The Crystal Eye – Part 1
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Incredible, everything that we do for love.

For youths, a dwarf and a bear stood firm, gazing towards a structure soaring high before them. It was shaped like a series of crystals, put together to resemble two clasped palms with sharp fingers, reaching to and piercing the sky.

“Weird, there’s no guard in this palace,” commented Maven as she readied her archery set.

“And no monster is wandering around the gate. Besides the frost dragon, there can only be something even more terrible deep inside to cause this,” Sophia concluded, no longer shedding a tear and with hardened heart.

The guide, Bangor pointed. “Aye. Look, Tobar is already restless and retreating. Clearly this is as far as I go. If y’all will need us again, blow this bear whistle and we’ll come right away. We’ll wait in the woods not far from here, as I have promised y’all to bring y’all home safely.”

“Thank you.” Reyl received the whistle.

The anxious Declan interrupted, “Hey Reyl, are you sure? The old man has used that one. Isn’t there any other? Anything that isn’t a second-hand thing!”

“Hmm, of course I believe this one is the best. And therefore, I will trust this whistle on you.” Reyl smiled before putting the second-hand thing on Declan’s hand.

The cleric could only walk away mumbling, uttering words like ‘stinky mouth’, ‘beard fleas’, and ‘I will stink until I get old’.

Maven giggled as she walked pass the party. Her feet treaded lightly as if she didn’t even touch the ground, bringing her into the main gate of the palace. The gate was very tall, consisted of crystal blocks taking an overall shape of an expanding peacock’s tail.

Maven kept on observing to all directions, including her own reflection on the crystal wall. She kept walking while chating with her companions at the same time, “These tunnels look very misleading. With no map, we’ll get lost and die of cold sooner or later. Looking for the crystal to cure Reyl might prove to be like looking for a needle in a haystack.”

The laid-back Declan refuted, “Maven, you’re being too pessimistic. The basic rule of treasure hunting is, the first place to look for something is the one being most tightly guarded, which means it’s where the treasure is. In this case, since this is an ice palace, the colder it gets, it should mean the closer we get to the source of all these crystals."

 “Dec, this is the first time you’re suggesting something useful since we arrived here," said Maven.

Being praised, Declan looked at Maven. He puffed his chest, walked firmly like a general in front of his trops. “Come on! We shouldn’t waste any time, let’s go!”

Reyl didn’t immediately begin walking. Instead he whispered to his two other partners, “Dec just got promoted from joker to porter, yet he acts like he’s already a general.”

Maven and Sophia giggled. Reyl also smiled since that his first joke in their entire journey made people laugh. He then walked more confidently, this time with his sword drawn.

On the other hand, Maven again dashed towards the first weird thing she found. It was a crystal with seven colors on its surface.

Hmm, I wonder what does it do?

Maven reached her hand for the crystal…

Nothing happened.

She tried to rub the crystal, still no reaction from it.

“It’s no use, Mave. It’s archivelium, a rare crystal that is usually used by blacksmiths to harden and lighten armory or weapons. I once read about it in the library.”

Maven immediately glared towards Declan, who said that explanation. “Heeeeh? Why didn’t you tell me that from the beginning? Didn’t you see I was rubbing it all over, wasting my time on it like a fool?”

Maven then knocked Declan’s head hard.

“Ouch! Man, what did I do?” Declan rubbed his head in confusion.

Sophia then added, “Why didn’t you tell us that you know a lot about magical crystals? We can save a lot of time that way instead of checking every crystal we can find here!”

“Well yeah, I’ve read a thing or two about magic crystals, but I only know little about the ones not commonly used. Sometimes…” Declan bowed down his head, “I get forgetful, and only recall something if I see one myself.”

“You should have helped us when we were looking for information about magic crystals in Madame Lei’s house back then,” Reyl complained, again frowning. “We could’ve saved a lot more time.”

The cleric refuted, “Hey, I was in charge of buying food. My brain doesn’t work in a tip-top shape when I’m hungry. Besides, when I came back, Madame Lei have already found it.”

Maven interrupted, “All right, we don’t need to debate about it. Let’s do it like this, we’ll walk in formation. I’ll be in the front to detect possibile enemies and traps, Reyl and Sophia on the left and right, looking for magical crystals. And you, Declan, try to remember and tell them about every crystal they will run into along the way."

“I agree, Mave.” Reyl nodded. “What matters now is that we have to find the core room of this palace, since my time…” He then pointed to his own paling face, “… is running out.”

Maven was stunned to look at Reyl at a glance, then walked away without another word. She wanted to cry when reminded of the predicament of her best friend who also happened to be her love interest.

But wasn’t Maven currently struggling to help a friend in need? If needed, just like Madame Lei, she will sacrifice herself, giving a meaning to this wandering sparrow's life.

Suddenly Sophia’s voice attracted her attention, “Wow! That pile of crystal is so big. And there are two of them! Dec, do you know what crystal are those?”

“Hmm, what is it again?” Declan looked upwards while rubbing his chin. “Alluvium? No, the color is too pale. Halizeum? Arsenium? No way. Cumlaudium? If Sophia touches it, she won’t stop talking because she will suddenly become super genius. Midasium? She’ll turn into gold. Thaumaturvium? No… What is it then?”

“Declan, watch out!” Maven yelled suddenly.

The said two piles of crystals began to move, causing screeching noises of scratching rocks. Their shape changed into that of a human-like giant. When they stood up, they were even taller and bigger than Tobar the bear.

Those faceless creatures turned their single eyes, which turned out to be ruby-like orbs. Then those eyes glowed red, the loud hum echoed through the whole crystal tunnel.

The four warriors closed their ears. Declan loudly shouted, “Their eyes, it’s  Golemium! They’re crystal golems!”

Reyl’s shout followed, “Disperse! These creatures are immune to magic and physical frontal attacks. We have to find their weak points!”

“All right!” the other three replied in unison.