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MHO - Chapter 22 by Lloxie

MHO - Chapter 22

Mystic Heart Odyssey, Chapter 22. Sulyr was originally just supposed to be a one-off, single scene character, but he’s honestly grown on me and I’ve developed some more ideas for him for later. (Including a short sequel or side story after the main one is done.) Enjoy~



Kuna woke up the next morning, still fairly groggy. After rubbing his eyes, he got up and did his usual yawning and stretching before crawling out of their makeshift shelter. “Morning Lykou,” he said sleepily as he sat down next to the konuul.

Lykou was poking at the fire idly with somewhat glum looking expression. “Hm? Oh, g’morning.”

The sereva arched a brow, wondering what the sudden change in the konuul’s demeanor was about. Then a sudden realization hit him, quickly waking him up. “Oh shit, I forgot to wake you up for the second watch!” he blurted out, then looked at the konuul apologetically. “Sorrysorrysorry!”

“Huh?” Lykou responded, then shrugged. “Oh, that? Heh, don’t worry about it. Nothing came for us. Guess Koki was right about this area being pretty safe.”

“Er, yeah… I guess,” the sereva said, looking down a bit guiltily. “Still irresponsible though.”

“Nah. We’re alive, so who cares,” the konuul said nonchalantly, then resumed staring off into space and idly poking at the fire with a stick.

Kuna looked over at the canid, concerned with his friend’s uncharacteristically morose attitude. “Lykou?”

“Hm?” the konuul said without looking up.

The sereva gently set a hand on his shoulder. “What’s wrong?”

Lykou looked up for a moment, then sighed heavily. “We didn’t get any answers on the mountain. And we’re no closer to finding our way home,” he said somberly. Tears peeked out from the corners of his eyes.

Kuna folded his ears down and he quickly embraced the canid in a tight hug. “We’ll get there, Lykou. So one dumb mountain didn’t work out. Sooner or later, we’ll find the way back.”

The konuul took a deep breath and embraced the sereva back. “Wish I had the same confidence,” he admitted. He sniffed a bit. “Gets a bit hard to stay optimistic sometimes.”

The sereva had to strain not to tear up a little himself, seeing his friend in such an unusually blue mood. He took a deep breath of his own, then squeezed the canid in his arms. “I promise we’ll get there. I… have a feeling we’ll find our way soon. Call it intuition, or… something. Maybe the mountain spoke to us in a way we haven’t realized yet,” he tried to assure him, trying to dance around what his Mentor suggested without actually blurting it out.

Lykou looked at him for a moment, then sighed again as his gaze fell back to the ground. “Heh, we’ll see.”

“Is there anything I can do for you?” Kuna asked, desperate to try and make the canid feel better. “Anything we can talk about, maybe?”

After a short pause, the konuul weakly smiled up at the sereva. “I’ll be better in a little while,” he said, rubbing his eye. “Just have to deal with the homesickness now and then. But I really appreciate your company, Kuna. I’d be lost on this trip in more ways than one without you here.”

Kuna returned a small smile, then pulled the canid in close again and nuzzled into his neck. “Not as lost as I’d be,” he replied.

“Let’s call it a tie,” the canid said with a soft chuckle, squeezing the sereva gently.

“Deal,” Kuna said with a small grin.

The two cuddled in silence for a while. Eventually they separated enough to each grab some breakfast and struck up conversation again as the konuul’s mood lightened somewhat.


Eventually, they packed up and resumed their journey, with the konuul feeling a bit better. When they arrived at the stream again, they both exchanged a look.

“ you think he’s likely to show up again?” Kuna nervously wondered. “He probably won’t if we just quickly cross… right?”

“No idea. But honestly, I wouldn’t worry if he does,” the konuul said, rubbing his arm with a slight blush. “Just tell him you’re not interested and he’ll leave you alone. Besides, I know you wanted to take a quick swim yourself.”

“Yeah, but I’m sure there’ll be another stream or creek or something further down,” the sereva said, eyeing the water nervously.

“Maybe, but not one this clean and, well, refreshing,” Lykou pointed out. “I don’t know if it’s just in my head or if the water’s really different somehow, but it was extra nice swimming around in there.” He blushed a bit more and looked away. “And no, I’m not just saying that because of what happened afterward.”

