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There was a rustling in the treetops, and from the wall of greenery, burst forth a figure clad in a white, handmade outfit. Within her hands was a large, wooden staff, which seemed to barely hold back a fiery undercurrent beneath its slightly aged wood.

Sunlight shone against her as she soared through the air, landing in the clearing with a flip.

Bearing its teeth, a contorting monster with deep crimson skin and glowing, purple vein-like lines throughout its incomprehensible body roared, and charged towards her. That was no reason to fear, however— the graceful figure simply engaged with its dance, keeping its destructive ire away from the plant life until her moment to strike was finally open to her.

She leapt upwards, diving down towards what could be considered the monster’s head— staff aimed towards a crystalline gemstone.

The moment the figure’s staff collided with the gemstone, it began to glow, energy surging from the monster and cascading around the clearing in swirls of multicolored light. That light grew in intensity, before fizzling out entirely, as if it burnt itself out. The monster dissolved as the light disappeared.

Her bare feet hit the ground softly, and she sighed upon noticing the one remnant of the monster’s presence— a single, iridescent seashell. She picked it up, turning the trinket over in her fingers, and bringing it closer to her eyes.

“So the corruption is in the sea this time.”

As if to confirm her suspicions, the wind rustled through the trees, weaving between the branches to brush against her.

The sigh that escaped her lips was fond, if not a bit annoyed.

Such was the way of the realm known only as Paradise.


The trees around her shifted the color of their leaves from golden orange, intermixing a gentle blue to their hue. Solana had only just begun her walk to the beach, and in a perfect world, she would get there before sunset was even a thought in the horizon’s mind.

She turned, smiling warmly towards the young woman that had called after her.

“Celeste. What’s up?”

A confident smile spread on the other’s features, and she stepped a bit closer.

Celeste had an appearance completely defined by soft blues, completely contrasting to the deep golden colors that graced her hair and eyes. At first glance, Celeste’s presence was never alarming— in fact, Solana could say it was almost disarming. This did nothing for her fiery and quick to act nature.

With one quick, swift motion, she took something from her pocket, and threw it towards Solana with a flick. She managed to catch the object within her fingers.

Smooth, thin, colored a deep green…

“Sea glass?”

“Yeah. There was a beast by the southern shore, I had to fight it all by myself. Enki was exploring the caverns.”

“Wasn’t he supposed to be with you today?” Solana asked, idly turning the sea glass over in her hand.

“Our supply of food was running low, so I agreed to gather stuff today— glad I did, honestly. Please, I am begging you, you gotta look through that sea glass— at me, come on.”

Though she was confused for a moment, Solana did as instructed, closing one eye and holding the sea glass close to her open one.

Celeste’s appearance through the glass was… strange. Her flowing outfit had been replaced with something much simpler, far more reminiscent of the world that Solana had come from— and, maybe it was the hue of the glass, but her defining colors just weren’t present anymore.

Solana slowly lowered the sea glass from her eye, keeping her gaze on Celeste as she transitioned back to how she really looked.

“Strange. You want this back, right?”

“Keep it. Have fun clearing out the corruption!” Celeste responded, grinning wildly before spinning away from Solana.

“Hey, you aren’t coming with me?”


Celeste folded her hands behind her back, and walked away.

The walk to the shore took just about as long as it normally did, and Solana wasted no time diving into the cerulean.

All it took was a few moments of swimming just outside the shallows, letting the almost too chilled waters of the ocean embrace her as a part of it. It was important, when gaining the ocean’s trust, to not let one’s mind wander.

In between the fighting, and the exploring, the experimentation and progress, it was hard not to think about the unanswered questions. What was this place? Why and how did they come to be here? What was the corruption they had spent these years clearing, and perhaps most terrifyingly, why couldn’t they depart from the island? Paradise wasn’t a small island by any means, and it was layered, ever changing— but venturing too far into the ocean always led to whoever left simply looping back around.

But thinking about that never led to the ocean accepting her, and so Solana didn’t, and she continued not to until she felt a current sweeping against her back.


Solana was led to an underground ravine, with an opening hidden in its walls. It seemed like it was practically draining the water from the ocean, with how strong the current became. She slipped inside, taking her staff from her back.

Coral covered the entire floor, and dozens of other plant life she didn’t recognize grew from the walls, and hung from the ceiling. The only break from this pattern was a swirling, deep crimson whirlpool of… something, within the center. Solana could tell it wasn’t quite mist, but she knew for certain it wasn’t a liquid.

She got here early. The energy spot was still small. Every time one of these sources of corruption appeared, it could take days, or even weeks, for them to find it. The ocean was sort of easy to clear, since it practically led them right to the area, but sometimes even then…

Well, Solana would waste no more time simply staring. She raised her staff above her head, and waited for it to react to the corruption.

Light enveloped the chamber, dancing so strangely that the world’s structure morphed— the world simply becoming black outlines on a golden canvas. She drove her staff into the heart of the corruption, and squeezed her eyes shut as everything grew fuzzy.

The sand against her back as she faded back into awareness told her she’d succeeded in her mission. She didn’t expect to fail, as she hadn’t since the first few times she’d tried to bless anything.

The chain wrapped around her fingers were uncomfortably tight this time, as well. She sat up, and untangled the delicate, rusted metal from her hand.

Another locket, this time made of the same type of sea glass from earlier. It was filled with ocean water, which she let spill out onto the sand.

The locket was big enough to hold something, she could tell that much— though that something was smaller than the last few lockets Paradise had given them.

These things had to be important, and yet neither her, nor any of her comrades, had the slightest idea as to what to do with them… so they were simply stored away somewhere.

Even still, just their existence confirmed something important. The fact that they were clearly aged, and clearly made for something, told Solana that there were others. Maybe other people who were whisked away here, maybe people who once were truly from this world.

With no feasible way back to where she started, the idea of a history to uncover was all Solana could strive for. Perhaps she could find out where this corruption came from, and maybe, just maybe, how to get rid of it for good— because right now, slowly chipping away at it like they were didn’t seem like the best way to go about it.

With a determined huff, Solana closed her fist around the locket, and stood, leaving the beach.

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