Cressela - Twisted

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【 Chapter Thirteen 】

Cressela rolled her eyes at the ravens, darting about like little black acrobats in the foggy air, relentlessly dodging and swooping and cawing and coming far too close for comfort.

“That’s enough. Thank you,” a calm voice spoke from the near distance, the girl walking through the trees with Amber close behind, a small smile on her face as she held a hand out to the ravens. They immediately ceased, landing on the nearest branches and on the ground, one flapping its wings as it lowered down to the girl, landing on her outstretched hand and cocking its head to the side in seeming wonder.

“I don’t know. I thought heroes wore capes here, but I’ve been wrong before...”

“Raelynn,” Cressela interrupted, dusting stray feathers off her clothes. “We need to get through.”

“You want to get through, you mean,” Raelynn corrected her, and the raven perched on her hand fluttered up to her shoulder, feathers’ colours matching Raelynn’s hair. “Cressela I know, but you? - are you bored of life? Want to go by insanity? You do realise who made this place, don’t you? I bet it’s like a zoo for him...”

“I know who made this place,” Amber confirmed, going over to stand by Cressela’s side. “And I know that a lot of you have gone through a lot because of him. I want to stop that.”

“So do I. So do all of us. But it won’t happen,” Raelynn said with a sigh, dismissive. “This is the new free.”

“It’s nowhere near,” Cressela argued. “It’s lunacy.”

“Insanity, if we’re being specific,” Raelynn clarified. “I’m doing this for you more than for me, to be honest. Each level’s harder - like a twisted game - and if, by a dark miracle, you do make it to Insanis... well. He’ll play with you like a pack of dolls.”

“Not if I can help it,” Amber said, a determined edge to her voice. “What’s the point in saying no, Raelynn? We’ve got to keep going. We’re not turning back at any point. We have to keep going because we’re the only ones who will. There is a place for you somewhere. Don’t you want to go back?”

“Of course I do,” Raelynn agreed softly. “What kind of life is this for my poor ravens?”

“Do they know the difference?”

“It’s good to know you’re an educated girl,” Raelynn said with a slight smirk, sarcastic without sounding it. “I’ll tell you a few things, um-”

“Amber. Obscura.”

“-Amber Obscura. You know, ravens are one of the smartest birds in your world and mine. Plan for the future. Remember treatment from others. Solve problems. They can imitate over a hundred voices. Gesture to communicate, live anywhere and eat anything. They’re my family. But families live in a home, and this isn’t a home.”

“So... you’ll let us go?” Cressela questioned, and Raelynn shrugged and nodded.

“I don’t see any point in arguing with you. Obscura here’s stubborn, and so are you. Dream team, huh?”

Amber smiled a little at that. “I think... I think your ravens are amazing.”

Raelynn looked straight at her curiously then, before glancing at the raven on her shoulder. “Then there’s hope for you yet.”

Then she moved a hand to her necklace, tugging at it firmly, and it came undone in her hand, the strange emerald pendant glimmering in the lighting. The raven on her shoulder moved to take the string in its mouth, then flew over to Amber, dropping it in her hand.

“You’ll need it to get to the triplets,” Raelynn told them. “Oh, and if you do survive, could you try to get it back for me? It’s all I had on me when I first came here, and I’m curious to know its meaning.”

Amber nodded with a smile, and Cressela nodded at her too. “Thanks.”

“Where do we go?” Amber asked, and Raelynn turned, pointing to the way she’d been before, past dozens of trees to what looked like a hole in the ground, with a silvery rope coiled about it as a means of getting down. The hole was sealed with electrical energy, buzzing and humming with power, and Cressela sighed.

“Great. Another drop.”

“Well, I could get a conspiracy," Raelynn started, glancing knowingly at Amber as she repeated the word, “of ravens to keep the rope up and steady, and lower it for you. But then I’ll definitely want the necklace back.”

“We’ll get it back to you then,” Amber agreed, and Raelynn nodded, making her way towards the hole, and the ravens followed after her in the air, some hopping at her feet. There was indeed a hole in the ground, a thin electric field protecting its gap, and Amber held up the necklace before getting an idea, and cautiously holding it out and dangling it above the power. It crackled and faltered, before stopping altogether, and Raelynn smiled.

“Oh, good. Thank you,” she said, taking it back from her hand, then looking up and gesturing to the rope.

Immediately, ravens came out from several trees and bushes at all angles, creating a fluttering black pattern in the sky as they swept down to pick up the rope, holding it up above the hole and beating their wings in the sky, peering down at the girls as they tentatively took a hold of the rope from either side. Raelynn nodded to them with a wave, and the ravens came gently down, lowering the rope down into the darkness below until a firm, hard ground was at their feet. They let go, tugging on the rope lightly as a signal, and it dropped, the electricity coming back to life instantly and resealing the hole.

