The Price of Faith: Part Five
We knew that Meridell, of all places, wouldn't fancy seeing
a Darkness Faerie wandering about their town. And nobody would believe that I
was just there to browse. So Radom and I agreed that getting this over quickly
would be the best course of action, and to lie as low as possible would be wise
of us as we searched the area. But easier said than done. I didn't exactly look
subtle, now did I?
We settled for the best we could do. I dug out
the coat and scarf I had used in the snow, wrapped the scarf loosely around
my head like a shawl so that it shrouded my face as best it could, and I slung
the coat over my shoulders. Pressing my wings down as tightly as I could to
my back and with the coat covering them, it was at least a little better. But
still, this certainly wasn't inconspicuous dress, and I would get too hot quickly.
But that was the least of my problems right now.
We went to the first reflective surface we could
find, which was a still stream a short ways into the forest, and I stared blankly
down at my reflection. I looked ridiculous. But it was the best we could do.
At any rate, I could only hope we wouldn't be out here long.
Radom leaned over the shallow water beside me
and grinned into the glassy surface. "You want cute? Check this out." He wiggled
his eyebrows and struck a few poses with his head at his reflection.
I rolled my eyes and pulled the coat a bit more
tightly over me to hide my odd grey-toned skin as best I could. "Thanks for
rubbing it in."
He looked up at me and laughed, that careless
grin of his painted brightly on his face. "You look fine."
"I didn't ask," I muttered, rolling my eyes again
as I turned away from the water and adjusted the knapsack over my shoulder.
"Let's just get this over with."
"You got it. I guess if you're going to publicly
humiliate yourself, it ought to be brief, eh?"
I don't think he caught the look I gave him,
as he had turned and started off toward where the trees parted a moment later.
I followed, and soon we were looking down on the sun-baked Meridell once again.
We didn't need any exchange of words to decide what to do next. I just followed
Radom as he wound down the hillside, snaking through patches of wild flowers
and trotting through tall grass that reached my knees and thus most of his legs.
For some reason, I avoided stepping on any of the flowers.
We wove around the town below as best we could,
so that when the ground leveled out we were at the far edge of town, on the
opposite end of the castle. We figured the last thing we needed was to make
ourselves known there, of all places.
At one point I paused to inquire nervously, "What
are they like?"
Radom only glanced back at me and smirked. "They're
normal. Terrifyingly normal." And that was that.
And so we started. We combed through one half
of the town, working our way down, trying to remain at low profile and avoid
as many people as we could through the stalls set up selling fruit, vegetables,
berries, and used goods. There were cozy cottages and shops speckling our way,
with stone or brick walls and thatched roofs. We steered clear of the heart
of the activity as best we could, hurrying through townsfolk haggling and living
their lives. Occasionally someone would glance my way or give me a strange look,
but I would never stay long enough to see their reactions.
We had made our way through most of the main
marketplaces of Meridell, with no signs of the Crystal. So we slowly made our
way further into the sprawling fields of crops and farming areas. There were
far fewer people here, just folks planting or tending to their plants, groups
of children playing here and there, the occasional people selling their harvest.
I liked it better back here. I was far less tense than around all of those crowds
from before, and it was so much quieter out in the country area.
At one point, however, I just about jumped out
of my skin as someone called out to us. "Hey! You there!"
Freezing, I forced myself to look over my shoulder,
ready to break out running if need be. Radom stopped as well, though, as always,
was terribly nonchalant about it. To my relief, it wasn't a crowd of people
with torches and pitchforks like I had wildly imagined, but a lone Blue Wocky.
He was a scruffy thing, young, and had a crude table built of wood that provided
a place for a pile of potatoes to sit off the dirt path.
He leaned on his shovel and inclined his head
toward his potatoes. "Wanna buy a potato, lady?"
Radom grinned at him, an extra-broad one to well
outdo my lack of even trying. "No thanks."
"We're in a hurry," I added, a little more curtly
than I had intended.
The Wocky gave me such a look it alone could
have been enough to make me buy that whole table. But I couldn't, even if I
wanted to, and before I knew what I was doing I had glared right back and turned
on my heels to leave.
