Torch in the Darkness: Part Nine
Art by ellbot1998
I was starving, soaked, and exhausted. But I still mustered up enough energy to run to her, the stranger whom I suddenly trusted and loved. The sight of her allowed me to not forget the past, but put it behind me.
She was beautiful.
Her downy fur was a dry, soft tan with darker drops of brown leaking across here and there. Both her mane and her stripe were a glistening blue-green like aquatic fire. Transparent, curvy wings sprouted out of her back. A faintly glowing, hollow yellow circle stretched across her forehead. Her inviting golden eyes met mine as I approached her.
A pure aura radiated off of her in the form of a faint and visible light. It changed Cerulean when we entered. He was no longer a battered and beaten Xweetok who had been fighting for his life; he was still tired, but now looked humble and relieved. And yet he had that look of victory across his face.
And then she laughed, not out of mockery or madness but out of affection. It sounded warm and musical, and was the most uplifting thing I had heard in my lifetime. Cerulean walked up to her.
"Mother." He bowed slightly to her. She gently curled one paw around him affectionately. From her gentle grip, he barely looked out at me, smiling in a way that almost said, join me. Although Evre had truly defeated Valence, Cerulean had knocked him out. He had changed so much from when I last saw him; once confident, now humble. His form was scrawny and tired, but he looked pleased. Pleased because he was where he was, and in his mother's hold.
Val gagged as Evre slapped his back with her sword, and he came closer to her.
"Before you face the dungeons, what do you have to say for yourself?" Evre snapped at Val.
"Enough... servant. I permit him to say what he must."
For a single moment, some sort of emotion was visible in his eyes. I couldn't tell what it was. Regret, maybe?
"If I had your power, the way I always should have, things would be far different, T-"
He was cut off by one blunt tip of the Creator's claws ever-so-slightly stuck in his open mouth.
"Not that name. Never call me that name. Never again."
"Fine, then. I won't call you by your correct name. I'll let you pretend that you were always sitting around this chamber, and that you were never a pitifully dull es-"
For the same reason as before, his speech was stopped.
"No, Val. I regret allowing you words. Leave. Now."
Evre grabbed his chain and pulled him through a normal-sized door, into another room.
"Mother, I've never seen you so... hurt..."
"Cerulean, I didn't create Val. I had always known him. We have always been contrasting where we placed our values and our dreams. If fortune had come over him instead of me, this would be a different world."
"Child, it's alright. There are people who you don't want to be mad at, but there are also people who you just can't, and those are the best kind."
She looked over to me.
"Do not worry. Faith, you are forgiven."
It felt strange. To see, to trust, to know she was real after all these years of never even hearing of the beautifully kind creature who lay before me. I finally ran into her open paw, which she gently clasped around me. Despite her strict dialogue around the traitor of time, I could feel her true self and her love for Cerulean and... me?
The care she had for me, which I had never known existed, surfaced more into reality at every moment. This realm that I had come about through my personal misfortune (so I had thought at first) was more beautiful and stunning than my homeland; it glistened with friendship and warmth. As for my origin, what did it have, other than minor friends and complex technology?
I felt a second body against mine, and a soft wing lightly curled over my back. Opening my eyes and turning my head, I saw Cerulean next to me. He still looked starved and faded, but he managed to give way to a tiny smile. He forgave me. My heart felt like it was soaring.
A lulling sensation started up within me. Wave out of wave of it caressed me, but it wasn't a trance. I tensed and looked at my companion.
"She's... healing us... don't worry..."
Cerulean wouldn't have lied to me then. Instead of being afraid, I became calm. Closing my eyes once more, I went with it for once, and eventually off to sleep while my weary muscles gradually became refreshed and my empty stomach's requests were fulfilled.
I've forgotten how good this feels, I grinned to myself as the magic of the Creator worked on my body. It's better the second time, or maybe it's just that I really needed it now. I don't know who is having a happier ending; Faith or me. I think she likes this world.
Thank you, Faith. I'm free now. I can return to Rubia. Man, how I can't wait to see you again after this week of misery. As for you, I'll hunt you down, Rachroth...
Ahh, yeah, that's the spot, Mother. A ton of scars right there...
Apparently, the Creator could read my mind; at least while she was using magic on me. Right then, the wounds on my legs knit themselves together properly. Thank you.
Time passed. While the magic was still flowing into my body, I drifted off into a semi-consciousness state. I was awake enough to tell that Faith fell asleep. Sometime after she finished healing us, the Creator herself slept, but from that angle I couldn't tell when.
I was the first to wake up. Yawning softly, I gently uncurled one of the Creator's digits from around myself and I climbed out of her gentle grip. Finally, I wasn't starving or caged. I walked in a circle a few times and stretched my wings.
"Mmmmmhzzzzzzzzzz..." Faith mumbled.
