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Chapter 15: Woman of the River

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I woke up the next morning to a ton of banging. Lazily getting out of bed, I headed outside to see what was going on. I opened the Inn door to see Stan and Matt fighting each other, they were taking punches to the head and gut and they were throwing each other around. Each time one of the hits the ground, it feels like an earthquake.

"Hey, stop!" I yelled out. "What are you doing?"

"Stephan!" Stan yelled heartily. "Thanks for getting us out of that mine yesterday."

"Yeah, that night in the inn was just what we needed!" Matt exclaimed. "Now we can test who's stronger at full strength: me or Stan!" And Matt rushed at Stan again only to be thrown back onto the ground.

"Well, as long as you guys don't break anything," I said as I went back inside. I bumped into Helen, who was wrapped in a blanket and rubbing her eye.

"What's going on out there?" she muttered.

"A strength contest being Stan and Matt," I answered. "Probably best to stay inside."

"Yeah, probably," Helen started walking back to her room. "Oh, Andrew wants to talk to you. You should come with me." I nodded and followed my cousin upstairs. Andrew wanted to see how everyone was doing: Jennifer's leg is now mended, Chris is back to normal, and Sobie is put back together. Apparently, a night in the inn does wonders! Deciding we should get a move on back to the town of Qora, we got our gear together and headed out, collecting Stan and Matt on the way.

"No! It's gone!" Qora yelled as he returned from the back room of his house. "They took it!"

"Crap..." Stan muttered. "Why didn't you warp us to Oora?" Stan yelled grabbing Andrew by the shirt. "That's closer!"

"I just used whatever Gem I picked up!" Andrew responded.

"Besides, I don't think my family would like to have seen us in our states," Octavis said. I tried to pull Andrew down, but Stan let go, bringing us both the ground.

"Where to next?" Kyra asked helping us up.

"Rora," Andrew said. "And we should leave soon if we hope to get there before Exitilus's minions do."

"Yes, we should go," Lacey said. "Good-bye, Qora." We all left, waving goodbye, as Qora wished us good luck. Heading toward Rora was slightly difficult; there are much more powerful enemies now then there were the last couple of times we went here. The enemies were much more aggressive and, by the time we got to Rora, everyone was tired except for the strongest members of our team. When Rora let us into his house, the tired members just plopped onto the couch or chair.

"Make yourselves at home, I guess," Rora said. "So you're the one's looking for the Gem, right? I'll be right back!" Rora left in a flash then came back before Andrew could even get a word out. "Actually, I just remembered: I keep mine hidden. Bottom of the river in a secret cave. You can breathe underwater, right?" Expecting Rora to keep talking, I slowly reached into my bag and pulled out the Water Armor. "It's a good thing that bag has a lot of space in it! But you should have more than one so you can all go into the cave." Rora left and came back with several suits of Water Armor and handed them out. "Armor for you, armor for you, armor for you, et cetera, et cetera. There! Now you all have Water Armor!"

"Um, thanks!" Andrew said somewhat confused.

"Now you'd best be careful! Suspicious things have been happening in the river, lately. There's a woman who hangs out by the river almost every day and, if she's not careful, she could fall in. She'd be literally sleeping with the fishes, if you know what I mean. I tried to get her to stay away, but she always says ‘This is where my best and worst memories took place.' See if you can get her to come with you or something. She's knows some water magic which could be helpful! Now, out with you! Go save the world!" Rora slid us all out the door and shut it behind us.

"Well, that was... rude," Sobie said.

"Well, let's go find this woman and see if we can help her!" Matt said, heading for the river while putting on his Water Armor. We all put on our Armors as well as we followed Matt.

Sure enough, there was a blue-haired woman sitting on a bench overlooking the river. Matt told us to stay here as he goes and "woos" the woman, as he put it. Combing his Mohawk, he walked over to the woman.

"I was gonna ask if you come here often, but I heard you already do," The woman just kept looking at the river.

"Have you ever had a great moment in your life and you want it to stay forever?" she asked, not looking away from the river. "But when you least expect it, that moment is over and gone in the most horrible way possible?" Matt just sort of stood there with a blank look on his face. Then he slapped himself and shook his head.

"Um, no, actually," he responded. "For me, if something bad happens, I just laugh at it and move on, knowing something good will eventually happen afterward." The woman turned toward Matt and his jaw just dropped. Matt started muttering incoherently, saying something about her "beautiful eyes". The woman just grunted and turned back to the river. Andrew came up and dragged Matt away then returned to the woman.

"Please forgive my idiot friend," he said turning to Matt. "My name's Andrew and these are my much-better-at-speaking friends. What's your name?" The woman turned to Andrew then turned back.

"Marina," she answered.

"Well, Marina, we've been told there has been some activity in the river lately. We'd appreciate if you went home for right now."

"No thanks," Marina said. "I like being here. I don't care much for the Shark activity."

"Shark activity?!" I repeated.

"Rora didn't say anything about that!" Jennifer exclaimed.