“You sure about that?” Kuna asked with a raised eyebrow and a smirk.

“Yes,” Lykou insisted, rolling his eyes. “Seriously, Kuna, I’ll help keep an eye out for him. You should take the chance to clean up and relax a little. Especially after everything you did yesterday.”

The sereva eyed the water for a few minutes, then sighed and set his bag down. “Fine, but if he shows up and gets too close, I’m bolting for the woods,” he said as he took off his poncho. “Er… look away a moment?” he then added with a bashful grin.

Lykou chuckled and complied as Kuna finished disrobing and splashed into the stream.

“Alright, all good,” Kuna said after a moment, once he was partly submerged in the water.

“Still don’t see why getting undressed and being undressed make such a big difference to you,” the konuul said as he walked over to a tree, then climbed up to lounge on a large limb hanging out over the water.

“I don’t know, it just is,” the sereva said with a shrug as he sat down in the water and just relished the refreshing coolness for a few minutes.

As if on cue, some of the water downstream started to suddenly ripple and bubble up. Both boys turned to look just as a certain water spirit emerged. Kuna’s eyes immediately shot wide open and he started to scramble backwards.

“Who dares sully my-” Sulyr began, before being interrupted.

“Yeah you can quit that whole spiel, he already knows about you,” Lykou spoke up, getting the water spirit’s attention even as he blushed and grinned a bit awkwardly. “And uh… hi again.”

Sulyr turned to look at the konuul in the tree, then fixed him with a mischievous grin. “Oh, hello again, you.” He then turned back to look at the sereva. “Then I take it this delectable cutie is that friend you mentioned? Decided to come see me for yourself, hmm?”

Kuna quickly shook his head and stood up, slowly backing away.

“He’s not interested, Sulyr,” Lykou warned.

“Aw, are you sure about that, honey?” the spirit said, slinking up towards the sereva with seductive expression. “I promise you’ll have a great time~” he added with a wink, his tongue slipping out.

Kuna turned to bolt but tripped on a rock, splashing back down into the water.

“Sulyr!” Lykou warned, standing up and getting ready to intervene, although he honestly wasn’t sure what he could do besides grab Kuna and help him escape if necessary. “Quit. Can’t you see you’re scaring him?”

The water snake paused and eyed the sereva as he scrambled back to his feet and turned around to eye the spirit nervously. After staring a moment, he dropped the seductive act and backed up a few feet, smiling apologetically. “Fuck, you’re not kidding. Sorry sweet thing, I didn’t mean to spook ya. Don’t you worry, I’ll back off.”

Lykou relaxed a little, though Kuna was still nervously shivering a bit. “We’ll leave if you want, but he’s not looking for that kind of thing right now,” Lykou said.

“Nah, you two are welcome to stay as long as you want, just so long as you don’t make a mess. It’s nice to have visitors for once anyway. Even when they’re not down for some fun,” the snake said, then grinned as he turned to Lykou. “Speaking of which, though, how about you, fluffy boy? Want another go?”

“I’m good,” the konuul said, blushing and smirking as he slid back down to a lounging position on the branch.

“You sure? You know I could just reach up there an-”

“I said no, Sulyr,” the canid insisted, arching an eyebrow. “I’m still pretty spent from last time, thanks.”

“Oh foo. So much for the fun stuff,” the spirit griped, leaning its head on its tail as he looked back to Kuna, who was standing nervously well away from the serpent as he watched the two talk. “So what’s your name, anyway?” Sulyr asked with a friendly smile.

“K-Kuna,” the sereva responded, unable to take his eyes off the spirit.

“Well Kuna, don’t feel like you have to keep hiding over there. I’d rather you not bump into the lotuses and mess them up, if you don’t mind,” Sulyr said with a raised brow and a smirk.

Kuna quickly glanced behind himself and saw that he was, in fact, about to bump into one of the floating flowers. “Oh, s-s-sorry,” he meekly apologized, stepping away from them.

