An enormous hallway that spanned miles shone its colourful beauty. Its ceiling seemed to fly higher every second. A triangle awaited them in its centre. Magical rays intertwined the gates yonder and the one gate behind them. Located on the vertices of the mystical triangle were tall doors each colour-coded. Red was the gateway to the pyro atmosphere. Blue was the cryo atmosphere and green was the bio atmosphere. Monty easily decoded the thought-out scheme.
"We need the red door for the pyro atmosphere," Monty exclaimed. Their next worry was how to open the gates? Willurby eagerly reached out to touch the lilac, magic seal. There didn't seem to be any keyhole. Reacting to Willurby's touch, the seal called out in a spiritual manner.
"Only the dwellers of this Moving Earth may pass to each destiny." Drake's neck scanned up and down.
"We're Earth-dwellers," he spilt.
"Very well, you may enter but be aware. You are only fit to adapt to your preferred atmosphere," it then replied. The adventurers faltered in stressing at this statement because they had in their possession the temperature changers. As the seal glowed and luminous lights sprang from it; so did the temperature changer and it sustained a low, absolute zero temperature.
Cautiously, Willurby treaded first.
"It's safe!" he assured his friends waiting in the wing. Drake was excited so rushed out to the atmosphere not noticing they were at a minute ridge overlooking the Well of Lava. Unfortunately, he lost his balance and dashed back to Willurby to grasp onto his leg, quivering in fear. Gazing over the craggy ridge, Monty spied the gushing, bubbling lava. Occasionally, fire balls and geysers spouted out of the blue. It was a true picture of hell. However, hell happened to please them with a goal like this in mind.
"I hear these atmospheric gates are quite random where they spit you out," Monty thought. What Drake did notice was that the blistering lava flowed down from the summit of a rocky volcano. It endlessly filled the hollow, dark hole. A state of eternal harmony: push and pull which turns to carbonising disgrace.
"We must be at the foot of Mount Izio, a legend tells of a monstrous creature that hopelessly walks its chambers." Plus, Monty's geographical knowledge told him that if they were at the Well of Lava; the village of Izionarza was on the opposite side of Izio.
Salvation lied around the boiling hole and a cliff face that if clambered would see them at the outskirts of Izionarza. After sneaking round the bottomless well, the gang split up into three, taking lookout positions to pinpoint the safest route over the cliff face. After a while of casual thinking, Monty signalled to climb up the crag. They conquered a steep, pebbly hill and then had to turn back round from the higher land. The dense, sooty ash was now thicker (and more dangerous) than ever.
"Don't swallow any ash..." Monty struggled to talk but in doing so, didn't listen to his own advice. A slither of the poisonous ash infested his lungs. He had inhaled it at the wrong place, high above the cliff, just watching over the village. Panicking, the others didn't know what to do; they possessed no knowledge of this deadly substance.
After his last moment of exhalation, Monty tumbled down the cliff. On his way to heaven, he smacked the surface of a geothermal spring. This caused water to fill his lungs as the lifeless body sank even further below the splashed surface. Bubbles fled for air. Drake grinded down the mountain with an impeccable stance and landed safely atop the spring. His majestic figure scanned the surface. Willurby... was not so graceful so plopped into the pool like a stone. The intense wave splattered Drake who was shouting like a banshee. Fishing himself out of the light water, Willurby slumped next to Drake, watching like statues. Monty remained lifeless for a while but then energetically sprang to life. Sensing danger, his adrenaline saw out of the mess. He flopped out of the water and continued to roll towards the village.
Following, the rest of the gang scrapped down the gradient hill. At its intimidating knee, came the paralysed Monty. He stopped at the bottom of the hill but found himself stumbling even more when he tried to move his weight. He felt like forty tons excluding the force of gravity. His mind spun crazily. Toppling to the ground like a mighty oath, Monty lay there distressed.
A few minutes later, enraged settlers trudged up the hill. Dressed plainly in rotting rags with nothing to protect their feet from harsh terrain which they called their abode. They seized the old man. Still asleep, Monty awoke with some unexpected visitors.
"What did I do wrong?" he wondered. A small, tubby fellow was forced to the front. The midget coughed and announced.
"You are a Cartisac! We settlers of Izionarza thought ourselves pushed aside by your childish wars but no, now you had to pollute our peaceful world. Take him to the lava sages..." Obeying their mayor, the filthy, peasant-like crowd dragged him off to torture but found themselves hesitant. They were making it extremely obvious to the mayor that something was creeping up on him. It was Drake and Willurby. "More Cartisac witches, it's feeding time." Not very frightened by this mob of urchins, Drake addressed.
"Hold it! Who are these lava sages?" The mayor was furious. He flew into a rage. Steam drained from his ears.
