sword in hand approaching a girl who looked kind of like a faerie.

"What is going on here?" I asked as I approached the obviously very tense scene.

"Silence! Do not interrupt!" Elazul snapped, raising his left hand in my direction without sparing a glance at me. He slowly but deliberately took a step towards the girl. "Speak up girl! You are getting on my nerves…"

I noted that Elazul's words were doing nothing more than scaring the girl. She was trembling, her back literally against the wall. Her eyes turned to me, not sure whether I was there to help her or not. I wasn't just going to stand by though as this guy terrified her. Especially when she had no means of defending herself.

"Elazul… Enough! Leave her alone!" I yelled, making my way toward him, trying to force my way between him and her.

"Don't call me by my name you don't even know me! Just leave us alone!" he snapped back, his attention turning to me as the grip on the sword in his crystal hand tightened.

As if instinctively, my hand went to the hilt of my sword as he turned the blade on me. My eyes narrowed intently at his and then looked down at the blade. I would be prepared if he attempted to strike out at me. However, I wasn't willing to let this end up in a fight.

"Terrorizing this girl isn't going to get you anywhere! Especially if you injure her. What has happened that has gotten you so riled up?" I asked, thinking that perhaps letting him talk about it might help him calm down.

"A friend of mine is missing…," he said in a softer voice after what seemed like a great deal of thought, as though he didn't want anyone to know.

"I see, that doesn't give you the right to harass the entire town though. I am not about to let you hurt innocent people, regardless of the situation." I stated in reply, trying to diffuse the situation.

"It's just… I sense her, she was here," he stated, his attention turning back to the girl again. "You must know something! Don't you have any idea?" he asked, his voice becoming more tense and volatile.

The girl still did nothing but tremble. Obviously she was still too scared to say anything at all to Elazul. Given the way he had been acting I couldn't blame the girl either. Slowly but surely, the man lowered and sheathed this blade. Though his hands still remained clenched into fists.

"Dammit!" he yelled, the crystal fist going into the nearby wall, cracking it upon impact. "I've done nothing but waste precious time! I must find her!" he yelled and then made his way out of the pub. The door closed with a loud bang as he left, I was amazed that it hadn't been knocked off it's hinges from the force.

That left me alone with this girl who looked like a faerie. She was still so scared though that she didn't seem to want to move. Though she did manage to slide down along the wall until she was sitting. With a small smile I offered my hand to her to help her up. After she finally stopped shaking she took it and rose to her feet.

"Thanks for helping me…. can I get you anything to drink?" she asked, making her way back over toward the bar.

As I followed her to the bar and took a seat at the stool I thought about the small amount of money I had in my pouch. "Sure, get me your cheapest drink." I replied, trying to use this opportunity to get some information as well as help calm the girl down.

"Don't have a lot of money eh? That'll be five lucre," she stated as she grabbed a glass and filled it from a tap, setting it down in front of me.

I reached into my pouch and pulled out five of the coins in my bag, laying them down on the bar for her to take. One look at the money and she looked back up at me, clearly confused. She looked at me for a moment until she finally seemed to catch on and laughed lightly. She then pushed four of the coins back towards me and added a copper colored one to the pile.

"You're not from around here are you?" she asked, though it was obvious that she already knew the answer.

"No, I am not. Why do you ask?" I replied, truly confused at her brief laughter and her question.

"You just tried to give me fifty lucre, not five. Each of these silver coins is worth ten lucre. The copper ones are worth five, so that's your change," she stated with a small smile.

'So I actually found one hundred Lucre instead of ten like I thought I did,' I thought as I took a sip of the drink she gave me. It was obviously some kind of fruit juice, judging by the taste. "Ah, thanks for the advice, what's your name by the way?" I asked, trying to learn more about the girl.

"I'm Rachel, The Daughter of Mark and Jennifer who live down the street. And before you ask, I'm not a faerie," she stated, a hint of annoyance in her voice as she did so.

"I'll be sure to keep that in mind, my name is Leif," I replied with a small smile. "So why did that guy think you knew where his friend was?"

