The Trial of Her Mind: Part Five
"WHAT THE--" she began to scream.
I laughed and did the same spell on myself. "Invisibility. We can escape this way without that thing knowing – that is, if you can shut your trap for once." I couldn't see her, but I could tell that she was glaring at me. "Now, come on. Follow me."
"I don't know where you are," she grumped.
"Well, then, let's do a very quiet game of 'Lilian Fairweather'. But keep your eyes open, even though it really won't matter. Now come on. I'll start." We began flying above the river, me in the front. "Lilian."
"Fairweather." The voice was close behind me, so close I seriously could feel her breath on my ankle.
"Geez, lady, have you ever heard of personal space?"
"Well, it's not MY fault that I can't see you. Why don't I just, like, grab onto your foot or something?"
"Good luck finding it," I said hopefully. To my dismay, her warm fingers were able to latch onto my sandal, and it ruined all hopes of me being able to ditch her, unless I whirled around and tried to hit her until she let go. As you can imagine, I wasn't considering that one of my most sensible options, so I dismissed the idea, let out a deep breath, and tried to ignore the fact that life was getting a bit more difficult with every stroke of my wings.
"Your foot is soooo cold." After a few minutes of silent and frightening flying, that was probably the least expected thing I could have heard.
I turned around to give her a questioning look, but quickly remembered that she couldn't see my face, let alone know where it was. Instead, I told her that I was rolling my eyes so she would know just how dumb that comment was.
"Well," she whined in a very annoying voice, "It IS."
"Oh no," I retorted, "The world is ending!" Instantly, I felt a sickening pit in my stomach, really taking in my words. I couldn't be sure if the real world actually was ending, so I hurriedly added, "Sarcasm. Gotta love it."
"But I hate it," she snorted.
I sighed heavily and did a quick mid-air cartwheel in an effort to try and shake her off. Instead, the grip around my ankle grew tighter.
"HEY!" snapped the infuriated Beck. "What was that for?!"
Deliberately ignoring her, I tried to keep gliding throughout the sky but was failing, due to the fact that my stomach was roaring as loud as the monster had. I said, "I have two things to say."
"A, we should find some food. B, I didn't see anything the first night I was here; how did that... thing find us, and most importantly, where did it come from?"
"I can answer the first comment, but how do you expect me to know anything about that creep? What do I look like, a scientist?"
"You look invisible to me right now," I quipped, but I got no laughter in response. I sighed again. "Whatever. You know, if we're going to have to work together, you could at least laugh at my jokes."
"Ha ha, so hilarious," she said in an uninterested voice that reminded me of that secretary. "Well, let's land and try to find something edible. I can hear your stomach, but then again, who can't? It sounds like a volcano."
"You'd think that the people outside of my mind could hear it," I agreed. "Speaking of which, did anybody say anything about how I'm, you know, technically dead? Oh, and by the way, scratch my foot, would you? I have an itch."
"Hmm." I could tell that she was trying to remember what happened. "Well, your friends and your mom and the Queen seemed pretty upset. Even that evil Kacheek – I still have a grudge against him – but I think he had to go visit a relative or something, so I didn't see him for very long. But yeah, they were pretty sad, I think. Some rainbow Faellie kept yelling 'I DEMAND JUSTICE, YOU FIEND!' and I was on the verge of duct-taping his mouth closed."
"Well, that sure sounds like Prism. Hey, the spell's wearing off. We should probably land." I stared down at my semi-translucent hands, which were becoming more visible by the second. Since Beck could probably already see me, I was able to drop to the ground without any fear – fear? I meant luck – of losing her. As soon as my feet touched the grass, I set about to look for more Grondik Roots, but I couldn't find any, no matter how many weed-looking things I pulled up.
You might think I'm a wimp for being so hungry after a day, and are probably like, 'Oh, yeah, well, actual HEROES go days without food.' But guess what? Those are just the stories; they actually WERE hungry, but you don't really need to know that. Besides, have you even considered that they never went to the bathroom, either?
You probably didn't need to know that as well.
"So," called Beck, who was a distance away from me as she searched for something to eat, "Have you found anything?"
"Nada," I sighed. "Please don't tell me we're going to have to eat grass." THINK, WOMAN, THINK! I told myself, trying to remember anything else from Survival Training. Most of the time in that class, I was either daydreaming or doodling little Spardels in my notebook, so I couldn't recall much. Well, except for the number of times I had gotten in trouble for not paying attention those seven months I was at the Academy (21) and the number of times I wasn't paying attention but had not been caught (48).
I asked Beck if I would be able to wish up another thing, but to my dismay, she glumly informed me that it only worked once every 500 hours and that she wasn't powerful enough to stretch the time. I was too tired to ask how she was able to do a spell that complex in the first place. I tried to go deep within my memory again for lessons in that survival class, and after maybe five minutes, something popped into my head.
