Revolution Undercloud: Part Five
“Skye,” he whispered heartbrokenly. She didn’t recognize him as who he truly was, and it was like meeting a stranger. A hostile stranger.
The pink in her eyes flared, and she spoke in a dead, monotone voice. “Cipher, is it? What might a snake like you be doing here? Larry gave you express orders to go to Faerieland.”
He walked up to her and grasped her shoulders. “Skye. Snap. Out. Of. It.” He said it firmly and calmly. He had no idea how to break the spell, but he wanted to believe that Skye was in there, somewhere, fighting for control.
The fiery pink dimmed, but still proved strong. With a swift, smooth maneuver of her paws, Cipher felt himself shoved harshly away.
“I am Skye, and there is nothing wrong with me. Have you decided your loyalties yet?”
Cipher felt torn. She was so callous, and with his lack of Island training, he knew that she had a higher chance of defeating him in a fight. The spell prevented her from actually hurting him, but being captured was probably worse. He had to think of a plan. His mind whirling, he once again turned to face Skye. Putting on his best, most sincere face, he knew that the only way to ultimately save Skye was to lie to her.
“Yes,” he said smoothly. “I have decided to help out Larry. I went to Faerieland, but, alas, I could not find him.”
Her smooth brow narrowed. “Liar. The Lennies have eyes everywhere. If you really went to Faerieland, he would have located you immediately.” She got into a fighting stance.
He made no effort to defend himself. “I swear,” he said slowly. He hoped he could fool someone who was under a spell. “I was in Faerieland. The Lennies must not have as many eyes as you thought.” He leaned closer and said slowly, clearly, and firmly, “because I was there. And I could not, no matter how hard I looked, find them. Then, I saw you flying out of Faerieland and decided to ask you. However...” He tried very hard to grin sheepishly. “You always flew faster than me.” This wasn’t true. Even though the Shoyru was most likely stronger and had better defense, Cipher had always been the faster, sleeker flyer of the two. This Skye wouldn’t know anything other than what Larry had programmed her to know.
If it was possible for someone under a spell to look disbelieving, Skye was it. The Shoyru seemed to mull over it.
Before she could figure out that Cipher could have simply called after her despite the fact that she was “flying faster”, he continued. “What might you be doing here, Skye? Perhaps we could help Larry together?” He prayed that would distract her.
It worked, and she perked up immediately. “Yes!” she gushed. “He sent me to find an ultranova!”
At this unexpected revelation, Cipher’s heart skipped a beat.
“Whatever for, Skye?” He kept his voice perfectly neutral.
Her expression once again turned disapproving. “Why, for the potion of course. Only an ultranova will do!”
“Do you know where to find one? They are awfully rare,” he commented. This was an unexpected turn of events. It seemed like even the less rare ultranova was also difficult to find. His best bet was to swipe a dark nova here, somehow prevent Skye from getting an ultranova, and under ideal situations, knock her out and drag her to Sloth’s hideaway so Sloth could break the spell. He was quickly feeling overwhelmed. Cipher quickly deduced that the last goal was impossible. He simply couldn’t transport her, leaving him no choice but to let her slide and save her in accordance with Sloth’s original plan.
She nodded. Like a child, he thought absently. Skye picked up her stick again and used it to point at the meteor. “Larry once excavated a mine near here-” She gestured to the west. “Among all the other ancient material, he also found old novas that have hit Neopia from long ago. He hid the inside this meteor and sealed it so the average Neopet couldn’t get it to open. In fact, even Larry can’t open it now. ”
“So how are you going to get it to open?” he asked innocently.
She triumphantly waved her stick around. “Magic stick” was all she said.
“A wand, you mean?”
She shrugged, squatted down, and began poking. “Sure. It’s an invention that my Mother made several years ago to open magically sealed coconuts.”
Cipher watched with interest as his friend-turned-enemy hit the massive meteor in several places. With a shuddering groan, the meteor then split open. An enormous bag, one that reminded Cipher of the Advent Calendar man’s sack, landed at their feet.
Without preamble, Skye seized it at the opening, and turned it upside down. Trinkets, of all strange shapes and sizes tumbled from the bag.