I had only taken a few steps before I felt something
hit the back of my head. "Cheapskate!" I glanced back to see that I had just
been hit with a potato, and the kid was lifting his arm to throw another one,
glaring at me.
I just couldn't get a break, could I? "Why you
"Pandoooora," Radom interrupted in a sing-song
voice, his eyebrows slowly arching.
I stopped. Sighed. He was right, as usual. The
last thing I wanted to do was attract attention. So I bit my tongue and turned
away, quickly bustling off, glancing over my shoulder one more time. I looked
just in time to see the kid tossing a potato, but Radom effortlessly catching
it in his mouth and trotting after me.
"Well, that was a bit dramatic," I muttered out
of the corner of my mouth to the Brown Lupe, who only returned it with a smirk.
We trailed along the sun-basking fields and dirt
paths with overflowing plants flanking our way, me constantly consulting the
Crystal to see if it was glowing any brighter. Eventually, we had made our way
out onto the outskirts of Meridell, and I found myself staring at the looming
frame of the Darigan Citadel in the distance.
My heart sank. "Don't you dare say it."
"Looks like we won't have to."
I glanced at Radom, just about ready to have
a heart attack, but his gaze was set on my hand. I followed it and found that
the Crystal's glow was still very dull. And I couldn't help but let out a sight
of relief. That meant it wasn't up there, thank Fyora.
Still, that meant we must have missed it somewhere
down the line. We decided that it was, indeed, glowing a bit more back in town,
so that meant chances are it wasn't way out here. So that meant it was on the
busy side of Meridell that we had been avoiding, or somewhere in the sprawling
forests surrounding us.
Neither one sounded terribly appealing to me.
But we set back the way we had come, Radom insisting that I eat the raw potato
he had taken from the Wocky kid, and although it was disgusting, I did. By the
time we had made it back into town and away from all the places we had already
looked, I was exhausted and hungry. We had been on our feet all day, and with
"Well, wish me luck," I muttered, making sure
my wings and face were hidden well enough, even though I was quite hot walking
all day in all of that. I was sweating and panting a little, but we pressed
And into the marketplace we went. From the first
step every nerve in me was on edge. There were so many people, and every one
we passed directed their attention to us. People on all sides stood in their
stands and shops, selling this and that, all trying in vain to get me to come
their way. There were people everywhere, and by the time we had made our way
through, I was surprised I hadn't hyperventilated. I jolted at every touch,
shrunk under every gaze, and no doubt was not keeping the low profile that I
wanted to. And each "mother" or "father" I overhead from a child twisted the
blade of my homesickness.
After what seemed like ages of wandering aimlessly
through the crowds, Radom finally muttered out of the corner of his mouth to
me, "Let's get out of here." It didn't take a genius to see that this was a
More than happily I complied, skittering in the
first direction that I saw the shops part. I held my breath and had to keep
myself from running, but soon the stands and shops stopped, and gave way to
open grass once more. I staggered a little and started breathing like the world
was running out of air.
There were still people around, of course-we
were in the heart of Meridell-but that sea of bodies in the stalls just about
gave me a heart attack. "I think you're trying to kill me," I whimpered, turning
an uptight look on Radom. And still no Crystal. I was beginning to think it
wasn't here at all.
"Nope. But if that didn't, I think this will..."
He trailed off, and I didn't like that almost brutally ironic grin on his face,
as if to say "Eheh..." His eyes were on my hand. I tensed up, already knowing.
I slowly lifted my hand and looked down at the
Crystal chunk that had been clenched in my fist. It was glowing a lot more than
it had been before. I hadn't taken much more than a little glance in the marketplace,
but here it was glowing more, I could swear. Now why that look? I dreaded to
know. Slowly, I lifted my gaze. And saw one of the last things I wanted to see.
A short walk ahead, towering above all else,
banners unfurled in the warm breeze, sunlight framed behind its towering frame,
sat the Meridell castle. I might as well have written myself a death sentence
I could only stare in a stupefied silence for
a moment, and then just about choked my words out. "We have to go in THERE?!"
