As he was trekking towards Mandala, Seles had to make his way through the Ringcon Caves, which were the only passage through the Twilight Mountains—an offshoot of the Sunset Mountains, which nobody had ever before crossed over alive.
Although very mazy and wet, the only real danger of the
was the swarm of Silverfish splashing around through the marshes inside and outside the caves. The Silverfish would indiscriminately run Seles over with their random flailings, so he was often forced to destroy them just to make sure he survived. All evidence pointed to a recent flood in the caverns; Seles couldn't imagine why so many aquatic creatures would be splashing around in these caves otherwise. Ringcon Caves
Midway through the
, Seles found that he was not the only victim of the Silverfish. A young girl clad in fantastic finery was draped unconscious across the rocky floor of one open cavern, her comatose body bounced and bludgeoned by the stampeding Silverfish. Quickly Seles leapt in to rescue her, and after beating off the Silverfish, he managed to revive her. Ringcon Caves
The girl was not grateful, however. Thinking that Seles was trying to take advantage of her, she screamed, walloped him with a wooden rod, and ran off down a tunnel that actually led deeper into the
. Horrified, Seles ran after her, entreating her to stop before she got lost or awakened anything dark and evil down in the ground—but it was too late. The girl was seized, with a piercing scream, by a massive glowing firefly. Ringcon Caves
The Tinderfly held the squalling and fighting girl in its multiple small arms and flew around exuding heat and flames from its glowing posterior. Seles had to keep his distance and fire arrows at the creature’s head, being sure not to hit the girl held underneath its body. As it began to feel the pain of Seles’ arrows, the Tinderfly began to mix up its attack pattern, alternately making flying dashes across the cavern and using its wings to blow gouts of fire at Seles. However, Seles was determined not to lose, and with the Flower Seeds he had picked up from the Whackoons, he was able to keep himself in the fight long enough to see the Tinderfly out of it. As the Tinderfly crashed to the ground and burned in an incandescent blaze of glory, Seles managed to rescue the girl, another tuft of Kitsune Fur, and a strange wreath made of glowing, fiery leaves unlike anything Seles had ever seen before.
Since he had saved her life, the girl reluctantly introduced herself as Clara. She couldn’t remember anything more than her name, however; a flood had recently struck the
, and she had been swept up in it and deposited here. She had an acute case of amnesia. Seles rather gallantly offered to help her find her way home; Clara rather less graciously accepted the offer. Ringcon Caves
Although Clara had her wooden rod to battle with—and Seles could attest firsthand to the punch she packed with it—Seles told Clara to stay back away from the main brunt of the battle. Just by looking at her, it was obvious that she was even less used to battle than he was, and her delicate frame—to say nothing of her highly ineffective, albeit certainly flashy, choice of clothing—just screamed monster bait. For her part, Clara was more than happy to stay back. That was one order she was glad to follow.
The Silverfish were still bouncing around the
, but after the Tinderfly, they were nothing to Seles. He bulled through them with his Axe, Clara on his heels, and made it out once again into the bright, dry sunshine. Ringcon Caves