Pain, Comfort, Understanding
Chapter Three: Pain Comfort, Understanding
When morning came, Cynder found herself being shaken awake by Sonic Boom. She stirred, not wanting to get up, but then her eyes opened wide when she realized what the day would be including.
“Hey, Cynder...” Sonic Boom’s voice said.
“I’m getting up!” Cynder told her. “I’m sorry, but I’m not feeling like I want to get up right now. Especially after last night. Thanks for helping me then, though. You definitely knew what to do.”
“I know,” Sonic Boom said. “I’ve had some sort of experience. But it’s easier with a friend.”
“I’m surprised I’m your friend.”
“I’ve never had anyone tell me that before. I’m not used to the luxury of having friends. It’s a hard and dark backstory to listen to, so I’m not going there for now.”
“I understand. So you’re going with who?”
“Hex and Whirlwind. I wonder who Whirlwind is.”
“She’s who I’m in the running with to become the leader of the Air Element. Of course, I think you were told she’s a Hybrid. She’s really nice, but she doesn’t always take to strangers easily. Just be careful when you’re around her. Nobody knows her true powers but Eon. At least, not for right now,” Sonic Boom explained. “But Hex, as you said last night, is someone you’re friends with already, I believe. Am I correct?”
“Sort of,” Cynder said. “She just understands me well, like you do.”
“Well, I understand a lot of people. You’re someone who I know I can trust, because you have that kind of look. You’re someone who I see and automatically have a sister-like relationship with.”
Cynder didn’t completely understand what was being said. But she decided to take it. It was something that she knew was a compliment, but she was still not as understanding as she wanted.
Once she’d put the bracers and choker on, Cynder turned to Sonic Boom and said, “Let’s go.”
They flew off and arrived at the Core, where the many other Skylanders were waiting for their instructions.
“Good morning,” Spyro greeted when he saw them. “How’s it going with you both?”
“It’s going pretty good,” Cynder told him. “I’m still a little scared about going into the Underworld, but I’ll do my best to not keep all the fear in me.”
“So I hear you’re going with me,” came a voice from behind them. Cynder turned around to see a light-blue Dragoness with a Unicorn-like horn in the middle of her forehead. But then Cynder remembered what she’d been told, and realized it was Whirlwind.
“Yes,” Cynder said. “I’m Cynder.”
“I know. It’s nice to meet you. Hopefully Hex won’t be as weird as she seems. But ah well, it doesn’t matter. I just can’t wait to be the captain for the Air Element!” Whirlwind said this all quickly and in a way that made Cynder a little angry. The way she was speaking about Hex made her want to tell her how wrong she was.
The crowd hushed up as Eon suddenly appeared and stood in front of the Core.
“Good morning, my friends!” he announced to them all. “It is good to see your faces once more! Now, before I make my way on to where you shall be going and who you shall be going with, let me just say to the new recruits, this must be done to ensure you are ready to become a Skylander! Anyway, it is now that I go on to which Skylanders will be with whom, and where they shall be going. First, we have Spyro, who will be going with Wrecking Ball and Sunburn. You three shall go to Leviathan Lagoon. Meet me later to know what you shall do there.” After Eon had done this to all the other Skylanders, it came to Cynder, Whirlwind and Hex. “And now for you three. You will be joining one another in the Underworld. Be warned. It is dark and scary down there, and if you are not careful, something might happen. We don’t want it to, and that is why I am warning you.”
“What will we be doing down there?” Hex asked.
“Taking care of some skeletons that have been messing around,” Eon explained. “I wish you three the best of luck, and I hope to see you very soon!”
As he left, Cynder looked around for Spyro. He was starting on his way to the docks to leave.
“Hey Spyro!” she called. “Hold on a minute!”
He turned around and saw her coming. “What is it?” he asked.
“I’m sorry about what I said last night,” she said. “I should have been more careful with what I said.”
“Don’t worry, I forgive you,” he told her. “Be safe.”
And then he went to the docks and left. Cynder followed Hex and Whirlwind down to the beach. They found the entrance to the Underworld. Seeing the skull on the two doors, Cynder recoiled.