"I am not sure… he claimed he could sense her here," she replied, clearly getting uncomfortable about falling back on the subject. "It might have had something to do with this, I found it near the beach a few days ago."

As she spoke, she reached under the counter and laid upon it what looked like an egg. However, it was unlike any egg I had ever seen before. It was rather large and it was a dark jade color. Picking it up and tapping it with a finger revealed it to be made entirely out of stone. I couldn't help but notice that the jade egg seemed to shine in my hand.

"You can keep it, consider it a thank you for helping me out. If it's going to attract people like him I don't want it anymore," she stated now seemingly bored and drying glasses with a cloth.

"Oh, well thank you very much. I will be sure to take care of it for you," I replied with a smile. However, it seemed to me like she was getting rid of it in case Elazul came back.

We talked for awhile longer as I finished my drink. Thanks to Rachel I learned a lot about the town and it's people. She recommended that I go to the Church of the Mana Goddess and speak with the Reverend if i wanted to know more. I left the pub with a smile on my face, the Jade Egg in hand as I walked around the town.

I stopped for awhile at a fountain of the Mana Goddess, watching a monkey juggle and a man play some kind of instrument happily. As I sat at the fountain I looked up at the Goddess' face. This was their deity, the one who supposedly had given them everything. For some reason I felt a connection with her. Something at the time that I just couldn't explain.

'Why am I here? How did I get here?' I thought as I looked down into the fountain water with a sigh. This wasn't the land I was from, I knew that. However, for some reason just as there was a connection with the Goddess, there was a connection with this land.

My thoughts dwelled on these questions without answers as I continued to wander the town aimlessly. Heading North I entered into what appeared to be a marketplace. Many different stalls were set up with all kinds of different things. One in particular caught my attention. At first I thought it was some kind of fruit stand, until I realized that a woman was sitting in a basket who looked like her hair was made out of grapes.

"I am Meimei, the fruit fortune-teller. Would you like your fortune told?" the woman asked me as I stared at her confused.

"Sure why not, " I replied. 'I could use some kind of guidance right now.'

"Ten lucre, I am saving up so I can retire, so no less," she stated outright, her hand outstretched toward me to accept payment before she even began.

As soon as I handed her the coin she stashed it away in a bag. Her arms raised upwards as she closed her eyes and before my very eyes the basket in which she was sitting began to spin quickly. Watching her spin made me wonder how she herself didn't get dizzy, as it was making me very dizzy just looking at her.

"Vitamins, Carotins, potassium, fiber… Polyphenol!" she said in almost a kind of chant as her basket spun faster and faster. When it finally came to a stop she reached into the basket and pulled out what looked like an orange. "Hmmm… it says that you will soon have an unexpected encounter."

"Hey you!" came a sudden shout from a familiar voice. I knew it was Elazul and I was looking for where it came from.

"Wow that was fast," Meimei muttered, a look of surprise on her face.

"Over here!" Elazul's voice came again, as I turned to face him he almost charged forward. "I knew there was something different about you. Tell me why I sense her around you now!" he yelled, his crystal hand yet again clenched into a fist.

"What? You sense her coming from me…?" I asked, now more confused than I was before. It took a bit of thought on my part, but at last it hit me. "It must be this."

From my small pack I pulled out the Jade Egg that Rachel had given me. I held it out for him to get a good look at. His eyes narrowed and suddenly I saw a flash of blue light from the large stone on his chest. His regular hand immediately lashed out and grabbed the stone. He closed his eyes and focused, as if he was listening for something.

"I sense her!" he stated, as his eyes snapped open again. He then began to run off.

"Hey! You can't just take that! Rachel gave it to me. I told her I would take care of it! Give it back!" I yelled, quickly giving chase after him.

Elazul quickly turned to face me, clearly agitated. He handed the Jade Egg back to me, though reluctantly. "Then I am coming with you and we are going to search for her! That is my only clue and I won't leave you alone until she is back! I mean it!" he stated, clearly his decision was set in stone, just like the stone that seemed fixed to his chest.