“It’s alright. Come on over here, the water’s deeper anyway,” the spirit invited. When the sereva looked hesitant, he sighed and smiled. “Look, cutie, I’m a rima of my word. As long as you say no, I won’t try anything, alright? Spirit’s promise, sworn on my nature and bond to this stream.”

Kuna took a deep breath to try and steady his nerves as he slowly moved back over to the somewhat deeper area, if only so that he was also a bit closer to Lykou as well.

“So what were you up to, anyway, if you’re not looking for little ol’ me?” the spirit asked, lounging on his coils.

“C-cleaning up a bit,” Kuna shyly responded, still hugging himself nervously as he sat back down in the water, submerging himself up to his shoulders. His eyes never left the spirit.

“And trying to relax, or at least that was the original idea,” Lykou reminded him. “After all you did yesterday, it’ll do you some good.”

“Sounds good. By all means indulge yourself in these waters then,” the spirit replied, smiling. “I do take pride in how clean I keep ‘em. It’s nice to have someone appreciate it for once.” He paused and watched the sereva sit there for a moment. “What’s wrong, still don’t trust me?”

Kuna glanced between the two briefly, then sighed and folded his ears down, glancing away. “S-sorry, I’m usually a little better with spirits, but you just… rima remind me of actual, living snakes. And those scare me,” he said with a small, sheepish grin, rubbing his arm.

“Hey, that’s understandable. You wouldn’t want those hissy little shits anywhere near your fun bits,” Sulyr said, then grinned. “I don’t even have any fangs though, so no worries. In case that changes your mind about anything,” he added with a wink.

Kuna groaned a bit and facepalmed, blushing. “It doesn’t.”

The spirit propped his head up on his tail again, snickering. “Can’t blame me for trying, you’re a real cutie.”

“That’s certainly true,” Lykou chimed in with a smirk, idly starting to whittle at a piece of a smaller branch he broke off the tree.

“Whose side are you on?” Kuna demanded, shooting a slight glare up at his friend, to both his and the rima’s amusement.

“Hey, it’s just an observation of fact,” the konuul replied, grinning.

“Ugh,” Kuna grumbled, then quickly dipped his head back in the water to finally begin washing himself off again. He couldn’t help but blush and grin a little in spite of himself, though. “Why are you so interested in that anyway? I’ve never heard of horny spirits before.”

“He gets bored, apparently,” Lykou cut in.

“Not much happens around here. My stream’s pretty stable, doesn’t get messed up much, so there’s not much to do,” the snake added, then grinned again. “And watching you mortals get all squirmy and moan-y is pretty entertaining. And the aftermath doesn’t taste half bad.”

Lykou rolled his eyes a bit and smirked. “Are all rima as perverted as you?”

“Nope. I’m a unique freak, baby,” Sulyr proudly declared, striking a silly little pose.

“Clearly,” Kuna snarked with an eyeroll.

Sulyr snickered. “So, what brings you two to this area anyway? Not that I’m complaining, mind you. There’s just no mortal villages anywhere near here, so you must be a good way from home.”

Lykou sighed and lowered the branch he’d been whittling as he stared off into the distance. “Yeah, you could say that again.”

Kuna gave the konuul a sympathetic look before turning back to the spirit. “We were somehow magically transported who-knows-where one night, while sheltering in a cave together from some kind of freaky storm that popped up out of nowhere,” he explained. “We’ve been traveling for a few weeks now, trying to figure out the way home.”

“Hmm,” the spirit said, looking away with a carefully neutral expression for a minute. “Yeah, that sounds about right,” he muttered to himself quietly.

Lykou didn’t hear him, apparently lost in thought, but Kuna raised a brow, giving the snake a look. “What’s that?”

Sulyr shook his head, snapping out of his thoughts, and smiled sympathetically at the sereva. “Nothing, sorry. Just… magical storm huh?”

“Yeah. You know anything about them?” the sereva asked.

The water spirit glanced away for a moment, seemingly pondering something. “Mm. Sure. Storms in themselves channel a lot of spiritual energies. Air, water, even fire sometimes, among others you mortals wouldn’t know anything about. Some get supercharged and do strange things.”

“Spiritual energies?” Lykou chimed in, raising an eyebrow. “I guess that’s what you spirits use for your magic?”