Hex looked over to her. “Don’t worry,” she said. “It’ll all be fine.”
“What are you talking about?” Whirlwind asked.
“Nothing,” Cynder told her.
When the doors opened, Cynder stared into the darkness. She felt the prickles of fear throughout her body. She noticed it was a little cold.
“Is there a way it can get lighter in here? I can’t see anything!” Whirlwind exclaimed impatiently.
“Hush,” Hex said softly. “If you’re not careful, you might wake the Undead. And just to let you know, not all of them are friendly. I know that from experience. And yes, I can get light in here. Do not worry.”
In Hex’s palm floated an orb. It glowed violet.
“What is that?” Cynder asked.
“It is called a Phantom Orb,” Hex said. “It is my primary attack. I only use it for light or if I am being attacked, just so you know. Do not be alarmed.”
“Alarmed of what?” Whirlwind said. “It’s not like you’re powerful or anything.”
“Can you stop being a jerk right now?” Cynder snapped. “Hex is the nicest Skylander I’ve met other than Spyro, and if you’re going to keep doing this crap, don’t be surprised if someone kills you for it!”
Whirlwind saw something in Cynder’s blue eyes, something that scared her a small amount. She put it behind her, though, and continued on through the tunnel. She yearned for more light, and the Phantom Orb didn’t help as much as she’d believed it would.
“Fine,” Whirlwind said. “I guess it’s best we don’t talk for now. If I say anything else, you might as well become a huge monster and kill me yourself!”
Cynder stopped in her tracks for a minute. Whirlwind’s words brought back sudden memories of when she’d been corrupted. It wasn’t the most clear, but she could see Spyro snarling at her.
She shook her head and realized that a small amount of time had passed. Both Hex and Whirlwind were staring at her. Hex was doing so with concern, while Whirlwind with annoyance.
“Cynder, what’s wrong?” Hex asked.
“Nothing,” Cynder said. “Sorry about that. Something came into my mind, and when I start thinking, I sometimes stop walking. It’s weird, I know, but it happens.”
“That is weird,” Whirlwind said. “Please stay away from me until that’s all over.”
Cynder sighed and went over to Hex. As they walked, they found themselves by two tunnels. Cynder, Hex, and Whirlwind looked at each other.
“Where should we go?” Cynder asked.
“I don’t know, don’t ask me!” Whirlwind snapped.
“We should go together for now,” Hex said. “We’re supposed to be doing this together, not by oneself. We’re all going down the right tunnel.”
“Alright.” Cynder followed, although she was still scared. She didn’t know exactly what creatures were down there.
And if there were, did they want to hurt them?
Soon she saw some sort of light in front of her, but Cynder didn’t know what the light was coming from.
“What is that?” she whispered.
“I’m not sure,” Hex replied. “Be careful, the both of you. I know you’re powerful, Cynder, but just make sure you’re careful around here. Got it?”
Cynder nodded. But Whirlwind just stared at Hex in a funny way.
“How do you know she’s powerful? You just met her!” she protested.
“It doesn’t matter,” Hex told her. “It’s just a guess.”
Whirlwind felt they were hiding something from her. But she decided to continue on with them.
When they exited the tunnel they found the whole cavern lit by torches. Cynder was mesmerized by the flickering flames for some reason.
“What is this?” she asked out loud.
“None of you should be here,” came a voice.
Cynder looked over into a corner and saw a strange-looking creature. She had seen its kind before, but she couldn’t remember where it had been. But now she realized that she, Hex and Whirlwind had stumbled upon something dangerous.
“What are you?” Whirlwind exclaimed.
Cynder looked over the creature and saw that he resembled Hex a little, but their skin was almost pure black. Their eyes were either gray or blue.
“We are Dark Elves,” said the same one who’d first spoke. He looked them all over, and when he looked Cynder over, he smiled. “I was wondering when we’d find you, little one. It’s been a while since I last saw you.”