"If you can't find anything but weeds," Ms. Lightheart had said, "Look in the trees. There will usually be some type of fruit or nut in there, and if not, then your last resort should be either grass or bark. Your pick."
At that point in the lesson, I raised my hand and asked, "What if we're allergic to pollen or something?" Fortunately, Ms. Lightheart was one of the only teachers that didn't hate me or even dislike me, which was why Survival Training was my haven, even if I didn't pay much attention. So she just laughed and answered that I might want to consider past lessons.
Anyway, I immediately flew up to the treetops and scoured them for anything that we'd be able to eat, but I reported back to my ally that nothing was there except for leaves. My stomach reminded me exactly how desperate I was for food, and I did, indeed, turn to eating those leaves. Please, don't do that. Leaves are disgusting, in fact, they are beyond disgusting. It's like eating a big, waxy, bitter... thing... Actually, I don't know how to describe it, but just don't eat it, for your sake and mine.
I felt somewhat like a vegetarian, sitting there, a branch in my hand, chewing on the vegetation growing on it. Beck refused to eat anything like that, so I was forced to suffer alone, no matter how many times I tried to force-feed her.
Once I was done with my nauseatingly-horrid meal, I deemed it the right time to return to our journey. The sun was setting again, and even though I didn't know what was in the air, Beck said that it was probably much easier to outrun something with our wings than our feet. That was the one of the only things we could agree on.
I wasn't in the mood for talking (shocking, right?) and apparently, Beck wasn't either. That was a good thing, because when I would like silence and am not getting it, I take some not-sensible actions.
Don't believe me? Just ask Prism how that sock I shoved in his mouth tasted after he kept singing, at the top of his lungs, Twisted Roses.
We flew for a long time, keeping our attention on the river below us so we would at least have a sense of direction as to where we were going. The beautiful night sky had come back, and Beck and I even took a few moments to gawk at how pretty it was. Eager to go back to the real world, I eventually tugged her away, and we continued our flight. All that was going through my mind was one single word: PANIC.
I was panicking, as you can tell. Who knew what was happening on Neopia? I could just imagine the Darkest Faerie sitting in a deep purple throne, watching the whole room full of Neopets bow and tremble in her terror-laced glory. Not to mention the fact that all my friends were locked up and being held hostage. In fact, I wasn't even sure if I could free them, because I was doubting that I could get out of here.
"What are you talking about?" Beck said. I blushed; I had been speaking my thoughts aloud. "If you had a vision where she was asking you about something, then, DUH, you're getting out. And you made it through a year in Faeriewings?"
"Seven months," I corrected. "I'm too dumb for college. I'll stick with working at the Battle Shop to pay off my house, not a dorm, thank you. Besides, everyone hated me there."
"I can see why." She smirked. I was considering kicking her, but she quickly added in what I considered to be a genuine, laughing tone, "Just kidding."
We both lapsed into silence and the only thing that we could hear was the quiet hum of our wings. In the distance, I could see the outline of a mountain, or at least thought I could in the blasted darkness. "Do you see anything?"
"It's too dark for me," she mumbled. "I can hardly even see where I'm going." Even though she had conjured up a ball of fire to guide us through the pitch black night, it could only light up so much space, and I constantly had to tell her where I was so she wouldn't get lost. I was beginning to think that another game of 'Lilian Fairweather' was in order.
"I think there's a mountain or something," I called to her. "But I'm not sure. I just wish it was day already, but I'm estimating that it's only about midnight or something close to it. Darn, how am I not tired yet?"
Beck considered this for a moment. "Well, you saw how your magic was enhanced. Maybe your endurance was enhanced with it?" I shrugged in response and she sighed. "At least, that's what I think. But I'm tired. Hungry too, but I still am not going to eat leaves unless it's smothered in raspberry vinaigrette dressing. Understand?"
"... Okay. Now hurry up! I think that mountain is where the river is leading to."
Another couple hours of flying and the sun had risen up enough so that we could see what was in store for us. I was right about there being a mountain, because it was a huge, looming row of jagged teeth that seemed ready to tear the clouds into shreds. In fact, it was so massive that its peak was dusted with snow. But that wasn't what sparked my interest.
"Is that a cave?" I said, squinting. I could have sworn that the river was disappearing into a tunnel carved out in the foundation.
Beck looked, too. "I think so. Let's check it out." She darted towards the entrance and I followed close behind, looking back to make sure that nothing was following us.