"If you don't mind me asking, Marina," Andrew said, unfazed. "What were the good and bad memories that happened here?" She lowered her head, looking more at the water than before.

"This is where I was proposed to and married," she said. "Then we got divorced. Let's just say he wasn't as good a person as I thought."

"Well, why don't you come with us?" Matt asked, walking up to her. "Make some new, possibly better, memories?" Marina just remained silent. "Listen, there's no point in moping about the bad stuff, otherwise none of us would be here. You just got to press on and smile! You can do that, right?" Marina looked up and nodded. "Come on," Matt said, smiling. "Do it with me." He just starred at her for a while and Marina couldn't help but laugh.

"Oh, you're right, both of you," she said standing up. "If you really need me on your team, I guess I'll come along."

"Excellent!" Matt yelled shaking her hand and making Marina jump. "My name is Matt! Or Matthew! You can call me whatever you like!" Marina took her hand back and slapped Matt with it. Matt recovered, cracked his neck, and said, "See? You're making new memories already! Ow..."

"Well, glad to see you happy, Marina," Andrew said. "Though, I think slapping Matt will make anyone happy." I walked up to Marina carrying a Water Armor.

"Rora gave us an extra one," I said. "I guess he expected you to join." Marina nodded and took the armor.

"Alright!" Stan yelled. "It's been a while since I wrestled a shark!" We all hesitatingly jumped into the shark-infested waters, expect for Stan, who cannonballed into the water, and Matt, who did a dive to impress Marina.

Thanks to the Water Armors, we were able to use our weapons unrestrictedly, so we weren't in grave danger, just... in danger. Finding the secret cave Rora mentioned took some time, but we eventually found it, buried beneath a boulder. Stan and Matt had hefted the boulder out of the water and onto land, providing us the way forward. When we walked in, I was instantly reminded of the cove in Iora, and I could tell by their faces that Andrew and Kyra were reminded as well. The water glistened off the wall making the entire cave sparkle. Everyone's face was in complete astonishment, but we all quickly remembered that there are sharks lurking about. Swimming forward, we found that the water often revealed dry spots of land. We tried to use these spots to our advantage in order to fight the sharks easier. The sharks were incredibly strong, using physical weapons did almost nothing. Using my Lightning or Kyra's Ice Magic had the strongest effect on the sharks.

The lower level was covered in boulders. Pushing aside one revealed another. Stan and Matt continued pushing the boulders until there were none left. All the while, we were fending off attacking sharks. When they pushed one of the boulders, the water level started decreasing. When the water was completely gone, we could see clearly again and saw plenty of sharks just laying there. We continued forward unopposed. Finding another room full of water, we cautiously jumped in expecting more sharks. Eventually, we came to a dead end and decided to turn back. However, a large boulder obstructed us from continuing and we heard a crumbling noise come from above us. We moved out of the way and saw rocks falling down followed by a shark, much larger than the other ones we fought. It swam around at high speeds, circling us, waiting for us to attack. Stan's, Matt's and Jennifer's Fire Magic will not work here, neither will my Lightning Magic, unless I want to electrocute everybody. Kyra's Ice and Helen's Air will work the best and Marina can control the water around us. Marina started spinning her staff around, causing a vortex that grew bigger and bigger. We, including the large shark, were all caught in the vortex spinning at high speeds. The vortex sent all of us slamming into walls and we kept yelling at Marina to stop. When she did, the water receded and we slammed down to the ground. Most of us had to keep ourselves from barfing.

"What was that about?" Matt yelled.

"Sorry," Marina said. "I was just trying to help."

"Fat lot of good you did!" Chris yelled. "Nearly breaking my back is what you did!"

"Now hold on," Andrew said. "Look at the shark." The shark was shaking somewhat violently and started spitting things out. Most of us looked away to avoid losing our own lunch as the shark spit out various objects. Andrew walked over to the heap of junk and took off his vest to pick something up with it. We walked over to us and held it out to us. It was the Rora Gem! "The shark must've eaten in," Andrew said. "If Marina hadn't caused the vortex, we probably would've had to gut the shark open." Most of us nearly puked at that image. "Well, we got what we came for. Might as well use the Gem to get out of here." Andrew held up the gem and we were brought back to the town of Rora.

That night, we were all in rooms in the inn. Matt decided to go for a walk and he found Marina in the main lobby.

"Hey," Matt started. Marina looked at him. "So, sorry about yelling at you earlier. About swinging us around with that vortex."

"I'm sorry, too," Marina said. "I've been told I can get a little... crazy when I use my magic."

"Yeah, we noticed," Matt said, rubbing the back of his head. "That was a good idea you had, though. Making the shark throw up."

"Heh, happy to help,"

"Let me make it up to you, though. How about, when this is all over, I take you out for dinner, huh?"

"I'm not looking for a boyfriend, Matthew," she said turning away.

"That's... fine," Matt hesitated. "Well, you still have ten more chapters to change your mind." Matt started to walk away. "But just so you know, I don't give up very easily." Matt continued walking away. Marina waited a bit before heading back to her room.

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