They soon sneakily approached Moonstone Mountain as they could see patrols of Valuan ships above the rocky surface, so they took an alternate way in by scaling the outside and heading out. They approached the mines from a passage into the mountain before stopping as they all tripped something as Aika inquired to Vyse looking around.
"Uh-oh... I think we just stepped on some kind of switch."
"Hmm... well, it doesn't look like anything happened. It was probably nothing." Vyse should not have been so quick to assume that nothing happened as the passage out closed shut to their surprise, all glancing behind them to the shut way as Aika stated the fact.
"Uh... the exit just closed by itself."
"I don't know about you guys, but I've got a bad feeling about this place."
"No, you think...?" Alexan inquired as he shook his head and continued on the way, whatever this place had, it was going to be chaos for all of them as they headed through, the place littering with monsters just the same, but also Valuan soldiers who quickly spotted them and tried to take them down, but it was made more troublesome when the party noticed... female Ixa'takans riding mine carts down the tracks with shouts of fury and terror, but they were sporting weapons for fighting, meaning that they must be here to deal with the Valuans and also 'retrieve' their men.
They didn't linger very long on it as they came across the traps, they being rather simple to understand as Alexan actually tossed a stone and activated the traps that would drop them down to mine carts below, likely what tossed those Ixa'takans to who knows where in the mountain before they made to return or otherwise, perhaps that was what kept Alexan on his toes in the first place as they passed the grate mesh trap and went on guard when a small band of Ixa'ness attacked them, his blade coming up to block reverse grip against the stave that nearly caved his skull in, tensions high as the party almost moved to fight as well against their attackers.
Alexan took in the appearance of the woman before him, clad more in a traditional shamaness attire, but countering that was lightly-seared skin, a mane of black hair that flowed to the base of her spine with a streak of violet flowing like a strap from the left-center of the head. Alexan didn't let it distract him as he spoke. "Allow me, guys..." The tensions boiled as the pair clashed, the Air Pirates in shock as Alexan pulled his fancy swordplay once again while the Ixa'ness were in awe of a male clashing with their shamaness with such skill and flow. It came to a head as several Valuans took notice and charged, the parties nearly moving to fight them, but the pair ravaged the attackers as Alexan's blade and bullets cut them down while the shamaness's own power surpassed that of the others as Pyri felt more like Pyres to them before the Valuans were done and the parties nearly breathed before both lashed out once more, a blade to the throat and a stave head to the side as both glared at each other, the parties looking between them before the shamaness spoke.
"You come to our Scared Mountain, like these vile armored ones, and you have the guile to fight me on equal footing, no man can surpass my power."
"It doesn't matter now, does it, Ixa'ness?" Blood dripped from a small cut as red started to touch the side of Alexan's garb. "We are here to free those trapped within these mines, in search of a valuable being to the King of Ixa'taka, if you wish for us to fight, speak up."
"Crude and bestial..." Both glared before the sword and stave were pulled away with stashing them, the blade to its sheath and the stave onto her back as she glowed green and the cut healed. "Ixa'ness warriors will not stand by to let these fools take our men and keep them as slaves for their wishes, you stay out of our way and you may live to see the next sunrise." She marched off with her sisters behind her as Alexan watched her go before Kenth came up from behind as he whistled.
"That was amazing..." Alexan glanced to him before slapping him across the skull as he spoke to the rest of the party, even Drachma who was stunned at what had just happened.
"Let's continue our search for Isapa, he must be somewhere around here." They nodded as they pressed on, finding someone, but not likely the one they were looking for as the elder man glanced up to seeing them.
"Hm? You don't look like you're a Valuan... Who might you be?" He got up as Vyse introduced himself and asked.
"I am Vyse. Are you Isapa?""
"No, it appears you have mistake me for someone else. My name is Centime." Aika gasped as she beamed at finding the missing Blue Rogue.
"Then you're Hans' father!"
"You know Hans?! Then you must have been to the village in Horteka! That's where my wife and children are... Everyone was okay, right?"
"Yeah, they were doing just fine. But, you should worry about yourself right now." Vyse pointed out as Centime answered back with the same smile on his face when he told them his name.
"Oh, I'm okay. When I refused to Help Valua, they threw me into these dungeons. I've been here for quite a while. You were looking for someone named Isapa, correct? If so, then you'll need to venture further into these mines. I think I can help." He took them out of his cell and toward the elevators there as he explained. "There are elevators scattered through the mines. You will need to use them to reach the other areas. I can get them working." With that, and getting a lockpick that Aika often... stashed in her pouch, Centime quickly changed the controls of the elevator and caused it to bend to his will as Aika beamed to his success, not even she could figure that much tech-stuff out, she usually just hits it.
"Woohoo! Wow, Centime, you're amazing!"