"Looks that way, doesn't it?" Radom replied casually,
glancing at the Crystal once more, and then at the castle. He nodded a few times
absently, as though confirming it.
"But-but we can't get in THERE! There are bound
to be guards everywhere-not to mention that crazy old king-and they must hate
my kind even more here, what with that Earth Faerie living here and the feud
with Darigan and all! How could we possibly get in and out unnoticed?
It's impossible! Guards, all those people, needing to comb through every last
room just to find the Crystal without being caught!"
He had smiled in that strange little way of his.
"So what's the impossible part?"
"Radom!" I heaved an exasperated sigh, the full
weight of how exhausted I was really hitting me.
"This is insane! And don't even start with that
'I have a plan' thing! Because it won't work!" I snapped, but stopped suddenly
at how his grin faded.
Radom just stared up at me, as almost hauntingly
calm as usual. "Oh, just shut up and let me finish. You can shout at me afterwards."
Needless to say, I did. I watched him uncertainly,
biting my bottom lip. I know I shouldn't have gotten angry with him. He was
just trying to help.
"I know things seem bad. And I promise you, this
won't be the worst of it. The Snowager will be nothing compared to some of the
things that are bound to happen. And someday you'll look back on this day and
be amazed at how high-strung you were. There will be worse. I promise you that."
I could have snapped something back. But I didn't.
It took me a moment, but that slowly sunk in. And that wise look in his eyes...
almost like he knew... It was so strange. He was right. This was only the second
Crystal I would have to get, and have many more waiting for me in even more
dangerous places and with more dangerous people. If I couldn't even get through
this, I was hopeless.
"And I know it's hard... but you have to keep
faith. Keep hope," Radom added, that eerie understanding in his bright eyes
forcing my gaze to my boots. "When you lose your hope, Pandora... it is like
dropping your necklace down a well. The only way you can get it back is to fall
in after it." He paused for a moment. Just watched me in silence. "Okay, I've
finished. You can shout at me now."
But I couldn't shout. I couldn't even whisper
right now. How could he always have that weird little smirk on his face, and
then say such wise things? How could he know so much? How could he always be
right like that? His words always managed to get to me. To really make me think.
"But..." I managed, forcing my gaze back to
meet with his, though they could never match. "But how can we do this?"
"We'll find a way, Pandora. I always do. So would
you... please... try to trust me just a little bit more?"
I cursed myself for being so unused to the real
world. I had never even been around anyone other than scornful Faeries and Fyora
before, so any kind of friend was unusual, but especially with Radom, with some
of the most meaningful things to say I had ever heard from anybody. I could
only stare in silence for a moment, and then slowly lowered my gaze once more,
my voice lowering with it. "Radom, I... I do..." And why shouldn't I? He had
done nothing but help me, when he had no reason to. I owed him my life twenty
times over. "I'm sorry... You're right..." I looked back up at him, and couldn't
help but smile faintly as I saw a soft smile on his face. "Now... you can get
us inside quickly, then?"
"Well, I haven't learned how to use a magic wand
yet, but I've got the next best thing," he replied, that same old Radom grin
returning. He glanced ahead at the castle, and I followed his gaze, sensing
a plot already.
As he pondered for a moment, my eyes grazed across
the width of the castle, taking in those towering walls, those barred windows,
the foreboding moat surrounding it, that huge drawbridge that was often lowered,
but we couldn't just waltz on inside. Letting out a faint sigh, I muttered,
"This can't get any worse..."
"Hey! You there!"
I froze up as somebody yelled behind us. Oh no.
Wheeling myself around, I found myself staring at a burly Draik guard rushing
over to us, clad in silver armor that shone in the afternoon sunlight and wielding
a glinting spear. Before I could do anything, he was almost upon us. "What are
you doing?" he snapped, stopping right in front of us. And suddenly, I knew
he knew. My wings had been relaxed. He must have seen. Before I could react,
he had yanked the scarf off my head, my hair flowing out around a face that
clearly belonged to a Darkness Faerie, violet eyes wide.
