A never ending deluge: that was what the weather was in the Water Realm. Everyday was rain, as if somewhere in the sky the gods had turned on a faucet and then forgotten to turn it off, and the only place for all that water to drain was right down into The Water Realm where it drenched everything and everyone. Myst wasn’t even sure how it was possible for it to rain every day, other than simply chalking it up to magic.
In all the realm, though, she was one of the few who could sit outside on that dark, gloomy day as a sea seemed to cascade down upon the land and not have a single drop of water touch her. The blue-haired nymph held her knees close to her chest, arms wrapped around them as she stared down at Dalga from the hilltop where she sat. Her chin was rested calmly on the apex of her legs, her eyes watching listlessly as the people of her hometown went about their days despite the torrential downpour. Even with the heavy rain, the patch of grass around her was relatively dry, due in no small part to the fact that the rain was literally going out of its way to avoid her.
As the water fell, no matter its velocity or direction, the drops would quickly bend away from the young woman perched on the hilltop when they grew within a few inches of her. Even after they struck the ground, the streams they formed would find a new path when faced with the daunting task of flowing by the strange girl. And all Myst had to do to make the liquid from above cooperate was think:
I want to be dry.
At one point in her life, she had embraced this power as a gift. When she had first discovered she could do it as a child, she had thought it was wonderful. She could control the rain. Who wouldn’t want to be able to do that? But then she made the honest mistake of showing the power to her friends. At first the other children had been as amazed by the feat as she was, but the next day that changed. The kids began to avoid her, even her best friends at the time, and she wasn’t sure why.
When she returned home that day, she told her mother what had happened, and showed the woman the wonderful power she had. It was the first time Myst could recall seeing her parent with such a terrified face. The woman hadn’t said anything at the time, other than telling her to go to her room. It was a week before her mom had said another word to her.
“Myst… sweetie…” Her mom had said after those seven days of silence. “You can’t use that power. And don’t ever show anyone else what you can do. Do you understand?”
She hadn’t. But she had agreed to do what her mother said anyhow. By that time, though, it had been too late. The kids she had shown had told their parents, and their parents had told their friends, and their friends had told their families. Everyone in Dalga knew what she could do. Everyone in Dalga knew she could use magic.
It wasn’t until years later – years of people ignoring her and taunting her, teasing and tormenting her – that Myst finally understood what her power was, and why it frightened everyone so. The Water Realm was filled with stories of how humans who could use magic brought nothing but misfortune and pain to those around them. Thousands of tales were told about how magic users attracted evil, and death. So everyone had distanced themselves from her. Everyone one but her mother.
Despite the woman’s initial reaction, she had not forsaken her daughter. After that week of neglect, the woman had turned her attitude around and began to show Myst more love, affection, and support than ever before. The nymph wasn’t sure she could have survived the years of abuse were it not for the woman. Even still, though, every so often she would catch her mother giving her the same look as everyone else in the village; a look of fear and loathing. It was a look she liked to pretend she didn’t see.
Myst sighed as she watched the villagers of her town go about their day. Even through the curtain of rain, even at that distance, she could still make out people chatting merrily near the shops and stalls. She could make out the children playing on the outskirts of town, dashing around trees as they followed the rules of one game or another. She could even see the man she had once called ‘father’ – or at least the group of men that he worked with – working hard to keep the series of drainage channels that prevented the city from flooding in good condition. Just because it was pouring out didn’t mean life slowed or stop for anyone there. Their lives flowed on just like the water around them.
The teenager was forced to clap her hands against her ears and clench her eyes closed in pain as a voice called out to her so loudly all other sound vanished. The girl couldn’t place its owner as the sound echoed in her ears for the next few seconds before finally fading away. As it did, though, Myst realized she still didn’t hear anything else – not even the patter of the rain around her.
The nymph’s eyes sprung open, and the drenched hilltop where she had once been sitting was suddenly gone, replaced by a vast and endless desert. She stood quickly, spinning back and forth as she tried to figure out where she was, and how she had gotten there. But there was nothing but endless sand in every direction. She paused, startled, her heart beginning to race until she saw a glimmer on the horizon, directly beneath where the sun was hung in the sky as it very slowly began to drop towards it.
“You can’t catch me!”
