Sylvy didn’t know what to say to Necrosis. He had every reason to hate her and everything she stood for. But he wanted to go with her. To be her Cryptix, and to help her, to fight alongside her. A Cryptix who Linked with a Wizard, or a Linker became emotionally bound to them. And while they could choose to separate, the process was painful for both of them. And there was another thing that concerned her.
“You’re an Elder Cryptix right?” she paused for a moment as if to wait for him to respond. But then she kept talking anyway. “I’m not powerful enough to Link with an Elder Cryptix.”
“If you really are the Philosopher Queen then there isn’t a Cryptix alive you can’t Link with.”
I am the queen, I am—I am. She told herself over and over again. As though her thoughts would make it more true.
“Alright, let’s link,” she said holding out her hand.
Necrosis didn’t move instead she felt something slide into place in the back of her head. And then she shuddered as a part of Necrosis power flowed into her. She felt his cold fire, the power to control the energy of death. Then the bird himself turned into energy that flowed into her staff. And the staff absorbed the energy. When the glowing dyed down she couldn’t see Necrosis anymore. But she could feel him in her staff.
“I didn’t know this staff could store monsters like a Spell book,” Sylvy said, looking at the gem at the top of staff.
“Spell books and Monster books are a poor imitation of this staff’s power,” Necrosis’ voice came from the gem. “But we are out of time for explanations. Do you see the wall in front of us?”
Sylvy nodded, the odd tunnel ended, as though whatever made it just disappeared suddenly. Though—as she looked at the stone wall she noticed a faint magical aura emanating from it. Had the creature been suddenly magicked away?
“You might not be able to see it, but that wall has a rift in it, an unnatural portal to another world. It’s fading quickly though, so if you want to chase after the creature that obliterated your kingdom, you need to go now.”
She didn’t hesitate, there was nothing left for her in Etherion anyways. She stepped forward into the wall—and suddenly she was someplace else. Glowing magical crystals of a wide variety of sizes grew from the stone walls and floors of the cave she found herself in. The gray stone the cave was carved from definitely seemed different than the orange rock of the tunnel she’d just been in.
She turned around just in time to see Dual struggle through the wall behind her as he pushed his way through the rift. She leaned down and pulled him through the rest of the way. She did find it odd that the twin tail could teleport on his own. But going through someone else’s portals was hard.
“Sorry Dual, I should have put you in my staff too,” she thought about it for a moment. “Actually—since we don’t know what we’re going to find here I should put you in the staff anyways.”
Dual made a sour face like he didn’t like that idea at all. But he didn’t try to argue. So she focused on Dual and the staff and the two tailed cat started to glow, turning into energy and disappeared into the staff. She was happy she’d figured out how to send Cryptix into the staff.
“Good idea,” Necrosis said from inside the staff. “We’ve traveled from your universe to another. There’s no telling what we’ll find. The multiverse is an awfully big place.”
With the busy work done she turned her attention to the beautiful crystal caves. She’d never even imagined a place like that could exist. She’d only just left the castle and she’d already seen something incredible. But she had to try and keep herself on task. She wasn’t there to sightsee after all.
“What are we looking for?” she directed the question at her staff.
“I was stuck in stasis when whatever happened in that lab occurred. But there are very few creatures that have the power to just end everyone nearby. It must be an Old One—a very powerful type of Crypix that has unimaginable power. I don’t know why your father would experiment on such a creature. But it tunneled through the dimensions to escape to this world. If we’re lucky it’s still weak from whatever your father was doing to it and we’ll be able to take care of it before it recovers.”
She knew why her dad would have been experimenting on such a powerful Cryptix. Or at least—she had an idea. But she didn’t want to say anything to Necrosis. He already seemed to think so little of her dad. He might have been gone, but she couldn’t bring herself to disrespect him. So she silently kept making her way through the cave. The glowing crystals lit her way, but she still couldn’t figure out where she was going.
Does this world even have a surface, she thought. Or is it all cave?
The creature that had escaped from the lab hadn’t left any tracks beyond the tunnel it had made. And once it had emerged into the cave all traces of it vanished. It was odd that something so powerful could move around without leaving any evidence.
She was about to ask Necrosis if he could feel the old one. But before she could, she noticed a large crystal, shattered on the ground. When the crystals shattered they stopped glowing. So it was an odd dark spot amongst the light of the cave.
