Cylara's Journey: Part Three
Also by denimsweetheart
To Cylara, it felt as though they had been wandering around in the dark for ages. It was freezing, and there was still no change in the landscape- enormous, twisted black trees as far as the eye could see. She knew that she had to keep going, though, and so was constantly on the lookout for the even larger, brownish-grey tree with orange leaves that looked disturbingly similar what she would imagine a brain to look like. Still, she supposed, there had to be a reason why it was called the Brain Tree, and it seemed depressingly fitting that the lair where Tuari was hidden should be near to this most fearsome of trees. Cylara shivered, though whether from cold or fear, she couldn’t be certain. Maybe it was a combination of both.
Just as she felt that she could go no further, Cylara saw an orange glint. Even in the darkness, it seemed to glow somehow, as if the orange leaves were coated in some kind of slime.
“Keija-” she began, intending to point out the tree.
“Shhh! Not a sound. Can’t you hear there’s something behind us?”
Cylara gasped. “Is that why you said we musn’t talk? What is it? Oh, I knew I should have-”
“Hush! I mean it. Do you want me to take you any further?”
“Sorry,” breathed Cylara.
Keija began to walk a little faster. Cylara hurried to keep up, trying her best not to snap any twigs or to stand on anything slimy. She had been unable to refrain from calling out the last time that had happened. And if they were being followed...
Without warning, the ground beneath them gave a sickening lurch- mounds of leaves fell downwards, clods of mud jumbled up amongst them with several ‘slimy things’ too.
The scream echoed through the tunnel, as two voices merged and bodies thwacked against the hard stone walls. In the pitch black, nothing could be seen.
“Oof,” said a small voice, and then: “OW!” as the second figure fell on top.
“Sorry, Cylara!” exclaimed Keija.
“No worries, it wasn’t your fault, but... could you get off me now, please?” Cylara asked, and Keija obliged. “And call me Cy.” Cylara hesitated briefly after saying this – why should she tell a strange Skeith, even though a nice one, to call her by her nickname? It was only Tuari and her owner who had called her that before...
“Right, Cy it is!” Keija smiled and helped the Uni up. “Now... where are we?”
The both stood in silence for a moment, letting their eyes adjust to the darkness. Both eyes studied the room, shifting from one side to another, taking in every detail. It was a large, cavernous room with white washed walls and visible ceiling beams. The floor they had landed on was bare stone, but they had landed on a single cushion. It was a lucky fall. There was a single, round table in the far left corner, a small vial standing on its own. Cylara walked over to the table, and picked the vial up, sloshing the violet liquid around. She went to take out the cork, but Keija grabbed her arm.
“Don’t,” she said quickly, taking the vial from Cylara and putting the vial back down on the table with a clunk.
Cylara raised an eyebrow, but said nothing. She looked around, and spotted a door at the end of the room. “Is this where Tuari is? Are we here? Oh, Keija, hurry!” She grabbed Keija by the wrist and began to drag her out of the room.
“Slow down; there isn’t a hurry!” Keija insisted, trying to drag the Uni back.
“What, so I shouldn’t hurry to save Tuari, who’s been kidnapped by ‘S’?” Cylara huffed, hand on hip. “Now come on!”
Keija was surprised by Cylara’s sudden change in attitude. Where was the timid, easily intimidated creature that had been with her just moments before?
Cylara crossed the rest of the room and pulled on open the door, washing the room with a dim orange glow. She let her eyes make sense of such a colour change before peering out into the long corridor she was faced with. The floor was covered in a red plush carpet; the walls tarnished with gold paint and a red door at the end. The walls were lined with pictures upon pictures, but when looking closer, Cylara saw the frames were completely empty. There was a tap on her shoulder, and she turned to see Keija waiting impatiently.
“We have no time to stand and stare, unless those stares are the ones you climb up,” she said sternly, and steered Cylara towards the door at the end.
Beyond the door, there was an enormous staircase. The stairs seemed very old, and as the pair walked up the steps they creaked wildly. Cylara’s heart was pounding, but not from fear- the note had said north of the Brain Tree, and Cylara supposed that they had been to the north. That meant this had to be the lair, and that meant that Tuari was somewhere nearby, maybe only in the next room.
At the top of the staircase was a huge door, at least twice the size of the first door. It was the same colour of red, but there were gold swirls painted all over it. It looked very grand in the dim light, even though there were cobwebs in the corners and the paint was peeling. Cylara walked through, head held high, not the slightest bit nervous.
The first thing that she was aware of was a cold draught and a stone floor. The room they were in was freezing cold, and the cobbled floor certainly didn’t help. It was pitch black, and they only sound she could hear was crying. The same crying sound that she had heard in the past.
“Tuari!” yelled Cylara, her heart in her throat. Blindly she rushed forwards, crashing into walls and strange shapes, trying to find her brother.
“Cy! Cylara! I’m over here!” sobbed Tuari. Cylara’s heart wrenched; he sounded so miserable. She hadn’t been fast enough. Who knew what they’d done to him?
