Chapter 6: One's Review
On instant alert, I swerved to face whatever was coming, but could only gape in surprise when my eyes fell upon a girl as young as I. And as similar as I.
Although most of her physique was hidden by vines that hung loosely from the tree beside her, creating an illusion like she was actually the shadow of the tree herself, her hair and eyes gave her away as they were radiating a faint glow of silver which was basically hard to ignore.
Strangely though, for some reason if you do, anyone would related her to one as the creatures from nightmares. But from my point of view, I would likely mistook her as a faerie, which I once believed existed.
"W-Who are..." I stuttered as the girl's hypnotizing silver eyes glared at me, quietly seeking for something inside me. For a strange reason, I held my breath, knowing at the same time that it was unnecessary.
After a scarce moment, she let out a relief sigh, though her features also betrayed her of a vague disappointment.
I composed myself before repeating.
" Who are-"
"You shouldn't be here," she interrupted as soon as I began, somewhat ticking me off with her demanding tone.
I couldn't care less though, yet I wanted to know the reason, I thought as I mentally rolled my eyes.
"It's because this isn't your own consciousness," she shrugged, as if reading my mind.
"I did," her voice reached me as the sun brightened the radiance of the greeneries.
That's why, I reasoned, because it's impossible for humans to read...My eyes widened as I realized what I had failed to notice.
"H-How did you..." I stammered, unbelievably shocked for the sudden understanding.
"I told you, you're not in your own mind," she replied matter-of-factly, finally stepping out from the heavily draped vines and into the clearing. Her hair, silvery as mine, reflecting off the sun's glare, illuminated, as if she was the light herself.
Her lips, twitched in a derisive way, gently implied my situation, as if being skeptical wasn't enough.
"This is my awareness," her captivating eyes shone with mocking amusement, "and you're a subject tested to be compatible as my vessel."
At that, I was speechless.
"Pfft!" I laughed, "I'm sorry, although you seem to be serious, I can hardly believe you." Easing my twitching lips, I pointed out, "I don't believe in strangers, you see, regardless of how good-looking they are," I tried to be as polite as possible.
Raising an eyebrow, the girl crossed her arms before her chest.
"Actually, I'm glad you didn't, though I hoped you did," she said, unimpressed. "But let me tell you something," she said whilst lifting a finger to the sky, "the moment you'd started to believe the stranger, he betrayed you," her unwaveringly cold eyes met mine, and they seemed to be telling the truth, which made me doubt.
"Him? But...I thought it was an illusion," I wanted to argue, however, finding him capable of doing so, the only thought occurred was avoid agreeing with her.
"The whole dimension is an illusion," she nodded.
Then I was confused. I could tell that my face was so scrunched up together that I didn't need to explain myself.
"Well, at least that is what Ilrae wanted you to think..." she shrugged, a cunning smile tugged at her lips. Obviously, she was having fun in leaving gaps between questions.
"What is this having to do with Ilrae?" I mumbled, then suddenly realizing that my first questions hadn't even been answered, my voice rose as I demanded, "And who are you anyway?" Angered slowly boiling as I held in impatience.
Her glance turned cold in an instant, ceasing the anger heating within me.
"You will know me soon enough, fake," she replied cooly, a swift wave of her hand immediately changed the scenery of our surrounding.
As if we're the heart of a tornado, our surroundings spiralled around us, but also at the same time, slowly losing it's ever greenness like colours peeling away, plunging us into darkness.
However, unlike the usual pitch black that I'd experienced during lights out or being alone in the dark, this blackness reminded me of deep murky waters. Like, instead of being in a dark closed-up room, we were actually in black inky waters, only that it didn't feel suffocating and uncomfortable. In fact, I felt sort of...light, like my burdens were lifted and my worries dissipated.
But of course, this must be a temporary effect, and her wording of me as "fake" still had me wondering.
"You have a strong will," a voice whispered into my ear. Startled, I turn around, quick enough to barely catch a glimpse of a mysterious smile hovering right beside me.
"Where're you looking at?" her voice called out from the opposite. Turning back, I found her standing-or should I say, floating-a few reaches away in front of me.
"But I thought you're..." my voice failed me as I looked to and fro from the space to her present position, too confused to find the right word.
Frowning, she said with her head aslant, "Yeah? What's wrong with me?"
A few seconds of silent considering, I smiled back, "Nothing."
Although it could be my hallucination, I made sure to remember this occurrence so as to be able to rethink carefully when I got back.
"Where are we anyway?" I asked as I glanced around, only to see more darkness reaching endlessly around us. But something did captured my interest, for beneath our feet was a flat circle surface with the size of a pond.
"How many times do I have to tell you? Or do you have a memory problem otherwise?" she glared at me disdainfully, her arms still crossed before her chest.
"Aside that, aren't you the one demanding for answers?" she said with a humph, then shifted her eyes downward whilst signaling me to do the same by the pointing her finger.
Naturally, I followed, and as soon as my eyes casted upon it, the surface began to glow a shade of blue, like how water glowed in moonlight. However, as calmed as it looked, ripples were yet formed when some lights appeared from inside the surface, small and faint like the sparks of fireflies.
"What is this?" I asked, noticing that I sounded in awe, though I silently admitted that I was surprised to see such a magnificent yet eccentric sight.
"These are the events after you fainted," she stated, her face solemn under the radiance of the light, emphasized by her downcast eyes.
I could hardly believed when I heard the word "fainted". Still I had to remained calm for the truth would soon be revealing right in front my eyes. Thus, as shocked as I was, I watched with contained emotions throughout the flashbacks as images slowly formed when the ripples pacified.
