The room was dank and musty, the single brazier the only light in the chamber. Concealed within the shadows, three of The Keeper's servants stood, waiting for his arrival. His leather boots echoed on the stone floor as he approached the chamber. They held their breath as he entered, his presence sending chills down their would-be spines. “M’lord…” one finally muttered. He glanced at the creature. “What?” he snarled. “I do not have time for silly quarrels.”
“The key has been stolen, M’lord,” the other quickly said, afraid of the wrath that would be brought upon them if he was kept waiting a second longer. He quickly glanced to the intricate wooden box, the velvet that kept the key safe, empty, simply left with a crease from where it once stood. He grabbed it and threw it towards his servants. They cowered as the impact of the wood echoed through the halls. “How!” he shouted, his eyes burning with rage. “We don’t know… The hounds were… but we found this” the other said and handed him a torn piece of striped cloth.
He held the cloth and his eyes softened, he shut his fist and stormed off. “Find her!” he commanded.
Hours passed and finally footsteps forcefully made their way to him, waiting in the dimly lit throne chamber. “A-ha! Finally” he laughed as she entered dressed in a grey knee-length dress, with a nervous look on her face as the dim orange light of the burning braziers flowed over her. “my sweet little thief”
“Why am I being dragged down here?” Alison demanded as the mists who escorted her loosened their grasp on her arms. Pralekai rose from the throne, his gazed fixed on her. “You, my pet are quite cunning” he hissed “Where is it? I know you have it!” he grabbed her chin, his long black nails stained with silver blood pressing into her delicate skin. “Have what?” she hissed.
“My dear, if you want the key you have to earn it!” he snapped.
“I don’t know what you are talking about”
A Golden glimmer caught his eye “What’s this?”
“Nothing” she lied.
“You are a bad liar” he grabbed the golden chain from around her neck. A golden key, worn by time dangled at the end; “If you want the key, you will have to earn it...” She interrupted him “no! You don’t understand!” he wasn’t bothered by what she had to say, he signalled for his mist servants and they grabbed her “This is how we treat our guests who try to cheat. To the chamber with her!” he commanded.
“Pralekai…” she begged, he sighed “What?”
“I’m trying to get out of this place. I know I said I’d come with you but I just can’t stay here anymore. It’s been a year, you promised me I could visit my home but”
“No Alison! I told you that you must earn it. But you have been whimpering like a little fool in the darkness for a year! Now you try to steal this.”
“Why are you making this harder than it is” she shouted in tears “You have no need for the key, you are banished from the human world and I still have family up there, friends I miss and here you are standing between me and my life!”
“You don’t know…”
“Then tell me?” she looked at him with a sweetness one could only deem as love, her eyes were soft and her voice caring. Pralekai sighed “I cry on my own in this dark desolate place, I grow tired of the wailing of the tortured and the fearful forced companionship of these creatures. This is why I am standing here between you and your escape. You willingly came here. You willingly accepted my hand. Now you must live with this consequences!” he explained in fury, a fury Alison never witnessed before but still she stood to her point “I just need the key” she begged “I’ll return, I swear. I surrender, take my all but please help me to escape.”
“Let her go” Pralekai commanded, Alison started believing that she had succeeded in her plea. “Thank you” she said with sweetness. The mist servants loosened their grasp on her, “You’re not going anywhere!” he bellowed, menacingly making his way towards her. She stepped back and tripped over her own feet. Gracefully she landed on the floor, looking up at him, his face engulfed in rage. He grabbed her by the arm and pulled her up “I warned you Alison.”
“You promised me” she cried
“As did you - to be mine”
“I still want to be… I still love you Pralekai”
“You do not know what love is!” he hissed
“I gave up my family for you, I gave up Perry and all of my other friends for you! How dare you say that!” tears were flowing down her cheeks. Pralekai stood at a loss for words, her soft tearing eyes calmed his anger and betrayal as he embraced her “All I wanted was love, all I went searching for was love. Death looks for me because of it…” he whispered in her ear.
“Then you shall die another day, my love.” She placed her soft hand on his rough cheek and kissed his pale lips. They stood there for a moment, locked in the kiss. Suddenly she felt her skin melt away in excruciating pain. The pain drove her to collapse into his arms. He had turned into an undead inferno, burning her as he pressed her against his chest. She screamed in agony, begging for mercy. Pralekai held her as she looked back into his eyes with tears in hers. His face was shrouded in sorrow and anger as he watched her die.
“Pralekai...How could you...” she said as her last breath faded from her body.
“You will die another day, my love.” He whispered. He stood their holding her burnt corpse, not sure what to do with it now. Quickly he decided to keep it as a trophy, like a sort of doll he could reanimate when he grew lonely and kill over and over again. He chained her to the wall and left the chamber completely forgetting about the door she had opened or the key that was used to do so.
The door to the Ethereal Realm of the Kaleidoscope had been left open and soon the consequences would become clear.
Weeks later a sweet voice echoed through the halls of the Kaleidoscope “Alison…?” and it awoke the mourning Pralekai and the creatures within.