Revolution Undercloud: Part Seven
Bracing himself, Cipher forced himself to meet her head on. They quickly clashed and broke apart, sending the Hissi flying slightly to the right.
Feeling dizzy, he almost missed the enormous purple sticky hand that flew his way. He ducked, and the weapon narrowly missed.
She reeled it in, and before Cipher could blink, it was shooting toward him again- like a deadly purple dart.
Diving downwards, Cipher spiraled and dodged, flitting between the other soldiers. Risking a glance over his shoulder, he watched with growing trepidation as the purple sticky hand accidentally hit a Grundo.
He felt another jolt when he watched Skye give a merciless yank- brutal and hard- and sent the poor Neopet flying head first towards the brick walls that peeped through the shifting mists of the Undercloud.
He didn’t stay around to hear the impact.
He led Skye on a merry goose-chase, although he always made sure she was hot on his tail. His heart was beating so hard he feared it would burst. It was strangely terrifying to be hunted by his former friend.
“Skye,” he yelled, in between dodging another sticky hand throw. “Don’t you recognize me?” It seemed silly to try, but he wanted to say that anyway.
She gave him a scornful look. “Cipher- the little snake that tried to trick me. A betrayal I won’t forget!”
The Hissi winced when another Grundo who was too close to her went flying.
“Take a look around,” he tried again. “Is this war what you want?”
“War isn’t something that we want. It’s something that’s necessary!” This time- he stayed stock still as the purple sticky hand wound around his lithe body.
Cipher smiled sadly to himself. Now, it was all up to him to set things right.
The jelly-like rope around him was pulled tight, and he wheezed painfully. Around them, the Grundos were retreating. Exactly fifteen minutes had passed, and Sloth had sound the signal for retreat.
Whoops and cheers came from all the Lennies left flying.
From the dark cloud of backtracking Grundos, Cipher could see Sloth’s eyes on his. They were glowing red, giving him a clear idea of what was to come if he didn’t succeed.
Amid the aftermath, Cipher saw Larry approach.
“Well done, Skye, well done!” he said jovially as he gave a satisfied smile.
Skye gave an awkward bow that Cipher thought looked ridiculous.
“Larry- you evil scum. Lift the spell,” he snapped irritably.
Larry ignored his words, choosing instead to lean closer until his beak was almost piercing Cipher’s face. “All this mess could have been avoided if you just came quietly the first time. Imagine my surprise when you came with Sloth!”
He laughed as if he had said a funny joke. “Sloth- he’s an absurd villain.”
“What do you want with me?”
“At first we needed a Hissi to break into the Faerie Queen’s stores to steal an ultranova. But now, thanks to Skye, we are no longer in need of an ultranova. But don’t think we’re done with you! In fact, we have something else better planned...”
He cackled gleefully. “Your Hissi scales will be a marvelous addition to any potion, I should think!”
Dismissing Cipher’s horror-struck expression and even Skye’s twitching eye, he spun around. “Guards! Take the Hissi to the dungeons!”
It took all of Cipher’s willpower to not fight back as he was dragged away.
The dungeon looked like a classical dungeon. The walls were moist and black brick. Chains rattled on the walls every time the door was slammed shut. Light filtered through a small barred window high above Cipher’s head. All he could see were the little dust motes that danced in the flickering light.
And it was cold. So very cold. The air was like icy silk, sliding under his scales.
He was shackled and chained to an enormous ball of steel and quickly left alone. Cipher lay very still, trying to ignore the cold, as he listened carefully to the noise outside his cell.
There were no sounds of talking or footsteps, so the Hissi relaxed and began to mull over his next move.
What should he do now? Should he wait until night fell? It would be nice and dark at that time. But what if Skye already gave them the ultranova? What if they were completing the potion right now? What if it was already finished?
The questions danced around his head until he almost couldn’t bear it anymore. He finally convinced himself to wait for a couple hours. Hopefully by then they would have forgotten him sufficiently to give him an edge and the element of extra surprise. So he curled his body closer to fight the chill and, settling his nerves, waited.