The way he said it, that dead set look in his eyes, I could tell that I didn't really have a choice. He wasn't going to leave me alone until we found his friend. I suppose I could have just given him the Jade Egg and left him to do it himself. For some reason though, I wanted to help him, despite his attitude. Together we left Domina in an awkward silence.

We traveled away from the town, heading South. I practically had to jog to keep up with Elazul's brisk pace. There was a stern look on his face the entire time as we headed farther and farther away from the town. Where we were going, I wasn't entirely sure. However, it seemed Elazul had some kind of idea.

"So, what exactly are you? I can tell you aren't a regular human like me," I asked, trying to get him to possibly loosen up and talk to me.

Elazul's fingers clenched into a fist, obviously due to my question. A sure sign that he didn't want to answer it. "You mean you can't tell?"

"No, I don't know anything about this place. I literally just woke up here this morning," I explained, probably sounding crazy to the young man.

"Did you hit your head or something? How could you not know anything?" he asked with a scoff. Clearly he didn't know what to think about me now.

"I don't have amnesia alright!" I asked, getting agitated myself. "I don't know what's going on."

"If you don't know anything, then there is no point in telling you," he answered coldly.

'What do you mean by that…?' I thought.

This time my fist clenched in anger at Elazul. However, I could tell there was no point in fighting it, he didn't want to tell me for whatever reason. We continued our walk from then on in silence. I could tell by the position of the sun that it was getting close to midday already.

After what felt like a very long time of walking I stepped off of the beaten path and rested under a tree for a bit. Elazul didn't seem too keen on taking a break, it was like he didn't intend to stop until he had found his friend. I sighed, watching the interesting bugs and creatures move along without paying us any real mind. In my hands I held the Jade Egg, looking at the large stone sparkle in my hands.

"So what's the deal with this friend?" I asked, yet again trying to get him to say something. "They must be pretty important to you if you're this worried."

Elazul opened his eyes and spared me a glance as he considered whether or not to answer. "She is like a sister to me. She also has a bad habit of letting her mind wander, so she gets lost often."

"Ah, what does she look like?" I asked, beginning to understand the situation a bit better.

"She has long brown hair and wears a white dress," he replied. It was obvious though that talking about her, just made him more intent on finding her, if that was possible. "Alright, break time is over let's go!"

He quickly pushed his back off of the tree and began to hurry towards the path. I set down the Jade Egg for only a moment to stand up. However, by the time I turned to pick it back up before my very eyes it was sinking into the ground! I reached down to try and grab it. It was as if it had sank into mud but the ground where it had vanished into was completely dry.

'That's really strange…,' I thought as I felt the ground where it just laid.

"Let's go! Quit wasting time!" Elazul suddenly yelled, making me jump.

'If Elazul finds out I lost our only clue he will kill me…,' I thought nervously as I made my way back to the path, hoping that Elazul hadn't noticed. We continued on our way for a bit. I was intentionally keeping a bit of distance from Elazul now. My thoughts fell back on the egg, and how it suddenly vanished before my very eyes into the ground. My mind so focused on that that I wasn't paying attention to where I was going and nearly ran into Elazul as he stopped abruptly. I managed to stop just in time, though one more step and I would have hit him.

"Damn! I lost the trail… let me see that stone again. Maybe I can pick it up again," he demanded, holding his hand out for the stone.

Now I was really nervous, this was exactly what I had hoped wouldn't happen. Reluctantly I reached into my pack and pretended to dig for something that I knew wasn't there anymore. It didn't take more than a moment of my rifling through the now nearly empty bag before Elazul got impatient. That stern, cold look that could cut through a rock back on his face. I had to face the music it seemed.

"Ah… It must have fallen out of my pack somewhere along the trail," I lied, hoping that he wouldn't pick up on it. Keeping up the act I turned my attention back to where we had walked, trying to see it off in the distance.

"You… LOST IT!" Elazul bellowed, his crystal arm raised as he brandished a fist at me. "That was our only clue! How could you have lost it!"

