The Elements of the Exploring: Part Two
The cave was dark and damp, and though Listanie illuminated the immediate area around them, the five faeries couldn’t see more than a couple of feet into the darkness.
“The noise came from over there.” Fayeroh pointed, and Disparity clicked her tongue.
“Over where? I can’t see your fingers to see where you are pointing,” she said in her usual sarcastic tone, and Fayeroh rolled her eyes, though no one could see it.
“To the left,” she directed, and the group shuffled their feet in that direction, careful to stay together.
“Do you really think it was a girl?” Eerine asked, and she could feel Aeriana shrug.
“Why would a girl be in the back of a dark cave by herself?” Disparity asked, and Eerine sighed.
“Well, if it isn’t a girl, then why are we investigating?”
“Scared, Eerine?” Fayeroh asked, and Eerine could hear the grin in her friend’s voice.
“No,” she said firmly, though when Disparity took a step away from Listanie and snuck up to Eerine in the dark, tugging on her hair, she shrieked. Aeriana gasped and looked to her right to see Disparity laughing away, and despite the glaring looks Eerine was giving the trickster of a dark faerie, pretty soon all five of them were laughing.
They continued on through the cave, which turned out to be a lot bigger than they had thought. Twice they ended up back where they had started, but each time they got more determined to discover what had made the noise; after a while they even grew to be semi-comfortable in the cave and no longer felt the need to crowd together as they walked, which made their new-found adventure almost enjoyable. They told ghost stories as they made their way through the dark passages, and eventually Fayeroh dried off enough to re-light her wings, giving them plenty of extra light. It was a bit tiresome to wander aimlessly through the dark, but with each other for company they kept at it, keeping themselves as entertained as they could while they searched for whatever had made the horrible shriek.
Winith tried her best to see her surroundings, and though her eyes could easily adjust to dark waters, she was finding it difficult to make out the details of the cave. She had followed the small stream to where it branched off the main path near the back of the cave, dipping completely underground to run beneath the rock before emerging into another pool of water inside. It had been a very tight passage, and Winith had actually gotten stuck for a moment, though her scales were smooth enough for her to wiggle her way through without too much trouble. Now, however, she couldn’t quite get a grasp on her surroundings, and felt uneasy in the total darkness of the cave.
As she floated in the water, Winith had been able to distantly hear the faeries wandering through the cave, though their voices hadn’t come very close to her at all. Nevertheless, she had listened for them, knowing that with them they would bring a source of light, making it easier for her to see. She waited impatiently, swimming around the small pool and then floating on her back for a while, staring up into the endless dark above her. It was actually a very peaceful feeling to be floating in such calm waters, and if it wasn’t for the nerves jumping inside of her at the thought of what had been shrieking, Winith might well have fallen asleep.
As she lay in the water, her tail gently swaying from side to side, Winith sighed, hearing the faeries' voices fade away from her for a third time. She considered calling to them, guiding them with her voice, but since she didn’t really want the others to know she was in the cave with them, she remained silent, trying to enjoy the serenity of her situation. She continued to float, thinking that they had probably just been fooled by some mischievous neopets playing an evening prank, until at last her hearing was drawn to something aside from the faeries, something that was much closer to her than they were. She dipped under the water for a moment as her nerves took hold and tried to force her out of the cave, but she composed herself, waiting until her nerves settled a bit before breaking the water’s surface again, determined to figure out the source of the noise.
She listened carefully, trying to block out the faeries’ distant laughter, but as hard as she tried, she was only greeted with silence. She sighed again and wondered if she had just been hearing things as she peered into the darkness, desperately trying to make out anything that she could; her efforts proved useless, however, and eventually she gave up, feeling more uneasy now than she had before.
“I’m telling you, we already went this way!” Fayeroh stood with her hands on her hips, her cheeks almost as red at the flames on her wings.
“Are you sure?” Listanie asked, looking around her.
“No, this has got to be a different way,” Disparity argued, and Fayeroh huffed. They had been walking around the cave for nearly an hour, and the fun of the trip had worn off. In fact, they had forgotten all about the noise they had heard that had drawn them into the cave in the first place, and were now simply trying to find their way out again so that they could go home.