Myst spun around as a second voice called out, finding the sea of sand suddenly gone, replaced by giant columns of glass and metal, stretching far into the sky, scraping at its belly. A sudden rush of yellow flew from around a corner, blasting past her with inhuman speed, another flash of red close behind it. As they both dashed past her, time slowed, and the girl got a glimpse of a female – a little older than herself – with sparkling platinum blonde hair. On her tail was a boy with wild red and blonde hair, stretching his hand out toward the girl with a look of annoyed determination.
Then time resumed, and the two blurs flew past her, clouding her vision and filling her ears with the sound of rushing wind. With sight and sound returned, the giant structures were gone, replaced by a circular wooden room. Myst stared forward, looking out the window that had been placed in front of her at a forest that seemed to stretch out endlessly, far below her. She spun around, finding another moment frozen in time as some sort of indescribably hideous beast lunged at a girl with green hair who seemed to be guarding what looked like ladybugs.
Myst blinked and the room was gone. She began to take a step back, surprised by the face of a goofy looking boy with wild white hair that suddenly sat perched in front of her, lips puckered as if he were about to kiss her. She glanced around, seeing nothing else but the oddly forward stranger. But as she looked back, he was gone again. It was all gone again, replaced once more by the dreary, rainy vista of Dalga.
Myst paused, staring down at the town as the moments she had just seen replayed in her head. She lowered her head as she brought a hand to her chest, trying to calm her heart.
“A vision?” She asked herself in a whisper. If it had been, it had been the first she had ever had while she was awake.
“Pardon me, would this happen to be Dalga?”
Myst gasped, turning her head slightly as an unfamiliar voice addressed her. She twisted her body around, turning to look over her shoulder to face the person, tilting her head up slightly as they came into view. The young woman felt her heart skip a beat as she laid eyes on the three faces she saw standing there. They were people she had never met, but faces that had been ingrained into her memory nonetheless.
The nymph cut herself off as all three turned their eyes to stare at her, dispelling what little doubt may have rested in the woman’s mind about who they were.
Standing closest to Myst, slightly ahead of the other two was a tall, slender woman, looking to be in her late twenties – maybe a decade older than Myst. Her body was narrow, and mostly flat, with very small curves at the waist and the chest. Despite this, there was an unmistakable allure about her – an indefinable attractive nature. If Myst had to take a guess at what it was, it would have to be the woman’s eyes – the iris’s seemed to sparkle and twinkle as the eyes moved, as if refracting a light source that wasn’t there. A thin circle of silver ran through their center, and the pupil resembled that of a cat’s, more of a slit than a sphere. Framing these alluring eyes and the rest of her face were short locks of hair that looked as black as the night sky.
Furthest behind her was a man that Myst couldn’t truly describe as a man. While he stood on two legs, with two arms and a head, it was the head that dispelled any illusion of his humanity, as it resembled a squid more than a human skull. A gray, slimy skin covered the skull, lacking any sort of hair and forming around two large, pure black eyes. Though she couldn’t actually see the pupils, Myst had no doubt the man was staring at her as their eyes met. From his chin dangled a half dozen or so squirming tentacles, dismissing any thought that they may not actually be real.
The last of the group was a younger woman than the first, thought still definitely older than Myst. She was much shorter than either of them, looking to stand barely five feet tall. The girl had short, dark blue hair in a bob cut, with odd braids of blonde hair that seemed to stretch down further, almost reaching the girls waist, and brilliant yellow eyes that studied her with mild interest.
The nymph turned to face the three fully, the rain still refusing to touch her as she did. She stared at them for a moment in silence before speaking once more.
“It is.” She stated, answering the front woman’s original question.
“Splendid.” The slender woman replied, smiling politely as she stared at Myst. “And, I’m curious, would you happen to be named… Myst?”
The water nymph swallowed hard as she simply nodded in response.
“Excellent!” The trim female exclaimed, clapping her hands together. “You have no idea how glad I am to find you so quickly.”
“I’m sure…” Myst replied, her eyes darting to the two people behind the woman as they suddenly stepped closer to her, though still remained at the black-haired woman’s side.
“You see, I heard a rumor.” The woman continued to speak, placing one hand on her hip as she shifted her balance to a more comfortable position. “And according to that rumor, you have something… special.”
“If you’re asking about my magic…” The nymph motioned to the invisible shield that was deterring the rain from striking her.
“No, no.” The woman shook her head. “Nothing so mundane. It’s something more… incredible.”