“Well, yeah, and anyone else who uses magic,” the spirit replied. “Are there no magic users in your tribes?”

“Not mine,” Lykou said with a shrug.

“That you know of,” the sereva responded with a small smirk.

“Maybe,” the konuul said, grinning back at him. “I still think it’s unlikely, but I definitely want to talk to some folks about the sunstone whenever we get back.”

“Hmm. I guess that’s not too surprising, not many konuul arcanists around,” Sulyr said, then turned to the sereva before either could ask what an arcanist was. “What about you though? None in your tribe? Sereva are usually pretty good with the life stuff, at least.”

Kuna’s face fell and he looked away. “I don’t hav-”

“Yes you do,” Lykou cut in, smiling down at the sereva. “You’re an Asher now, remember?”

The sereva looked up at the konuul with a small smile. “Right…”

“Asher?” the snake asked curiously.

“That’s what our tribe call ourselves. Members of the Lakefire tribe,” Lykou explained.

“Lakefire huh? Konuul and sereva living together? That’s an interesting change.”

“Er, he’ll be the first sereva, when we get there, heh.”

“Oh?” Sulyr asked, intrigued.

“Yeah, he’s basically taking me in,” Kuna replied, grinning up at the konuul some more. “He’s a big sweetie like that.”

“Well everyone needs a tribe. And we’re friends now anyway, no fucking way would I let you just walk back into solitude when we get back,” Lykou said, grinning back.

The water-snake glanced back and forth between the two. “I’m uh… sensing a missing story here.”

Kuna sighed and looked away again.

“Er, sensitive subj-” Lykou began, before the sereva interjected.

“My tribe left me for dead,” he said simply, shrugging. “So I was on my own for a long while before Lykou came across me.”

“They did what?? Oh, sugar,” the rima said, then suddenly swooped down towards Kuna, making the sereva suddenly yelp and shrink back in a panic. But he stopped within inches of the sereva. “Easy now. Can’t I at least hug?”

“Er… I… guess?” Kuna hesitantly said, slowly lowering his arms.

“Good.” The spirit swept Kuna up, causing the sereva to temporarily and somewhat nerve-wrackingly be submerged in wildly swirling waters. When he surfaced again, he was lifted up into the air a fair bit, floating in the top portion of the rima’s coiled body.

Kuna spat out some water and coughed a bit, swaying a bit dizzily. “When you said hug… I didn’t think damn near drown,” he griped, shooting a small glare at the spirit.

Sulyr snickered. “Afraid it comes with the territory, sweetie,” he said, gently patting the sereva on the head with his tail. “Seriously though, I can’t believe a tribe would up and abandon a sweet thing like you.”

“Right?” Lykou said angrily from the tree, crossing his arms. “Fucking worthless, rotten-”

“I appreciate the sentiment, you two,” Kuna said, sighing and rolling his eyes a bit. “But honestly I’d rather just move on and not think about it, alright?”

“...fair enough,” Lykou said, smiling at him apologetically.

“Sure thing, hun,” Sulyr said, then sized the sereva up for a moment before smirking. “So tell me. Feeling relaxed yet?”

“I’m somehow both floating in and being held by a giant snake made of water,” the sereva answered, giving the spirit a flat look. “More than a little weird, to be honest.” He paused, then looked away as a small smile crept across his face. “But… yeah, actually it’s a lot nicer than I’d have expected.”

“Glad to hear it, sweet thing,” Sulyr replied, smiling back at him. “What can I say? Magical water has its perks.”

“Just don’t go getting any funny ideas,” the sereva warned, shooting a warning glare at the rima.

Sulyr snickered. “Honey, I’m always full of those ideas when there’s cute mortals around. But I won’t act on ‘em unless you want me to,” the spirit promised. He then grinned and arched a brow. “That said, do indulge me in a question though.”

“Er. What?” Kuna asked anxiously.

“Why ‘no’? As a spirit, I can see a little of what you’re thinkin’, so I know you’re at least partly curious,” the snake commented, making the sereva blush and look away nervously.

Fuck, Mentor did mention that, Kuna thought, folding his ears down.