Maybe an hour and a half later, the cell door was opened and a cold plate of bread and ham was thrust at him. Listening carefully this time as the guard left, Cipher made a note to walk in the same direction as the footsteps. There was no point in getting lost in the Undercloud. He had to locate the potion quickly and efficiently once he broke out. By the next time of the next meal, his escape would be noticed.
After quickly gulping down the food, he straightened up as much as the chains would allow. Lifting his wing closer, he called to the nova. In sparkles of dark purple, the nova sprang out of its dormant state. With another command, the nova slashed through the chains, causing a light tinkle to resound as they fell to the floor.
Grinning at the nova dancing in the air, he motioned for it to follow him.
Using his newfound shadow Hissi abilities, Cipher slipped under the door without a hitch. He was sweating lightly, and he had never been more scared yet exhilarated in his life.
Cocking his ear to listen again, he quickly followed after the guard that fed him lunch, all the while making sure that his own footsteps were masked.
He followed at a careful distance- close enough for Cipher to hear him, but far enough so that the pathways turned and put Cipher out of sight if the guard happened to turn around. As they walked further, Cipher got the sense of walking in circles- but that wasn’t possible! The guard was still there and the hallway didn’t look the same...
With a start, Cipher realized that the entire Undercloud was built in the shape of a long spiral. Round and round- it explained his strange prickling sensations, and why he felt like he was walking in circles.
If Cipher had to make a bet, he would say that the potion was in the center of the complex. A few minutes later, his suspicions were confirmed. Strange, bubbling noises erupted every other minute. The air itself seemed to become more sparkly. Every breath the Hissi took made him want to sneeze.
Footsteps were heard again, and this time, instead of walking away from him, they were walking toward him!
Thinking fast, Cipher yanked open one of the doors on the side and slipped inside, careful keep it open just a crack. Peering through, he saw the guard and another Lenny walk by. They were talking in low tones.
“Fyora will know about this soon. Do you suppose it will get out of hand?”
“I think it already has gotten out of hand. Larry is getting too confident; he’s becoming careless in his skirmishes with Sloth. They hurt us more than we did them today. I wonder why they retreated?”
Cipher didn’t care for their conversation- he just wanted them to pass the door so he could continue on.
They stopped and Cipher realized a second before it happened that they were going to go into the room he was in. Recoiling away from the door violently, he blindly hid himself behind whatever he could find... it appeared to be a box.
The door slid open soundlessly, and the two oblivious Lennies walked in.
“I like Larry. I think he’s a capable leader. But the Faeries are showing signs of being restless. They haven’t decided if they want to oppose us.”
“Of course they want to oppose us! It’s just a matter of standing up to Larry’s magic.”
“Oh, you’re right. That’s why they banned us from Faerieland, isn’t it? Because Larry’s magic was taboo.”
“We’re young, so we don’t remember much, but yes, I learned from Larry himself. Larry’s magic involved control of other Neopets and making them do his bidding. The kind of things he’s doing to this Shoyru. Fyora and the other faeries didn’t like that- so he was banished.”
“And Larry wants revenge?”
“That might be true, but what he says he wants to do is to advocate the freedom of all knowledge. Magic is magic, good or bad, it doesn’t matter. I agree with that... that’s why I’m also banished.”
There was a rustle as they fiddled with something that Cipher couldn’t see.
“My goodness. She’s not dead, is she?”
“No, no, of course not! She’s sleeping... I think.”
“I feel sort of sorry for her. It’s tough on her to be under that spell all the time. Not that I blame Larry for using it...”
Eyes widening, Cipher realized who they were talking about.
“Hey you, wake up!” There was the sound of someone being kicked and a yelp of pain. He knew that voice...
“Time for your daily dose of magic, princess.”
He felt his blood pound in his ears.
“Best not keep Larry waiting.”
Hardly daring to believe his ears, Cipher peered over the top of the box. Past the two Lennies, he could see a shivering creature with eyes that were bluer than the sky. It was such a clear blue, Cipher couldn’t believe that just this morning they were tainted pink.
Skye, did I ever tell you that I think you have the prettiest eyes?
To be continued...