“What is this?” Breath hissed through Falcon’s veil as he spoke. Snarling would be too much emotion for one of his Order, but his voice teetered on a precipice.
“It’s a lake,” Ianthe replied. “With water. You do remember water, don’t you?” She had traded her heavy boots for sandals, and she lifted a foot out of one, and toed the water.
“I have never seen water this… color.” He surveyed the far shore, his eyes flicking. “And I don’t recall there being a lake here. Before Ebonfall–”
“It wasn’t here before Ebonfall, I don’t think.”
The crack of a twig, and Ren joined them, leaning on his bone polearm. “The legend goes that this is where the Abomination called Shattershank fell, rending the earth beneath it. It bled ice for three days, and made a lake of this hollow. The ice melted after some long time, but the water never regained its… natural color.”
The water was the color of the sky at twilight — a deep, clouded blue, lit as if from beneath.
More footsteps behind them. Nu gasped. “It looks like… the Periphery!”
Ianthe sighed, rolled her eyes. “Nothing so dramatic. It’s perfectly safe to swim in.” She shucked off her sandals, stripped down to her chemise.
She didn’t reach the water before Kaala, who raced past her companions, down a pier, to take a cannonball leap into the water. The Tempest warrior was soon swimming for a distant island, red panda makeup streaking off her face.
“Did she just–” Nu began, pointing toward the retreating Disciple.
“I believe she had no clothes on, yes,” Ren confirmed. “Is that not how one swims?”
Rolant was there, too, now. “Care to join her?” He raised an eyebrow suggestively at Nu.
“I’M NOT LISTENING,” Ianthe replied, making a show of covering her ears. She waded into the shallows. The water was cool, and little white fishes swarmed around her ankles.
Cadi and Hedi arrived next, in a pair. “Uncle Ren,” Cadi said, her tone one of a patient teacher, “Remember how some people guard their smallclothes like you guard your veil?”
His eyes narrowed thoughtfully, “I remember, yes. Modesty just strikes me as a strange pretense, these days. But as you will.” With a nod, he wandered off, towards the line of pine trees that lined the beach.
Falcon seemed unmoved. He crossed his arms in front of him. “Veiled cannot swim. We lack the necessary air and fat to provide buoyancy.”
Ianthe waded up to her knees in the water. “I… don’t think it works like that.”
Ren appeared from the tree line, baring more skin that Ianthe had never seen on a Veiled before. He had stripped to a loin-cloth — black, of course. His corpse-white pallor reflected the sun with blinding radiance. Of course, he still wore his Veil, perfectly in place. “I have prepared myself,” he announced, spreading his arms wide.
Rolant grinned, leaning on his sword. “What’s your excuse now, Falcon?”
Join us next time, when Ianthe and Rolant conjure up an inflatable raft, and explain Boyle’s Law in the process!