Masks and Roses: Part Six
Kat and her new cellmate sat in silence for a few minutes before the tiny Shoyru said, “My name is Eira.”
“Katalynn,” said Kat, opening her eyes again.
Eira smiled at her. “So, Katalynn, what have you done to deserve such lovely accommodations courtesy of Gwendolyn and her minions?”
“My mum,” Kat said, her shoulders hunched, staring blankly down at the mottled white mattress below her. Kat refused to let herself give more information to this perfect stranger; the Wocky was being hyper-vigilant. She no longer trusted anyone. For all she knew, this Shoyru – this Eira – was a traitor, a spy.
Eira stared at Kat with an odd look in her eyes. Then, she shrugged and said, “I’m personally here because I stole an item from the wrong pet. I knew I should have been more patient.”
“You’re a thief?” Kat asked.
Eira sighed miserably. “Yep. I always thought my worst problem would be a run-in with the Defenders of Neopia. Not kidnapping al la psychotic villain.”
Kat’s stomach felt heavy, and she looked away from her new cellmate. The Wocky already didn’t trust the alleged Eira, but now, she was just plain repulsed by her. Kat had never liked thieves, even if some of her friends glorified them. Eira made the Wocky downright uncomfortable.
Kat looked back at Eira and found that the Shoyru had stumbled to her feet. Her pale blue head was beaded with perspiration, and the tiny pet was staring fixatedly up at the narrow slit window high upon the wall.
“It’s too high to reach,” Kat said in a blank voice.
Eira paced over and ran her paw over the cool stone wall. Then, her back to Kat, the Shoyru unfurled her thin, delicate wings.
Kat watched on in amazement as Eira flapped, almost viciously. The Shoyru leaped high from the ground, trying to hurl herself into the air, but she simply could not propel herself upward.
“What’s wrong with your wings?” Kat asked, her brow furrowed.
Eira turned towards her cellmate, and that was when Kat saw them: weights. They were fastened to Eira’s exquisite wings, holding them down; it seemed to take the Shoyru’s entire strength just to keep the wings outstretched.
“Do they hurt?” Kat asked after the initial shock wore off.
“No,” said Eira. “They just make it so I can’t fly. But I thought that maybe...” She shook her head miserably.
Kat sighed and closed her eyes, for what seemed like the umpteenth time since she’d been taken prisoner. She still didn’t know what to think about Eira. So what if the Shoyru had put on a show of escaping? That didn’t make her genuine. She could still be a spy, and the flying demonstration an attempt to win over Kat’s confidence. But no. It wouldn’t work. Kat would trust no one, especially not this puny thief with weights on her wings.
“I’m sorry I couldn’t get us out of here,” Eira said after a lengthy silence.
Kat opened her eyes and found that the Shoyru had settled in the opposite corner, pressed up against the wobbly chair but not sitting on it. Eira was staring at the cell door, paws fidgeting in her lap, eyes glazed over. She hadn’t looked at Kat when she spoke, and as the words echoed through the room, the Shoyru didn’t acknowledge that she had even talked.
“It’s not your fault, Eira,” Kat said.
At this, Eira turned towards her cellmate. “Maybe we could get out another way.”
“Oh?” Kat asked, her curiosity piqued. She didn’t want to get her hopes up, but if Eira was for real and had a decent plan, the Wocky wanted to hear it.
Eira nodded, pushing away the wobbly chair. Turning fully towards Kat, the Shoyru said, “When that horrible Grarrl was carrying me, he said some of his fellow minions would be in later to talk to me.”
“Go on,” Kat said slowly.
“We could escape then,” Eira said. “Run for it.”
Kat sighed. She’d willed herself not to get excited, but she had anyway. It was unavoidable. Now, the Wocky was sorely disappointed. Shaking her head, she said to Eira, “No. They come in groups. We can’t just slip by then.”
Eira leaned forward, her eyes darting wildly around the room for a few moments before she looked back at Kat. “What if one of us had a weapon?” she asked cautiously.
Kat felt sick. She’d always been a coward, which was one of the reasons her plan to fight Gwendolyn had been so outlandish in the first place. The Wocky didn’t like fighting. Weapons made her queasy. Still, she wanted to get out of the dungeon using any means possible. So, with her face drained of all colour, Kat asked, “What kind of weapon?”
With a crafty smile, Eira reached into a pocket hidden within her thick black pants. Then, she pulled out a long dagger contained in a turquoise holder. Grabbing the weapon by its shiny gold handle, the Shoyru carefully removed it from the case and held the silver blade out for Kat to see.
