Content with the answers that Emona had given me, I returned to my seat near the front of the ship. Looking out at the horizon, I could tell that it would only be a few hours before we would hit the growing storm. Assuming that it wasn’t moving towards us, at least.
That gave me plenty of time to… sit here. I mean, really. There’s not that much for me to do personally, aside from making sure that the ship doesn’t capsize. Well, and training to get better at not making the ship capsize. At least for now.
Though, that did give me an idea. A way to train that I hadn’t considered before. Closing my eyes, I once again formed ice beneath the water. However, this time there were five blocks of ice instead of one.
If I combine my Thousand Arms training with this… maybe I’ll be able to adjust a bit faster? Well, that was the idea, at least. So, until we hit the storm, I pressed down all five blocks of ice in different directions, focusing on keeping them down as low as I could. While I wasn’t sure how effective the training was, it was definitely a great distraction…
The ocean was a vast, and beautiful wonderland of life, yet also terrible. The number of creatures within the land and sky combined could not equal those that swam in the sea. And now, deep beneath the ocean’s surface, a wondrous change was happening. One which could reshape the oceans forever.
Far, far below the surface of the water, where even the light of day could barely shine, there were vast mountains and plains, coral trees that towered high and formed thick forests. Fish large and small swam through the coral forests, scattering as one of the dominant races of the sea floor walked upon the bottom. Thick mud spread out with its every step, its soft yet strong body easily resisting the pressure of the deep.
With the passing of the recent sea terror, this creature could finally leave its underwater cave. Its large, round eyes scanned the surroundings. Its limbs were long and thin, tiny blue scales covering its skin. Between the fingers of its hands and the toes of its feet was a small webbed surface, allowing it to easily move through the water.
The creature’s back had a large fin that went all the way down, tapering off as it met the thick tail that extended from the base of its spine. When it looked up, the clouds within the water caused by the passing of the terror obscured its sight. Yet, at the same time, its vision was able to make out strange shapes in the distance. Far above where the creature had ever gone, it could see what appeared to be a school of coral bodies moving along the surface. Closer, however, it could see five unusual shapes floating in the water, swimming downwards as if competing to see which could go lower.
Its curiosity was great, but so was its caution. Before moving closer, the creature turned its elongated head to scan the sea in all directions, ensuring that there were no predators that would eat it when it left the ocean floor. Seeing that there appeared to be nothing, the creature prepared to swim up.
Before it could, however, there was a disturbance nearby. Just off the cliff of the plain where the creature was walking was the ocean that laid beneath the ocean. Thick, green water spread out from the base of the cliff, all the way into the distance where another rising mountain cut it off. An upwards splash in the water emerged as another creature similar to the first emerged, drawn by the curiosity sensed from its peer.
The two creatures looked at each other, tilting their heads side to side as they shared a nonverbal dialogue. Afterwards, the two creatures kicked off from the ground in unison, their large eyes looking upwards as they first approached the five hovering shapes.
Ohmygod ohmygod ohmygod! Aurviy’s voice suddenly entered my mind, breaking my focus from my training. I could see that we were close to the storm, but given how excited she was sounding, that was likely not the reason that she was messaging me.
What’s up, Rivy?
Mermaids! Real, honest to me mermaids! Well, sorta. Underwater people! A new race! Sis says that they’re just on the verge of gaining sapience. She practically squealed at that, though that’s not quite what I was focusing on.
They’re… nearby, aren’t they? Aurivy was likely watching my voyage, so if she saw mermaids…
There was a brief giggle before her answer followed. One of them just grabbed onto your ice block. They’re not mean! They don’t seem it, at least. Gah! No! The storm is scaring them away!
Just as her message ended, the water began to quickly grow restless. In the span of a dozen breaths, waves began to form in front of us, each easily as big as the Jolly Dodger. Lightning crackled within the clouds, and I could feel the wind pushing against my control.
“Here be a proper storm, lads!” Emona shouted out with a laugh from behind the wheel of the ship. “Tebor, we be countin’ on ye here.” As she said that, she didn’t even hesitate to drive straight into a wave that was easily a hundred meters tall.
Furrowing my brow, I focused on connecting with the natural energy around us. I could feel each of the other eleven druids doing the same, and together we formed a bubble around the fleet. Rain crashed against the top of the bubble, sliding down along it. Waves split apart as we moved through, unable to deter us. In our bubble, the ocean was at peace, yet the world around us was in chaos.