“What are you talking about?” Cynder asked. She was hoping her secret wouldn’t be revealed right then and there. She had to lie. “You must be mistaken.”
“Indeed, your appearance has changed, but—”
“Hey!” Hex yelled. She held a Phantom Orb in her palm. “Pick on somebody else!” She threw it at the Dark Elf, who dodged, but the attack caused an explosion that knocked some of the soldiers on their backs.
Cynder didn’t know what to do. She saw one of the soldiers coming at her, but she used her Shadow Dash to get out of the way. With his back now turned to her, she released her Electricity. It was a dark violet color that blazed with power.
When the soldier felt the pain, they realized it was too late, and they fell to the ground, defeated.
Hex was able to hold off the enemies, as well, but Whirlwind was struggling. And just as she thought it couldn’t get any worse, Whirlwind realized she was wrong.
“Release the skeletons!” roared one of the Dark Elves.
What seemed like a whole army of skeletons appeared out of nowhere. Cynder realized they had to be taken down, and quickly. It was the only way to get out of there.
Her Electricity turned many of them easily to ashes. As one of them raised a sword to stab her, she used the Shadow Dash and appeared behind the skeleton. Soon it fell to the ground, her Electricity having taken the last bit of life from it.
“Cynder, we need to get out of here!” Hex yelled to her. “There are too many!”
But Cynder didn’t say anything back. She looked over to Hex and saw she was struggling, but not too badly. Her Phantom Orbs took the skeleton army down well. But it was Whirlwind who had the worst trouble.
Her attacks only blew the skeletons around, but otherwise did nothing. She tried another attack, and then another, but no matter what she did, none of her attacks succeeded in doing much.
“Hold on, Whirlwind!” Cynder said to her. “I’m coming!”
Whirlwind looked over to her with a strange expression.
But before she could say something, one of the skeletons used a stone club to strike her in the side.
Feeling one of her ribs break, Whirlwind groaned in pain. She could barely take it. It hurt so much. She began to lose consciousness, which Cynder and Hex saw. They knew they needed to keep her safe.
Whirlwind fell to the ground, unconscious. Cynder knew she needed to help her, even though it seemed Whirlwind didn’t trust her at all.
“This is enough!” Cynder yelled. “Hex, you might want to get back!”
Hex did so, and Cynder, feeling her power course through her body, closed her eyes for a minute, and when she opened them, a large blast of Shadow Fire incinerated all the skeletons around them.
Panting due to the amount of strength the attack had taken, Cynder looked around to see Hex staring at her. The Dark Elves were still there.
“I should have guessed it earlier,” one of them said. “So, you’ve returned as a small little freak. You went from being the Terror of the Skies to being a small little Dragoness with feelings! How…unsatisfactory.”
“Leave,” Cynder told him. “Before I kill you!”
“You won’t kill me,” he said. “You need to come with me. Someone is waiting for you, little one.”
Cynder growled. It didn’t sound normal at all. It seemed to belong to a monster. This scared the Dark Elves.
“Well, I think you’ve proven your point finally,” the main Dark Elf said. “I think we’ll be going for now. But remember, your enemies are close by.”
He laughed, and in a blast of dark light, he and the other Dark Elves were gone. Cynder hoped she never saw any of them again.
“I’m sorry you had to see that, Hex,” Cynder said as she went over to her. “It was hard. When I saw Whirlwind get injured like that, I had to do something.”
“I understand, Cynder,” Hex assured her. “I understand you better than maybe most do. And I will keep your secret safe.” She went to where Whirlwind lay. “We need to get her out of here. None of us are safe, not so long as these beasts are around. Those Dark Elves seemed familiar to me, though. But I can’t place it.”
As Cynder stared at Whirlwind’s unconscious body, she felt tears rising in her eyes. She didn’t understand why. It was unlike any other feeling she’d ever experienced, and now here it was. It felt strange. But she shook it off and looked up at Hex.
“Can you pick her up, or should I carry her?” Cynder asked.
“I’ll carry her,” Hex told her. “Are you alright? You seem to be crying right now. Why is that?”