Listanie broke away from her friends and walked over to the wall over the cave, looking both ways and shining her light as brightly as she could. To her left she saw nothing but endless rock and her friends, and she sighed, turning to her right. At first, it seemed to be pretty much the same, nothing but grey rock that seemed to go on forever, but as she turned back to her friends, Listanie’s eyes caught something, a glisten created by her light reflecting off of something in the distance.
“Have we ever passed water?” she asked the group behind her, and she looked to see them all shake their heads, peering around her to try and see what she was looking at.
“Told you this was a different way,” Disparity said absently as she took a step forwards, and Listanie stepped with her, heading off towards the water. Fayeroh huffed, sticking her tongue out at the back of Disparity’s head, and Eerine and Aeriana laughed as the three followed closely behind, not wanting to get stuck in the darkness.
When they finally made it to the back of the cave, the five faeries stopped in their tracks, looking on in amazement. They had been expecting nothing more than some water and perhaps a new route to take through the cave, but when Listanie’s light shone over the area they were now standing in, they were all filled with wonder at the sight before them. Through the dim light, the girls could make out a lavish room that most definitely did not look like it belonged in a cave. Along the back wall there was a bench carved out of stone that curved to fit the natural shape of the cave, a bench that was adorned with carvings that had been filled in with shades of red, blue, and yellow. Above the bench on the wall were more carvings, though these ones were much larger and the colors they were filled with were more vibrant, with pinks and greens and purples bringing a cheerful glow to the darkness. There was indeed water there, a little pond surrounded by plants and stones, and the water glistened, looking extremely blue in contrast to the dull grey of its surroundings. The girls walked around the room, looking on in awe as they saw rugs on the ground and the books piled next to the bench, clear signs that someone had been there, and probably very recently. There were even torches along the wall of the cave throughout the entire room, and Fayeroh lit these once she saw them, giving the room a more balanced glow.
“This is wonderful!” Aeriana exclaimed as she kneeled on the bench, closely studying the carvings in the wall. “Absolutely spectacular!”
“I wonder who it belongs to,” Eerine said to no one in particular as she examined the plants by the water.
“It doesn’t belong to anyone,” Disparity claimed, sitting down cross-legged on the floor. “It’s a cave; it can’t belong to just one person.”
“Well, this stuff does,” Listanie said, walking over to the bench and picking up a book to illustrate her point. Disparity shrugged, and the girls fell into a silence as they continued to look around this new, rather exciting, place.
Winith had gone to the bottom of the pond when light had started to shine on the water she was in, and now she waited there, wondering what to do. She could hear them talking about the room, which intrigued her, though she was nervous about making her presence known; she was, after all, still angry with the faeries, and she didn’t want it to seem as though she had followed them to the room.
She contemplated her options for awhile, and then decided to leave the cave and come back to see the room later, even if she wasn’t exactly sure how she would go about getting herself a source of light. However, she knew she would be able to manage something, and she nodded to herself before turning towards the tunnel that led back to the other side of the cave, out into the open air. She had just made to the entrance of the little tunnel before she was once more stopped by a noise, this one another shriek, though not a shriek made by the original source of the noises; this one came from one of the faeries above her.
“Fayeroh!” Disparity jumped up from where she had been sitting, rushing over to the spot where her friend had just been.
“Where did she go?” Aeriana asked in a panicked voice, and Eerine knelt down and starting clawing at the ground.
“It swallowed her up!” she exclaimed in horror, digging her hands into the dirt. The other girls looked at each other with worried expressions and then got on their knees, helping Eerine.
“Don’t worry, Fayeroh, we’ll help you!” Disparity cried out, her voice unusually solemn.
Fayeroh looked around her, her wings giving off very little light. She had fallen through the dirt and landed in some underground room, and from what she could see, the room was empty. Nevertheless, Fayeroh took a deep breath and sat down on the ground, holding her knees; sighted or not, she had a bad feeling she wasn’t alone.
To be continued...