“Wait, spirits can see what you’re thinking?” Lykou asked suddenly looking up in surprise.

Sulyr looked up at the konuul with an arched brow. “Yeah, you didn’t know that? Part of being a spirit. Pretty much all of us can see surface-level impressions and such on your soul, at least.”

“Huh… that’s… good to know,” Lykou said, looking away thoughtfully.

“So yeah, why the resistance?” Sulyr asked, turning back to Kuna. “I know at least part of you is intrigued.”

Kuna was a ball of embarrassment and nerves. “Errr….”

“He doesn’t have to answer that,” Lykou chimed in, shooting the spirit a look.

“I know, and I’m not gonna pressure ya,” the snake said to sereva with a grin. “So don’t answer if you don’t want to. I’m just curious, is all.”

Kuna rolled his eyes up and sighed, still blushing quite a bit. “I… I mean, y-yeah,” he stammered shyly. “Obviously I can’t help being, you know... a little curious,” He paused for a moment, then groaned slightly in embarrassment as he looked away. “Okay maybe really curious. Not just about you, but the whole… with someone else, in general. But I just… don’t think I’m ready to, er…”

The spirit’s expression softened into a more sympathetic one. “Ah. I think I get it. Don’t want to feel vulnerable like that, huh? Don’t want to give your first time to a total stranger?”

The sereva nodded a little, with a small, bashful smile. “Basically…”

“Aw, isn’t that the sweetest. I can’t argue with that,” the spirit said, rubbing the sereva’s head gently with his tail again. “Well whoever you spend that first time with is going to be a lucky soul, and they damn well better make it a good one.”

“Damn right,” Lykou agree, smiling down at the sereva.

Kuna smirked and looked away, still flushed. “Thanks, guys,” he said, then took a deep breath. “Now. For the LOVE OF FUCK, can the whole damn world quit with the ‘fluster Kuna’ game??” he blurted out, clenching his eyes shut rubbing his forehead in exasperation, grinning slightly despite himself. “I swear it’s a conspiracy.”

Both Sulyr and Lykou snickered. “Alright, fair enough,” the konuul responded. “Well, you ready to dry off now, Kuna? I think it’s safe to say you’re pretty clean.”

“Of course he is. I’ve been subtly making sure of it this whole time,” the spirit proudly declared with a smirk.

Kuna blushed and arched a brow. “Huh? Really?”

“Yeah. Any water that’s part of my manifest-form cleans itself constantly. And since you’ve been floating in it, you’re practically pristine, hun.”

“Oh, so you know how to ‘clean’ someone without getting invasive, huh?” Lykou snarked with a smirk, arching an eyebrow at the snake.

Sulyr turned back to the konuul and shot him a playful look. “I don’t remember you complaining about it.”

The konuul rolled his eyes with a slight blush. “Yeah, yeah.”

“As much as I enjoy seeing him get embarrassed for once,” Kuna said with a smirk, then turned back to the water snake. “He has a point, we really should get back on our journey.”

“Aw, shame to see you two go. But I suppose farewell was inevitable,” the spirit said, lifting Kuna up to set him on on the shore beside the tree that Lykou was sitting in. “Thanks for keeping a rima company for a little bit. Where are you two headed next? Just picking random directions until you find something?”

Lykou sighed and shrugged while Kuna tried to shake and squeeze the water out of his fur, one limb at a time. “Basically.”

“Oh here, hang on a sec. C’mere Kuna,” the spirit said, drifting his tail back over towards the sereva. “I think I can help you there.”

Kuna raised an eyebrow and hesitantly approached the tail. Suddenly, it expanded and swallowed him up for a brief moment, momentarily panicking him. But then the tail withdrew with a suction like sound, leaving him mostly dry, if not a little bewildered.

“There you go.”

Lykou stared at the spirit for a moment. “...I didn’t know you could do that. Why the heck did you leave me sopping wet yesterday?” he asked with slight indignation.

Sulyr smirked at the konuul. “You looked too content the way you were. All sloppy and full of afterglow.”

The konuul blushed and rolled his eyes as he dropped down by the still slightly-twitching sereva. After a moment, Kuna snapped out of it and shivered. “You’re full of strange surprises, aren’t you,” the sereva said to the spirit, as he started getting dressed.