Just as that thought crossed her mind, Cylara found herself against a warm bundle of soft fur, so familiar that it might as well have been her own. Cylara and Tuari hugged each other so tightly it seemed they might never let go.
“Tuari, I’m so sorry! Oh, I tried to-”
“Not so fast,” laughed a deep, malicious sounding voice. Suddenly, the room was swamped by bright light and both Cylara and Tuari were blinded by it. “Well done, Keija, tonight you have redeemed yourself,” continued the voice.
“It was my pleasure, Master,” answered Keija who was still hovering at the door. Cylara whirled around to face the Skeith, whose voice now seemed much darker than the bright voice Cylara was used to hearing.
“Keija! Surely you weren’t involved with this! How could you!?” screamed Cylara.
“Oh you naïve little creature, it was all too easy. Every Skeith in the woods is there to help you, no? Just out of the goodness of my heart,” said Keija, mockingly. Cylara felt tears begin to run down her nose and Tuari clung to her even tighter.
“Honey potion if you please, Uni,” sneered the voice. Cylara turned back towards the side of the room from which it emanated, and gasped with shock. Her eyes widened and she trembled. That green figure and black cape could only be one person. Dr. Sloth. Cylara’s mind went numb. “Hurry up if you please, it’s not too late to harm your brother.” threatened Sloth.
“No! Never!” yelled Cylara. “You can’t just bribe me, it’s not fair!” Sloth burst out laughing, and Keija crowed with delight.
“Not fair? How pathetic are you!” giggled Keija. Cylara was in shock for the second time- whatever had possessed her to refuse Sloth! She should have just handed over the potion and left with Tuari, how could she have been so stupid? Because he wouldn’t have just let you leave, whispered a voice in Cylara’s mind. Of course. The books. The adventure stories. What would the heroines have done?
“I challenge you to a fight, Sloth! Let me beat you, and then you let us go! If I lose, you can keep the potion,” called Cylara, lifting the Honey Potion out of her pocket. Sloth appeared to consider the proposal.
“Cy!” whispered Tuari, “How did you get that?”
“Shh Tuar, it’s ok.” Before Tuari could say anything else, Sloth replied.
“Fine, pathetic creature! Since you will be no challenge to me, the great Dr. Sloth, I accept your terms!”
Cylara gently pushed Tuari aside and stepped forwards to face sloth, Honey Potion at the ready. Just as she did so, a great purple light filled the room. The gathering gasped as a face became visible, and the blinding light dimmed to reveal someone that surprised everyone: Queen Fyora.
“What is the meaning of this?” Sloth demanded, his face twisted with rage.
Fyora couldn’t help but smile and said: “Dr. Sloth, did you really think you could ever pull off a plan such as this?”
He huffed out a breath and petulantly turned his back to the faerie queen.
“Keija?” Sloth asked, his voice rising steadily.
“Yes, master?” Keija looked down at the floor, shifting her feet under such a stare.
“Am I to know you work for Fyora?”
“No, master. I don’t know how this happened, master,” she replied fearfully.
“Maybe I can explain,” interrupted Fyora.
The room shifted their attention back to the Queen. Her face still held the smile, but a frown was on her forehead; evidently she was thinking hard.
“I am a Queen, and a faerie. With such a status I cannot control people, but I can give them a nudge in the right direction. It was a clear night when I decided to look down on the people of Meridell. As I did so, I spotted Cylara and her dear brother Tuari. They took my interest. The more I watched, the more it became obvious that Cylara had a problem- she was extremely shy. I decided to help her. And who could I use in this plan? Only the great Frank Sloth, of course.”
At this point, Dr. Sloth blushed through his green skin. Tuari was in his sister’s arms, listening intently. Keija was scowling slightly, arms crossed.
“So I sent Keija a dream, a vision as such. Do you remember?” Keija nodded glumly. “And the result was that she sprouted a plan from it. The plan in which you stand in the middle of.” Fyora was looking at Cylara as she spoke this.
“So... you did this? You were the one who caused it?” Cylara asked, a spot of annoyance in her usually even voice.
“Yes, in a sense. But did you not get something out of it? Even now, I can see that my plan worked. You have more confidence now.” Fyora chuckled at the frown on Cylara’s face.
Stepping forward, she touched both Tuari and Cylara on the forehead and whispered something softly. There was a bright flash of light and Dr. Sloth and Keija were left staring at the space where their so-called victims had just been standing.
Back in Meridell, the siblings landed on the kitchen floor. There was very little light outside. Fyora also appeared, and muttered something. Lots of candles filled the room, and the Queen drew the curtains.
“I’m so sorry to put you through such things,” she said, turning to face the two. They nodded.
“We understand. If it wasn’t for you, I’d still be timid and quiet. One day, I’m sure, I’ll thank you for it. But was kidnapping my brother really necessary?”
Fyora chuckled, and was gone. Tuari and Cylara turned to each other, grinning. The older sister grabbed her brother into a strong embrace.