"A DARKNESS FAERIE!" It all happened so fast.
He brought his fist around with enough force to break my jaw, and I tried to
brace myself, certain the blow would fall with brutal force, but once again
my faithful protector was there close at hand. In a blur of brown, Radom had
shot in front of me and thrown himself into the Draik, knocking him back with
alarming force and just narrowly saving me.
I staggered back in alarm, staring at the brief
scuffle that unfolded, and in a moment Radom and the Draik were standing across
from one another, both poised for any motion. Radom's back was faced toward
me, as he stood defensively in front of me, and I could see his ears lower and
"How dare you," the guard growled, his eyes narrowing
and claws tensing as he held his spear threateningly in front of him. "Get out
of my way, Lupe, or you'll be short a limb."
"Mm, well, I would so hate to lose a leg. But
I like them just fine where they are, thanks," Radom replied nonchalantly, to
my despair, and I knew without seeing that he must be smirking at this angry
"Radom!" I squealed, my eyes wide. He was going
to get himself killed! And for me!
He glanced briefly over his shoulder at me, and
the certainty in his eyes was alarming. "You go," was all he managed to say,
before he had to look back at my squeal when the guard came at him. He dodged
and sent me stumbling back, horrified.
ME go? But what was I supposed to do? I wouldn't
even know where to start! And I couldn't just leave him here! But I had to tell
myself that Radom, of all people, knew what he was doing and could take care
of himself. And what other choice did I have?
Radom dodged a swing and slunk closer to the
guard. "I'll end this!" I couldn't help but grit my teeth at how overly heroic
that was, as if he wasn't even taking THIS seriously. He lunged forward, snatched
a dagger off the guard's waist in his muzzle, and ducked under another swing
of an angry spear. He paused, his eyes flicking down to the tiny blade he now
held. But then he grinned sheepishly and looked back at the guard. "But not
The urge to kick him had to be suppressed. Instead,
I seized this distraction as the opportune moment to act, and bolted. Leaving
Radom and the Draik behind me, I sprinted as fast as I could over to the castle,
adrenaline all that was keeping me from collapsing. As I raced around the moat,
I looked up at the wildly passing white walls, my eyes scanning them desperately
for a way in. Then I saw it. An opened window, way up high on the wall. My one
Without thinking about what I was doing, I staggered
to a halt, just barely keeping from falling over, and pulled my knapsack down
from where I had been tightly clutching it over my shoulder. I wrenched it opened
and shoved my scarf inside, and after shrugging off my coat, stuffed that inside
too. Now without any cover, my wings were free. Securing the bag and clutching
it to my chest, I shoved the Crystal into my pocket and took one last look up
at where I had to go.
Then I spread my wings, stretching them both
out to their huge full span, and took a deep breath. Well, you had to give me
credit for being out of my mind, if nothing else. I beat my wings fiercely,
and soon my feet had lifted off the ground. Steadily rising, I clung to my bag
for dear life and ventured a glance down. That water looked awfully deep to
me, and farther and farther away. I gulped and willed myself to look away, instead
looking to the side as I rose, to where Radom was.
I could just barely see them past a round of
the castle wall, but there they were, Radom and the Draik in the grass far below.
Radom had abandoned the tiny dagger, and was now unarmed against a furious guard
that brandished his large spear at the Lupe. I could almost picture Radom's
yellow eyes sparkling with humor as the Draik swung the weapon. He sidestepped
gracefully, and then grinned in the face of his rage. Before the Draik could
come around again with another stroke, Radom retreated rapidly and stepped spryly
over a clump of stones, well out of the spear's reach. He could hold his own
plenty well, I knew. But he was bound to slip up eventually, and to my horror,
I heard the Draik blowing on a shrill whistle. He was calling for help. I had
to do this incredibly quickly, I knew, or we were both doomed.
My heart pounding in my ears, I scaled the wall
as fast as my beating wings would carry me, and soon enough had reached the
opened window. It was plenty big enough for me, to my relief, and I grabbed
the ledge when I was close enough, pulling myself into a kneel on it as I re-settled
my wings on my back. I cautiously peered inside, not daring looking back at
the drop below me, and to my relief I was alone. The window led into a long
hallway bordered in portraits and lined with many wooden doors on either side.