“I’m not sure,” Cynder said. “Let’s just get out of here. I can’t take this much anymore. Come on.”
Hex hurried to the exit. Cynder hurried as well, hoping to get out of the Underworld soon. She’d had enough, and Hex felt the same exact way
As the gates to the Underworld opened, they saw the first rays of sunshine, and that made Cynder feel better. It was a feeling she’d only felt once before. But she couldn’t remember where that feeling had come from. And she didn’t know if she wanted to remember.
Spyro had just returned from his adventure with Sunburn and Wrecking Ball when he saw some commotion over by the healing tent. He wondered what was going on.
As he made his way over, he found Cynder and Hex there. Cynder was crying, the tears dripping off her face and onto the ground. Hex floated there without emotion.
Looking on the bed, Spyro saw Whirlwind laying there.
“What happened?” he asked. Cynder jumped when she heard his voice, not knowing he was there.
“While we were down there, we had to fight this army of skeletons, and during it all, Whirlwind couldn’t get them well enough and was injured. I think she’ll recover, but I’m not sure,” Hex explained.
Spyro nodded and looked to Cynder.
“Are you okay?” he asked her.
“It’s all my fault,” she said to him. “I was there, and I could have stopped this from happening. But instead, I had to stand and watch her be injured. I blame myself for it all. I’m nothing because of this. I don’t even trust myself anymore.”
“Cynder, don’t say that!” Spyro told her. “You shouldn’t say that. None of this was your fault! You must have been busy fighting the skeletons. Was she, Hex?”
Hex nodded. “Unfortunately, yes. It wasn’t your fault, Cynder. It just happened at a bad time. None of the fault is on you. Please, don’t blame yourself.”
Cynder wasn’t listening. She realized her emotions seemed to be stronger than she wanted. She believed that it had to do with the fact her corruption had put all those emotions back. And now they were coming out stronger than they were supposed to.
It was something she didn’t want, but she had no control over it at the moment, and decided it was best she dealt with it until it was under control.
“I hope no one blames me,” Cynder said softly.
“Hey, no one will,” Sunburn assured her. “You don’t seem to have done anything wrong. We just need to keep looking up, not down. I know this might have been harder on you, but it’s okay. You’ve got friends here to help you, okay?”
“Well, I don’t know what you mean by friends. I’m definitely not one of them,” Wrecking Ball said, and then left them. “See you guys later!” he called back to Sunburn and Spyro. He was still staring at Cynder in a strange way, and Cynder wasn’t surprised.
Cali appeared in the tent. “What happened here?” she asked. “Did something happen to you guys in the Underworld?”
“Yes,” Hex said. “While we were down there, we confronted this group of Dark Elves. They seemed to be doing some sort of mission. But before we could bring any of them back here, we only succeeded in knocking some of them down. They escaped, though. But before they did escape, they called forward an army of skeletons. Cynder and I were able to defeat them easily, but Whirlwind wasn’t so lucky. One of the skeletons hit her, and they broke a rib. She went unconscious from the pain.”
“It’s all my fault,” Cynder said again. “I can’t do this anymore. I want to be away from everyone now.”
She ran off, leaving Spyro to worry for her. He couldn’t believe how much her feelings were coming. He guessed her release from the corruption had caused her emotions to overflow.
“Poor Cynder,” Sunburn said. “I know that feeling, to blame yourself for everything. I did it when I was younger, before I came here, but—”
“She needs to be alone for a little,” Spyro said. “I know that feeling as well, but out of us all, I’m the one who understands her best. I’ll talk to her later, but for now, let’s just wait and see.”
At the same time Sonic Boom was standing by the Core of Light. She had just returned from her mission.
Out of all the things she knew she could do, two main ones came to her mind. One of them had to do with Sunburn, and the other had to do with Cynder.
She felt there was something Cynder had not told her just yet, but she did not care. She felt that she had already become great friends with her. She could tell Cynder had gone through a hard past and wanted to help her through it.
As if on cue, she saw the Black Dragoness walking towards the cliffs looking over the beach.