She quietly ran over to the crystal to examine it. Based on the shatter pattern she deduced that something big had rammed into the crystal, breaking it completely. She looked around to see if the creature was still nearby. But she didn’t see anything that could be described as an old one.
“Careful,” Necrosis said from her staff. “We’re not alone.”
She looked frantically around the cave. But she was looking for a monster not a human. So when the arrow just missed her head and bounced off the broken crystal she couldn’t help but jump in surprise.
“That was just a warning shot. The next one won’t miss.” She looked up to see a boy, probably around her age, maybe a little older. He had cocoa colored skin, and dark hair. But for her the most important part of him wasn’t his looks. But rather, the bow he was holding with an arrow nocked and ready to fire.
“We can take this guy easily,” Necrosis said with fire in his voice.
“Shush,” she said to her staff before turning to the boy. “I mean you no harm, I came here chasing after a powerful Cryptix. It’s dangerous and I need to stop it.”
“The Tarrasque,” the boy said without lowering his bow. “It would be foolish to trust a sorceress to help, you probably want to take its power somehow.”
There were insults, and there was what the boy had said. Accusing her, the queen, of having such corrupt motivations. But she had to put her honor aside, she needed the boys help to figure out where the creature had gone.
“I’m not trying to trick you, I…”
“Enough,” the boy said, cutting her off, as he released his arrow.
She didn’t have time to think. She instinctively swung her staff through the air like a weapon. And green colored light shot out of it breaking the arrow into bits. Then the light changed shape, molding itself in the air into the shape of a twin tailed cat. When the energy had been fully shaped the glow of the green light disappeared leaving nothing but the twin tailed Cryptix behind.
“Mrrrreow,” Dual said, trying to sound fierce.
Then the boy did something unexpected in response. He threw his bow. As it sailed through the air it started to glow and reshape itself as well. The bow quickly took the shape of a long eared rabbit. It had green and brown fur—and it’s ears were long and feathery. When the glowing subsided the creature started to hover in the air by flapping its long ears.
“You call me a Sorceress—but you use Cryptix too,” Sylvy said, indigent.
“That’s clearly not what makes you a sorceress.”
She wasn’t entirely sure what it was that made her a sorceress in the boys eye’s. She was starting to get the impression that there wasn’t much she was going to be able to do to convince him that she really didn’t mean any harm. Some people were like that–even back on her world. They wouldn’t be willing to listen until you proved you were better then them in some way. And she guessed a Cryptix battle would be the way they ended up competing.
Do they even call them Cryptix battles here? She thought. She could ask–but that wouldn’t help her with the trustworthy image she was going to have to build if she wanted to get people from other worlds to help her. Still considering she was on a completely alien world, she might not have much choice.
“We don’t have to do this,” Sylvy warned softly. She was secretly hoping the boy would fight her anyways. She was excited to put all of her training and practice to the test. The only issue was that once she’d won she’d have to figure out a way to get the boy to listen to her. But if she won she would prove that there wasn’t anything he could do to stop her anyways. Cryptix battles where a show of a wizards power and most people respected their outcome–even people who disrespected magic users and Linkers for whatever reason.
“I’d be a fool to let you just walk away sorceress, Ruu we’re battling,” the rabbit monster nodded and looked as fierce as it’s cute face would allow, which is to say, not very fierce at all.
“Your Cryptix is cute,” Sylvy said honestly.
“Quite–Ruu light arrow,” at the boys command the rabbit shot an arrow of light out of its ears. Sylvy didn’t try to order Dual to dodge at all. There was no point–monsters had strong elemental aura that protected them. Most of the time, battles ended when the aura of a monster was broken. But Dual had a Warp and Gia aura and both of those affinities provided extra protection from light type attacks. The boy either didn’t know that–or didn’t care. “Now follow that up with another light arrow.” The rabbit shot a second light arrow just as the first was hitting Dual, she didn’t make any effort to have Dual dodge the second one either. When the flashing lights from the attack faded Dual didn’t have a scratch on him.
“Dual root wrap,” the cat’s two tails twisted to point at the rabbit and plant roots started to grow rapidly outward, they quickly grew around the rabbit tightening around him. Then the roots started to glow, draining away the elemental aura around it.
