The Elements of the Exploring: Part Three
Winith continued back the way she had come, wondering if there were any other tunnels that led farther down in the cave. She knew the faerie had fallen through the ground unexpectedly, and she knew that such odd happenings were not unheard of in and around the Haunted Woods area. However, she also knew that chances were if the ground could give away so suddenly, that there was probably another lair to the cave—one that might be accessible by water—so she struggled back through the thin tunnel in hopes of finding an alternative route.
She swam quickly, running her hands along the sides of the narrow stream to feel for any openings as she did, in case she missed them with her eyes. Her anger towards the faeries had faded into a need to help them, and she hoped to find a stream leading to the lair below so that she could help the faerie swim out of the cave.
For a while she didn’t have any luck, and Winith began to think that her efforts were going to be useless. She continued to swim until she was back outside of the cave, and then she stopped, coming above the water to see if she could locate any additional streams. There were only three that she could see, and two of them she had already been down; there was the one leading back to open waters, the one leading into the cave where she had just come from, and another one, that seemed to go into the trees of the forest. Winith saw no other option but to follow this third path and try her luck, so she dove back into the water and began her journey.
Disparity took a deep breath and sat back on her heels, looking miserable. They had been digging for ages and weren’t making any progress, and they were all exhausted.
“I hope she’s okay,” Listanie sighed, sitting on the dirt and leaning her head onto Disparity’s shoulder.
“Me too,” Eerine agreed, still digging away, though only half-heartedly.
“This is pointless,” Aeriana huffed, throwing a clump of dirt onto the pile she had dug up. “The dirt isn’t moving; no matter how much we dig through, the ground just keeps making more.”
“That’s the Haunted Woods for you,” Disparity said bitterly, and both Aeriana and Eerine sat back on the dirt as well, staring at the spot their friend had fallen through.
“Where do you think she ended up?” Eerine asked, looking at her friends. They all shrugged, and she nodded, looking back at the dirt. The four of them sat there for awhile longer, lost in their own thoughts about what had happened, until Disparity stood up, quite startling Listanie.
“Well, she isn’t likely to just pop back up here,” the dark faerie said, her hands on her hips. “We have to go looking for her.”
“But how?” Aeriana questioned, standing as well. “We have no idea where she is, and we have certainly not come across anywhere that leads to a second floor of the cave! We don’t even know where the exit back to the forest is, and you want us to go and get ourselves even more lost?”
“If that’s what it takes to find Fayeroh, then yes!” Disparity declared, and Aeriana sighed. She stared at her friend for a while and knew she was right, so she sighed once more and turned to the others still sitting on the ground.
“Alright then, let’s go,” she said with a shrug, and the other two faeries stood up, wondering if they would ever see their friend again.
Fayeroh stared into the darkness ahead of her, hoping that whatever was out there was something nice, or at least small enough for her to handle. She thought about going to search for it, using her flames to light up the way and making a point to seek her mysterious companion out, but she was still a bit overwhelmed from falling through the floor of the cave above her, and she wanted a few more moments to get her thoughts together before doing anything too daring.
She closed her eyes, willing her scenery to change, and opened them to find a pair of big eyes staring back at her. Completely frightened, Fayeroh screamed and fell backwards, scrambling to get as far away from the creature as she could. She managed to get to her feet, and then she turned, blindly running into the darkness.
She ran a few feet, her arms out in front of her, until she realized that nothing was chasing her. Furthermore, she heard sobbing, and her curiosity began to take hold.
“Don’t go back there,” she whispered to herself, thinking the option over. “Bad things always happen when people investigate.” She looked behind her and saw nothing but darkness, and then slowly turned back to face the way she had come. The sobbing continued, and Fayeroh decided to—very cautiously—determine what was making the sound.
She crept back slowly as she created a hot fireball in her hands, preparing to attack if something happened. She followed the soft sobbing back to where she had been sitting before, and saw a vague outline of something ahead of her. She took another step forward, peering into the darkness through the blazing fire floating above her hands, and slowly the owner of the sounds came into focus. It was another faerie, though she looked rather pathetic sitting there, sobbing away, her hair hanging limp around her face. At length, the girl looked up at Fayeroh, tears dripping from her eyes as she did.
“Who are you?” Fayeroh asked as she stepped closer, feeling more comfortable now that she had seen what it was that had frightened her so much.
“M-my name is V-Victane,” the girl stuttered, pushing some hair out of her big eyes.
“What kind of faerie are you?” Fayeroh then questioned, studying the girl.
“I used to be an air faerie,” Victane said miserably, looking down at the ground, “but I no longer have any powers. I am all grey, now.”
“I thought there was only one grey faerie,” Fayeroh stated, though she could now see that the girl did, in fact, look rather grey. The faerie shook her head, and another tear slid off of her cheek.
“There are plenty of us, but most faeries don’t notice. After all, we can hardly be considered faeries anymore, can we,” she said with a sigh, and Fayeroh frowned, thinking the girl was a bit depressing.
“Why are you crying?” she asked, kneeling down and holding the fireball a little closer to get a better look at Victane.
“You scared me,” the faerie responded, shrinking back a bit at the heat of Fayeroh’s fire.
“I scared you? You scared me first!” Fayeroh said incredulously, and the girl huffed.
“Well, that doesn’t mean you didn’t still scare me,” she pouted, crossing her arms. Fayeroh rolled her eyes and stood up again, vanishing the fire in her hands.
“What are you doing down here, anyways?”
“I fell through the floor, just like you,” Victane said, staying on the ground. “I was just sitting in my think room, and I stood up to stretch my legs. And then I fell, just like that. But I don’t want to be here; it’s cold, and I don’t like the cold.”
“So you were the one that shrieked,” Fayeroh said in comprehension, and Victane nodded. “And that’s your room up there?” She pointed to the dirt ceiling, and the grey faerie looked up as well.
“Yep, I come there sometimes to think... that’s why I call it my think room.”
“Makes sense,” Fayeroh said as she began to walk around the room. “What do you think about?”
“How miserable everything is,” Victane said with another sigh, and Fayeroh sighed herself, thinking that it was going to be a long wait for help if she had to wait with such a gloomy creature.
Listanie stopped walking when she realized they had finally found the exit to the cave.
“Fabulous,” Disparity said, leaning against the stone. “Now all we have to do is find Fayeroh and we’ll be great.”
“I don’t really want to go back in there again,” Eerine said, looking behind her. “We got lost before, and we’ll probably get lost again if we go back in.”
“We have to find Fayeroh, though,” Aeriana said, and Eerine scrunched her nose, thinking.
“Maybe there’s some way to get to the lower level on the outside of the cave?” she offered, and Listanie shrugged.
“We might as well try,” she said, walking out into the brisk Haunted Woods air.
Winith smiled to herself as she stopped swimming. She had followed the third stream down a winding path until it, too, eventually reached the cave. Once back into the dark, Winith had heard a distant rumble, and had decided to investigate, an idea of the rumble’s cause in her mind. It was still a very winding stream inside of the cave, and the water faerie got dizzy from all of the sudden turns. Nevertheless, she had followed it until she came to the source of the sound, which gave her a great sense of hope and accomplishment. Not too far ahead of her, the water grew rough and the stream quickened, the water intense, before everything stopped moving forwards altogether as it fell straight down in a large waterfall that led to the lower level of the large cave.
To be continued...