"I'm sorry… I thought I had secured my pack right. I'm still getting used to it," I stated, trying to get him to cool down. "If it's any help, Rachel said that she found the stone near the coast. Is there a coastline near here?"

At the mention of the Coastline Elazul seemed to calm down, at least a bit. "Yeah, it's further South. I might be able to sense her again as we get closer to it…," he muttered, lowering his fist. However, I noted that it hadn't unclenched as he continued down the path.

As we continued South the scenery began to change. It shifted from meadow to sand and rocks with more almost tropical looking plants. A sign to me at least that we had to be nearing the Coastline. Elazul would stop periodically and close his eyes, as if listening for something and then move on again. Suddenly I heard it, a chiming sound as the gem on Elazul's chest flashed yet again.

"I sense her… she must be nearby," he stated scouring the area for any sign of his friend.

I joined him the search. However, I was unable to find anything. Before too long I stopped to relax under the shade of some trees next to a few bushes. As I rested I suddenly felt a strange sensation, wind coming from behind me. Moving the bushes aside I found what appeared to be the entrance of some kind of cavern. It was large enough for someone to enter, but only one at a time.

"Hey Elazul! I think I found something!" I yelled, trying to get his attention, my voice unintentionally echoed into the cavern.

Elazul quickly made his way over to me and without even thinking about it walked eagerly into the cavern. I sighed as I followed after him. When I stopped next to him, I noted his eyes were closed yet again. It wasn't long though before they snapped open.

"I sense her… Pearl must be nearby! Let's hurry!" he yelled, quickly charging into the cave.

'Like we haven't been hurrying already?' I thought as I yet again took off after him.

I had to take to running in order to keep up with Elazul. His speed didn't seem possible for a normal human. It made it really difficult to distinguish a lot of the details of the cave. However, I could tell that it seemed to have been made from the ocean waters from the coastline. The cave floor was damp and upon occasion I could hear the dripping of water hitting the floor as we ran. The smell and taste of the moisture in the air definitely had a hint of salt to it.

Suddenly Elazul stopped and drew his sword as a group of bats decided to descend upon us from the stalactite covered ceiling. I quickly followed suit and drew my sword from the scabbard on my back. I watched as Elazul expertly dispatched one of the bats, cleaving it in half. However, when one came for me, I simply raised my arms and swung my arms trying to get it away. I had never actually struck at a creature before. However, before it had the chance to sink it's sharp teeth into me, Elazul disposed of it as well.

"What are you doing! Don't just stand there attack!" he yelled, cutting another one of the bats down.

I swung as another bat came for me. However, I had never actually used the sword before and I hadn't anticipated the weight of it. As a result, the blade missed and struck the ground, sending a jolt through my hand and arm. I quickly brought it back up again, finally managing to strike the bat down. It seemed that for now, they were gone.

"Are you trying to get yourself killed!" Elazul asked, clearly annoyed at my lack of skill. "You carry around a sword but don't even know how to use it…?"

"I have used swords before…," I replied, though it was a blatant lie. "I'm just not used to this one, it's new to me."

"Then you're a fool, monsters will strike when you least expect them to. You need to be prepared! Let's go!" he stated yet again charging off.

As Elazul had said, more monsters did appear. Many different kinds ranging from aquatic creatures that rose up out of pools of water, to lizard and plant like monsters as well. It was definitely a crash course as to what to expect in this world in terms of what kind of creatures I would meet. It seemed that the great majority of the creatures were aggressive. Or at the very least, very defensive about their home. It took me a few more battles, though eventually I got the hang of the bastard sword I had taken from the home.

Without warning, out of a nearby pool two large fish with tridents leaped out at us. Elazul wasted no time charging in a growl escaping from his mouth as he engaged the fish. I quickly followed suit, drawing my sword and swung at the fish like monster. However, before it even got close to hitting, the creature caught it in the forks of it's trident. With skill of an actual fighter it used the trident to force the sword to the ground. Right as I managed to force the sword free the fish hit me with a blast of water knocking me back.