“I’ll take that as a compliment,” the snake said with a grin.

“I don’t suppose there’s any way you could point us in some direction that’d help?” Lykou asked the rima.

“Hmm,” Sulyr thought, rubbing his chin with his tail for a moment. “Well, actually… I don’t know if it’d help or not, but I vaguely remember there was once a group of really magically-adept folks living down in the middle of the canyon a long time ago. They’re long gone now, don’t remember what happened to ‘em. But they left some old ruins behind, and places like that tend to have mystical artifacts laying around sometimes. Don’t know if that’d help you or not, but it’s probably worth checking out.”


“Yeah, you know. Little doodads with magic runes or glyphs carved in ‘em,” the snake explained, then pointed with its tail to the medallion hanging from the konuul’s neck. “Like that one.”

“Oh? I guess those are other words for spirit signs?” Lykou asked, looking at the medallion again.

“Heh, yeah, that’s a funny name for ‘em, but fitting I guess,” Sulyr said with a smirk.

“Wait, you’re a spirit, can’t you make spirit signs?” Kuna asked, perking up.

“Wellll… technically, yes, but only certain ones that probably wouldn’t help you two. And you’d have to get some of the right material for me to work with anyway.”

“Oh,” Kuna said, frowning. “Damn.”

“Well hey, maybe you could identify one at least?” Lykou asked, then nudged the sereva. “Remember the one at that one campsite?”

“Oh. Er. Yeah,” Kuna replied, glancing away a bit awkwardly. “Yeah I remember it.”

“Can you sketch it?”

“Sure,” Kuna said. He picked up a stick and did his best to sketch the symbol in the nearest clear patch of dirt he could find, feeling a little silly since he already knew the answer but couldn’t exactly say it out loud.

“Oh, that’s easy. It’s a spirit-door,” Sulyr said. “Takes you from one place to another when you imbue it.”

“Wait, so there’s one that can just… transport you from one place to another?” Lykou asked, getting a bit excited. “If we found whatever material you need, could you make one that could send us home?”

Kuna winced as he anticipated the konuul getting let down.

Sulyr shook his head with a sympathetic look. “No sugar, doesn’t quite work that way. I have no idea where you two are from, and I’d have to link it to another sign at the other end.”

The konuul’s mood dropped again and he sighed. “Damn.”

Kuna wrapped an arm around his friend comfortingly. “Hey, why don’t we go check those ruins out? Maybe we’ll find something there, like he said.”

Lykou took a deep breath and shrugged. “I guess. But if we did, then we’d have to find someone to… what was it, ‘imbue’ it?”

“True, but depending on the kind of glyph, you could bring it to me and I might be able to help with that,” Sulyr offered, smiling. “Of course, if it’s a fire glyph or something, you’re outta luck, but it’ll still be worth holdin’ onto, I’m sure.”

Maybe it’ll be a life glyph, then I could imbue it, Kuna thought to himself. Not sure how I’d explain it ‘randomly’ igniting on its own, though.

Suddenly the water snake shot Kuna a curious look while Lykou wasn’t looking and raised an eyebrow. The sereva suddenly remembered the whole soul-seeing thing and got slightly nervous, holding a finger up to his lips out of the konuul’s line of sight.

Sulyr raised a brow and smirked, but didn’t press the issue. “Well if you two want to get there, you’ll have to hike a couple days down around the downward slope into the canyon. Or… you could take a shortcut.”

“Shortcut?” Lykou asked, perking up again slightly.

“Yep. A snaky one,” the spirit said with a grin. “My stream connects to a waterfall and continues down to a small lake down there. I can help carry you down safely.”

“W...what would you want in return?” Kuna asked, a little nervously.

“In return? Goodness, what do you think of me, Kuna,” Sulyr asked with a playfully wounded look. Then he snickered. “No but really, I’d be happy to help you two. As tempting as it’d be to demand a taste of that thing in return,” he said, gesturing playfully to the sereva’s crotch with his tail. “I’m not that much of an ass. But that offer’s also still always there if you change your mind.” He winked, making the sereva groan and blush, rolling his eyes.

