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Qin Li's Journey

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I still felt the effects of the alcohol as I looked down at the glistening surface of the Jade Sea while we strolled outside Cavalon. At times it felt as if we were walking on water. Walking on the sea, to be exact. I had to consciously steady myself since at several instances I thought I was going to fall into and be swallowed up by the green waves. I remarked to the others the awe I felt seeing the once tumultuous waves that crashed into piers -- shaking the foundations and making the dock workers nervous -- were now frozen in the air lifeless. I was afraid that these tall waves that rose well over our heads and as tall as any pagodas back in Kaineng, in their now frozen stillness reaching heights equal to the tallest pagodas back in Kaineng, would suddenly turn back to water and collapse and bury us.

Thanks to the ever present wind, the jade surface had not have any opportunity to collect dirt and dust to cover its shiny surface. So it retained that shimmering, almost wet, look throughout the place. No wonder so many artists who had few means to defend themselves still risked to come out here to capture this in their paintings. I remembered seeing several paintings of such sights back in the quarters of Raisu Palace. Still they did not do justice to the beauty of the place.

"Some places you just had to be here in person," I commented.

"It's amazing, isn't it?" confirmed Zen. "Think of all the places that are available for settlements now," she added, "where they were just inhabitable water before."

"But it's too bad the Luxons won't let settlers in. Or else we can alleviate much of the crowding in Kaineng City."

"At this point, though. I'll be content if they don't decide to attack Kaineng," sighed Zen. "I'd hate to have to fight the same people that we helped and fought with."

"Yeah. Then many new deaths will come of it"

"And along with that a new cry for vengence and justice," Imu added, "and we have another endless cycle of war." Imu had been quiet until now while Zen and I chatted as we explored the area. It was difficult to judge what she was thinking and how she felt about anything. And her mood seemed to change with the wind.

"I see now why True was concerned about this," she continued. "Great kingdoms never fall by completely external threats, but they do fail due to internal fracture."

That reminded me. I asked her when True was to meet with us. She turned to me for a moment, and I realized I just asked a wrong question. How would she know?

"Soon," she nodded, "in the mean time, we can stay in Cavalon as long as we like."

"Thanks to the savior of her people," said Zen while mocking the word "savior."

"Well. There are times when that label becomes useful," I conceded. I just didn't know how I felt about it. I thought about being vigilant in denying that and straightening everyone out, starting with Emperor Kisu, I'd think. But everything just got so complicated that it was just difficult. And part of me was also afraid that, if I did go through with it, everyone would then see me as an insignificant little girl again. An insignificant girl with troublesome sleeping habits.

There were just a few people that I had attempted to clear this up with. And they all thought that I was being modest. The monk from Tyria that led our team, for instance, told me that we all did our part. That our respective roles, while not significant in isolation, together nevertheless brought down one of the worst evils.

"One shouldn't get carried away by pride," I remember him saying, "but let your triumph be your source for confidence, not doubt." He never told me his name. And after our battle with Shiro he briefly chatted with Emperor Kisu and quickly left for Tyria where he came from. That word of advice was about the only thing he said to me.

"Yes," Imu broke me out of my trance. "Your presence was very instrumental to our success, or lack of failure, back there in our meeting with Elder Rhea."

"That and very clever diplomatic skills," added Zenmai as we looked at Imu.

It may have been the setting sun and its ability to cast a red hue to everything, but I thought I saw Imu blush a bit. It's comforting to know that she were capable of such feelings. It made it easier for me to talk to her.

"Think we fooled them?" Imu asked. "I'm still thinking how to explain it when True does arrive."

We were silent. I didn't have any ideas. And it looked like Zen didn't either.

"But as usual," Imu sighed with a smile, "I'm sure he'll think of something."