I groaned miserably as I hoisted myself inside, letting my boots quietly touch
down on the ground. Well, I was in. But this place was so huge, I had no idea
where to start, and not much time at all to do it.
Slinging my knapsack over my shoulder once more,
I drew the Crystal out of my pocket and stared for a moment. It lay a hunk of
cold gem in my palm, glowing a mild whitish-yellow and with the tiniest bit
of warmth radiating from it. It was in here, that was for sure. But where?
I started down the hallway, stepping as softly
as I could and keeping ever-aware of my surroundings, holding out my hand with
the Crystal to guide me. But, before I had gotten too far, it seemed that Radom's
little scene outside had already drifted to a few other people that must have
gone to help the guard or heard him calling, as a voice made me jolt when I
heard it yelling far down the hall, "There's a Darkness Faerie in the castle!"
In a panic, I threw myself through the first
wooden door I saw, and shut it quickly behind me when I had staggered through.
I started to sigh, but it caught in my throat as I looked up. Of course. Just
my luck. I found myself staring at the bewildered faces of a few guards sitting
around a wooden table in the stone room, playing a card game.
There was a long moment of silence. Then, just
as I scrambled wildly for the door, the three of them had leapt up and grabbed
me. Two of them grabbed my arms and hoisted me up, and the third had drawn a
dagger and held it toward me threateningly, in case I tried to pull anything.
Unfortunately for me, I was a pretty pitiful excuse for a Faerie, and chances
were my magic wouldn't get me out of there in one piece.
"What is she doing in here?" one of them exclaimed,
The other two gave me an equally staggered look.
They mumbled among themselves for a moment, before one brilliantly concluded,
"We should hold her in the dungeons until we talk to the king and figure out
what to do with her."
The other two nodded automatically in agreement,
just relieved that they didn't have to take out a Darkness Faerie on their own,
I would imagine. Before I knew it, they had dragged me out into the hallway,
the knife looming in front of me keeping me from doing what little I might be
capable of anyway. We swept through hallway after hallway, corridor after another,
my dread ever-growing. How could I have been so careless? And, more importantly,
where was Radom now?
Soon, we reached the dungeons, a dank and dark
place that stunk and made the air seem heavy. It was all made of cold stone,
rows of barred cells lining the walls, some with chains and whatnot hanging
from the walls. I was thrown into a random one, re-locked once I was inside,
and before I knew it I was alone again.
The ground was cold and hard, and the only light
in the whole area was coming from a tiny, barred window across from my cell,
which shed a fading amount of light from the setting sun into the shadowy and
eerie dungeons. I could hear water dripping from the ceiling, and everything
was damp and dank.
I had to keep myself from panicking again. NOW
what could I do? Heaving a wavering sigh, I slumped against the wall, dropping
my knapsack and standing there in a limp helplessness for a moment. I slowly
slid down the wall until I was sitting on the cold ground, leaning my head and
back against the wall and staring at the one tiny window. It was so silent in
here, just the slow dripping of water and my own heartbeat.
But then, the more I sat in silence, I could
have sworn I heard something. And then I did for sure. Steady breathing mingling
with my own. I shrieked and leapt onto my feet, my eyes widening as I looked
wildly around for the source.
Luckily for me, being what I was, I could see
in the dark quite well. My eyes settled on a figure in the corner of the cell,
and I tensed up as they slowly rose. But, as if to taunt me with how anticlimactic
it all was, they rose to not even half my height. And I realized with a sudden
urge to laugh that it was that young Blue Wocky from before, the one that had
thrown potatoes at me, his fur dirty and eyes narrowed.
"Oh, it's just you," I breathed out, slumping
back against the wall and resting my forehead in my hand. "You scared me."
"What's that supposed to mean?" he snapped, scoffing
and crossing his arms indignantly.
