I sank back down into the water. As I did so, I finally noticed how... calming it was to be submerged, with the water flowing over and around me, without needing to hold my breath or surface for air. It was wonderful, really, and I suddenly realized how little I had ever taken the time to savor the joys of life during my adventuring days.
Which of course was why I had been returning to the land of my birth when I got caught up in this.
Something suddenly occurred to me as the grotto's crystal light sparkling off the treasures refracted through the water in broken beams before my bemused eyes.
The mermaids had said the land of humans was not far from here.
It had to be Lilyden. The small province where I had been born.
I closed my eyes, the beauty of the dazzling light in the water paling to my rosy-hued memories of Lilyden. In the spring, lilies sprouted all over the valleys, carpeting them in oranges and pinks and whites. In the evenings, frogs would chorus in croaks while resting upon silvery lilypads. The moonlight would paint the lilies in pastels, the sunlight in brilliant colors.
I remembered running through the trees and lilies as a young boy, chasing after deer. Now, I'm sure they were simply spooked by me, but back then it seemed that they were playing tag with me, darting to and fro.
And I could run. I've always been in tip top shape, especially once I grew into manhood. Running is one of my great skills. It serves me well when escaping from collapsing ruins or chasing after bounties when the trap didn't go as planned.
But when I was small, I ran not for a reason, but for the sheer joy of it.
I hadn't been to Lilyden in nearly ten years. But it still haunted my dreams. And now, adventuring had lost its thrill. I desired nothing more than to get home.
So... thoughts spun through my head. If I could take the mermaids with me, I could work around the geas and swim up to Lilyden. I could take some of this treasure with me and use it to pay a mage to un-magick me.
My aqua-breath quickened as hope welled up inside me.