"Sahagins… don't underestimate them, they can wield those spears with skill," Elazul stated as he broke the guard of the Sahagin he was fighting. "I've had enough of this!"

Elazul charged forward and with a swing of his sword knocked the Sahagin in the air. He then leaped high and cut the creature clean in half and landed with a flip. The corpse of the Sahagin crashed to the stone floor with a clatter from it's trident. Meanwhile, I finally managed to disarm and take down the Sahagin I was fighting. I then sheathed my sword and was just about to fall to my knees to catch my breath when Elazul rushed off again.

"Hey! At least let me catch my breath!" I yelled out. However, I knew that he wouldn't wait and my break would have to wait as I raced after him yet again.'It seems that I need to exercise more...'

I had lost track of how many battles we had fought. How many different paths we had taken. I was starting to wonder if Elazul still knew where he was going, or if he ever did for that matter. At last we came to a room and Elazul stopped, the gem in his chest flashed again and he looked around.

"She is close…," he stated about to rush on ahead again as a woman approached us, it seemed as though she had been waiting.

"Well you sure are late, Pearl is that way. Hurry, go help her," she stated with a light laugh as she fixed one of the flowers in her orange hair with a gloved hand.

"Elazul… do you know her?" I asked, approaching the two of them cautiously. I could already tell that just this woman's appearance was making Elazul tense.

"No… Who are you? How do you know Pearl's name?" Elazul demanded of the woman, looking like he was about to run her through.

"Wouldn't you like to know?" she replied, "Anyway, I'll be on my way. Better go before something bad happens to Pearl." And sure enough she began to make her way toward where we had just come from. However, she stopped to look at me. As if she had just now noticed me. She almost looked a bit surprised to see someone else here.

"Oh! One more thing… You'd best stay away from these people," she stated with a glance towards Elazul.

"Hey! What do you mean by that! How is that you know of us?" Elazul barked yet again, trying to get some answers out of this woman.

"I hope you don't get turned to stone or anything…," she said snidely clearly meant for me as she completely ignored Elazul once again.

"Why you!" Elazul yelled, his sword drawn as he seemed prepared to attack the woman.

"Aaaaaaaaa!" came a sudden yell that made Elazul stop dead in his tracks and turn toward the source of the sound.

"Pearl!" he yelled and he dashed off, as if completely forgetting about the woman he had just been infuriating him.

My head had turned as well towards the sound of the scream. I wanted more information out of the woman as it was clear that she knew something I didn't. However, as I turned back to face her again she was gone. That brought my focus back to why I was really here and I quickly rushed off after Elazul.

As I entered the room the first thing I noticed was how dark it was. So dark that I couldn't see a thing at all. My left hand skimmed across the wall as I made my way deeper into the room.

"Pearl! Elazul! Where are you?" I called out, trying to see anything in the pitch black room.

My hand brushed against something pointed, and as it did so suddenly the room was filled by a blue light. I closed my eyes and when I opened them again I saw that I had touched what looked like a candelabra made out of coral. The three tips of the coral glowed with blue light. However, it was greeted with what a massive roar which felt like it shook the entire cave.

"What did you do!" Elazul yelled, drawing his sword as he prepared for whatever was coming.

"I'm not sure… I just touched it and it lit up," I stated, drawing my bastard sword as well.

Before we could even see where it came from a massive club that looked to be made out of an animal skull came flying at us. We both had to jump out of the way to avoid a direct hit from it. I winced slightly in pain as my arms got scraped up from hitting the hard rock floor of the cave. I rose to my feet just in time to see a large furry creature clinging to the stalactites. It looked like some variety of primate, and it definitely wasn't very happy to see us. It let out another roar as dropped to the floor and picked up it's club.

"Du'Inke… I've never seen one this big before," Elazul stated sizing up the large beast.

"Elazul Help!" came another yell from behind one of the rocks.

"Pearl! Stay right where you are!" he yelled in response.

"So what's the battle plan?" I asked, clearly not sure how to take down such a massive beast.

"Hit it before it can hit you…," Elazul stated as if it weren't the most obvious thing in the world.