Raelynn watched from above, smiling lightly to herself as a raven landed on her wrist, looking up at her.

“You think they’ll make it back? I do.”

The level below Whisperer’s Woods was obscure and darker than the ones before, the only lighting being lightning dancing high up in the air, causing thin streaks to flash and mimic them on the rocky ground, with that looked like black grass spotted here and there. The ground was somewhat flat and the same for a large stretch, as far as the girls could see, but there were two stone buildings on the far ends of the place, facing opposite each other - one being a large, stone pillar balcony, the other being atop a slight hill, a pearl white staircase leading down into what Amber guessed was the next level. But the lightning frequently struck at the staircase’s beginning, every few seconds, darting down and protecting the entrance.

“Levin Land,” Cressela told Amber, silver-grey gaze searching the area. “The Leaders of Light will be on that balcony. See?”

Amber craned her neck to get a better look at the sight, and made out distinct figures of three people, girls, wearing the same dresses and hairstyles. They sat and looked out between the gaps between sturdily standing pillars, locks blowing in the gentle breeze that had no temperature against Amber’s skin when it brushed against her.

“Why is it called that? Both, I mean.”

“Levin is another word for lightning,” Cressela explained, starting to walk towards the balcony with Amber by her side. “And the triplets are called the Leaders of Light because of their wisdom for their age. They’re fourth stagers now, but apparently, the decisions and information they give are always right. One of their parents isn’t exactly one of our kind, so the mixed genetics created enhanced intelligence and abilities. We don’t know all of what they’re capable of yet - we would probably know more if we were home - but the three stay together and are practically one person. It’s said that they can manipulate weather and summon unknown energies. even to our kind.”

“Who- who said that? Insanis?”

“Whitney,” Cressela corrected in what sounded like an admiring tone, lowering her voice as they came nearer the balcony on the ground. “One of the oldest of our species. You’ll see her later.”

Amber stopped once she’d approached the balcony, taking a gradual step onto the hard, cool stone ground and moving steadily onwards, Cressela following. Then the triplets themselves were in front of them, sitting at the end of the balcony and looking out at the empty, dismal landscape in their midst. Their long hair was tied up in ponytails, but one of the girl’s hair was soft ginger, wearing a green dress the same style as her sister’s, another’s locks blonde and dress sky blue, the other’s hair chocolate brown with a mint green dress. They had fully blossomed white flowers in the side of their hair, and their lips were a rosy red, black eyeliner circling their eyes.

Their gaze swept up to look at Amber and Cressela standing behind them, eerily at exactly the same time and speed, and a chill ran down Amber’s spine as the electric blue eyes met theirs, bearing pale pupils and not a usual bold black. A thin red scar trailed down the left eyelid and skin underneath on the blonde girl, but she didn’t seem to care. A single blue butterfly came from nowhere and landed on her shoulder, wings outstretched and batting slowly and gracefully.

The triplets eyes alone were outstanding to Amber, as if a lightning storm was striking in the hues of blue irises. Cressela’s species had amazing eyes that could tell a story with just one glance, and Amber thought of her own unusual shade which was responsible for her name.

“It’s okay,” Cressela said lightly, “Valerie sent us. There’s no need to hurt us, see? We’ve come to get you out and back to your parents.”

The triplets exchanged long glances, then looked back up at the girls without a word, features ever so slightly relaxing. Amber was more than a little deterred by the blinking and slight movements of the triplets being totally in sync with one another naturally.

“What happened to your eye, Tia?” Cressela asked softly, coming closer and kneeling down to inspect the blonde girl’s face.

“Insanis,” Tia whispered, and the two other sisters glanced knowingly at Cressela. Cressela let out a sharp breath, nodding.

“This is Amber,” Cressela said, nodding in Amber’s direction, and Amber smiled hesitantly as the triplets’ eyes shifted to meet hers. “Amber, this is Mia, Tia and Lia. Amber helped me come here. We’re going to get you back to Valerie and Brennan, but to do that, we need to get to Level Four. Is that okay?”

“Ask yourself,” the girls murmured together, eyes dropping to the ground, then back up at them. “Is that okay?”

Amber glanced at Cressela in slight confusion, but Cressela nodded.

“Yes.”

The triplets nodded back, turning to back to the view outside the balcony and whispering something under their breath that Amber couldn’t quite hear. Then the lightning ceased, and the stairway was open.

“Thank you,” Amber said quietly.

“Not all questions come with answers,” Mia said in a hushed tone.

“Some answers ruin the questions,” Tia added.

“Ruin the hope,” Lia continued.

“But others light it up,” Tia told her. “You don’t know until you seek.”

“Until you hear.”

“And you can’t un-hear.”

Amber nodded slowly, letting the words sink in. “That’s right. But I’ll never stop seeking.”

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