Cressela - Twisted

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【 Chapter Seventeen 】

Amber eyed Cherri warily, Cressela staying silent with a frown on her face, silver eyes fixed on Cherri.

"Are you referring to me?" Amber asked after a moment's silence.

"I'm referring to both of you," Cherri responded with a cold glare. "You really think you can just show up here without him knowing? I can take a good guess of why he'd want you," she continued, looking Amber up and down with a raised brow before her gaze shifted to Cressela, "but you... you know who you are."

Amber looked at Cressela, then back at Cherri, folding her arms sceptically. "She's one of your kind, Cherri."

Cherri rolled her eyes impatiently. "What do you know, human? Of course she's one of us - that's not what I meant. I'm talking about her Origin."

"Why does that matter?" Cressela questioned with a glower.

"You should know why. You've got an Unlimited Origin, Katarina, which means you're a rare find for Insanis."

"If he was that interested, he would have searched for me when I left with my family."

"Well, not that I know much about it, but it seems like he didn't need to, did he? Whoever she's supposed to do the job for him. Coincidence, do you think?"

"It's Amber," Amber corrected in annoyance. "Amber Obscura."

Cherri shrugged, disinterested, and Cressela took a step closer, her eyes wide in thought.

"Are you saying he wanted this to happen?"

"How should I know?" Cherri snapped. "All he told us is to expect company, probably a few moons ago. And here you are."

"But you said you could guess why he'd want me," Amber recalled with a frown. "Which means what?"

Cherri stared at Amber for a long moment, purple eyes narrowed, before she pointed an accusing finger at her face, looking to Cressela expectantly.

"Why are her eyes like that?"

Cressela shrugged, shaking her head as her attention fixed on Amber, who stood looking between the two of them in uncertainty.

"They've always been like this," Amber said, taking a small step back as Cherri lowered her arm.

"You said your name is Amber," Cherri mentioned, hands on her hips now. "In our world, it's fairly common to name your child after their eyes. The eyes are important. The colour reflects who you are inside in the simplest way."

"She can't be from our world, Cherri," Cressela said, shaking her head. "That doesn't make sense. She's a human, I can tell."

"Of course she's a human," Cherri responded with another roll of her eyes. "But she could be a human like Insanis-"

"I'm nothing like Insanis," Amber said angrily, and Cherri huffed, shooting her an irritated look.

"Let me finish. You could be human in a similar way as Insanis. Not as limited in your abilities as you're supposed to be, and not following whatever traditions or way of thinking your supposed to have."

Amber stayed quiet as she processed the words that weren't anything less than the truth, and Cressela bit her lip, unsure.

"How exactly did you find her?" Cherri asked.

"She found me as a Delusional," Cressela replied, and Cherri frowned, taken aback. "And somehow, she managed to turn me back. But it wasn't just that, it was... I don't know - I just couldn't kill her. So I gave her a chance to get out of the house I was staying in, and when she came back she spoke about her waiting for something like this to happen to her. And then about all of you, trapped here. It's hard to explain."

"You want me to believe," Cherri spoke slowly, her expression unreadable and tone neutral, "that a natural human pulled you out of a Delusional state, earned your trust and came with you to get to Insanis to save us from him?"

Neither of the girls replied, and Cherri nodded with a short sigh.

"You left your mother and sister to go with her?"

"They died, Cherri," Amber told her, as Cressela pressed her lips together and looked away. "They were Delusional before I got there."

Cherri's eyes widened, her mouth open slightly as she looked to Cressela, whose jaw was clenched and eyes staring at the black nothingness around them.

"Well then," Cherri said after a few moments, her voice a fraction softer, "I'm sorry for your losses, Cressela. I guess that makes you the last Katarina."

"I guess it does," Cressela agreed quietly, and Amber met Cherri's gaze.

"We didn't come here for nothing, Cherri. We need to get past and go to the next level."

Cherri tensed at that, her scowl reappearing. "Absolutely not."

"My family didn't die for nothing," Cressela said insistently. "You've got to choose between being faithful to Insanis until he's done with you, or honouring who we've lost and seeing your sister again."

Cherri's breath caught in her throat immediately after Cressela's words, her worry and cautiousness hinting in her expression that was struggling to stay unreadable.

"You spoke to Ashlea?"

"Ash Black," Amber confirmed. "Yeah, we-"

"Her name is Ashlea," Cherri interrupted with a glare. "She might call herself Ash now, but names are symbolic. Her mind can't be darkened and down by our separation."

"I think it might be," Amber spoke carefully, "because she misses you as much as you miss her. You have to understand that who and what you've lost because of Cressela's escape to find hope can be temporary when you let us pass, but if you don't, you might never see her again. If Insanis was the one who separated you two in the first place, I can see him keeping it that way."

"And you know she wants me to let you through because...?"

"Because she said herself that she let us through for you," Amber replied earnestly. "She even said to tell you that she wants us to go. She misses you, and she wants to go home, even if she doesn't remember it very well."

"Neither do I," Cherri murmured, her vulnerability seeping through her stubborn composure. Then she shook her head. "You could be making this all up."

"Does it sound like something Ashlea would say?" Cressela asked, and Cherri stared at them for another long moment. Then she stepped aside, the stubbornness replacing her weaker mentality.

"Just go. Go, before I change my mind," she ordered, and Amber relaxed a little in renewed relief.

"We'll see you later, then," Cressela said with a nod, advancing to the panels leading to the gate, Amber following close behind.

"By the way," Cherri called, "Amber, you said your last name is Obscura. That's Latin for darkness."

Amber frowned, looking back at her - but she was gone in an instant, retreating into invisible secrecy in The Rift.

"Let's keep going," Cressela encouraged, gingerly moving from one panel to the next, before reaching the gate and grabbing Amber's hand to help her cross. Then she paused, sudden fear in her eyes, and Amber's brows furrowed in concern.

"What is it?"

"Once we walk through and go down," Cressela responded, silver eyes meeting gold ones, "we'll be in the last level. Level Seven, Delusional Domain. And Insanis will be at the end of it. There's no going back once we're there."

Amber nodded, several emotions fluttering in her chest and causing excited, terrified knots in her stomach. But when she responded and kept moving, there wasn't an inch of doubt or hesitation.

"So we'll have to keep moving forward."

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