The Secret of Geraptiku: Part Eight
While I dreamed, everything was black for what felt like a long time. I knew I was dreaming, that much I could tell, but aside from that, there wasn’t much I was aware of. I couldn’t feel myself or anything, and my thoughts were very drifty and sleepy almost.
But then, everything everywhere changed. Instead of just darkness, there was color. And what color! Brilliant shades of the rainbow, shining and sparking like gemstones, not one shade of red, orange, yellow, green, blue, purple, white, and even brown and black didn’t intoxicate me in the beautiful swirls of iridescent color. Gradually, very gradually, the intense colors organized and swirled to images and memories. I could see a girl smiling and laughing while she messed up the fur on my head, and the same girl with wide and concerned eyes hug me warmly and rub my back comfortingly to stop my tears and make me feel better. Again, there was the girl celebrating my first hour, and second, and third, and fourth, and fifth, and sixth, and seventh, all the way to my 24th when she counted down on the clock and cheered when I was a day old, making me roll my eyes. Also the girl celebrating my 1000th hour, reminding me it was a once in a lifetime opportunity to be exactly 1000 hours old. She had an almost permanent grin, the kind of smile that you can see in people instantaneously and know they're about to say something funny and make you laugh. It took me a while through my sleepy mind to realize the girl was my owner, Xaea.
A memory passed in front of my eyes, so realistically that I had trouble remembering it wasn't really happening. It was a time when I tripped and sprawled face first into a mud puddle, getting dirty water all over my fur. I could remember the astonishment on my face, and that had only made Xaea laugh harder. I had gathered up a big handful of mud and thrown it at her face. Blinking through muddy eyes, she stared shocked at me for just half a second, probably less. Then, with a wide grin I’d learned by then meant trouble, her hand swiped the mud puddle, and my fur got even messier. Xaea laughed again, even louder this time, but it was cut short after I’d gave her a big hug, making her jeans entirely brown. After that, there was the biggest mud fight in history! Every single person walking by quickly left; otherwise they faced the danger of getting as muddy and soaked as we were.
Arguing with my Sandan about what her name was going to be. The first night she was home, she stared out of my window for hours, unable to sleep. The moon was full and bright, and she was staring at the hypnotic, lovely sky. A flock of Korbats flew in front of Kreludor, and Luna gasped out loud when it was covered. But then they flew on, and she relaxed. I had smiled slightly at that moment, when the name of my Petpet curled itself into letters in my mind.
Other memories came up, more recent ones. Bickering with Xaea playfully on the last morning I saw her, playing beach volleyball with other Neopets while Luna cheered, the snobby Kougra in a grass skirt telling us to stay away from Techo Mountain, Xaea eagerly suggesting we climb it, the pretty intricate swirls of liquid fire, and many others that were only brief glimpses that I barely had enough time to see what they were; a flash of purple light, black Gelert eyes pleading with me to trust him, a blank ebony door, and a dark faerie. A dark faerie with dark indigo eyes so entrancing, and so deep; that glittered with a sinister power and beauty; that could be misleadingly kind and honest one moment, and fiery and angry the next. There were three other pairs of eyes; red, green, and grey from monsters all with the same intention, an ornate wooden chest with three keyholes, bronze and silver keys clutched in a Gelert tail, angry Peophins, except for one with a kindness that lit up his eyes in a gentle radiance.
And then the last voices I’d heard before sinking into this strange dream. Two of them were concerned, panicked cries of my name, but the last was a sweet, rather grey female voice that had reminded me of Xaea for some odd reason, but it had also reminded me of the dark faerie, which was strange because all of them sounded nothing alike, but something in the fluency in the words sounded the same in all three, like they’d all had practice talking for a while. I realized I was thinking much more clearly now than before, but I couldn’t tell how much time had passed, if any had passed at all. Time was different in this world of thought and memory, when I tried picturing how long a second was, I couldn’t. It was impossible to imagine something like that. Even when you’re awake, time can pass oddly.
There are some moments when every breath, every thought, every gentle breeze, every syllable of every word, every voice, is etched in your brain eternally, and you can remember everything about it forever after. But then there are some times that seem so slow, so achingly slow, that the time between the ticks on the second hand of a clock are as far apart in time as the tides of the ocean.
Once again, my dream turned to colors dancing all around me in sharp contrast with each other. But slowly, they became muddled and mixed. I couldn’t tell the reds and the oranges apart, same with the greens and the blues. Soon, or it might have been a long time, the purples and the yellows were the same, and I couldn’t tell anything apart at all. I now felt a vague wakefulness and awareness, and I found I could picture how long a second and a minute were. Did this mean I was waking up...? My leg ached really badly... wait; this meant I really was waking up. I smiled in eagerness as I looked forward to being in the real world at last...
