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The world was spinning around us. There was an odd feeling in the air before suddenly the mana vanished completely. I heard the others gasp and knew they would feel it keenly but having no mana of my own, I didn’t feel it so badly. We landed with a thump on top of a hill and I managed to climb to my feet while the other’s lay limply on the ground.

The air tasted stale, with a slight metallic tint to it. It was strange.

Sheena was the first to recover and pushed herself into a seated position. “Where are we?” she croaked.

I looked around and saw a huge cavern in the ground not far from us. I couldn’t see much else without my glasses on but I could see enough to see where we were.

I cursed, having not played the game often enough to even remember the name of the place I now looked at. “I don’t know.” I answered. I looked back down at my friends. Raine and Genis were now completely unconscious, Lloyd and Colette looked almost there and Sheena, Zelos, Regal and Presea seemed to be just about managing. I sighed. “Do you think you can stand? We need to get to shelter.”

They nodded and stood shakily. Regal and Zelos carried Raine, I carried Genis and supported Lloyd and Sheena supported Colette. We slowly made our way down the hill and into the observatory. When we walked in I gave the place a cursory look. There were two beds off to our left and we placed the two half-elves on them. The others then sat at the table, at the back of the room by the kitchen area.

“You guys stay there. I’m going to have a look around.”

Everything was covered in a layer of dust and filth. It would be a while before this place was habitable. There was a desk and a large chest and draws to the left of the door, to the right when you come in. on the same wall was a door and then the kitchen area. There was a stove and a hob which I was pleased about along with some equipment we might need. There were a lot of boxes and crates lining the back wall that I resolved to go through at a later date. On the wall with the front door was a small entry way creating a three walled room with nothing in it but for the front door and another one beside it with the two beds. There was a set of stairs partially blocking off this area creating an illusion of privacy.

Upstairs was a lounge area with a few couches and chairs leading to another area, above the entry way with a desk and a bunch of bookcases, clearly being some kind of study or library.

I walked through the door to the left and entered an inside courtyard. There were stairs leading down on my left and up on my right. There was water flowing from somewhere and leading outside making a lake of cold, fresh water at the back end of the courtyard. I picked up a lantern and a small burst of fire mana from my necklace had the wick of the candle lit and I went downstairs. A brief look confirmed it to be a storage basement and I went back up, blowing out the candle as I went. I placed the lantern back and went up the flight of stairs. It was a simple roof top balcony so I went back down and into the main room.

I looked over at the door now opposite me. The only room in the game you can’t go into. I walked towards it, checking on my friends as I went past, and gently pushed it open. It led to a corridor with a door on either side and a stair case leading up and down at the back. I looked in both rooms. One was a small library and the other was a storage room. I went upstairs and saw two other rooms. Both were bedrooms with two beds each, leading to a total of four beds.

I then went back down and looked down the other stair case. I picked up the lantern at the top of the stairs and lit it before slowly making my way down. There was a long corridor with eight doors. Four on each side. The first four were bedrooms, each with two beds. The third room down on each side was storage, as was the fourth. Exploration complete I went back upstairs to me friends.

“So, not counting those two beds we have four beds upstairs and eight downstairs. There’s a library and a whole lot of storage.”

By now Lloyd and Colette had fallen asleep on the table and the other four were almost recovered. Regal looked me over. “Why were you unaffected by this?”

I shook my head. “It wasn’t the journey that’s affecting you. It’s the fact that there’s no mana here. You guys are dependent on it. It’s why Raine and Genis passed out like that. Since they’re half-elves it’s affecting them the most. Lloyd and Colette are angels so their more affected by it than you. I’m actually surprised they aren’t as affected by it as Raine and Genis.” I shrugged. “Help me get these two upstairs?” I lifted Colette easily enough and Regal picked up Lloyd. I led him to one of the upstairs bedrooms and we put the two angels in the beds.

We went back down to the main room and I looked around. “I’m going to start cleaning the kitchen. We’ll likely be here a while, until we can figure a way home.” I started pulling cleaning supplies from my wingpack.

Regal nodded. “I will help you.”

Preasea silently grabbed a cleaning cloth and Sheena stood up, walking over to where I was piling junk.

Zelos stood up as well. “I’m going to see if I can read any of the books upstairs. See if I can find anything on where we are or how to get home.”

I nodded and began scrubbing at the hob, I wanted to be able to cook more than I wanted a clean chair to sit on.

Regal started on the counters, Sheela the table and Presea the floor.

The four of us scrubbed all day while Zelos looked through the books upstairs. By the end of the day the kitchen area was passable but I knew we would be cleaning it more tomorrow. I made some sandwiches and the five of us sat down to eat. Zelos sighed. “Not a single one of the books up there is in a language I recognise. I looked through every one of them. None. I don’t recognise any of the symbols or drawings. I can’t decipher any of it.”

I smiled slightly. “Never mind. I’m sure there is an answer in the towers. We just have to find it.” We ate in silence and afterwards I looked seriously at the others. “Listen. There is no mana here, so if we need mana to get back, I’m going to need my necklace charged as much as possible. I would charge it myself by I don’t produce mana like you guys can. Your body naturally creates it. I’m going to need you guys to store your mana in here at the end of every day. We can’t afford to waste any.”

Regal nodded. “I see. What if we don’t need mana to get home?”

“If that happens they we would have prepared for nothing but I would rather be on the safe side. If we don’t, sods law says we will need it.”

Presea looked at me. “Sods law? I don’t understand.”

I smiled. “Sods law is things like, if you say ‘at least it’s not raining’ then it will begin to rain or ‘it can’t get worse than this’ right before it gets worse. In this case it would be, we don’t channel mana into here and then find out we need it to get home.”

I held up my necklace and looked at it. It had been a gift from Lloyd, he made it himself. It had nine crystals of it. A diamond in the middle and four other gems on each side, corresponding with each of the eight elements. I was able to store mana into the gems to use at a later date for casting spells or controlling the elements.

It also gave me what I needed to appear more than I was.

I had an exsphere. I got it when I first arrived on Sylvarant. But it was this mana that made me look like I fit in. with it, I could control the elements, use arts, cast spells and (if I manipulated the earth mana just so) I could fly. Gravity on Sylvarant was controlled by Gnome, the summon spirit of earth. Here, it was the same and anywhere else so controlling earth mana wouldn’t let me fly.

I placed it down on the table. We couldn’t afford to waste any of it. The next few days followed the same kind of pattern. We would get up, eat something simple, clean stopping only for lunch and dinner before resting for a while and going to bed. Lloyd and Colette woke up on the third day and Raine and Genis woke up on the fourth. After we had cleaned the main room and all the linen we started on the other rooms.

We had sorted out the crates in the main room and deemed most of them full of equipment we had no idea how to use and left them alone for the moment. As we worked we cleared a lot of space in the basement and put the crates down there.