It was dark all over again. I had to bump into the cave walls about a dozen times to have a sense of direction as to where I was. There were no torches to light up the channel, but the fire faerie solved that issue by summoning up another ball of flames to show us the way. The calm noise of slowly running water almost made me forget just how close I was to screaming from excitement. The bad kind of excitement, like when you're watching a scary movie and you know something bad is going to happen, but you don't know what.
After several minutes of flying around in the dark, we came to a large stone room that was dimly lit by a sunroof on the ceiling, where all the water was going up in, like a reverse waterfall. The glimmering beams of light sparkled on a jet-black portal. It looked a bit scary, but I instantly knew what it was.
"The way out," I breathed, taking a step towards it. Beck stopped me by placing a hand on my shoulder.
"Wait! You have to go through the trial of your mind, remember? I was the one who wrote it in the dirt, so I should know. And yes, I've been 'stalking' you, if that's what you were going to say, but I prefer the term 'following in a purposeful and discreet manner to see what one is doing'."
"Well, what's the trial?"
She tapped her chin for a moment, then shrugged in defeat. "That... I don't know."
I would have grabbed her by the shoulders and shaken her around like a rag doll if it weren't for the loud, echoing roar that came from the tunnel. I searched for an escape route, but there was none, and the skylight was too narrow for either of us faeries to squeeze through. So we turned around to fight.
The beast came in wild leaps, crashing this way and that, sliding along the smooth, slippery cave floor. It eyed us with its horrific pools of black and began to creep across the room, its back arched in preparation for the deadly spring that would surely end us both.
"Will any magic affect it?" I asked. "Last time it seemed... invincible." I didn't let my gaze wander from the muscles in the creature's legs, searching them for even the slightest twitch to give its attack away.
Beck shook her head. "I don't think it will. The only thing we can do is outwit it until it does something stupid that kills itself off."
"Like what?" I noticed the way it was crawling around and leapt out of the way before the monster could swipe at us as it jumped, pulling Beck with me and out of harm's way. "Have the darkness in its heart devour it?" That happened in a book I read, where the main character had the smallest bit of evil in his heart and then he turned evil and exploded in a flash of white and black. Interesting book, isn't it? I'll have to lend it to you sometime. Too bad I forgot what it's called.
Beck flew up towards the ceiling to avoid being hit, and I did the same. "Who knows?"
The beast screeched in fury and snapped its sharp jaws viciously at us. I stared down at it and kept myself from screaming. Once again, the cogs in my brain spun and reeled around as an idea slowly leaked into my head.
Where the hours turn to minutes... The spell could only be cast every 500 hours. Where the hours turn to minutes... It had been way more than 500 minutes (AKA eight hours and twenty minutes) since my last wish. Mmm, a burger sounds good about now – wait, what?
"I wish that this thing would just go away!" I yelled. Somehow I knew that this was the right thing to say, but I wasn't entirely sure anyway.
Almost instantly, part of the cave collapsed. Boulders and rocky debris blocked the monster out of our sight and against a wall. It was pinned and trapped. It didn't have wings to fly over the pile of rocks. It had been defeated. For now, I thought.
"Hurry, to the portal!" Beck cried, already shoving me towards it. I quickly flew down and leapt at it, but I just went through the other side and face-planted on the cold stone floor.
"It's locked still!" I screamed back, "Come on, seriously!"
She landed to help me. "Here, put a little determination in your jump – DIRA, LOOK!" She spun and pointed at the rock wall. It dissolved into mist and the hideous creature walked out. She clung to me in fear, and as much as I hate to admit it, I latched onto her hand as if it were my lifeline.
Suddenly, the beast smiled with its crooked, mutant beak. "You passed," it murmured. Its (actually, I believe it was a 'he') voice seemed soft, yet it rumbled throughout the cave like thunder. "You have passed the trial of your mind."
"Huh?" Beck's voice was cracking as if she were about to either cry or scream.
He didn't seem scary now; in fact, he seemed more like a friend that I hadn't seen in a long time. "You made it here, with your wits and your teamwork. Truthfully, Dira, that's the best show of intelligence that I've seen you do since the dodgeball In P.E."
"Now what?" I yelped.
He made a coughing noise that I assumed was laughter and nodded at the swirling mass of black. The dark colour of it was replaced with a glow that changed to all the colours of the rainbow. "Go and be ready for whatever fate has laid out for you."
"Who laid out what?" I asked. But it was too late for him to give an answer. I hesitantly shoved my hand through it. A bright light filled the room, and I shielded my eyes with my forearm. Wind whipped around me like a harmless tornado, tossing my hair back and forth. Beck was shouting something, but I didn't understand what she was babbling about.
I still had one more thing to say. "Who are you?" I called over the confusion.
He made that coughing-laughing sound again. "Just call me... a figment of your imagination."
Before I immersed my whole body into the portal, I took one last look back and saw the creature smile.
To be continued...