I just shook my head. "What are you doing in
here?" I figured I needn't bother explaining my reasoning. He would see soon
"Well, if you MUST know, I went to town shortly
after YOU came by my potato stand, and while I was in the marketplace, I found
this pretty gem on sale for WAY too much money. So I-well, I took it, but the
stupid lady made a big deal about it. And next thing I knew I was fighting with
a guard and ended up in here until they sorted everything out, I guess." He
rolled his eyes and wrinkled his nose in distaste. "And what did YOU do?"
But I was just staring at him in disbelief. "...
What? What did you say you stole?"
"A gem. Why?"
"Let me see it," I said sharply, moving toward
"No! It's mine! You--" But he stopped dead as
I came closer and he got a good look at me. At my dull grey skin, my wings.
"You-you're a--" he stammered, staging into the wall behind him in horror.
But his realization was the last thing on my
mind. "Let me see it!" I snapped, reaching out for him, but he shrieked and
ducked my hand.
I suddenly couldn't believe how afraid he had
become. He cowered against the wall, and was backing himself up against it as
if to get as far away from me as possible. "Alright, alright! You can have it!
I just wanted to sell it!" He fished something out of his pocket and threw it
on the ground, where it clinked on stone and rolled over to my feet.
I couldn't believe it. At my feet sat a Crystal,
in a broad leaf-like shape, glowing a bright green. The Wocky was staring at
it, clearly never having seen it do that before. I was in shock for a moment.
It couldn't be this easy. It just couldn't. And how against my terrible luck
was this span of coincidences?
The third shard. I stooped over and picked it
up, staring at it as though it would be gone if I took my eyes off it. Stupefied,
I had my other Crystal out in a moment, the Light and Snow that had fused. My
hands were both glowing with the Crystals, and I let out a stunned laugh.
"What-what is THAT?" the Wocky stammered, but
I didn't even acknowledge him. This was too good to be true.
I held my hands together and cupped them over
the Crystals, holding my breath. A blinding light shone from between my fingers,
causing me to wince and look away, but when it had faded and I opened my palm
again, I now had three fused Crystals. Now in a larger, lumpy shape, it was
tinted a pale yellowish-green in color and was now cool once more. Three down.
That left four Crystals still out there somewhere.
I let out a sharp bark of laughter despite myself
that caused the Wocky to jolt. "I can't believe it," I managed, slowly shaking
my head and smiling in a sort of bewildered disbelief.
"Believe WHAT? What the heck is going on?!" the
Wocky yelped, leaping to his feet and looking at me like I was out of my mind.
But this wasn't something I would explain to
him, of all people. So I tucked the Crystal away safely into my deepest pocket
and finally looked back at him. "I can't tell you. But that was a very important
thing to me. So thanks."
He stared for a moment longer, then let out a
sharp gasp. "I just handed something over to a Darkness Faerie!" Oh great. Now
he probably thought I was going to use it to take over the world or something.
I rolled my eyes. "Don't worry. World domination
isn't high on my list, if that's what you're thinking."
He burst out into a stream of high-pitched, nervous
babble, which I promptly tuned out. I just sighed and shook my head at him,
turning away to wander toward the bars making one wall of the cell, as the rest
were made of stone. I leaned my head against the cold iron and stared at the
tiny window across from me, where I could see it was nearly night. "I hope Radom's
alright," I whispered, resting one palm against a bar for a moment.
So I had the Crystal. But now I needed a way
out, and to find Radom. The bars were too close together and too sturdy for
me to get through, and the stone walls were even worse. I wished Radom were
there. He would know what to do.
I just stared off into space, deep in thought,
the Wocky's accusing ramblings becoming a buzz in the back of my mind. I don't
know how long I stood there. But when I finally looked up, I realized that the
Wocky had fallen into utter silence, which puzzled me for a moment. And at first
I thought I was imagining the light.
But no. I saw it. There were two guards coming
into the dungeons with a lit torch, and-I couldn't believe it-Radom was with
them. He was being dragged along by the two of them, and coming right towards
us. I realized there were fewer cells in here than one might think, and this
was one of the only cells for temporary holding of prisoners. Like all three
of us. I quickly retreated to the back of the cell and kneeled in the shadows,
hoping these two different guards wouldn't notice me.
