“Were you trying to kill me?!” – Cadeus angrily lashed out.
Xian Li just laughed at him.
“I think you can take them silly gloves off now.” – She got the cup of tea in her hand, pointing with it at him.
“Don’t you change subject, you witch! What was all that for?” – Cadeus kept on going.
Xian Li rolled her eyes, put her cup down, then reached out to get a grape.
“Are you even listening?!” – Cadeus raged.
“Pull. Your. Gloves. Off.” – She stated.
“What do my gloves have to do with anything?!” – He yelled.
“Oh for the spirits sake… JUST GET THEM GODDAMN GLOVES OFF, YOU SILLY HUMAN CHILD!” – Xian Li shouted back.
That got Cadeus stopped in his tracks. He looked down, then raised his hands and pulled the gloves off, revealing healed hands.
“What?” – He said in confusion.
“Yeah, same treatment to whole body, you silly being.” – Xian Li popped grape in her mouth.
“I’m… I’m healed?” – Cadeus looked at her.
She gave a nod.
“But how?” – He raised his shirt to check under. Sure enough – no more scars and marks of charred skin.
“That was one of thinks you sought for, right?” – Xian Li let out.
Cadeus gave a nod.
“What else do you need?” – Xian Li simply asked.

Cadeus was now too smitten by the events. So suddenly cleaned off and healed from all the months of the deadly and painful curse that was cast on him. And all that this simple… How could it be?

“You’re now approaching the thoughts of who did that to you and is the heal permanent, about right” – Xian Li observed this man.
He gave a nod.
“So, first of – don’t touch any more magical objects you know nothing of. That old weapon was cursed by my predecessors, so that thing did it’s protective job. And the heal is permanent.” – She stretched.
“But how do You know about it?” – Cadeus was stunned.
“Let’s say that it’s part of my work. Now, you have to be on the idea of how you got here and what’s next… Hm, yeah.” – Xian Li pointed at a puffy seat at the opposite side of the table. – “Take a seat.”
“You won’t tell me what to do!” – Cadeus protested.
“I just helped you, you little thing, now have some respect for elders and take a damn seat when asked nicely.” – Xian Li tapped the table, as she looked Cadeus in the eyes.
“Yes…” – Cadeus spoke apologetically and sat down where asked.

“So, son of Garwin and Hither… You’ve made a mess in the real of living with your outbursts and crusades. Do you still desire to find that magical object? As I know for a fact, that that old thing no longer holds any magic. Since Lan Xuei got his way with it few centuries back. So, what is your goal?” – Xian Li popped another grape and ate.

“I… I just want the Kingdom to prosper and the residents to be safe, protected… for all those in there to have a peaceful life.” – Cadeus replied.
“Aha, though you cannot account for all those other Kingdoms around that are on the brink of war, that right?” – She leaned her elbow on the table.
Cadeus gave a nod.
“Well, none can account for the actions of another. And predicting actions of others is quite a damn work in itself, so one should not strain self too much with things he cannot change.” – Xian Li poked the apple.
“So what should I do?” – Cadeus let out.
“The heck do I know? You’re the one to deal with all that, not me.” – Xian Li simply replied with a shrug.
“But are you not going to help me?!” – Cadeus lashed out.
“I already healed you, that’s already a lot coming from me to ungrateful brat such as you.” – She rolled eyes.
“Help me!” – Cadeus ranted.
“Why would I? You’ve no respect and got apparent anger management issues. You’re too much hustle.” – Xian Li took the apple and had a bite.
“Then I’ll ask Oracle!” – Cadeus raised his voice yet again.
“Ri-ight, like that fine lady with years that count more than mine will do a single thing for you, when you’ve got such attitude.” – Xian Li replied.
“She’ll like me!” – Cadeus ranted.
“Uuu, what brave young idiot.” – She waved her hand.
“She will!” – Cadeus kept on.
“Pfft, alright, try your best to get out of this maze, kid. Then we’ll talk.” – Xian Li disappeared along with all what was on the table.
Cadeus was left alone.
“I’ll succeed! You’ll see!” – He rumbled.

