Much as he would’ve liked to scold the boy and maybe smack him until he started doing it correctly, this wasn’t the time or place for that.  

Zeff flicked his wrist and set about the task of cooling the molten river safely. If he simply materialized an iceberg on top of it, the extreme temperature difference would cause the ice to explode and probably kill someone--if not everyone. A suitable application of soul-strengthening, however, prevented that problem, and then Zeff was able to quickly blacken and settle the magma flow as his continual supply of ice melted harmlessly over it.

He noticed the Hun’Kui behind him take a few steps back, perhaps able to feel an uncomfortable gust of cooler air wash over them. He knew he had to be mindful of their presence, too. If he put too much oomph into his ice and turned this place into a little winter wonderland, the Hun’Kui would almost certainly freeze to death within seconds.  

It required a strange and delicate balance, this little entourage. Ice was as deadly to the Hun’Kui as magma was to the non-servants from the surface.  

Garovel was the first to venture over the calmed river and strike up a conversation. ‘Glad to see you all in one piece.’

Likewise,’ said Ax. ‘So where to next? Time is short, and every direction but southwest will likely lead us into a fight with more worms.

Diego stepped forward. “If that’s the case, then what’s there to think about? Southwest it is.”

His reaper, Yangéra, floated by his side. ‘The train went northeast,’ she said.  


There’s also the concern of WHY southwest is so empty,’ said Garovel. ‘Call me suspicious, but it seems a little too good to be true.’  

Perhaps, but do you see any other options?’ said Ax. ‘Because I am struggling to.

Unfortunately, no, I don’t.

The longer we stand here, the more likely the worms will notice us,’ added Yangéra ‘I suggest we at least START going southwest, for now.

Agreed,’ said Ax.

I, as well,’ said Lorios, the reaper to Manuel Delaguna.

Guess I do, too,’ said Garovel.

The group began walking again, Axiolis and Garovel leading the way. Zeff noticed the large iron box that Hector was having follow them, and when asked, the boy stiltedly explained that it contained valuable firearms.

Hector opened the top of it, allowing his companion, Mr. Sheridan access while they were moving. Diego, Manuel, and a couple of the Hun’Kui gave it a look as well, and it wasn’t long before Hector was dragging half the party along in his iron box while they toiled away with guns.  

Yet another ridiculous sight. Had the boy become a pack mule, now?  

Zeff adjusted his pace in order to walk next to Hector. “You should be practicing your temperature manipulation,” he said, still trying to keep a lid on his annoyance level.

“Ah, oh yeah,” said Hector. And then he started doing exactly that. While still pulling the others along, the boy began making spheres  appear and disappear repeatedly in front of himself.   

Somehow, that was even more irritating.