Lucci knew a lot of wondrous things in his life. Floating islands. Winged people. Talking dragons. Spirit watchers. But for some reason, the idea of a mechanical flying ship was completely enthralling. NaDo was more than pleased to show his creation off, and spent quite a bit of time detailing all of its intricacies to the wide-eyed youth.
Rows of multicolored buttons glowed and hummed. Dials, screens and levers begged for exploration. As they flew through the sky, the ship even projected a topographical map of the lands below, complete with any landmarks that the Tu Family so proudly uncovered.
“Where did you learn how to fly this machine?” Lucci asked as the side door opened with a hiss of escaping air.
“What do you mean learn?” NaDo grinned as he pulled off his flight goggles. “I built this baby. I know everything about it. Inside and out.”
“So, do you like it?” he grinned, leaning back on his heels.
Lucci nodded. “I’ve never seen anything like it before.”
“Of course not. People of the Inner Realms don’t get it,” NaDo frowned, stepping down the ramp to the outside of the ship. “They just keep asking me why people with wings would have a use for a flying ship. They don’t understand when I try to explain how great it is for everything.”
“They don’t listen to a lot of things, Master NaDo,” the youth informed him, probably sounding a bit more downcast than he meant.
“Don’t worry about it, Lucci,” the winged man said encouragingly. “That’s the way the world works. Some people take leaps and bounds ahead. Other people only take baby steps. One day they’ll catch up, and we’ll be waiting for them when they do.”
Lucci ducked under the low doorway and poked his head out into the early evening air. Long frond-leaf trees rose and swayed back and forth in the slight breeze, seeming to beckon the two of them out of the ship. Already, he could feel it. A gentle pressure in the back of his mind.
Just as NaDo promised, he took Lucci to many different places. After he explored the Shellab, the whole Tu Family visited the white sandy beaches not far from their home. While Lucci was enthralled with the vast waters and foam-crested waves, NaDo and Maru took young KiNa flying in the drafts of the sea breeze.
They picnicked on the dunes. Explored everything the beach offered. Swam in the strange salty water. Basked in the warmth of the sun. Played games along the shore. Built Shellab 3.0 in the sand. Collected treasures from the receding tides.
It was a wonderful day, and an experience that Lucci knew he’d always remember. A time where he felt, more than ever, a part of a family that he never had. When supper came, it was both happy and sad. He didn’t want the trip to the ocean to end. NaDo’s cooking certainly made up for having to turn his back to the majesty of the ocean.
As did his first flight in NaDo’s ship.
But now, those happy things were complete. Before him stood the looming reality of the things he must do. The longer he spent with the Tu Family, the more resolved Lucci became.
If Zeromus attacks, then he will hurt the Tu Family as well. Not just all the people on the Islands.
That was something he could not bear to think about.
“Here it is, Lucci,” NaDo’s voice brought him up out of his thoughts, announcing with a proud and grandiose tone. “The Vision Stone!”
The youth peered past the shoulder of the winged man, catching his first sight of the thing of legend. It did not fail to impress.
The stone was aptly named, though it was difficult to tell if it was really a stone, or something made of a crystalline structure. It rose gracefully up out of the ground like it belonged there far longer than even the oldest of trees. Time weathered away any sharpness, leaving nothing but a tall smooth spiraling shaft, pointing towards the sky.
As Lucci came closer, he made out a pale blue glow tracing the surface of the stone. It was the same light he saw from the top of the Shellab.
“What did I tell you? It’s really something else, isn’t it?” NaDo was grinning from ear to ear, obviously pleased with the youth’s reaction.
“Yes,” was all that Lucci managed to say. He couldn’t take his eyes off of the stone. Finally, after a while of studying it, he asked, “What should I do, Master NaDo?”
“Well, why don’t you go up there and touch it? That’s what Maru usually does,” the winged man suggested. “If the stone has something it wants to show you, then it will. But you gotta go up to it and ask.”
“Ask,” Lucci echoed, face somewhat uncertain as his eyes focused on the blue glow. Then he took a slow step forward.
I’ve come all this way to find an artifact from the Time Before. Something that can stop an Arweinydd from hurting people. Something that the Sygnus-people long ago used.
He reached his hands out slowly, their outline blurring the closer he brought them to the stone.
If you’re really something from the Time Before, if you really are a Vision Stone, please show me where I need to go to find this artifact. Show me what I have to do to stop Zeromus.