"Why, thank you. I must advise you, proceed with caution... there are all sorts of traps. I will travel ahead and see if I can disarm them for you." They have had their fair share of traps as Vyse agreed.
"Thank you! You've been a great help to us already."
"It's the least I can do for you. You rescued me, remember? I'm sure we'll meet again. Good luck!" With that, Centime headed off to deal with more of the traps in the mines and, with hope, free those trapped in the stone and metal walls of Moonstone Mountain as the party took the elevator to the other parts of the mines as they continued on before coming to the causeway as a voice called out.
"Halt!" The party stopped and Alexan moved his hand on his gunblade as the Ixa'ness warriors jumped from above them and landed with success as the shamaness spoke. "You said to be seeking the Priest to the King, why insist to save that woman-lusting man in the first place?" Alex rested his hand as he spoke back.
"We seek to find the Lost City in order to obtain the Sacred Green Crystal, to safeguard it and keep it from the hands of these armored foes, we call them the Valuans." They relaxed as well as the shamaness rested her stave on the metal, striking a confident vessel of command than just over the moons.
"Then we will aid you in fighting these interlopers and freeing who we can, but know this, men are not trusted amongst our warriors and you have yet to earn my trust." Alexan huffed as he countered.
"Trust can be both earned and granted, as long as you see no reason to fight us in our mission, we will not fight you in yours." She nodded before turning, she taking the larger band through the tunnel with the Air Pirates behind them as Drachma spoke.
"Boy, you must have the devil's own luck to both gain an ally in these parts and have them trust you even the slightest."
"I wouldn't say that, Captain." Alexan answered as he followed them down the tunnels into the deeper parts of the mine. "It just takes some sense of confidence to do it." They continued on through and headed further down via active elevator, the Ixa'ness barely holding back from attacking the blasted thing and sending them all down in a ball of fire as they arrived to another part of the mines and found themselves in another chamber, several guards seeing them and moved to attack, but with the combined forces there, they were little match in the entrapped chamber before they searched and the crew found a man who looked like he did, in fact, belong in Ixa'taka as he spoke with a jolly voice.
"And who might you be?" Vyse answered the question by asking for his name.
"Are you the High Priest, Isapa?"
"The one and only! I am Isapa!"
"We're on a mission from King Ixa'taka. We're here to rescue you!" The man laughed as he continued with amuse.
"Haha... well, the king knows what I like sending four beautiful women to come save me." Silva and Tyra shook in unease and Alexan could see why the Ixa'ness warriors said that he was a 'woman-lusting fool' as he spoke on. "I have no use for you men... Now if you'll leave us alone for a while..." Aika put her foot down as she shook her head.
"Oh, really... There's no way that this dirty old man is a High Priest." Isapa then did the unexpected as he glanced to Fina with a look of awe and approached as he inquired.
"Oh... aren't you a pretty one? In all of my years, I have never seen anyone like you. I believe that you are a Silvite. Am I right?" Nevermind, the preverted old man knows about ancient silver lines, that is a good reason to suspect him to be a good High Priest of some culture as Fina gasped in surprise.
"What?! How did you know?" Isapa just laughed as he commented.
"Hahaha! Instinct, my dear... Instinct. I am very observant... especially around women." Not sure how to judge that as Isapa continued. "I could probably guess that goofy girl's measurements..." That was quite a skill as Aika retorted, her hand going for her boomerang and Isapa sweated at being a target for that large weapon, her hands and posture told him that he would be dead if she let loose.
"Okay, that does it... I know we have to bring him back, but the king didn't say anything about bringing him back conscious." Vyse stopped her from doing that as he spoke, her glare leveled on him.
"Relax, Aika... Right now, we just have to worry about getting out of here alive. Let's go." If only it were that simple as the passage forward opened and there was a sense of dread in their bodies as to what they could be expecting, even the Ixa'ness warriors as they continued down, toward a looming giant door and they pushed it open with looking around to the large chamber as Aika spoke.
"I don't get it. Why would the Valuans build such a huge room in these mines and not use it for anything?"
Vyse was right about one thing as he voiced it out. "I don't plan on sticking around long enough to find out." Alexan, Kenth, Anya, and Tyra were not so blind as they looked up and hummed with nods before following, this would be an interesting experience, especially since what they saw was large enough and spaced to ACTUALLY survive with minor injures as the door closed behind them, leaving the party and Ixa'ness huntresses trapped before the other door open to Alfonso showing his face again as he mocked Vyse.