Myst felt her muscles tightened as the woman’s smile widened with the word ‘incredible’. The young woman had long been waiting for this day – the day these three would come for her. The day they would try to kill her.
“You do know what I’m talking about, right?” The woman asked disparagingly.
The nymph clenched her fists together tight. Of course she knew what the woman meant – it was the only think she could possibly foresee that would cause this woman to travel out to her town, to find her. She was talking about the Mystic Blade of Water; The Aqua Saber.
“Of course.” Myst answered honestly, nodding her head.
Almost three years Myst had been waiting for The Serpent to come for her – she had known it would happen from the moment she picked up the Aqua Saber. The sword had told her so as soon as her fingers touched it.
To that day, she had no idea where the sword had come from, or how it had found its way into her life. The saber had suddenly appeared one night, slipped beneath her blankets. In her sleep she had rolled over, and laid a hand upon its hilt. The touch of the blade – the power that flowed into her from it – instantly pulled her from her sleep and thrust her into a vision more vivid and concrete than any she had had since. A vision of this very moment: of her standing on that hilltop, face to face with The Serpent and her two grunts. A vision that left no doubt how the encounter would end, but at the same time left no certainty in the truth of the future it predicted.
When the vision had passed, she had panicked and thrown the sword from her bed – terrified by what she had seen. But as she sat in her bed, nearly hyperventilating, staring at the odd, wavy structure of the long sword, she felt her agitation subside, replaced by a calm she couldn’t describe. She had stood from her bed, retrieved the blade, and hid it away for many months, never looking at it and never telling anyone about it. And then the dreams had started – the premonitions sent by the weapon.
When they began to invade her sleep it had alarmed her, and she had pulled the sword from beneath the floorboards under her bed where she had stashed it. When she looked at its surface, the same calm feeling flowed over her once more. Holding the blade in her hand, she could suddenly make sense of the strange prophecies she was seeing – or at least more sense of them than she could on her own. After that, she began to pull the sword out more and more often, and as she did, the portents of the future occurred more and more as well. Most of these dreams were insignificant, and seemingly random, but one vision seemed to keep repeating itself, more so than any other:
The vision of that moment.
“You want the Aqua Saber.”
The words flowed calmly from Myst’s mouth.
“Oh good.” The slender woman smiled, clapping her hands happily as she grinned at the only one of them all that was still dry. “We don’t need to play a pointless game of cat and mouse. I grow dreary of such things so quickly.”
“Hand it over now, and you might yet live.”
Myst was startled as a mouth suddenly appeared on the squid-headed man’s face – the opening seeming to slip from no where as his gurgling voice reverberated from his throat somewhat like he was speaking through a fast moving fan.
“Calm down, Sentry. There’s no need for threats.” The lady lightly slapped the strange man across the back of his shoulder as she turned her focus back to Myst. “She seems smart enough. I’m sure she’s willing to cooperate.”
“So?” The woman asked, leaning forward. “Where is it?”
Myst took in a deep breath, letting it out slowly as she stared at the three of them. This event had played out for her a thousand different times in a hundred different ways, and it always ended up the same. Despite that – or perhaps because of it – she still refused to simply give up. She refused to kneel and hand over the blade – not because she was brave, or because she couldn’t stand the idea of The Serpent coiling her mitts around it. No, she refused to hand it over because in the end, it wouldn’t make a difference. And if it didn’t matter, she had decided she’d at least go down fighting.
“Let me show you.”
The girl held out her hand to her side, and stood quiet and motionless for a short moment as the three stared at her curiously. A few seconds passed and nothing happened, forcing The Serpent to cock an eyebrow to the girl. And then something changed.
The invisible shield acting as the nymph’s umbrella collapsed and the rain splattered down across her, it’s fear of touching her suddenly gone. At the same moment, shouts could be heard from the distant town, and the whistling sound of something approaching quickly reached their ears. Bolting through the air, slicing through the town, and flying with incredible speed, the Aqua Saber responded to its master’s call, stopping only once it hovered just beneath the girl’s outstretched hand, halting with a loud crack that startled the three beasts before her.
The nymph quickly wrapped her fingers around the sword’s handle, pressing forward suddenly as the blade met her hand. Her eyes moved from The Serpent, eyeing the strange short girl with her. Her best chance for survival meant taking her out first. The girl swung the weapon in a wild arc, aiming for the bob-cut’s neck.