“You’re not going to –” Kat gasped.
Eira sighed and shook her head. “No, nothing bad like that,” the Shoyru said. “But one of us could use the handle to hit whoever came to get us first. Maybe stun them and their colleagues for a moment, just long enough for us to high-tail it out of here.”
The plan seemed unlikely, for lack of better words. Teaching a Meepit to dance ballet might have been more successful. Still, Kat had thought of nothing better, and with she and Eira under such tight scrutiny, it might be the only escape opportunity for a long, long time.
Against her better judgment, Kat said, “I suppose we have nothing to lose.”
Eira smiled at her, almost awkwardly. “No,” she said, “we don’t.”
“But...” Kat said after a while. “Eira, your wings. Won’t they weight you down?”
“A bit,” Eira said. “But I’m still fast. I’m confident. We can do this, Katalynn. I’m sure.”
And again, against her better judgment, the Wocky said, “You can call me, Kat, Eira. Just call me Kat.”
Gwendolyn’s minions came for Eira just a few hours after she and Kat had decided on their plan. Since then, the two had sat in perfect silence. Eira had put her blade back into the holder, and she clutched it tightly at all times. Meanwhile, Kat laid on the lumpy mattress, staring up at the water stained ceiling, a sick feeling spread over her.
When Kat and Eira heard the minions outside, they initially froze. Then, they flew into action.
Eira glanced at her cellmate and nudged her chin towards the door. Through the air, she mouthed something, but Kat couldn’t decipher it. So the Wocky just nodded, and when Eira soundlessly paced toward the door, Kat followed close behind.
The pair waited for what seemed like an hour, but in reality, was just a few minutes. Then, they heard keys jangling in the lock. Eira gestured for Kat to back away a bit, and the Wocky did. Her breaths shallow and rapid, she watched in numb fascination as an unsuspecting minion flung open the door. Eira didn’t waste a second; she struck.
The unlucky minion who had opened the door was a yellow Ogrin, the same minion who had questioned Kat the prior day. With a bewildered look on her face, as the sword handle smacked her, the Ogrin flew back against the wall on the other side of the corridor. The sword went flying and skittered to halt beside her. The Ogrin didn’t seem to be hurt, just terribly confused. The same went for her fellow minions, who stood there in unmoving puzzlement.
However, Kat didn’t have much time to mull over the minion’s state or her comrades response, as at that moment, Eira grabbed onto her paw and pulled the Wocky away. The two flung themselves past Gwendolyn’s mystified followers and ran at full speed down the long, straight corridor.
Not including the Ogrin, after a few seconds, the four other minions who had come to retrieve Eira barreled after she and Kat. Their head start seemed hardly existent as the two fastest followers closed in. In desperation, Eira cried out and unfurled her wings. Grabbing harder onto Kat’s wrist, as they continued to run, she began flapping them wildly.
“You can’t fly!” Kat shrieked over the deafening sound of footsteps on the stone floor. “Your wings are weighted, Eira!”
Eira took in a sharp breath of air and flapped harder, her veins bulging as she did. “It’s the only way we’ll escape! You concentrate on where we’re running, I’ll concentrate on getting us airborne!” the Shoyru yelled back, and with that, she closed her eyes and put all her energy into flying.
Kat was terrified. The minions were now close enough where she could almost feel their hot breath on her neck. One of them, a fat yellow Skeith with surprising speed, grabbed forward. He clamped his paw around a tuft of Kat’s fur and yanked it from her body; he was millimetres away from capturing her.
In desperation, Kat lunged forward one last time. She had just about given up. Beside her, Eira’s wings were beating up and down at a dizzying pace, but still, the weights seemed to be doing their job.
And then, just as Kat fell towards the ground, unable to run any longer, something happened.
The floor disappeared beneath her, and she was rising rapidly. Kat jerked her head toward Eira, only to see that she had flown. The weights didn’t matter anymore. She had fought through them.
Soon, Kat and Eira were out of the minions’ reach. All the followers could do was stare up at their escaping prisoners with befuddled looks on their faces. As Kat and Eira neared the door, the yellow Skeith who had been so close to capturing Kat screamed out for a minion with wings. But no one got there quick enough.
And soon, as Eira continued to flap her wings as hard as she could, Kat pushed open the thick metal door leading out of the miserable dungeon.
Then, they were free.
To be continued...