"Long time, no see, Vyse. It is I... Alfonso." The siblings caught a glance to the side where De Loco, if the short, purple-haired lunatic in a fish bowl was him, was actually fuming at the First Admiral, though to be fair, he really did look like a lunatic in a fish bowl as Alfonso continued. "I came here to watch you die!" He stepped to the side as he beckoned. "Someone of my stature doesn't deal with filth like yourselves personally. Antonio 2! Finish them!" A golden war-beast thundered in and roared as the battle started, Alexan, Vyse, and Aika knowing the routine and used that against the creature as the huntresses, Tyra, the siblings, and Drachma followed suit in fighting back, a few of the girls getting hurt as a result of barely dodging the thundering creature's charge or blasts of lightning as the lead huntress made to mend her sisters-in-arms of their wounds, but the beast clocked in on her and charged, she grimacing mid-heal before Alexan brought the beast to a slowing halt, he didn't have the strength to push it back with brute force.
But he did use something more as he quickly used that strange red tool that they had found and used it on himself, feeling stronger than before and slammed his blade across the monster's face, it falling back as the crew slammed into it with all of their power.
The battle went down as expected as Alfonso yelped with Antonio 2 rearing up too much. "What are you doing?! Not this way!" The first Admiral tried to escape, but he tripped on his own cape and the beast landed on him with a crunch as he yelped in pain. A moment later had a sound go off and Aika glanced up to see the spike ceiling before the party moved on with nothing else happening as they met with Centime at the door behind where Alfonso had came from.
"You made it out of the mines, I see." Centime beamed as he spoke. "I made a few adjustments to some of the machinery in the mines. Did it help?" Aika blinked before she glanced to Vyse who was confused as to the look as she mused to herself.
"So that's what that was..."
"Yes... yes... well, let's be on our way. Ah yes, I managed to open the door to the outside as well. I must hurry back to see my family... They must be terribly worried about me." Aika beamed as the party thanked him.
"You really know your stuff!"
"And he cares very much about his family as well..." Fina also added before Vyse joined in saying.
"You're a good man, Centime... We're glad we could help you."
"Thank you very much... Well, I must be going... Stop by and see me in Horteka when you get a chance." That was a promise as they headed out, they reaching the entrance before both sides said their farewell.
"This is where we part, Ixa'ness huntresses, we should drop Isapa off with the King and learn what he has to say about the Lost City."
"Very well, we will leave you to the matter and headed back to our home, our men have been saved and so, we will take them home."
"Indeed, may we meet under better conditions."
"The winds of favor would bless that day." Before anything else could be said, the huntresses actually protested.
"BY THE LOVE OF THE GREEN MOON, JUST GO WITH THEM!" The shamaness stumbled in surprise as the crew watched in the same surprise as she whipped about with exclaiming.
"My sisters, my duty is to the elders and you of the village, I can't abandon them for my own selfish goals!"
"You told us that you didn't want to live as an Ixa'ness anymore, you wished to find more in life than the bounty of Ixa'taka." The lead spoke as she shifted the bird mask up to peer back. "Diala Windstalk, we are all indebted to you for your guidance and aid through the years when we took you up as a girl lost in the jungles of Ixa'taka, you blossomed as a fearsome shamaness and wondrous girl of the tribe, don't toss your faith into us when you have the chance to gain more in life."
"But... Sister Yui..."
"I saw the way you changed in those mines within seconds, your heart has spoken and it is clear that its match is a worthy power to believe in, you have laid your heart to rest all these years, now follow it to the trail it blazes this day..." Diala started to tear up as she spoke, the hardened shamaness slipping away to a woman afraid of what comes next.
"But... I can't..." She teared up and wiped at her face, but the tears kept coming to her soft sobbing as the Ixa'ness watched her before Alexan approached and bowed to them.
"We will care for her as one of our own, her safety and care is our belief, I vow it." They nodded as he turned to assure her. "It will be okay..."
The next moment was a complete surprise as she dropped her staff to the stone wall with a turn and grabbed his face before pulling him in with a kiss, the crew jumping in surprise as Alexan, though surprised, melted into it as he rested his hands on her hips as her hands dropped to holding his shoulder and pressed against his chest, Silva squealing in embarrassment while Aika and Fina glowed red at the intimate gesture, Vyse bowing his head in avoiding the scene right now while Tyra and Kenth locked fingers together with Drachma just facepalming. "Great... just what I need... another stowaway..." They parted as both gazed into the other's eyes before touching foreheads and separating, she picking up her staff and joined the crew abroad the Little Jack as the now leader spoke.
"We will deliver Isapa to the King, while the Valuans had not mistreated him, he will need time to recover before he can lead you to the Lost City."
"That's fine." Vyse answered as he continued. "The others also need time to recover from this, we have a bit of business elsewhere to handle, so take your time, we will be back." The Little Jack headed out as Vyse spoke with a plan, Diala content with being close to Alexan. "We have a bounty to deal with, Rupee has terrorized Nasr for quite some time and it would be good for our new crewmate to see more of the world for a bit before we come back to Ixa'taka."
"Aye aye!" That meant that they had to cross the South Ocean again, but it was fine, they were ready to handle it and would have enough fuel to keep them going for a while longer...