191 An Old Feud

    "If you want to survive, crawl into the water.." Said the red carp with his usual pleasantly deep voice.

    Heimart and Roley looked at each other with worry and uncertainty, while Jerigh slowly grabbed the hilts of his swords in preparation for a fight.

    Der, which was the most powerful amongst them, was the first one to to notice what was approaching them at a mind boggling speed. What he saw, was a large bird-like beast.

    Without thinking twice about it, Der grabbed Heimart and Roley by their clothes, and jumped in the water before they could even react, while Jerigh followed him the very next moment.

    Just as Jerigh's feet managed to enter the water, a multicolored blur flashed past him and the small patch of water where Heimart and the rest had jumped in.

    "You have guests?" Said a penetrating voice which was able to pierce through the water, and reach every living being within the large pond. This voice was carried by the wind, and it seemed to come from many different directions, all at the same time.

    From under the surface of the water, Der and the rest were finally able to see the full body of the ancient red carp, which was much larger than what they could see from the shore. Its length was of at least thirty meters, and was almost completely red colored with a few exceptions for a few white curved lines that went from the gill to the tail, and a few black and white scales. Its fins were soft-rayed, and long enough to float in the water like the end of a red dress.

    The four of them emerged from the water to observe why they were forced to jump in to begin with, and waiting quietly on the top of one of the large palms next to the pond, they saw an hawk-like beast.

    The colors of its plumage was not as diversified as the multicolored flash suggested, and instead, only a large row of feathers that stood straight behind his back like a crown, possessed a rainbow-like variety of colors. The rest of his feathers, were of a bluish-green color that became darker as it reached the edge of the barbs.

    Clawing tightly against the treetop, were a couple of large and sharp talons, which by the sheer sight, looked like they could take away a huge chunk of the red carp's body if the chance ever presented itself.

    This bird-like beast observed the four unfamiliar humans with curiosity through his extremely effective yellow eyes.

    "It has nothing to do with you." Responded the red carp with a calm tone. It was clearly not the first time that the two had encountered each other.

    "Don't be like that.. Just because I constantly try to kill you, it does not mean that we are not friends, right?" *KWAH KWAH KWAH*

    The bird's laugh was so powerful, that Heimart and the rest couldn't help but cover their ears in pain in a desperate attempt to mitigate a bit of the laugh's penetrative power.

    After the red carp noticed the effect that the bird's laugh had on the four humans that had come to visit, it unwillingly rotated his body by a hundred and eighty degrees, and waved his impressively large tail towards the large bird.

    A massive jet of water shot from the surface of the pond and dashed towards the bird, which instantly rose up from where it was resting, and disappeared in the air.

    The jet of water was controlled in mid air to return towards the pond, but before it could merge again with the relatively large body of water, the bird appeared in front of it and waved his huge wings towards it, causing a squall of wind to push the water away from the pond.

    "No no no.. Come on now. If you want to waste your water to protect these humans, you can't expect that I'll let you get it back." Said the bird with his usual penetrating voice.

    Roley, which observed the scene quietly, turned towards the red carp, which before he could say anything, turned back to look at the four of them, and said "Follow me."

    A powerful pulling force then dragged Der, Heimart, Roley and Jerigh into the water, and right before they could go out of the reach of the bird's powerful cries, they heard it say "Oh, you're no fun.."

    The pulling force followed the red carp's motion, which swam towards an underwater cliff, and into an entrance which was large just enough for the red carp to move through.

    The cave was dark, and they were currently swimming against a natural current that moved the water towards different directions through many small holes on the wall that formed a labyrinth of tiny rocky tunnels.

    For two full minutes, the five of them kept moving through thousand of meters of corridors, until finally, the dark corridor opened into a large submerged cave.

    This cave was not completely filled with water, and instead, had a large pocket of air which Heimart and the rest could use to breathe.

    The motion of the water pushed the four of them onto a large rocky platform that extended from one of the cave's walls.

    "What is the deal with that beast?" Asked Heimart with a fairly high amount of anger. He couldn't help but remember the penetrating power that the bird's cry possessed.

    The red carp, whose head was only a tiny bit out of the water, responded by saying "It's just.. An old feud.. Don't bother yourself with it." Then, without waiting for Heimart and the rest to ask any more questions, it turned to look at Roley, and asked "Can you show it to me once again?"

    Roley was taken slightly by surprise, but quickly caught up with the red carp's words, and took the high-level water sphere out of his spatial ring once again.

    The red carp carefully observed the sphere for the better part of a minute in complete silence, then, interrupted the quietness of the cave by saying "That's strange.. It feels so much more powerful.. And yet it lacks something.."

    "What do you mean?" Asked Der with curiosity.

