Evan and Lily are two cousins about to discover new weird adventures, all thanks to the StrimStone, that grants anyone a powerful "hidden ability".


16. The Salamander in The Grottos


We ran through the streets. I didn’t know what Lily had in mind, but I trusted her. Many minutes passed, and I was feeling really tired. “Is it too far away?” I asked, panting. “Not much, but we need to hurry to find The Salamander in The Grottos.” She replied. She gave me no time to say or ask anything, because she ran faster. Eventually, we reached a narrow path of dirt at the side of the street, between some bushes. She made a sign to me, to keep going. In a suspicious, old wooden fence, Lily moved a small log, and passed through.

“Hey, I need your help!” She said. “To find that ‘salamander’?” I asked. “You could say so, yep.” She said. “Come here, let’s move this.” I helped her pushing an enormous, thick disk made out of stone in the floor. Beneath it, there was an opening with stairs. “This is it!” She said, walking downstairs. With the StrimStone in hand, she illuminated the place. “Are you coming or not?” She asked. “Yeah, yeah.” I said. She kept walking quickly and with confidence inside the underground tunnel. “Lily, what on earth is this!?” I asked. “The Grottos.” She said. The place was mostly covered in soil and rocks. Some steps resounded in the distance. There were lights further away, and I glimpsed an old man waving his hand.

Lily ran to hug him, and greeted him as an old friend. “Hey, Lily, who’s this brave gentleman who accompanies you?” He asked. Lily laughed, “You won’t believe it, but he’s Evan!” The old man squinted while looking at my face. “Oh… Oh, my! You–You’re really–” Lily stopped him, clearing her throat. The old man turned his face to her, and said softly to himself “Oh, right–right, hehe!” Then he shook my hand with great excitement. “I get it… you must be The Salamander.” I said. He opened his eyes in surprise, and replied, “Wha–What have you done, Lily!? You–You know I don’t like that nickname, my name’s Hu-Hugo!” Lily laughed. First I didn’t notice, but the old man stuttered very frequently.

“May I ask you why they gave you such a nickname?” I asked. He laughed with genuine happiness again. “We–well, when our excavation team found the StrimStone, we all wanted t–to know which was our individual hidden ability, a–and I was the last one to find it out. And the reason is be–because we humans are typically surrounded by air, while my hidden ability is ‘having no need to breathe’: not at all. Just imagine how hard it was to discover that! I–I used to hold the stone, and ev–everyone thought nothing was happening!”

-“That’s a cool one!” I exclaimed. “Hehe, I guess so!” He said. “Bu–But when they noticed that I could be deep underwater for a long time without any equipment, th–they stared saying I was just like an amphibian! ‘Ju–Just like a salamander!’ as your–your Uncle Evan said it first. You see, he was the one who gave that nickname to me.”

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