Sure enough, they walked right up to the cell,
unlocked it, and threw Radom inside. Then they were gone, and I forced myself
to wait until I could no longer see the torch light before failing to surprise
a delighted squeal. "Radom!"
He had been dumped on the floor, and was just
sitting up and shaking himself off when I called out to him. His ears perked
and he looked my way, blankly at first, but then a broad grin overtook his face.
"... What are the odds?"
"Oh, I'm so glad you're alright! What happened?"
I stood and rushed over to him, lowering myself onto my knees so that I would
be at his level and embracing him. He chuckled and rested his head against mine,
his tail flicking against the stone floor a few times behind him.
When I let go, he drew back and smirked at me.
"Well, I was doing just fine until that stupid guard called for some help. And
next thing I knew I was surrounded and couldn't run, and couldn't very well
fight them all. So, of course, they caught me, but couldn't figure out what
to do with me, so here I am. Lucky for us they're not the brightest lot. And
what happened to you? You alright?"
I was just so glad he was okay. I sat down on
the ground and nodded in reply, concealing my smile. "Yeah. I'm fine. I flew
up into an opened window while you were distracting that guard, but I... well,
I got caught pretty fast," I admitted, smiling sheepishly. "So, like you, they
threw me in here until they could figure out what to do with me. And because
of what I am, I can't imagine it'll be pleasant."
"Nope. So we'd better find a way out of here
"Yes, but hold on a minute. One more thing."
I inclined my head toward the corner where the Blue Wocky was huddled up and
watching us in horror, and Radom looked over with a raise of his eyebrows. "Look
who it is."
Radom just stared vacantly for several seconds,
and then laughed through his nose. "Hey, I know you. Potato boy."
The Wocky immediately took on his huffy tone
once again as he was addressed, sitting up taller. "My name's Wira!"
"By night known as Wira." Radom smirked at him,
and he and I exchanged a raise of our eyebrows.
"You're not going to believe this," I continued,
unable to hide my grin. I took the Crystal out of my pocket, and the moment
he saw it, Radom's face lit up. "Yes, that's what you think it is. This kid-WIRA,
sorry-stole it from some oblivious person that must have found it and not known
what it was and was trying to sell it. So now we have the Earth shard!"
"You've gotta be kidding me!" I can imagine his
face must have looked something like mine, with a shocked sort of grin and a
shake of his head.
So we had the shard, and I had Radom once more.
"Now we just need to get out of here."
"Yeah, I'd say it's about time to escape," he
agreed casually, offering a wry smirk.
Wira, who had been staring at us in confusion,
stood up quickly and burst out, "You won't be able to find a way out by yourselves!"
Radom only quirked a brow and smirked. "Try me."
He stood up and turned to observe the bars for a moment. He probably thought
the same thing I did. Too close together and too sturdy to be of much use for
our escape. I stood as well and took to taking in the whole cell, but all the
walls were so solid and thick, there was no way we could get through.
"What're you DOING?!" Wira sneered, watching
us as though we were doing something utterly ridiculous.
"Escaping. And you?" Radom replied casually,
as he bowed his head to sniff around on the floor. "You're not being terribly
He glared daggers at the Brown Lupe. "Are you
talking to me?!"
"Not at all." Radom smirked to himself and continued
I kept sizing up the walls, poking at parts that
looked less solid, but with little luck. We searched for about ten minutes before
Wira started to deflate and promptly went back to the scared little kid I had
seen him be a short while earlier.
"We're never gonna make it," he mumbled miserably,
slumping against a wall and staring hopelessly at the floor. "Did you ever think
it would end like this?"
"Well, the Wocky's a surprise." Radom and I exchanged
another look, and he wore that sideways smirk once again. I tried not to snicker
at that reply.
It was strange, if I really thought about it.
I should have been just as angry and afraid as this Wocky, and yet I wasn't.
I was sure we could get out of this mess. Radom was working wonders on me, I
"Come on, Wira," I said, glancing back at him
as I ran my hand across a wall. "You live around here. Don't you know anything
about the castle?"