'I could have thought of that…' I thought to myself, the grip on my sword tightening in nerves.

He then lunged and leaped high to bring his blade down, trying to cut into the monster's torso. However, it raised one of it's massive arms and knocked him back down to the ground. Elazul slid to a halt, his crystal fist digging into the stone like a brake. He was back up and charged in for another attack. Meanwhile I charged in beside him. Hoping that together at least one of us would be able to get in an attack.

I brought my blade down upon the beast's leg. However, it seemed that the fur of the primate was so thick that it absorbed all of the force of the blow. Elazul had the no better luck as his second attempt got him swatted like a fly with the beast's hand. My focus had shifted from the beast to Elazul as he fell to the ground. A very big mistake on my part as the Du'Inke caught me with a swift kick that sent me into the air. I crashed to the hard stone where I laid dazed. My sword landing with a clatter nearby.

"Move!" Elazul yelled, back on his feet as he was forced to jump away from the club strike that was heading right toward us.

I came back to my senses just in time to roll out of the way as the club smashed into the ground, sending shards of rock everywhere. I managed to get back to my feet and pick up my sword. My body was aching from all the fighting and running we had done earlier, my movements slow as I brought my blade back up to the ready.

"This… isn't… working…," I stated between gasps for air.

"Aim for the areas that aren't covered by fur, they should be easier to penetrate," Elazul said, not even seeming fatigued. If anything the injuries he had sustained just seemed to get him more riled up.

"Distract him, I'm going to finish this once and for all!"

I nodded my head in understanding to Elazul's words and charged forward first. I dodged a blast of what looked like ice crystals from the large beast's mouth by jumping to the side and then leaped into the air to try to bring my blade down. This time I felt blade pierce flesh as it sunk into the beast's stomach. Certainly not a killing blow, but enough to distract it. The beast roared in pain and anger as he reached down and grabbed me.

"Elazul!" I yelled as the Du'Inke squeezed the air from my lungs."Whatever… you're going to do... do it!"

As if in answer to my yelling I saw descending upon the massive primate what looked like a beam blue light. I followed the path of the laser to see it was coming from Elazul's sword. The Du'Inke's grip lessened enough as the laser blade began to cut into it that I was able to escape and moved away as fast as I could. Elazul's attack had pretty much succeeded in cutting the furry beast in half. What remained of it fell backward, crashing to the cave floor. The ground quaked from the impact, shaking the cave structure. Stalactites cracked and rained down on us from the ceiling, crushing the remains of the Du'Inke as well as threatening to crush us.

Elazul and I were forced to dive for cover, narrowly dodging being crushed by the rocks that had shattered upon impact with the floor. As the dust cleared I slowly pushed myself back up to my feet, brushing the dust off of me. I looked around at the damage. It appeared that the Du'Inke was completely buried under the shattered stalactites. My attention turned away from the primate though as I saw Elazul frantically digging through the rubble.

"Pearl!" he yelled, throwing any boulders that he could move out of the way. "Where are you!"

"Oh no… don't tell me," I muttered under my breath.

I quickly ran over to where Elazul was and began to help whatever I could. He continued to dig for a few more minutes before he seemed to calm down and stop digging. Suddenly a bright blue flash of light accompanied by a chiming sound resounded from his core. It echoed through the cavern a few times and then fell silent. After a pause from the far corner of the room there was another flash and a higher pitched chime. From behind a rock a woman timidly stood up. Her long brown hair and white dress flowed behind her as she stepped out from behind the rock.

"Elazul?" she called softly as she made her way toward him.

"is your core alright?" Elazul asked as he quickly made his way over towards her.

"Yes…," she replied, her hands going up to cover the pearl that was embedded in her chest.

I couldn't help but give a sigh of relief that we had found Pearl and that she was alright. As for Elazul, if he had shown any kind of relief, it was soon replaced with frustration. I had gathered that this was not an uncommon occurrence. Still though, I personally would not have wanted to be in Pearl's situation right now.