The boy frowned in concern. But Sylvy ignored him, she was about to win in only a few moves.
“Now distortion orb,” at her command, Dual launched a ball of purple wavy energy that flew through the air breaking the roots as it went. But they had already done their job so she wasn’t worried. When the orb hit the rabbit Cryptix it crashed to the ground unable to stay airborne any longer. For a moment she assumed she’d won. But then the rabbit struggled to its feet.
“Ruu, pressure bullet.”
She panicked suddenly. She’d thought she had won and let her guard down, and she was going to pay for it.
Dual slid back on the ground as invisible bullets made of air, struck him one after another, after another. He managed to keep his claws dug into the ground to keep from flying backwards. But then the rabbit rushed up to him and kicked him with it’s two powerful feet. Dual flew into the air helplessly. The rabbit started to flap its large feathery ears, it was going to try and attack Dual mid fall, she had to do something.
“Dual, Warp on top of him,” the cat Cryptix used its tails to right itself in the air. Then it popped out of existence for a moment before reappearing on the rabbits back right as it took off into the air. Dual slammed it back down onto the ground by pressing down with all his weight.
“Cat Scratch,” Dual raised up one of his paws and his claws popped out. He then scratched the Rabbit. There wasn’t any blood but instead sparks flew off the rabbit Cryptix as it’s elemental aura dissipated in a flash of light.
She let out a sigh of relief, for a moment it had looked like she was going to lose to a commoner. But she’d managed to win in the end.
“Good job Dual. ” The cat Cryptix did its best to let out a roar. But it just sounded like an aggressive meow.
The boy scoffed and ran over to make sure his Cryptix was okay. The rabbit had already gotten back to its feet, and she knew that it’s elemental aura would regenerate in a few minutes. She’d have to work quickly before the boy had a chance to come up with a new plan.
“Looks like I won,” she said, doing her best to hide her immature giddiness.
“I don’t have anything to say to you Sorceress, not even if you torture me.”
She frowned, she didn’t have time to torture him. And even if she did she would really rather not. The boy didn’t deserve it as far as she could tell. He was just being stubborn about his misconception of her.
“I’m Sylvy,” she said, taking another approach. She decided to leave out her royal title, she doubted it would do her any good anyways and it might just make him more suspicious. “What’s your name?”
“Zak,” the boy said, after a long moment of hesitation.
“Listen Zak, I really don’t know what a sorceress is, I’m a wizard. I’m trying to stop the creature you called the Tarrasque.”
“If you’re not a sorceress then you’re an idiot, the Tarrasque cannot be defeated.”
Sylvy didn’t know if that counted as progress or not. But she would take what little she could get. She had to figure out where the monster was and how to deal with it.
“Look, Zak, my father—he’s the person who unleashed the Tarrasque. And it’s my responsibility to stop it.”
Zak got to his feet, cradling his Cryptix. He looked into Sylvy’s eyes. His dark brown irises seemed to pierce through her. Back on her world such forwardness towards the Queen would never be tolerated. But she wasn’t on her own world anymore, and there wasn’t anyone left to enforce those rules anyways.
“Where’s your dad now?” Zak asked pointedly.
“He’s—he’s…” Zak’s eyes softened as she spoke. Like he knew what she was about to say.
“You don’t have to say it,” the boy said. “My eyes let me see the truth, and the meaning people hide–I’m sorry.”
“He’s dead,” Sylvy forced herself to say it despite Zak’s kindness. She couldn’t afford to be weak. She couldn’t afford to let herself be dragged down by things that she couldn’t control. As the Philosopher Queen, she had a duty to be both the strongest, and the wisest person she could.
Zak didn’t take his eyes off her for a few long moments. If what he said was true he had the power to see what she was thinking. Or at least enough of what she was thinking to guage her intentions. She had to wonder why he hadn’t just used that power in the first place instead of battling her.
Maybe he’s like me, she thought. Maybe he wanted to battle just to see how he’d do.
She decided to look straight, and fearlessly into Zak’s eyes. And focus on the respect she felt towards him as a worthy opponent. It worked, as soon as she did a look of surprise and uncertainty clouded the boy’s face. After a few long moments he seemed to make up his mind about something.
“I want to battle you again sometime,” he declared. Sylvy’s only response was to smile warmly at him. “Follow me Sylvy, I’ll help you find the Tarrasque.”