Chise insisted that Elias not accompany her on her camping trip, because she wants to learn to take care of herself. Elias proposes a compromise. He makes a smaller, dog-sized duplicate of himself that isn’t very strong. Chise shares her tent with Lucy, and as she searches for water in the lake, she comes across a each-uisge, a whitewater horse that drowns anyone who tries to ride it. He makes sure to warn Lucy not to get on any horse she sees.
While Chise really wanted a more independent journey, she’s still comforted by the presence of both Ruth and Lil’ Elias, silencing voices that she’s not sure if they’re neighbors or her classmates. but there is something out there lurking in the sea.
The next morning, Chise makes a sighting of Philomena, but runs off after exchanging good mornings. Lucy doesn’t understand why Chise is upset with Mena; Chise sees a bit of herself in her. Lucy, however, hates all wizards, which she makes sense if they killed her family.
The last night of the trip arrives before Chise knows it. Lucy says that she has to study as soon as they get back to college. She says that she has important things to do, “unlike” Chise, but Chise says that there are things that she must do too, she’s just not sure if she’ll ever finish. Giving Lucy a taste of her own medicine, instead of saying what those things are, Chise simply says goodnight.
Later that night, after going to the bathroom, the pages of a magical book turn and Lucy ends up passing out on her way back to the store. Chise is awakened by a sudden magical disturbance and locates Lucy, who has been completely drained of her magical power. chise is a real fountain of magic, so just holding Lucy helps her recharge, but she and Elias have bigger fish to fry: a nuckelaveea giant amphibian monster resembling a centaur.
Ruth returns to the kids as Chise and Elias run from the nuckelavee, and as Zoe’s head temporarily halts the monster, she soon passes out and is on the move again. Lil’ Elias calmly reminds Chise that she is in a form that she cannot defeat something like this, so she is dependent on Chise. With that said, she can offer you advice and information on her opponent, who can’t touch fresh water.
Chise has Elias cast the each-uisge, and she and Rian climb onto his back. This serves as an attractive lure for the nuckelavee, which chases it into the freshwater lake. The each-uisge dunks Chise and Rian, then kicks out the nuckelavee as well.
It begins to disintegrate, since fresh water is poisonous, but not before it can grab Chise. He nearly kills her, but in a beautiful sequence, the dragon that dwells in her blackened arm awakens with one purpose: to destroy the “horror” before them.
The arm essentially has a mind of its own, and confidently slices the nuckelavee to pieces. Chise swims to shore, where Rian prevents each uisge from attacking her with a magic axe. Chise isn’t about to let the water horse eat her, but she cuts off their ponytails for each of them, and that pacifies him enough for her to return to the depths of the lake.
On her way back, Chise not only sports a new look with her hair, but also her face. Only Rian recognizes her face, because she has seen it many times before…in her mirror. It’s the face of someone who didn’t know what to do when things took a turn, and they certainly did suddenly here!
Chise was saved thanks to Elias’s knowledge of monsters, Rian’s brave stand, and most importantly, that blackened dragon arm of hers, which certainly did know what to do. But this camping trip proved that even when she’s not looking for trouble, her troubles find her, and she wasn’t in control of her when it mattered most.
The thing is, Chise shouldn’t be so hard on herself. That dragon arm isn’t going anywhere, for example. Even if Elias isn’t a real boyfriend, he’s still committed to being her life partner. And he continues to bond with her new friends in college. The moments when she’s ever gonna be completely Alone, able to rely only on themselves, they are evanescently small.
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