"You were eavesdropping on our conversation?" he yelled crossly. "Then, you must have business or audience with us." It seemed that there had been a cruel misunderstanding. Knowing that, the mayor left the gang with a microscopic boy called Efred. Because the town was poor, Efred was orphaned to work back-breaking hard labour. He worked as a full-time tour guide to the village of Izionarza. He was intelligent of the history of the village and guided them to the sage of the village.
Bustling, the streets paid no mind to the tourists and their non-magical mage. Now they were treading on lovely, flat ground (perfect for designing all the mud houses.) Lining the streets were mud or if you were well off: clay houses. Interested, Drake mentioned.
"So whose bright idea was it to build a town at the bottom of an active volcano?" The volcano wailed and spat at this question.
"The wise sages of the village," Efred answered mysteriously. "Plus, for a merchant town like this, farming is very important. Volcanoes make soil extremely fertile. With this in mind, we quickly adapted to living here. We wouldn't let an opportunity like this down." None of the gang were suspicious even though the mystery of the great and powerful sages was starting to bother them. Hopefully, none of them were going to exceed to drastic measures to pry the information out of the young orphan.
After vagrantly crawling up another side of Mount Izio, Efred abandoned the gang and presented them to a small part of the mountain.
"Well that was rude," Monty babyishly pointed out. But who cared? They were there, they might as well have checked for life. An eerie mist shrouded the gang and showed no signs of clearing. Ancient moans called out from the vapours... hang on! Vapour! In an instant, they all screamed and charged the steam. Then, they found themselves at another of the geothermal springs. It seemed uninhabited as did the plunge pool of the other. Yet again, warm bubbles stirred in the pool. Strangely, frantic bubbles were emerging from the centre.
"That's not natural," Willurby shockingly dived back behind a rock.
Ducking behind Drake however was Monty who was recalculating his view of this supposedly uninhabited spring. Out of the water, sprang a blood red dolphin. His friends darted around some geysers in a terrific display. Flopping about, they landed yonder the crew who were blankly gaping at the creatures. In sync, the dolphins emitted roaring clicks from the backs of the pleasant-touched mouths. Shielding their ears, the adventurers averted from the dolphins until they paused at the edge of the spring.
"Euuuuhuhhhh!" one screeched. "What, eeeeuhuhhhh can we do for you?"
"Don't provoke them," Monty warned Drake as he engaged the mammal. "I've heard of these beasts, the angry vagrants were going to feed me to these guys before you rescued me." Otherwise, Drake needed answers so scratched his chin patiently.
"Feed you to us," one of the lava dolphins clicked. "That sounds like the eeeeuuuuhhhhh villagers to us. Oh, they're pure evil, just because we dwell in the eeeuuhuhuhuuh depths of the lava springs all hibernation, they think they can use us as a weapon. Anyone who is not of Izionarza is a eeeeeuuuuhhhhh friend of mine." Pleasantly, the lava dolphin stretched out a slippery flipper to shake Drake's. This dolphin carried the heavy burden of a shrill voice but his skin was delightful. Revealing himself from his shabby rock, Willurby murmured.
"So these are the terrifying sages?" Not in the least threatened by that remark, the dolphin reeled his ruby eyes.
"So, not minding him, what can I euhuhuheuhhhh do for you?"
Between the geysers, Monty remarked.
"We need some steel, if that be in your knowledge." The dolphin was familiar with this steel. He could tell; in an instant, that they were weary travellers.
"You seem worthy enough but Lavarter may not think so heartedly," the lava dolphin guided. "All steel is rightfully pried from iron ore but we dolphins believe in a much more sophisticated way... duel! Lavarter, is the righteous king of the eeeeuuuhhhhhuhh lava dolphins... he is the most intelligent of the sages. But, he harbours a most deadly power of fire. To gain his trust, you must travel deep into Mount Izio which is only accessible by the Well of Lava. This very well, of which I speak eeeeeeuhuhuuuuuhhhh, happens to be at the beginning location of your journey here: you actually climbed right past it to get here. At the volcano's heart euuueeehhhh, will rest Lavarter. Only when you meet him, may you be trialled." Excluding the actual duel with Lavarter, the mission ahead of them would be perilous, only the worthy (and stupid) made it through Mount Izio alive!
One of the lava dolphins saddled up and commanded.
"I, although I breath oxygen, require transport, could you haul me to the well, if you desire the prize that lies within eeeeuhuhuhhhhhh!?" Monty and Willurby granted the sweet dolphins request whilst Drake took the orders of navigation. This majestic hunter had just offered them a front row seat down to the heart of the blistering Lava Well. They were confused as to be thankful or damn right frightened! The ultimate boiling rock quest had begun.