“Akeelyla?” a soft voice murmured.
“Is she awake?” Milk asked eagerly.
“I’m awake,” I muttered.
“Yay! Akee, we were so worried!” Milk said. I opened my eyes slowly. Milk and Cydon were hovering over me. Someone walked over to me. She smiled.
“I’m glad you’re awake finally.” She was a grey faerie, I could tell by her grey hair and her ruined looking wings. Also she had an almost permanent depressed expression, even when she was smiling. Her hair was as opposite as it could be to the dark faerie's; it was shoulder length and smooth.
“Finally? How long was I... asleep for?”
“Only for an hour. I was worried it would be so much worse.” I glanced around. I was on my back lying on a wooden bed with a soft grey blanket on it. In the other corner nearest to me there was a shelf with old books in poor condition orderly on it. Next to it was a large cupboard as tall as the grey faerie, but it was closed, so I didn't know what was in it. In the other end of the room, which wasn’t very far because the room was so small, was a dark grayish brown table with two chairs. Close to the table and chairs was a stone fireplace, with the ashes of a long doused fire. On the wall at the other end diagonally across from me was a window with thick glass and metal bars. Sunlight half-heartedly streamed in, but that didn’t make the room any warmer. It was cold sunlight, like on a winter morning when the sky is blue and there are very few clouds, and Neopia was still as cold as it was at night, but warming up slowly. It was like that, but it didn’t feel refreshing, like a cold winter morning would, it felt dry. Since it was early morning, I must've been in the dark faerie's castle thing for almost twelve hours.
I tried sitting up, but winced and fell back. For the first time, I noticed my left leg had a bandage on it. I fingered it, frowning.
“What happened to my leg?” I asked curiously.
“When you got unconscious, you fell on your leg, and I heard a snap,” Cydon said quietly.
“So why is there a bandage?” I asked.
Milk smiled sheepishly. “It’s my fault, really. Vahara, that’s the grey faerie’s name, asked me to give you this potion thing that was supposed to heal you completely, but I accidently gave you the wrong one, and it made a huge scratch on your leg that-"
“Ugg.” Cydon shuddered. “Then Vahara gave you this other potion that stopped the bleeding and healed your leg, but she couldn’t do anything about the scratch.”
“So will it ever heal?”
“Don’t worry.” Vahara smiled. “In about another day or so it’ll go away.”
“So why did I black out?”
Vahara frowned. “I’m not completely sure about it, but I have a guess. Did the dark faerie ever talk directly to you? In her... voice?” I could tell by the way Vahara had hesitated before saying voice that she didn’t mean chattering out loud casually.
I grimaced. Vahara seemed to take that as a yes.
“Well, that would make sense. When she enchants her voice like that, it leaves a mark in your head. You automatically try to defend yourself by sinking into a stupor, even going unconscious if she’s done it to you enough, when you get near another faerie that isn’t one of the natural elements; light, fire, earth, air, or water.”
“What about me?” asked Milk. “I’ve heard her voice before...”
“Yes, but I noticed that you looked slightly dazed right after we opened the door for a few seconds, then you snapped out of it,” Cydon added. He glanced at his hooves. “I’ve heard her voice like that, but I guess nothing happened to me... I wonder why?”
“Maybe you just all react to it differently,” Vahara suggested. “That would make sense... in a way.”
“So what does that mean?” Milk muttered. “That Akee is more scared of her than Cydon and me?” I felt offended, though I didn’t show it on my face. Was Milk calling me a coward? There was nothing wrong with having a healthy fear of the dark faerie.
“I’m not sure,” Vahara mused, glancing at my face inquisitively. Maybe I hadn’t hid my anger as well as I thought I did. I glanced around the room for something else to talk about. My gaze landed on the table and chairs.
“So if you’re here alone, why are there two chairs?” I asked.
Vahara smiled slightly. “I’m not here alone, I have a Petpet with me right now, the dark faerie was about to through her into Mount Techo, but I saved her.” The grey faerie crouched down and searched under the bed. She straightened up and held up a Sandan. I held my breath. “She’s very sweet, even though she’s still in shock.” The Sandan’s eyes were blank and staring. I noticed a patch of white fur on her ear that looked just like the fur on-
“Luna!” I cried. She jumped and her eyes focused on me. Luna leaped out of Vahara’s arms and cuddled into me. “I can’t believe you’re back!”
“Is that her name? Luna?” Vahara asked. Milk stroked Luna’s back cheerfully. “The dark faerie didn’t say anything specific about her. She just threw her in here and screamed at her to stop barking.”