"I told you not to go wandering off by yourself! How did you end up down here anyway?" he asked, not even trying to hold back his frustration.

"I was um… just wandering around, thinking about things… the usual," she replied, her face turning a deep red as if in shame of herself.

"You don't need to think anymore. Right now you should just stay by my side so we can get out of here," Elazul replied.

"But…," Pearl tried to speak

"No Buts! That's enough!" Elazul snapped, his patience clearly reaching it's limit. Elazul's response caused Pearl to jump, "I'm sorry. I'm so sorry."

"That's enough Elazul! You're being way too hard on her!" I yelled, having heard enough to the point that I was irritated.

"You stay out of this! It doesn't concern you!" Elazul yelled, now turning his anger and frustration towards me. Pearl now turned her attention to me, as if she just realized I was here. Curiously she looked back at Elazul and then back at me. "Elazul, who is that?"

"Just some person who helped me find you… a very strange guy," he stated, as if I was nothing at all anymore.

"The name's Leif, Thank you," I snapped back at him, trying not to get angry with him.

Elazul seemed not to acknowledge my remark and turned his attention back to Pearl, " Well then, let's get out of here."

"But…," Pearl stammered yet again. "See you around," Elazul said, cutting Pearl off. He then turned away and began to walk away, leaving Pearl where she stood.

Timidly, she took a few steps toward me, her face turning even redder if that was even possible.

"Um… Th-thank you…," she stuttered, bowing her head slightly.

"We're going!" Elazul yelled again, making Pearl jump and surprising me as well. I hadn't realized that he had re-entered the room.

"I'm sorry… give me a moment I'm coming too!" she shuttered out in response. She then took a few more steps, coming closer to me yet.

This time when she spoke she didn't seem as timid, she was holding something in her hands that I hadn't noticed until now, it glowed as she held it.

"Thank you, Leif. This is for all that you've done for me," she stated handing me the object.

I took the object into my hands and realized that it was a type of lantern. It was very intricately made, the late emanating from what looked like a flower made out of glass. The handle of the lantern was built into the stem, and the legs for it were the roots. It was beautiful in appearance and showed that someone had put a lot of effort into making it.

"Thank you Pearl, but won't you be needing it?" I asked, realizing it was probably the light she had used to find her way in the cave. "No, I'll be alright now that I'm with Elazul," she replied blushing deeply yet again.

And with that she made her way over to where Elazul was and they began to leave the room. I quickly followed after them so as not to be left behind. I made sure to keep my distance from Elazul. Despite this journey with him, I certainly wasn't comfortable about being around him. I still feared he might turn on me, sword drawn, if I got too close to his charge.

As we walked along the path back towards Domina, my body ached from all that I had done that day. My mind fell back to how I gotten to this world, and the fact that I still had no clue. This world was so different to me, yet it somehow felt familiar. My thoughts wandered all over the place. I still had no idea what Elazul and Pearl were, it was pretty obvious they weren't human. I still had to find the rabbit man Niccolo to ask him about the house too. I had decided that would be my top priority tomorrow.

I finally snapped out of my reverie when I realized that we were standing right outside the entrance to Domina. I looked at Elazul and Pearl. Elazul continued down the path, heading toward a building next to the pub. Pearl though had stopped and she now turned her attention back to me. "Good bye for now Leif," she said with a small smile and a deep blush. Without another word though she turned and followed after Elazul.

I sighed as the door closed and I turned to head for the house. The town was quiet now that the sun had set, though a few noises could be heard from the pub where Rachel worked. I contemplated telling her about what happened to the stone egg she had given me. However, I was just now realizing how tired I was feeling. So I silently left the town and headed back along the path I had walked to get here and returned to the house under the great big tree.

"Tomorrow I'll find Niccolo," I said to myself while stifling a yawn as I opened the front door of my new home.

It did not take me long to get out of my gear and get changed into the night shirt I had woken up in. I looked over at Li'l Cactus in his pot and smiled. He was asleep already and looked quite peaceful and content in his little pot. It did not take long at all for me to lay my head down and fall asleep to await the new day.