As Lucci focused his will, the stone’s glow grew stronger, filling his vision with light and color. He steeled himself, facing the light. To not flinch away. He didn’t want to miss anything that the stone tried to tell him.
The light grew unbearably bright, to the point where Lucci’s eyes watered. Then, just when he thought he couldn’t take any more, it began to dim. From the shifting shafts of light, something began to form. The youth realized that he was looking out over a landscape. A white beach. A stretch of brilliant blue-green water swathed in a calming sheltered bay.
Just under the surface of the water, he could see a dark shadow. As he watched, a figure began to walk across the middle of his vision. He couldn’t make out who it was, but the way that they walked spoke a familiarity of the place.
The figure stooped down for a moment, leaning towards the sand. Lucci squinted, trying to make out exactly what the person was doing. The way that the sunlight filtered through the frond trees made it too blurry to tell. Just at the height of his curiosity, the ground began to rumble.
A roaring sound shook the peaceful bay. The water began to froth, strange fountains bursting into the air. The shadow that lay beyond the shore grew sharper. More visible. Lucci realized that something very large was rising from the depths of the sea.
Amazement filled his mind as he watched the first pieces of shadow break through the rising tide. Then, his vision grew dimmer. The image began to distort. Try as he might, Lucci couldn’t find a clear connection. The vision of the stone broke away, like the misty sea foam of the ocean waves.
The youth was once again staring at the soft glow outlining the back of his hands where they pressed against the Vision Stone. Behind him, he could feel NaDo watching with concern and interest. When it was apparent that something had come to pass, the winged man approached.
“Did you see something?”
He withdrew his hands with a slow nod. He was at a loss to describe what it was he saw, simply because it wasn’t enough to really understand what the stone was directing him. His face must have spoken his uncertainty louder than he meant.
“Ah, it didn’t come through very clear, did it?” NaDo templed his fingers.
“Don’t be discouraged. It took Maru months of time working with the stone before she had a clear vision from it. Even now, not everything is straightforward for her,” the winged man gave a sympathetic look.
“Yes, but, I don’t have months to try and figure out the place it was showing me,” Lucci gave a downcast look. In fact, he really didn’t know how much time he did have.
And here I’ve been, enjoying myself when people are in a lot of danger waiting for me.
“It showed you a place?” NaDo asked, leaning forward.
“Yes. It was a beach. It looked like it was in some sort of bay, surrounded by cliffs,” the youth detailed as much as he was able.
“Well, that’s far more than I had expected it to show you. That’s something we just may be able to work with.”
Lucci’s head lifted with a hopeful look.
“What else do you remember about the place?”
“It was strange. Very calm compared to the ocean that we visited. As I said, it was in a bay surrounded by cliffs,” Lucci demonstrated by cupping his hands in the air, making the visualization of the stone that he saw. “There was something really big under the water, off the shore. I couldn’t see exactly what it was. I could only make out the shadow.”
NaDo gave a start at the last bit of information, his green eyes flicking over, an excited light glimmering there. Something that spoke of recognization. Even before the winged man began to talk, Lucci knew what he was going to say.
“I know that place!”
“You do?” his voice whooshed out.
“Yes! I’ve travelled through that area before,” with an excited wave of his hand, NaDo rushed back towards the flying ship.
Lucci turned, jogging close on his heels and ducking through the low doorway. The youth watched as the winged man began to punch buttons on the control deck, almost too excited to get the combination right. After a moment, the hologram map sprang to life, stretching across the open area of the deck. With a few more key strokes, NaDo moved the image down the shore, and paused at a crescent-shaped inlet.
Lucci held his breath, leaning forward. The image zoomed in, outlining the land mass in greater detail. There it was. The place that saw in his vision. The shadowy outline was in the ocean, here, too. There was a digital sticky note in the form of a yellow flag highlighting the phenomenon, a reminder to NaDo to explore that area when time permitted.
“Is that it?”
“Yes!” Lucci exclaimed, too overcome with pleasure to believe what he saw.
“I thought so. It all clicked when you mentioned the shape under the water. I wanted to check it out sometime. I thought it seemed pretty suspicious,” NaDo grinned brightly. “I guess now, I’m about to get my chance!”
“You mean, you’re coming with me?” the youth gave a surprised look.
“I wouldn’t miss it for the world.”