Chapter 18 – The Fourth Demi-Goddess
After a night sleeping on the flatland of the glazier, Dawn, Dima, Lotus and Oak set out to finish climbing the hill. Dawn had taken the final watch for the night and had ensured that the anti-cold potions had defrosted during the night. As they had been in Dima’s pouch when they went into the water, like most of his equipment they were either soaked or frozen. Thankfully, the seals on the bottles had held and the potions weren’t diluted. Dima’s cartridges weren’t as lucky. Since it would be dangerous to dry them out too quickly, they would have to wait till they sun-dried over a few days. Given that, Dima wouldn’t be able to use his rifle.
Dawn didn’t want to laugh at his misery, but she had been feeling unneeded, and having someone less useful than herself filled the gap and made her feel useful. Oak seemed somewhat happy about it also. It was had to notice, given her alien appearance, but Dawn noticed that when she was happy, the light on her head seemed to bob slightly from side to side. It was somewhat cute to see; Oak was happy that Dima was relying on her, albeit reluctantly. The adorableness of the couple aside, Dawn was a little jealous of oak; she wished that Lotus would rely on her more. Before the ice cracked, Lotus seemed to be thinking deeply about something and was worried about it. If she was worrying, then she should just talk to her.
Also, when she was talking to Lucy, she barely even noticed Dawn was there. Dawn wasn’t sure if it was embarrassment, but it kind of hurt that Lotus didn’t introduce her to someone who was quite obviously her sister. It was strange that they pretended not to know each other, but that was probably something they agreed to in the real. That was probably it, she didn’t introduce her because of that agreement; it had to be that. Still, given the size of the game, what were the chances that they would bump into each other? That could have also been something they talked about in the real, her sister needed help so Lotus headed straight there. The talk about rare herbs and stones was just to convince her to come with her and hide her embarrassment. Yep, that was defiantly it. Still, her sister seemed really strong; could she have been from the first wave? It was also cute that they both chose the same class. Thinking about it, Lotus could have chosen her class because she wanted to be like her big sister. That was adorable! There was no way she could get her to admit it, but that had to be the reason.
Without noticing it, the group had started walking and Dawn had been following while day-dreaming. At the peak of the iceberg, encased on three sides was a strange white stone brick temple-like building. It was shaped like three rectangles of the same length arranged in a ‘u’ shape. There were some kind of elaborate etchings along the gutters, but the details couldn’t be seen through the ice and snow. In the centre of the middle rectangle, up a flight of about twelve stairs, was a pair of large metal double doors. Unlike the rest of the building, the doors seemed to be designed to be practical, like the makers wanted the building to be nice but needed to keep something out or in.
As they came up to the door, Dima and Oak tried the door. It wasn’t locked but the cold weight made it almost as hard to open as if it were. Putting their combined effort into it, the four of them were able to push the door open. Through the door they found a large hall, about thirty meters by twenty meters. The building wasn’t three equal size rooms but instead one large room and two small. The room was filled with large wooden tables, the tops of which seemed to be made from single sheets of incredibly long wood. The chairs were also made from a smooth dark wood and the hall could sit hundreds of people. Directly opposite the entrance, on an elevated platform up another dozen stairs, was an elaborate golden throne that was laden with gems, that seemed to fit the etchings so well that you could be forgiven for thinking that the gems existed solely for the sake of the throne. Draping herself over the throne, with legs over the right armrest and her head sleeping against the corner, was an enchanting red haired beauty. Her smooth hair had grown out longer than her sylphlike body, flowing over the thrown like a sea of fire. As they came closer, her eyes seemed to open under heavy strain, as if it were the greatest effort imaginable.
She looked at them, or rather through them, with a look that gave of a sense of effortless destruction; as if reducing them to nothing was less effort than it was to wake up. Her eyes were green, not a fierce green like Lotus and Lucy, but the calm, light green of a spring meadow basking in the light and wind of the season. Making no effort to hide a yawn, her full, pink lips parted to show her delicate white teeth. With a deep sigh she then spoke, in a voice melodic voice that none-the-less sounded like she was reading from a script.
“Welcome, pilgrims, to this temple, the place of worship of the spirit of the fourth world. I, the demi-goddess of lethargy, welcome you. For more information, you can ask the fourth scholar or the fourth craftsman.”
With her piece said, she rested her head back against the throne and seemed to sleep once again. She made no response to any questions asked and when trying to climb the stairs, each step felt like a day’s worth of effort just to lift one foot. The effort wasn’t physical, but was instead emotional. She had introduced herself as lethargy, so it was likely that was what was affecting any attempt to get near her. However, even knowing that, on-one’s will was strong enough to get beyond the second step.
Even after walking away from the stairs, going on felt like too much effort. Instead, Dawn let herself fall lazily backwards, to be caught by Lotus. It wasn’t even mid-day yet, but Dawn couldn’t think of anything better than to simply go to sleep there in Lotus’s arms. As her eyes began to shut, she could see Dima and Oak had the same idea.