“Hey Cynder!” Sonic Boom greeted. She saw something was bothering her all of a sudden. She made her way over to her, having to keep her pace up, as Cynder was walking fast despite her limp. When Cynder had finally gotten to the cliffs, Sonic Boom stopped behind her. “Hey, what’s wrong?” she asked.
“It’s nothing,” Cynder told her. “I’m just not in the best mood.”
“Does it have to do with the Underworld?”
“Yes. But I wasn’t scared.” Cynder turned to her, and Sonic Boom saw tears streaming down her face.
“What is it?” Sonic Boom asked. “Why are you crying?”
“Whirlwind was hurt while we were fighting this army of skeletons. While Hex and I were able to get them well, her attacks weren’t good enough, and one of her ribs broke. I could have stopped that from happening, and now I blame myself for it all. I’m so ashamed at what I did, and of course, what I’ve done in the past.”
Sonic Boom didn’t understand what she meant by what she’d done in the past, but realized Cynder needed someone to support her.
“Cynder, I need to help you,” Sonic Boom told her. “I want to help you.”
“How can you want to help me? You should hate me! Just like everyone else does! I only know one person who doesn’t hate me, and that’s Spyro! But you’re not him! I just want to be left alone!”
Sonic Boom touched her shoulder, but Cynder jerked it away.
“Why do you feel everyone should hate you, Cynder?” Sonic Boom asked. “I’m just asking. After I’m done with this, I’ll walk away. But please answer my question.”
Cynder sighed and realized Sonic Boom would not stop asking her until she finally gave into it.
“Because of my past,” Cynder replied. “I just don’t want to go into everything. It’s dark and depressing.”
Sonic Boom understood the last part. “Okay, then I won’t ask that. Cynder, you shouldn’t blame yourself. From what you told me, it seems it was just bad timing. You were fighting the skeletons, and you didn’t see it coming. You don’t need to keep blaming yourself for these things.” She came closer to Cynder and hugged her. Cynder felt weird.
“What are you doing?” Cynder asked her.
“I’m trying to comfort you, Cynder,” Sonic Boom told her. “What, have you never had someone do this for you before?”
“No, never,” Cynder admitted. “But I can see you’re trying to be nice to me, and for that I thank you. So far, only you, Spyro, Hex, Sunburn, Cali, and Eon have been friendly towards me.”
“Well, hopefully more will become your friends,” Sonic Boom said. “I want them to, because I can already tell that you’re going to be someone really special. And when they see that, they’ll understand you.”
“I hope so.”
Silence fell over them. But then Cynder saw Spyro and Sunburn coming towards them. “What’s going on?” Cynder asked. “Is Whirlwind okay? Will she be okay?”
“She will, fortunately,” Spyro told her. “Are you okay?”
“Yes,” Cynder answered. “Sonic Boom’s helped me through it. I feel better because of her. But I still don’t know what I’m to do. Today was just terrible. I don’t know if I can keep going through this.”
“I’m sorry you had that kind of experience,” Spyro said. “We’ll talk to Eon about this, but for now I want to ask you what you and Hex saw down there.”
Cynder took a deep breath, released it, and started explaining.
“We found this group of Dark Elves. One of them looked so familiar to me, but I couldn’t place it. They recognized me, though. But before they could say why they recognized me out loud, Hex stopped them and we started attacking. After a short fight, they summoned the army of skeletons. We fought them as well as we could, but Whirlwind wasn’t so good when it came to that. While Hex and I took the skeletons out, she was injured. The Dark Elves escaped, though, and after the skeletons were gone, we came back here. I’m not sure what they were doing down there, but one of them told me no one was supposed to be there. That’s what scared me. And now, because I got scared, Whirlwind was hurt.”
“How did the Dark Elves summon the army of skeletons?” Sonic Boom asked Spyro. “I have never heard of such a thing happening. Skeletons are barely ever wanting to be controlled by others. That’s why only a few trust us. That includes Ghost Roaster, and now Chop Chop, but still, it makes no sense.”