“So, what, you’d like… carry us down there? We kind of want to keep our things dry, though,” Lykou mentioned.

“Could be tricky, but yeah, I can do that,” the spirit assured him. “So whatcha say, boys, want a ride?”

Lykou and Kuna shared a glance, then Kuna shrugged. “Sounds like a plan,” Lykou said, smiling at the water snake. “Thanks, Sulyr.”

“Of course, hun,” the snake replied, then lowered his head and part of his body down near the two. “Hop on, then.”

With some nudging from the konuul, Kuna nervously stepped onto the flowing waters, surprised to find a strange, spongy solidity just under the surface. His feet got wet, but otherwise he was able to walk up onto the snake’s back. Lykou soon followed suit, and the two held hands.

“Alright, you two hang tight,” Sulyr instructed, then suddenly bolted down along the stream.

The initial jolt nearly knocked the boys over, but they managed to stay standing as the world whipped past them rapidly. It reminded them of riding on the backs of the shakonu, but somehow they were unaffected by the inertia despite standing straight up. Within minutes, they saw the waterfall quickly approaching. With no small amount of fear, they held onto each other as they braced for the drop, with Kuna noticeably shaking in Lykou’s arms.

The drop happened in the blink of an eye, but neither felt it. The next thing they knew, they were emerging from the mists at the bottom of the falls and quickly racing down the stream in the canyon’s base. Finally, the spirit came to a stop and deposited them on the shore. “There y’are. Closest I can get ya,” Sulyr announced, then pointed his tail off to the northeast. “Just head that way, should take you just a few hours to find the ruins, if I remember right.”

“Thanks, Sulyr, we really appreciate it,” Lykou said, smiling at the spirit.

Kuna smiled as well, albeit slightly sheepishly. “Yeah, thanks. You’re… I’m glad we met you,” he said, then hesitantly stepped forward and placed a hand on the serpent’s snout. “I don’t want to get soaked, so consider this a hug,” he said with a small smirk.

“Aw, aren’t you just too sweet,” Sulyr responded with a grin, then poked his tongue out and licked the sereva’s cheek. “If you find anything you need imbued or just happen to come by this canyon again some day, make sure to come visit my stream.”

Kuna winced from the sudden splash on his cheek, but grinned back nonetheless. “Will do.” He turned and again took konuul’s hand and the two began hiking into the woods.


Some time later, Sulyr was lazing around at the base of the falls when he picked up on a certain familiar shady presence again.

“Thank you for sending the boys to the ruins,” the stranger said with a glowing indigo smirk, lounging on a rock under an overhang by the falls. “Very thoughtful of you.”

“Yeah, well, I figured that’s where you’d nudge ‘em anyway. Just thought I’d save them some time,” the spirit said. “What’s really in there, anyway?”

“Challenges and opportunity, of course.”

“Ugh. Should’ve known better than to ask you a straight-forward question,” the rima said, rolling his eyes. The two sat in silence for a minute before the rima looked over at the shady figure with a mildly concerned expression. “Hey, go easy on them, won’t ya? They’re nice boys. Two of the prettiest souls I’ve seen in a while. Even with Kuna’s, er-”

“The damage is precisely why he’s part of this, you know that,” the stranger interrupted. “Growth blossoms in adversity.”

“Yeah, you always say that,” Sulyr muttered. “I know you’re powerful and all, but remember I’ve still been around longer’n you. Be careful you don’t break more than what you’re tryin’ to fix.”

“Well aren’t you sassy today?” the shadow commented, arching a glowing brow. “What’s wrong, going soft on me, snaky? I thought mortals were nothing but occasional playthings for you.”

“Yeah, well… maybe it’s getting a bit old,” Sulyr complained. “I guess I’m just getting tired of sitting around all the time just hoping some random wandering mortal will stumble through here. Most of the ones that do aren’t nearly as nice as those two either.”

“Never stopped you from toying with them.”

“Well yeah, I still have to have some fun, you know,” the spirit replied with a slight smirk, but his expression dropped after a moment. “And you don’t have to make it sound so… like that. It’s not like my visitors don’t enjoy themselves. And they’re free to say no any time.”