“I’m so happy,” I whispered so quietly that only Luna could hear me. Luna barked softly in agreement. “Thank you,” I said blissfully to Vahara.
“What did I do?”
“She’s just happy she got Luna back,” Milk explained.
I smiled and hugged Luna for a while, so relieved to have her back that I didn't feel like talking. I had been so close to losing Luna forever. Eventually, Cydon broke the silence.
“Do you think you can stand up now?”
“I’m not sure. I’m a little scared to try,” I admitted, embarrassed. I glanced at Vahara for her opinion.
“I think it's okay. Your leg healed much faster than I would’ve thought, just looking at you now, I would assume that your leg is almost fully healed. Just let me take the bandage off.” Vahara place her hand on the edge of the bandage, and carefully and slowly, peeled it off. I waited for it to sting and hurt, but nothing happened. On my leg, there was only a faded pink line that suggested there was something wrong with my leg before.
“Oh, good,” I said, smiling. I bounded off the bed, still hugging Luna.
“Okay," Cydon muttered. "Now we just have to figure how to get out of here, no problem at all." Vahara smiled sadly. The grey faerie stood up and walked over to the window. I couldn't see he face from the angle I was at, but she looked like she was almost searching...
"Are you looking for something?" I asked, getting up and jumping so I could see out the window. The cold sun was still mocking me. The view out the window were of the overgrown forests of Geraptiku.
"No," she muttered, brushing a piece of hair out of her eyes. She broke her gaze away from the window to Milk, Cydon, Luna, and me, all staring at her for an answer to our unspoken question.
"Do you know how we can get out of here?" At least, it was unspoken until Milk opened his mouth.
Vahara shook her head sadly from side to side. She was staring at me meaningfully, and her bluish grey eyes glanced up, then down, so slightly that I wasn't sure if it happened. My eyes flickered up, then down. There was something on the ceiling, a little metal box, that was the exact color brown as the ceiling, so you wouldn't see if you didn't know something was there. I stared back at Vahara. Her eyes bored into mine intently, to make sure I understood her silent words. She stared off to my left, then looked like she got bored, and glanced off to my right briefly.
I copied her movements. On the ceiling on my right, was a... camera? Why was there a camera? It wasn't the precise brown as the ceiling, but slightly faded. On the side it said in minuscule typing; made in Virtupets. I glanced behind me at Milk and Cydon.
Vahara's and my exchange had lasted only a few seconds, not long enough for them to notice something was up. For some reason, Vahara hadn't talked out loud and told us outright that there was a camera in her room, and I didn't know what the small box was for.
"Hey Milk, isn't the ceiling just the most awesome color?" I asked, trying to sound nonchalant.
"Erm... I guess so," Milk replied, confused. He glanced up, but he didn't notice the brown box or the camera.
"Cydon, don't you think so? Especially that area over there?" Yeah, yeah, I know. I am pathetic at trying to come up with something off the top of my mind to get a Gelert and a Peophin to get my hint and realize there was a camera in the room, recording our every moment, after I got the hint from a grey faerie who's been trapped in the room for who knows how long, but these skills take time, you know?
Cydon frowned and realized that I was hinting at something. His eyes scanned the corner of the ceiling and the wall. His eyes narrowed, but then opened normally.
Vahara gestured slightly toward a small ceramic pot on the table about the size of my paw, then her eyes flickered to the camera. I casually strolled over to her table and fingered the pot. Vahara nodded.
I threw the pot with as much accuracy as I could. The camera sparked once, then a few wires snapped and the camera fell to the ground.
"What'd you do that for?" Milk demanded.
"Thank goodness," Vahara sighed, relieved. "Being a prisoner here myself, I couldn't do anything that would directly help me break out of here." She smiled, the first smile I'd seen her do that wasn't sad or pitying. "Now, Akeelyla, in your sleep, you were talking very softly, and I believe I can help you with your search."
"I talk in my sleep?" I asked. No wonder Xaea always seemed to laugh whenever she wakes me up...
"You mean you know where the golden key is?" Milk asked hopefully.
"In the box!" I exclaimed. "That brown box on the ceiling, that has the gold key in it, doesn't it? It's just the right exact size!" Cydon eagerly fluttered up and grasped the box with both hooves and glided down, careful not to drop the box. Cydon opened the lid. He gasped.
"It's the key! But..." I walked behind him to look over his shoulder. I frowned.
"Yeah," I said slowly. "But which one?"
"What? Please don't tell me that there are two gold keys in there," Vahara pleaded.
"Why?" I wondered. "Is that a bad thing?" Vahara grimaced and nodded.
"Two golden keys... one opens a door, but once the door is unlocked, only half of us can leave the room, and the other half must stay."
To be continued...