He walked, for what it seemed – forever. The moment he walked away from the deck – it too – vanished. Cadeus walked on the bridges, one after the other, trying to find way to get out. But to avail – nothing.
Due to this place being lit by moonlight at all times – he knew nothing of which day it was or what time it was. Moon was still in one spot, stars shone bright around, lake and bridges stretched around endlessly.

“Was I foolish to go? But I do want the best for my Kingdom… But the war is nothing what can be averted. We have to have power to withstand, to fight back and win.” – He mumbled, as he sat down, tired and parched.

“Can I at least have some water to drink?” – He called out. Nothing happened. He looked down from the bridge, but the lake was not reachable by his stretched hand, and for he could not swim, he dared not to fall.
He laid down on the bridge.
Thoughts rallying from how he was obsessed with power, to how he is devastated that his parents died, how he’s the one to lead the kingdom, but there’s still a lot he does not know. The council seems to have own secrets and he’s not very welcome there, although he is the one ruling the land. It’s like he was cut off on purpose, left with nothing but will to fight and rage to pull him.
But he was tired. He wished now for peace, for rest, for prosperity of his kingdom, his people, land. He just wanted to… Not be alone.

He closed his eyes and dozed off.
“Oh look at you. You found your way out.” – Xian Li’s voice woke Cadeus up.
He almost jumped up, looking around, looking at her.
He was at the edge of the bridge, land just after three steps from bridge. Xian Li stood on the other side, one that leads into lake.
Standing up, he looked at Xian Li.
“Kid, I’ll give you this – eat it.” – Xian Li hands him grape.
Cadeus takes it and puts it in his mouth.
“Good kid, now chew it well and swallow it up.” – Xian Li smiles.
Cadeus does as told. This one grape fills his dreaded feeling of need of water and food. Sated at last.
“Thank you.” – He says.
“Now, kid, you go and meet the Oracle. There was a new one appointed, whilst you slept. Though the wisdom remains intact, as it transitions from Oracle to Oracle, though don’t get hopes too high up. Just ask what you truly wish for, from heart, not from mind. That’s all I’m to tell. Now go on the land. The Oracle is waiting.” – Xian Li pushes Cadeus to go.
“Thank you.” – He says once more, as he makes last steps and now is on land. He turns around to say something, but the lake is gone, Xian Li is no longer there. Same old pond is now in front of him, with fine moon fish swimming inside.

Old man, now looking dreadfully frail, stands in front of him.
“Who?” – Cadeus lets out.
“I’m same man who saw you wander onto that bridge. You were a brat, still look like a brat.” – That old man replied.
“My apologies.” – Cadeus let out.
“Oh! Look at that! You were taught manners.” – Old man laughed.
Cadeus was about to ask something, as he opened his mouth, but old man spoke instead.
“It’s been over 20 years, boy. Oracle is waiting. I’ll lead you to her.” – He spoke, as he turned and began to walk.
“20 years?!” – Cadeus was stunned. – “How?!”
“You youngsters never listen, but on that lake – time is different. And not all can go there, not all can make it out of there. You were lucky.” – Old man said, as he had his cane helping him walk. – “The Kingdom is alive, not as healthy as one’d wish, but still there. You’re presumed missing. For all these years, though for past few – Oracle got involved, so she was the one keeping the crazy at bay.”
“Oracle did that?” – Cadeus was surprised.

From then on, old man did not speak. He lead Cadeus to the far east corner, then through rooms and rooms, into the large premises with fresca walls and ceiling, all with magic glass, all glistening and moving. Old man stopped at the door, gesturing for Cadeus to walk in.
As Cadeus got in, walking further, old man closed the door behind.

There was a figure in a lengthy attire, with long silver hair.
“Took you long enough, brother.” – She turned around, watching Cadeus.
“Nedeline?!” – Cadeus called out, looking at his step-sister.
She was a half-elf, born with his mother. She was hidden in the tower, so that others could not use her against the royal family. Though no one knew of who was her father, mother once said that it was one very great elf.

“You’re the new Oracle?!” – Cadeus called out.
“You ain’t going to believe what happened since you got yourself in that lake situation…” – Nedeline tiredly said, as she walked to the chairs to sit.

to be continued…