He gave me a pouting look. "Well... I did use
to play around here when I was young."
"When you were young?" Radom let out a short
laugh. "Was that last week?"
"It feels like a century ago," the Wocky replied,
almost smiling. Almost.
I just smiled faintly and shook my head. I was
already starting to appreciate Radom's tweaked sense of humor. But as I felt
along the wall, I paused suddenly. One of the stones had budged under my hand.
"Radom... come over here," I said softly, kneeling down to be at level with
that spot of wall.
Radom was at my side in a moment, and I pushed
on the stone with both hands. It budged. My heart fluttered and I looked at
Radom hopefully. "Maybe we can get through this spot somehow."
"Brilliant," he praised me for finding the stone,
grinning. "Now come on. Let's both push on it as hard as we can."
I nodded and placed both palms against the loose
stone. Radom sat on his hind haunches and propped his front paws against the
stone as well, next to my hands. "Ready? Push!" We both shoved forward as hard
as we could. I pushed until my arms started shaking, and to my relief, I could
feel the stone giving way under the force.
Just when it seemed I couldn't push anymore,
the stone suddenly fell off the wall and thudded against the ground. I let my
hands drop and panted slightly with the effort. Well, that was one. And these
stones were pretty big. But we'd need a lot more room than that to squeeze through.
"I'll bet the one falling has weakened the other
ones," Radom commented, sitting back for a moment and observing the other stones.
I pondered for a moment. And then I decided.
"I'll handle this," I said softly, scooting back a few feet away from the wall
and standing up. I glanced at Radom, and then over at Wira, who was still watching
in silence. "Stand back."
"Ooh, goodie." Radom flashed a quick grin at
me, then joined Wira in the back of the cell and sat down to watch me.
I didn't know if I could do this. But I ought
to try. We couldn't very well sit there all night pushing rocks out, after all,
and we were running out of time. So I lifted both hands and focused on that
spot of wall, my palms facing it. My magic was so much weaker than other Faeries.
But if I could hurt the Snowager, I could break a wall, I was sure of that.
So I concentrated as hard as I could, and I could
feel the energy forming in my hands. Then I released it, and to my surprise
a mass of crackling black Darkness energy burst forth and right into the wall,
knocking off a big chunk of stones with a loud clatter. Dust and scraps of rock
spewed everywhere, and I slumped against the nearest wall, feeling even more
exhausted from before. Using magic always took a lot out of me, and I really
needed to work on it, but it seemed I was always underestimating what I could
"Yes! Brilliant!" Radom bounded over to me, and
even Wira approached to stare at me in shock. The Lupe shoved himself against
me and laughed delightedly, and once the Wocky had realized that I had just
made a way for him to escape, he whooped in glee and even jumped at me.
He had his arm thrown across my shoulders, and
his and Radom's weight dragged me down in my weakened state. I laughed and shoved
them both away weakly, sitting up and shaking my head. "Come on, we have to
They didn't need telling twice. Radom leapt out
the hole in the wall I had created, and Wira cautiously followed. I stood and
brushed myself off, gathered my knapsack, and ducked out the opening after them.
Making sure the Crystal was safe and out of sight, the three of us snuck across
the otherwise empty dungeon and made it to the wooden door, which, to my great
relief, was unlocked.
"People are so careless," I commented under my
breath, pausing to listen at the door. I didn't hear anybody on the other side.
But, then again, not that I could talk. I was the one who ran right into a couple
of guards playing cards, after all.
Wira stood beside me, though still kept his distance,
and asked almost as though he didn't want to know the answer, "How did she do
"She's a Faerie, mate. She can do whatever she
wants," Radom replied, smirking and pausing at the door as well.
"Sounds clear. Let's go," I whispered, and opened
the door a crack to peek outside. I didn't see anybody, so I opened it all the
way and crept out, followed by the completely silent Radom, and the Wocky that
was making a little too much noise with his nervous breathing and footsteps.
And now came the harder part. Escaping the castle
in one piece.
To be continued...