Most of the things were strange colored rocks and glittery minerals, but strewn about, were old, dusty, plain novas, their eyes blinking rapidly.
Skye began digging through, mumbling under her breath, “Ultranova, ultranova, ultranova...” Her attention had left Cipher completely.
Taking a deep breath, Cipher joined her in her search. He didn’t find any of the important novas, either dark or ultra, until Skye dumped more out. In the corner of his eye, he saw an ultranova slide like a coin out of the bag, land in the pile, and get quickly covered.
His pulse quickened, and he knew that if he didn’t take drastic actions, she would find the ultranova before long.
Just as he was about to “yell and point in a different direction”, Skye stumbled upon a dark nova.
She eyed it curiously and turned it over in her hands. Cipher froze to watch her reaction. Her eyes, pinker than normal, blinked rapidly.
“We should destroy this nova,” she told him. “Look at its onyx color- such an evil look about it too.” She seemed to be referring to its red eyes that were eyeing her wearily.
“No time.” He tried to sound impatient and forceful. “Just throw the darn thing away and look for the ultranova. Surely Larry doesn’t want us to waste time breaking this nova. Plus, he might need it in the future.” As nonchalantly as he could, he swiped it from her hand and tossed it over his shoulder, breaking into a sweat as he did so.
He was beyond relieved when she accepted it at face value, turned around, and began to dig around some more. As stealthily as he could, he backtracked and picked up the nova that he had thrown. All the while, he jumped at every clink and clang that came from Skye’s messy searching. Every time there was a noise, he feared she had discovered the ultranova.
He stuffed the dark nova into his pocket, allowed himself just one breath of relief, and steeled himself for the upcoming challenge of getting one another nova.
Unfortunately, he couldn’t take the ultranova with him. The slim bag around his waist wasn’t very big. Not to mention, he was a Hissi, and every movement he made would reveal the starry shape of the nova. Adding the ultranova to the dark nova would turn the only subtly obvious into the blaringly obvious.
Luckily for the Hissi, he knew just what to do. Not to mention, this was Skye; he knew all the things that would distract her.
He slid closer to her, but didn’t aid her in her increasingly frantic searching. He just gazed heavenward. After a while, she gave him an annoyed look.
“Well, aren’t you going to help?”
“Aren’t the skies pretty from Kreludor? We don’t get to see all these stars much from Mystery Island.” If there was anything that Cipher knew about Skye, it was that she was a complete sentimental, girly sap.
She too, joined his star-gazing. “Hmm. I suppose. It really is very pretty, isn’t it?” She was fast becoming enchanted and absorbed with the dark night sky.
“See that cluster of stars? That constellation, The Gatherer- take a good look. We don’t get it see it very often in the Mystery Island side of the Neopian hemisphere. And especially not so clearly.”
She hummed appreciatively.
Still looking up, Cipher slid his hand around one of the nova’s five points and with a silent pull, freed the rest of it. Keeping his eyes skyward as to not alert Skye of his movements, did a perfect, underhand throw toward the meteor behind him. He didn’t have to look to know that the nova landed perfectly in the crack that the meteor made- the pit of lava. Since he was straining for the noise, he heard the hiss as the nova dissolved, but to Skye, who was staring in wonder at The Gatherer, didn’t notice a thing. It was like asking her to pay attention to the movements of a Draphy’s wings in Neopia Central.
Suddenly, the pink flashed in her eyes so strongly that Cipher flinched and looked away. The silly, soft smile that had been on her lips just moments before had vanished, leaving her with a stone cold expression. Wordlessly, she turned back toward the pile and began sorting through it with a strange sort of calmness, efficiency, and renewed vigor.
Slightly startled, he backed off and tried to busy himself while he waited for her inevitable conclusion that the ultranova she was seeking did not exist. He was just applauding himself for a job well done when he heard an “ah-ha!” from behind him.
He spun around and his jaw dropped, because in her sooty hand, a fresh, second ultranova shone.
He felt as though he couldn’t breathe.
Skye, must you be so good at everything
To be continued...