    "I.. I don't know what that object is, it seems to be able to show the power of water.. But not completely." Responded the red carp while slowly swimming towards the edge of the rocky platform. Its beady eyes were directed at the small water-like world, and it didn't seem to be interested in anything else.

    "This is an essence sphere.. How long has it been since the last time you've met a human?" Asked Heimart while taking a step forward. It was clear to him now, that the red carp was not a threat to them.

    "Never.. For the two thousand years that I have lived, I've never met anyone from the outside but the crowned bird you've had the pleasure to meet.. I don't know his name either.." Responded the red carp calmly.

    Heimart's brows furrowed in surprise, as he responded by saying "Why did you not kill us then?"

    "You had no ill intentions.. Aside from your animated behaviour, you didn't look much different from the elementals that live in the depths of the water.." Said the red carp before looking at Jerigh's serious expression, and saying "Aside from him.. He looks always ready to kill, but not in an aggressive manner.. I would have killed you all if he did.."

    At the mention of the word elementals, Roley felt a shiver run down his spine. "There are water elementals living underground?" He asked with a hint of shock.

    "Not so sure of it anymore.. It's been almost two millennia since I was of the right size to fit through the passage.." muttered the red carp with a melancholic tone. "Can you tell me more about that object?" It then added after directing its eyes back on the essence sphere that Roley was still holding.

    "Of course.. As humans, we possess a natural and unique power called im.."


    For the following two hours, Roley explained in detail the nature of essence treasures, the kind of power that humans possessed, how they were able to use it to mimic other types of mana, and how they were able to imbue their own power into these treasure, to make them become much more powerful.

    The red carp listened attentively to Roley's explanation, and whenever it had doubts, it would ask questions.

    The explanation had ended with a demonstration on how to create a low level water sphere right in front of the red carp.

    "Humans.. what a peculiar race.." said the red carp with its usual deep and pleasant voice. "There is still one thing that I don't understand.. Why would you want my scales?.. They are extremely poisonous, and would likely kill you in a matter of seconds."

    "We are not sure about the reason either. We have been sent here in this desert with the only instruction being 'to offer a high level water sphere in exchange for three red scales'.." Responded Heimart with a hint of exasperation. To this moment, he still couldn't understand the reason why Daniel would send them here.

    The moment the red carp heard Heimart's words, it turned towards him, and with a slightly angered tone, said "This is a sea, not a desert.."

    Finally, Roley's eyes moved upwards in realization. "So this is what happened. This desert was a sea.." He then muttered to himself.

    "That's what I was told by my mother.. That was until a large flock of flying beasts migrated in this direction, and brought the winds with them. Only this oasis is left now." Added the red carp with a hateful tone.

    Once again, silence ruled over the underwater cave for a few moments, until Roley interrupted it by saying "You've said that there were water elementals in the depths of the cave, and that this water sphere is powerful, but lacks something.. What did you mean with that?"

    "I wouldn't have been able to explain it earlier, but now that you have explained to me what these objects are and how they work.. I think I can." Said the red carp before taking a slight pause, and continued by saying "You've told me that the one you are holding is a high level sphere, made out of your friend's comprehension of water essence, and a high level water treasure.. If what you've told me is true, and only a perfect essence treasure can show a more extensive depth of comprehension.. Then what I meant is that I've encountered a perfect water treasure in the past.."

    The faces of Der and Heimart lit in shock, while Roley and Jerigh remained calm.

    While Jerigh did not care enough for this to be jump in happiness at the mention of the location of a perfect treasure, Roley had already guessed what the truth was minutes ago. Anyone who had seen a perfect treasure would immediately be able to differentiate it from a more common high level essence treasure, and that was what the red carp had done.

    "Where did you see it?" Asked Heimart with curiosity.

    The red carp saw the interest in the faces of Der and Heimart, and responded by saying in a dismissive tone "I wouldn't get my hopes up if I were you.. I have only seen it once the day I have met the water elementals.. You will never be able to reach it."

    "Why do you say that?"

    "Because in order to reach the depths, you need to go down for tens of thousands of kilometers.. If the pressure won't kill you, the abyssal monsters will.." Responded the red carp with a matter-of-fact tone.

    To Roley, this all made sense. While wind, earth and water were the easiest essences to train in, and fire and lightning were the most difficult amongst the elemental ones, the matter was completely different for which essence treasures was the easiest to find.

    A treasure which formed in the surface of the planet like a wood and lightning was much easier to find than treasures that could possibly form at any random place in the sky, or underground like fire, earth, metal, water and wind treasures.

    "Fair enough.. Back to what we came here for.. I've been holding back the power of this essence treasure. It will most definitely allow you to maintain a habitat in this area, unless forcibly removed.. Are you willing to make the exchange?" Asked Heimart after shaking the idea of obtaining the perfect water treasure out of his head.
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