(Golden Sun not my property, not is any of its characters. Honestly, I'm not trying to make any money off of this, so do I need to type it? . )

"Nnn . . . Father, five more minutes . . ." Himi groaned, trying to push away the hands shaking her awake. She hated waking up so early when Yamata was so quiet and peaceful. She had to get up at some point, though, and get to the temple to offer her prayers. She turned her body to slide herself out of bed, blearily rubbing her eyes—

Then her bare feet pressed up against the hard planks of her cabin, reminding the Earth Adept where she was. She was on Eoleo's ship, heading for Belinsk to discover the fate of Sveta's city.

She finished rubbing her crimson eyes, and discovered it wasn't her father who had been shaking her. Someone else had been trying to wake her, while she was barely robed.

"RIEF?" she screamed, yanking her bed sheets around her small, slim figure. Her face turned as red as her eyes as shock and fury built up within her. The usually calm Miko girl was livid.

"What do you think you're doing in my room?" she yelled raising her hand, on the verge of summoning Judgment on the poor Mercury Adept; to Charon with the damage it could cause to the boat.

"I'm sorry, I'm sorry! I didn't know!" Rief apologized over and over, hearing the pure rage in Himi's voice. He tried to back towards the door, but instead found himself cornered with the infuriated Venus Adept bearing down on him.

To his credit, Rief had covered his eyes the moment he saw how underdressed the Yamatan Priestess was. He had been sent to get Himi, while Amiti went to wake Karis and Sveta up. He hadn't expected Himi to be barely dressed, though, so focused was he on awaking her.

Himi hesitated, her hand raised. Four of her Djinn were ready to be unleashed to pummel the water user, and most likely the rest of the ship, into oblivion. She took a deep breath and then suppressed the power, letting it fade as she calmed herself.
"You realize you could have knocked . . ." She sighed, retreating to her bed and wrapping the bed covers tighter around herself. "I nearly ripped you to shreds." Rief was pretty much the only Adept on the ship who could match her, since his forte was Psynergy and she was the weakest of the group.

"I did . . ." Rief admitted, "only you were sleeping so soundly, it wasn't working." He slowly began to uncover his eyes, and then made sure his face was only fixed on Himi's. "It's urgent, though. Matthew called a meeting."

"Oh . . . Forgive me," Himi apologized with a reassuring smile. "I should not have been so quick to assume your attentions were impure." She hesitated, and then her eyes flicked over to her robes hanging alongside her bed.

Rief flushed red. He immediately understood, flushing red and walking outside of the room, closing the door behind him to wait.

Himi sighed, and then stood up, pulling her red, white and purple robes off the hook.
"So, why are we having a meeting this late at night?" she asked as she pulled on the clothing, its style similar to that of a Japanese Hakama, though she had no way of knowing that. "And, why is the ship so quiet?" Have we arrived in Belinsk?" Somehow, even as she asked, Himi knew that this was not the case. There was no sound, not even the constant lapping waves, only a low howl Himi thought sounded rather familiar—

Then she understood, at the same moment Rief began to speak from the other side of the door.

"We're in the Otka Vortex again," Rief told her. "Matthew and Amiti were on watch, but it seemed to come out of nowhere. Matthew swore they only had seconds after noticing it to get inside, though I think if it had been that close they would have been swept away—"

Himi sighed again. As knowledgeable as Rief was when it came to books and other things, his people skills needed a lot of work. "So, in short, we're being taken to Otka Island again?" she asked, interrupting the blue-haired boy.

"Um, yeah. But . . ." Rief hesitated, his brow creased in confusion. "Something seems off this time. I could have sworn we were already out of the twister's path . . ."

Himi finished tying her raven hair into two pigtails in purple silk sleeves before slipping into her sandals. For a finishing touch, she strapped the Tisiphone Edge to her hip.

She'd gotten the blade from Obaba on their last trip to Champa. The Ankhol descendant told her that it had belonged to Jenna at one point, but after the Golden Sun she'dasked the smith to hold onto the blade, in case it was ever needed.

Himi, personally, felt she wasn't powerful enough to wield such a weapon. She didn't believe herself strong enough to use the powers the blade was rumored to hold, so she hadn't used it that often.

She finally walked out, nodding towards Rief. "Maybe the others will have an idea why that is. Shall we go to this meeting, then?" she asked.
And the two headed to the captain's room for the meeting.

Karis looked grimly around the room, feeling the depressed undertone that enveloped it.

Had her father and her friends, she wondered, been like this after their victory at Mars Lighthouse? She couldn't be sure. Then again, her father's team hadn't lost anyone extremely close to them, except perhaps Karst and Agatio in Felix's case.

One of theirs, however, had lost their brother, twice, and the effects were showing. Even the buoyant Eoleo and carefree Tyrell were a little more morose than usual. Himi, too, looked around the room sadly and acknowledged the downcast feeling enveloping everyone.