The Creator blinked her eyes open and looked down at me. After ever-so-slightly unsheathing a rounded claw, she used it to turn my head up to her face a little. "Healthy, as usual." She smiled as she murmured the words. "Of course, I assume my magic helped."
"It did. Thank you."
I was about to climb into her paw again and rouse Faith, but she stopped me with her rounded claw.
"All who sleep will eventually awaken, given time."
She nuzzled the top of my head affectionately, and I reveled in the affection for a few minutes more. Faith stirred. "Wait, what the-"
"Don't you remember what has happened?" I asked.
I grinned to myself a little and put a wing around Faith. She looked up at the Creator.
"I'm the thankful one. Val was almost finished with a plan to make me surrender my power."
"The forests are calling you both, and true life will be relieved to have you again."
"Is this goodbye...?"
"I don't believe in them, Faith. After all, there can only be one day in our lives that will be the last time we see each other. You know the way out, Cerulean."
"The way out is wherever you want it to be!"
Yeah, I was already eager to get back to Rubia.
She laughed that same laugh of hers and put us on the ground. Step by step, we slowly walked off. It always felt strange and a little sad leaving the Creator, considering who we were putting behind us. But she knew that I needed to be surrounded by friends and many kinds of love again, and I knew she would continue to nourish the woods when I left.
"Until another time and day," she whispered and closed her eyes. I took one last look at her and then bolted up the slope playfully, with Faith struggling to keep up. Once we were at the surface in the amber forest again, we walked together in silence for only a few minutes. I slowed down, and allowed Faith to walk by my side once more. I spoke first, asking the probing question that was on my mind.
"Faith, why did you do it?"
"You mean, why did I carry out the mission?"
"I guess..." She slowed to a stop, an expression of remorse on her face. "At first, I realized that if the mission failed, the forest world might not be the only one experiencing a loss, and that I might as well accomplish something instead of living here in pointlessness. But along the way, I discovered that there is so much more to fight for here, and the hardships that hideous pastime of mine caused..."
At the last sentence, I suddenly threw my arms around Faith.
"You... You really think that now?"
"After all these years, I do."
I released her from my grip. For a few moments, we looked each other in the eyes. And then an expression of shock was written on her face.
"Where... Where am I going now? I don't want to be a wanderer, an outcast..."
I smiled as I nudged her along the path again.
"I'm taking you home, Faith."
"...I have one? After all my past mistakes and your hatred of me, I have one...?"
"Now you do."
As we started on the path that I knew would drop us off in Deepwood again, a new thought crossed my mind.
"I think you'll like Rubia."
I owe it all to you, Cerulean.
You saved me more than I saved you. I saved your world, and you offered to share it with me. You've shared your home, your friend, and yourself.
And I say that I didn't give up much. Who cares about technology, anyways? Now I have two friends who are more like family, I've been living with a serene state of mind, and I learned to put the past behind me. The past three weeks have been the greatest I have ever experienced.
You haven't lived until you have lived like this. I wish I could tell you that, Engar. Wherever you are...
I had been orphaned at a young age, and Rubia is the mother that I never had, despite us starting off on a bad note. She's beautiful in a way all her own. She's told me her story, and I realized that we both know what it's like to make mistakes. You content me when I miss parts of my old home, heal me when I'm hurt, and continue to love and metaphorically feed me the rest of the time. You physically feed me too, but that's beside the point.
You, Cerulean, have filled the giant gap in my soul that Engar had left behind, and then some. That's really saying something. Nobody else has read my feelings and turned my head towards the light as much as you have. Not even Engar himself...
And the Creator... Oh, the Creator! Is there anyone that you don't have sympathy for, asides from Val? You were the first to give me a second chance. You have wisdom, power and a heart of diamond. That is what makes you amazing.
These thoughts passed through my mind as I was curled up in the former guest bed, drifting off to sleep. For three weeks, I had been living in unabridged happiness. The three of us loved each other in amazing proportions, and the Creator was right. There are some people you just can't be angry at all with.
I had turned the page. It was a new chapter of my life. But it wasn't just another chapter...
It was the greatest so far.
I stuck my slim, brown Lenny head through the bars of my cell. After master Val had been captured, all of his minions were subsequently retrieved by the dust pixies to join the traitor in the dungeons. I stared out in longing.
"What position were you guys in?" I asked the trio in the chamber opposite mine.
"Janitor," the green Zafara mumbled.
"We were guards," a shadow Eyrie explained.
"And we did some undercover," the golden Eyrie added.
A pink Ogrin was patrolling the cells at the time. I was staring at her in jealousy. Why was she on the winning side? I quickly withdrew my head when she slapped it with the flat of her short sword.
"That's for Cerulean."
Author's note (again): W00T!!1! The saga's first trilogy is complete! A shout-out goes to my brother, who encouraged me and also inspired Hill. Thanks to all of you who have stuck with me even through all my occasional mistakes, bizarre technology and strange concepts!