"Claire!" Amethyst alarmed voice rang out. Seconds later, her worried face was shown from the surface. It was a strange experience as to see myself from another person's point of view, like I was merely a third party looking at other's experiences.
"Where does the sound comes from" I asked, purely out of curiosity, though I had already known that nothing in here made any sense. Even I was seeing myself through some weird-mirror-like thing and natural surroundings peeled away into darkness; could anything made more sense than these?
As if sharing the same thought as I, she glared at me impatiently. "Why does it even care now? Clearly that's not the point, right?" she complained, shushing me shortly afterward.
Shrugging, I returned to watch the scene. Mysteriously, it seemed to have paused whenever we're in conversation, and automatically played itself when attention was paid. I made sure to clamp my mouth shut the second time.
Amethyst quickly leaned forward and grabbed hold of me from the side, barely preventing my body to hit the ground. Her eyes flashed an angry violet.
"What have you done to her!"
Amidst the chaos and confusion, her voice was strong and clear. Her eyes might shown contained anger, yet her composure was calm and ready.
"I've done nothing out of my own will," as steady as Amethyst, he replied in a grievous tone, "You will find out soon enough."
Before Amethyst could sort out what he meant, the clouded sky rumbled and the ground shook. So hard that both of them have to cling to each other to stand firm, though Amethyst preferred to stay low on the ground for the fainted girl's safety whom she had guaranteed to protect. The girl who shared the same looks as her master.
"Claire," she shook her lightly, eyes staring closely for any signs of awaking. Yet sorrowfully, the girl's eye lids were tightly shut otherwise, as if fallen under the curse of a deep slumber. Not even the flashing lights that ripped across the sky, letting out thunderous roars seconds later before vanishing, nor the boisterously grumbling ground followed by its violent quake, could free her from the spell.
Apparently, she could do nothing to break the spell herself in the meantime. And she took no further thought of it as she sensed a sudden change in the air.
A cloud of black mist began to appear in front of them, forcefully manipulating the hot air around it and slowly forming a black void.
The void grew larger, like a beast widening its mouth to consume the prey before it. But in their case, the void only widened to show the one inside it. The one who could come and go as he please from that disrupted world.
Upon seeing his face, Ilrae stepped forward, his eyes a mixture of joy and agony.
Before he could finish, the prince silenced him with a mildly raised hand. The mist dissolved behind him as he walked out of it, directly facing the confused but wary Amethyst.
"I never knew you would be foolish enough to fall into my trap, brother?" The prince spoke in a monotone, turning his gaze towards the kneeling Amethyst. Almost instantly, a distinct amusement glowed in his eyes.
"I never did!" Ilrae immediately retorted, angered by the offense his brother always had of him. Though as if realizing something, he regretted it. Anguish washed over his face before he could hide it by looking away. His head hung low, drooping down his hair to obscure his trepidation from Amethyst.
"Oh, of course you wouldn't," the prince clapped his hands cynically, his attention fully attracted by the sleeping girl.
"I believe my brother is clever to know not to betray me for the second time...yes?" he raised an eyebrow, glancing slyly at Amethyst as he waited for the answer. A sinister grin lightly tugged at his lips.
Sensing danger, Amethyst could only glare at the closing prince. Though her hands were temporarily full, her mind calculated quickly for a way out. But seconds later, a resolution that she couldn't make herself to like came to her. It was to defeat both of the princes...with her hands free of Claire.
Amethyst gave out an insignificant shudder, for she had a premonition that once Claire was out of her grasps, it would mean completely losing her. And she was afraid of that outcome. Hoping for a sign of support, she turned to Ilrae, only to discover that he was unusually quiet, and something about his aura sent apprehension up her spine.
Something about Ilrae was off. And Amethyst dreaded it.
For a long moment, Ilrae finally spoke.
"It's ok, Ilrae. You don't have to feel guilty about it," yet again, his speech was interrupted. But the one who did it felt no shame of doing so, for deep down, he never truly cared about his brethren. Let alone respecting him.
Removing his gloves, he closed on Amethyst, "You have done your best to bring them this far, after all." His grin developed into an evil laugh.
Gazing at the gradually growing silhouette, Amethyst could feel nothing but fear. Genuinely, Ilrae's betrayal wasn't a surprise. In fact, she was expecting it, but the chances of it happening now is too soon..
With clenching teeth, Amethyst decided to fight. Her arms tightened around Claire for one last time before letting her slipped gently to the ground. She unfastened her weapon, a dagger that gleamed an unholy crimson under the dark sky, as she rose calmly to face them.
"I don't know what's going on between the two of you," Amethyst tried to contain her fury," but I hope you didn't forget that I'm still capable of fighting." Her lips formed an intimidating smile.
Then, in a fraction of a second, she disappeared, allowing them a full view of the barren ground ahead.
Ilrae let out an indistinct gasp, but Isroe was as calm as ever. He was about to snort at his brother's amateurish reaction as a growing sense of death instantaneously emerge on his left.
With a slight shift of angle, a vague silver line swung to his left side was instantly confronted by the sword he carried on his right. His eyes didn't once blinked as the piercing sound of crying metals clashed inches before his ear.
Both leaping away to keep distance, Amethyst disappeared again before them. Not a motion was made as both of the princes anticipated for another attack.
The acidic stench hung in the air like the beating of their hearts-well, at least for Ilrae's. Instead, Isroe looked as he was undisturbed, ears perked and senses all raised to the peak.