The tiny woman was quick though, dodging backward with incredible speed. Myst’s sword failed to reach the woman’s neck, but it did manage to slice cleanly through a few of the diminutive woman’s blonde braids. As the edge of the sword sliced through the hair, the woman let out a scream, leaping back a few more times to put distance between herself and the nymph.
Myst wasn’t entirely surprised in the next moment as the rain around her suddenly stopped its descent and rushed towards her. The drops crashed against her, binding together until a massive ten foot tall sphere encased her. The water nymph turned in the liquid, spying the source of the phenomenon as the squid-man held his hand out toward her, his beady black eyes seeming to glare at her through the veil of water.
“Let’s see how long you can hold your breath, girl.”
Myst could barely understand the man’s distorted words even without the muffling effect of the water prison she was encased in, but she didn’t need to hear them to know what the creature was saying.
Grinning Myst pushed herself down in the water, ensuring the soles of her feet were touching the ground, then thought one, simple thought:
I want to be dry!
The prison instantly shattered, the rain water thrust away from her body by some unseen force as Myst quickly took advantage of the squid’s surprise, dashing from where she had planted herself and thrusting her sword forward. The squid barely managed to dodge a lethal blow as he twisted his head back and away, but he didn’t get off completely unscathed. Myst slashed upward as the tip of her sword fell beneath the man’s tentacles, slicing through a few, causing their still squirming tips to fall to the ground as the beast let out a scream.
The nymph’s ears twitched as she heard the quick successive splashing sounds of someone approaching from behind. She ducked down, spinning as she swung her blade low, dodging the punch launched at her by the tiny woman as she swiped at the female’s legs. The bob-cut leaped up, avoiding the slash as she flipped over Myst, the blonde braids spinning down and gently skimming across the girl’s back.
Myst let out a scream as the braids literally melted through her clothes, licking against her skin, leaving no sign of their impact on the cloth itself, but deep red gashes where they had rubbed against the nymph’s flesh. The young woman collapsed momentarily as the pain shot through her, a feeling of incredible weakness overtaking her muscles for only a moment until she – through sheer will – forced the ligaments and tendons in her body to carry on, lifting her back to her feet.
She spun around, turning to face the strange, short woman as the diminutive female spun in place, whipping the blonde strands out toward Myst again. The nymph ducked low and raised the sword up, allowing the razor sharp edge and her opponent’s own momentum to do her work. As each braid spun toward the sword, the edge of saber sliced it clean off, causing the bob-cut to collapse as she screamed in pain once more.
The nymph quickly pushed to her feet, turning to face the squid-man once more, when something she didn’t expect happened. The girl felt a small momentary pressure against her back, as if someone were gently poking her. The feeling lasted only a second, but what followed as it pulled away was not so quick to leave.
Instantly, Myst’s muscles collapsed, her whole body exhausted. The nymph’s mouth was suddenly bone dry as she crashed to the ground, unable to muster up even the most meager amount of saliva. She gasped, unexpectedly tired and incredibly thirsty, despite the water surrounding her.
“That’s enough of that.”
The voice of the slender woman filled Myst’s ears as she weakly turned her head, trying to bring The Serpent into sight.
“I thought you might have been smarter than that.” The woman walked around the collapsed teenager, allowing the girl’s eyes to find her as she lay, dehydrated almost to the point of death. “Or did your sword not warn you fighting was pointless?”
Myst tried to speak, but her lips and tongue were too parched to allow her to form the necessary words.
“Or maybe it did, but you thought since you knew how everything would play out, you could somehow change the fate it foretold for you?” The Serpent laughed as she bent down, running a hand gently across Myst’s cheek. “The problem with that, little drip, is that I can see the future too. A fair bit better than yourself, I suppose, since I’m the one still standing.”
The teenage girl struggled to keep her eyes open, the lack of water in her body making it incredibly difficult to remain coherent.
“Too bad for you, I guess.” The Serpent gave her a frown of pity as she stood back up and turned away.
“Sentry. Medusa. Finish her for me, would you?”
Myst closed her eyes deciding to let her body’s exhaustion take over – there was no longer any reason to struggle. If she gave in to the languid feelings, she might fall into unconsciousness before the two beasts dealt the final blow. She took a small bit of comfort knowing, though, that at least she had tried to survive. At least she had tried to fight.