At times, our bubble would be completely submerged while the tide crashed around us, making us focus on keeping our fleet secure from all sides. A single gap would mean the ocean comes crashing down upon us.
Other times, we would be suspended in the air, struggling to maintain our control on the water to keep it from falling down. This was easily the bigger strain, as it required causing twelve ships and a large patch of water to stay afloat based on will alone.
If there was anything to be happy about, it was that there were no monsters within the storm. We passed by giant whirlpools, and tornadoes that descended upon the ocean, but not a single creature was seen. It was as if there was a tacit understanding not to get in the way of a storm in the ocean.
Over time, the coordination between myself and the twelve druids began to grow stronger. We were able to better cover the gaps in each other’s control, and sometimes combined forces well enough to allow one to take a break and recover their mental fortitude. Of course… they wouldn’t let me do that, since I was known to be the bigshot among the druids…
Every time we overcame a wave, or reunited with the surface of the ocean, or lightning bounced around the bubble, there was a loud cheer from each of the ships. The bigger the potential threat, the more our ‘audience’ erupted in praise.
The biggest threat was no doubt also the only one that received no applause… A giant waterspout towered before us, rapidly moving in our direction. Even with all twelve of us working together, it was difficult to hold the winds back before we hit the great tornado of water.
Yet, at the same time, it was too large for us to navigate around, and moving closer to us faster than we could hope to avoid it. We could only watch as it came upon us, bigger and more terrifying than any monster. So… there was just one thing that we could do to save us all.
It was hard to tell who had the idea first. I could feel someone nudging us lower, and then all twelve of us hurriedly lowered the ships beneath the surface, forming a bubble of air around the fleet. Even below the surface, the water was still violent, yet easier to deal with than the hurricane force winds on the surface. For the first time in our journey, the ships began to rock unsteadily with the force of the currents leaking through our makeshift barrier.
The worst of it was when the waterspout actually passed directly over us. The water that had been shielding us from the storm was pulled away. We almost weren’t able to withstand it, when Leowynn suddenly woke up within my spiritual realm. Let me out, dad!
I furrowed my brows for a moment, but soon gave a sharp nod. Leowynn’s spiritual energy began to transmit along my arms while I struggled to hold the powerful winds and currents at bay. I manifest… the Storm!
As soon as I heard her voice, I knew what she had in mind. The Storm was one of the northern constellations, within the Sky of the Aerop. And as the dotted outline of a cloud and thunderbolt formed on silver gauntlets around my fists, I felt the strain lessen.
The Storm allows Leowynn and I to control wind and lightning, with either my mana or Leowynn’s spiritual energy. And right now, Leowynn was using her own energy to control the wind, keeping it from interfering with us while the rest of us focused purely on the water.
With my hands raised towards the sky, they began to shine like a beacon. I could feel Leowynn becoming weaker as she burned her energy to use her power, so I pushed us forward faster, until we were out from under the waterspout. Only then did the light of my gauntlets die down, before fading into mist as Leowynn returned to my spiritual world. I could sense that she was alright, merely exhausted from the overuse of her energy.
This time, there was no loud cheer. Even after we surfaced again on the other side of the waterspout, a stunned silence fell over the fleet. This was likely the first time that most anyone in the fleet had seen something like that. Those more sensitive to energies were no doubt able to tell that I had not used mana, or natural energy to divert the wind. Some might even think that I was a summoner, like the captains.
Ooh, item Aeons… now there’s an idea! Udona’s voice rang out in response to my thought, and I had to mentally shoo her away while I glanced around. Thankfully, the waterspout had been near the end of the storm, so the water was again beginning to calm around us.
“Good show, lad!” Emona shouted out after a long moment, though she wasn’t met with the usual cheers. Well, aside from the bard, who was just trying to stir up the crowd. “Take a while to rest. Ye did good work, and we can take care of ourselves for a couple hours.” She looked at me knowingly, seeming to understand just how much it drained myself and the other druids to keep the fleet safe through the storm.
I nodded my head slightly to her, falling back against my bench and closing my eyes. In all honesty, my head felt like it was about to split open. However, there was a bright side…
Druid has leveled up!
Druid has leveled up!
Druid has leveled up!
Druid has leveled up!
Spirit Hunter has leveled up!
Pirate has been unlocked!
Star Navigation ability unlocked!
Yes, another five levels in druid, two in Spirit Hunter, and unlocking the Pirate class was definitely a bright side. Eight levels for navigating through a storm… worth.