“Mm, but not many have, have they?”

The rima’s expression fell a bit. “No, in fact… the few that come through are usually looking for me for that specific reason,” he said with an arched brow. “I guess rumors finally started getting around.”

“Guess you won’t have to worry about boredom much longer then. Wait long enough and you’ll be getting guests all the time.”

“...guess so,” Sulyr said after a short pause.

“Somehow, you don’t seem so excited about that,” the stranger commented, giving the rima a curious look. “Now why would that be?”

The rima sat silent, seemingly lost in thought as he stared off into the distance.

“I remember when you hated mortals. It’s why you wanted to be assigned to this place to begin with,” the stranger pointed out.

“Big groups of ‘em, yeah. Bunch of ‘em are filthy, inconsiderate little shits that fuck up the balance,” Sulyr finally said, frowning. “But…”

“But maybe some aren’t so bad?” the shadow suggested. “Worth more than a quick splash and romp?”

“I guess,” the water spirit replied. After a few minutes, his eyes suddenly shot wide open for a moment, before narrowing to a piercing glare as he turned back to the shadowy figure. “Fuck. You.”

The glowing face hovering over the shadowy figure’s mostly-hidden physical face smirked. “Pardon?”

“You went and got me tangled in your little scheme after all, didn’t you? I see what you’re up to,” the spirit accused, continuing to glare at them.

“Scheme, what scheme?” the shadow asked in faux-innocence. “I have no idea what you mean.”

“You somehow nudged those boys this direction, didn’t you?” Sulyr continued. “Just so I’d start questioning things.”

“I haven’t the foggiest idea what you’re rambling about,” the stranger said, making a show of inspecting their claws.

“Well it won’t work. I’ve got a good thing going here, and I’m not giving it up for anything!” the water serpent declared, leaning in to sneer at the seemingly unphased shadow figure, inches away from the glowing grin.

The two were silent for a few minutes.

“…ugh,” the rima grumbled, pulling away and rolling up his eyes. “What’s your game here anyway? Why involve me?”

The figure finally looked up again, crossing their arms and grinning. “Same as always.”

“Right. Ask a stupid question…” the spirit trailed off. “I’m guessing this is the part where you tell me you can pull some strings to have me reassigned, yeah?”

“It’s always a possibility, I suppose. But why would I do that?”

The water spirit eyed the stranger for a minute, then sighed in exasperation. “What do you want from me, Ink?”

“Why Sulyr, are you offering to help little old me out with something? How thoughtful.”

“Cut the crap,” Sulyr said. “What do you want?”

The figure grinned again, eyes narrowing. “Alright. You want a change of scenery? I’ll arrange that. It’ll take a while, though. But when you’re free from here, I’ll have another job for you, dealing with those two boys.”

The rima stared at the shadow thoughtfully for a moment. “...I won’t hurt ‘em.”

“Obviously. You know I wouldn’t ask you to do anything like that.”

Sulyr seemed to consider the matter for a minute. “Alright. Fine. Deal.”

“Excellent,” the figure said, standing up and stretching. “Well then, enjoy your remaining time here. I’ll be back to pick you up when the time is right.”

“ much do they know about you, anyway? Anything?” the serpent asked before the stranger could disappear.

The shadow-entity chuckled. “Lykou’s clueless and Kuna’s got a friendly vizhni magic tutor that he has to keep secret for the time being.”

“Pfft. Fire spirit. Figures,” the rima said, rolling his eyes. “Why the secrecy though?”

“Reasons. Anyway, secrets will be shed soon, I’ll wager,” the shadow said. “Ta-ta for now~”

As the stranger vanished, Sulyr slithered over to a slightly separated puddle of water and stared into his reflection thoughtfully. “Oh, Sulyr, what’ve you gone and got yourself into...”

MHO - Chapter 22


Cross-posting catchup for Mystic Heart Odyssey.

For clarification:
Konuul = kind of a wolf + husky hybrid
Sereva = deer (with a little bit of Thompson's gazelle, primarily in terms of markings)
Ursaran = massive tiger + bear hybrid

Posted using PostyBirb

Submission Information

Literary / Story