“I’m not sure,” Spyro answered her. “I want to know. That’s why we need to be ready for what’s coming. I believe Eon shouldn’t have sent Cynder, Hex and Whirlwind down there today. I know I sound crazy to question him, but Cynder didn’t deserve it. After all, she only got here yesterday. She needed more sleep.”
“It seems like you’re only focusing on Cynder right now,” Sunburn observed. Why?”
“Because if she’d been able to wait a little longer before going down there, maybe she could’ve kept a closer eye on Whirlwind.” He looked to Cynder. “I don’t blame you for this, Cynder. You did nothing wrong, so please don’t blame yourself. Do you understand me?”
“I do,” Cynder said. “I’m just confused. I’m not sure about many things, but this is one of them that’s pained me a whole heck of a lot.”
“That’s how life is sometimes, Cyn,” Sonic Boom told her. “I know it’s unfortunate, but it’s true.”
“Please don’t call me ‘Cyn,’” Cynder said. “I just don’t like being called that. I’m sorry if that’s—”
“Oh no, that’s fine,” Sonic Boom told her. “I should’ve been more careful when I said that.”
Cynder smiled a little, something Spyro had wanted to see for a while. It made him feel better.
“Cynder, is there anything more we can help you with?” Sunburn asked her.
“I think I’m just going back to the treehouse with Sonic Boom,” she said. “I’m tired and I need sleep.”
“Then follow me,” Sonic Boom told her.
As Cynder left, Spyro believed she smiled at him, although he didn’t get the best look, and when he looked again, she wasn’t smiling.
“I feel bad for Cynder,” Sunburn admitted to Spyro. “I wish she didn’t blame herself for what happened to Whirlwind. It really wasn’t her fault.”
“I know,” Spyro agreed. “It’s just how everything is, Sunburn. Sometimes we don’t understand how life works. We just need to live it.”
Meanwhile Sonic Boom and Cynder made their way to the treehouse. Sonic Boom draped a wing over Cynder.
“Thank you for being my friend,” Cynder said. “You’re one of the few who think of me as one.”
“Well, I’m surprised not that many are being friendly towards you. You seem fine to me,” Sonic Boom said. “It seems you’re just suffering from blaming yourself. It’s been proven there are problems with doing that, you know.”
“I never knew that.”
“Well, now you know. That’s why it’s good you have me as a friend. I can help you.” She smiled at Cynder. “I’ll do my best to help you when you become a Skylander, and of course, even before that.”
They kept walking until they were under the balcony of the treehouse. Both of them opened their wings and flew up to the top. Cynder got on to her bed and sighed.
“I really could use some sleep,” she said.
“I don’t blame you,” Sonic Boom admitted. “My mission wasn’t the best. I didn’t mind those I went with, but it could have been a whole lot better. It seems like neither of us had the best day.”
Cynder smiled a little. “I feel understood when I’m around you,” she told her. “You, Hex, Sunburn, and Spyro. I understand why when it comes to Spyro, and a little when it comes to Hex. But I’m not the most sure when it comes to you and Sunburn. Know what I mean?”
“Of course. You seem to have known Spyro for a little when you came, so it makes a lot of sense.”
“Well, we kind of went our separate ways. The last time I saw him before he came and got me was when I was recovering from this fight I wasn’t even supposed to be a part of.” Cynder realized she was about to give away her past if she didn’t stop talking. She decided to keep the conversation going by lying about it. “I was in Shattered Island, and I saw Spyro there. I hadn’t known him just yet. A fight broke out, and I got put into it somehow. I ended up a little beaten, but Spyro got some doctors to look me over. We talked a little in the days that followed and became well acquainted. But then he left, and it was for a while. And then he found me again.”
Sonic Boom felt as if Cynder was holding something back, but thought she was doing it for a reason, and allowed herself to believe it.
Cynder lay down, put her head on the pillow, and looked to Sonic Boom. “Thank you for being my friend,” she said.
“No problem,” Sonic Boom told her.
Cynder smiled a little, closed her eyes, and went off to sleep.