The worst, though, were the two Mercury Adepts, Sveta, and Matthew. Rief, once a friendly, social, if bookish soul, had inexplicably become nervous around Amiti, occasionally stealing hesitant glances in his direction. The Ayuthayan Prince himself seemed distant. He had stolen a glance at Karis, yet a resigned look crossed his face before he looked away, barely speaking whatsoever.

Then there was Matthew and Sveta. Karis, for once, wished she had her father's power of mind reading so she could discern exactly what was wrong with two of her closest friends. She was relatively certain Sveta wasn't telling her the whole story about her nightmares and, from the look of it, they had something to do with Matthew. Whatever the case, she became tense whenever she was in the Venus User's presence.

Matthew, for his part, had seemed his silent, serious self when they first began their voyage back to the capital of Morgal. He had tried to visit Sveta once or twice, but the beastgirl always pretended to be sleeping, afraid to talk to him for some reason. Now, Matthew's silence had become somber, something that Karis had never seen in him.

Karis, however, wasn't as depressed as most of the others. Sure, it had been a terrible tragedy, and many had lost their lives. When they had visited Kaocho to deliver a granddaughter's gift to her grandmother, Karis had felt a surge of despair after finding the woman and her husband dead in their own house, killed by the monsters unleashed by the Grave Eclipse.

But she'd felt herself feeling a little happier upon seeing the spirits of the two elderly people, relishing in their own relief knowing that the Adepts made their granddaughter feel better by sending her the letter. She'd kept the sandals they were supposed to deliver to the deceased couple, wearing them whenever possible as reminder to herself that there would always be some hope and joy in the world.

"Alright, here's what's going on," Matthew began, unfurling a map of the Eastern Sea on the table in Eoleo's chart room. The group had planned all of their journeys there; all of their plans to find the Umbra Gear and the Orbs that unlocked Apollo Sanctum, and even the climb up the Endless Wall itself. Sure, things had always been serious, but there used to be hope in this room. Now, it was a mausoleum. "Our boat is caught in the Otka Vortex again."

The entire group groaned, with the exception of Rief and Eoleo, the latter only frowning.

"Hold on," the Champan pirate captain interjected, sounding confused. "I could have sworn we passed the route the vortex takes two days ago. How are we caught in the same blasted twister, then?"

"Well, Eoleo, that's the strange part," Kraden replied, stepping up to the chart. He'd been observing the group from a corner, similarly to Karis before their conversation started. "I tried to figure out what could have caused the Vortex to take such an off-course route, but nothing, not even some aftereffect caused by the firing of the Apollo Lens, should have the power to cause such a drastic shift." He shrugged, puzzled. "For the first time in a while, I can honestly say I have no idea why this happened."

That got everyone's attention. It wasn't often Kraden did not know the answer to a problem, but when he didn't, usually the answer was bad.

"Umm . . . There's something else," Rief added hesitantly. "I asked Karis what she thought about the speed of the wind, on a hunch . . . and from what she told me"—he hesitated, gulping nervously—"I think the Vortex might be weakening."

Eyes went wide, glances of shock were exchanged. Matthew looked over at Karis for confirmation.

"It's true. The winds have died down since the last time we were caught in it," she replied grimly. She didn't want to say the next part, but she had to let them know.

"I think . . . they may die completely in about four hours."

If the room hadn't been silent before, it was now, almost literally, as quiet as a tomb.

"So . . . Most likely, we'll be stuck on that accursed island," Eoleo said bluntly, shoulders slumping as he voiced everyone's thoughts. Otka Island was surrounded by jagged rocks, making travel by any means besides the Vortex impossible. The only way out of the circle of stones was over.

"Sure, the place is big enough and there's enough lumber to make homes, and food from monsters, but the place just seems bloody unnatural," the Mars Adept continued, shocking everyone by standing up and heading for the doors.

"Where are you going?" Amiti asked in surprise.

"I'm letting my crew know that we're not going to be returning to Champa. From what I've heard, we're going to be stuck on this island until we die," Eoleo replied without turning around. He then walked out the door.

Everyone was shocked into silence. Eoleo, the "never-say-die," tough-as-nails pirate captain, had just admitted defeat.

(I feel depressed just writing these chapters . . . although I was cheered up writing Himi's part. Hooray for character development, everyone! ^^

Ah, Reviews. Or rather, a review and a half . . . XD

Culebra and Anti-Viper in regard to the villain: Maybe now, it's a little easier to figure out who it will be? I'm not trying TOO hard to conceal it.

Anti-Viper alone: Thank you for your kind review once again! I appreciate you taking the time to type up such lengthy reviews. You seem to be able to identify what I'm trying to convey in the chapter perfectly. Hopefully, you like what I've done with the underdeveloped Himi. She's in sore need of character expansion . . . But thank you for writing! And the confrontation you predicted will be happening rather soon . . .)