The Frozen Skeith - A Princess Airy Tale: Part Two
Calucilo had no problem pointing them in the right direction and then she retreated back into her cottage. From the way she gave them her farewells, Airy had the feeling that she didn’t expect to see them again. It made her courage waver a little bit but not enough to discourage her from going. She wasn’t about to back down from a quest and prove everyone’s perceptions of princesses correct.
Towsier wasn’t of the same thought at all. “Please, we don’t have to do this,” he begged, continuing, “We don’t need that old witch’s help. I just need to rest, then we can fly above the trees and continue on our way.” His plea almost made sense to her, almost but not quite, and she couldn’t just sit quietly.
Airy spun on him. “We can’t just abandon a quest. That defeats the purpose of why I’m out here. I know you’re scared, but we can do this. We just have to get the plant and skidaddle before the Skeith catches us.” In her mind, it was as simple as that and she wasn’t going to think about any possible complications because then, she just might not want to complete her quest.
“Easy for you to say,” Towsier mumbled. “You’re not so exhausted that every step feels like a chore.” The little Scorchio’s shoulders dropped and his tail dragged even lower on the ground. Velcro mewed her agreement with him, but Airy ignored both of them. It wasn’t about the help from Calucilo; it was about the concept of conquering another adventure. It was about proving that anyone could be brave if they chose to.
The forest was still as dark and unfriendly as before but she hardly noticed in light of the new adventure. She was excited and couldn’t help but show it with a little skip in her step. Every so often, Velcro would give a little hiss and dig his claws into her to remind her that he was there, and Towsier continued to mope along behind her, but it wasn’t enough to bring down her happiness. When she accomplished this task, she would be able to brag to everyone that not only had she calmed the flames of the wild Scorchio but had faced a terrifying Skeith as well. Life was looking good to her and she could hardly wait to return to Calucilo.
It wasn’t long before they found the cave where the pretty blue flower grew abundantly around the entrance, the blue blossoms nodding their heads in a breeze that no one else could feel. She hesitated for a moment, feeling slightly nervous at the sight of the yawning blackness of the cave, but it wasn’t enough to deter her.
Towsier put a paw on her shoulder to slow her down, but she shook him off. “I can do this. Listen, it’s quiet; perhaps the petpets are not around to wake up the Skeith.”
Towsier nodded his head but the fear in his face made it clear that he didn’t buy it. Despite his misgivings, he followed Airy up to the flowers. Taking a deep breath, not quite sure what to expect, she grabbed hold of a stem and gave it a firm yank. Instantly, there were sharp shrieks and cries of rage from the surrounding woods.
“Run,” Towsier cried and pulled her back from the cave entrance. He did so just in time, for an oversized, clawed paw slammed into the ground where she had been only seconds ago. With her heart pounding furiously in her throat, her eyes followed the scaled paw up to the massive body it was attached to. Never before had she seen such a Skeith; his bulk seemed to be as large as her bed in the palace, and his eyes were full of unforgiving fury.
“I... I... I,” she stammered, trying to find words to offer as an apology, but she was too terrified to think straight. The Skeith took a step towards them and the ground trembled beneath their feet. He probably would have had her again if Towsier hadn’t once more shoved her in the right direction. His second rescue was enough to knock some sense into her and she bolted down the path, Velcro digging his claws into her back and screaming in the obnoxious Kadoatie fashion. Finally she chanced a look back and was horrified to not see Towsier.
Panicked, she began calling at the top of her lungs, “Towsier, Towsier. Please, come on,Towsier, we got the flower, let’s go. Towsier.” Only the sound of the distant petpets still protesting over her flower pulling was heard; Towsier was nowhere near. She knew where he was. She just didn’t want to go back.
“Velcro, I don’t want to do this,” she whispered, trying to calm down the frightened baby, but it was in vain. Listening to the desperate cries of the Kadoatie, she began to calm down and think about what she was going to have to do.
Clearly, she had to go back to the cave, but she didn’t want to right away, not until the petpets settled down. Hopefully once they calmed down, the Skeith would be less on guard and she could try to sneak in. Even though she wouldn’t be going after the flower, she was still terrified that the petpets would go off like an alarm, alerting her friend’s captor to her presence. If that happened, she wasn’t sure what she was going to do, but she had to try something. Towsier had saved her on multiple occasions; at the very least, she owed it to him.
Eventually, she couldn’t hear the wild squawkings and shrieks of the petpets, and she began to make her way back to the cave. It wasn’t difficult to find the cave again and sooner than she wanted, she could see the threatening entrance.
Afraid that her little pet would run away but not wanting to take him into danger, she set Velcro down in a large grass growth next to a tree. “Stay here. I’ll be back,” she promised and he mewed at her inquisitively. Half expecting him to follow her, she took a few steps forward and turned to see what he was doing. He still sat where she had set him, staring after her with large, questioning eyes. It was all she could do not to run back to him, scoop him, and flee, but she couldn’t do that. A friend needed her help and it was her fault that he’d been drug into this in the first place.
Turning her back on the Kadoatie, she strode cautiously up to the mouth of the cave. She froze, expecting the petpets to start their raucous serenade, but not a sound could be heard. Even Velcro was being silent in his hiding place. It did little to encourage her.
The darkness was as black as any moonless night she’d ever experienced and she stood still for a few moments after stepping into the cave, waiting for her eyes to adjust. It wasn’t long before she could make out the faint outlines of rock formations and she began to inch forward. The cave was just the beginning of a tunnel that seemed to wind and dip, taking her farther from the light and deeper into the disquieting dark. With her limited sight growing somewhat stronger, she made it around a bend in the cave and found herself suddenly in a well lit cave. It was so sudden that she was almost blinded and had to stand there for a moment, blinking multiple times to regain her light vision.
There were huge, twisted stalactites and stalagmites arching from the ceiling and sprouting out of the ground. It was an amazing sight to behold and she would have liked to look longer if she wasn’t so worried about Towsier. She began making her ways through the twisted palaces of rock, not really expecting to find the Baby Scorchio but hoping that he would be in the room. Luckily for both of them, Towsier wasn’t hard to find, for he was being held in an immense cavern. He was tied up and gagged, looking very miserable until he saw her.
“Towsier,” she cried excitedly and dropped to her knees beside him where she began untying him with her mouth. When she removed the gag, she asked, “Where is he?” From the way his face paled and his jaw dropped, she knew the answer to her question but had to look anyway. Moving as if she were in slow motion, she turned around to see what had at first appeared to be another rock formation unfold into the huge, Mutant Skeith.
The snarl that erupted from him was enough to make the air tremble and small pebbles fall from the ceiling. It was also enough to force a scream from Airy when she tripped over Towsier while backing up. The Skeith roared again and rose up onto his hind legs, seeming to fill the room. They were trapped and the only items that Airy had were a fire amulet and a puny flower.
To be continued...