Cressela - Twisted

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【 Chapter Seven 】

The throbbing in the back of Amber’s head returned immediately as she woke up in a room engulfed in darkness, the mattress underneath her uncomfortable. She groaned silently as she sat up, reaching for her torch and switching it on to bring a source of light to the blackness. It slid over the bed - the same one she was in before, she was sure of it - and the letters on the floor, as clear and unsettling as they had been when she’d first seen them. The dark wood table, the peeling walls, the door and the gold knob, and-

Then she screamed in shock, startled and horrified as the torch shone on a familiar pale face, white eyes with thin crimson puddles at the ducts cutting into her amber ones. The girl was sat beside the door on the chair, tense and seemingly annoyed, but making no move to attack her. Her chalk white glare shifted to the torch, and in a heartbeat, the light went out, Amber inhaling sharply as darkness coated the room again, her torch’s bulb slain. Then light returned to the room in an electric spark, a small, slender bolt of lightning hovering above the girl’s hand, churning and coiling to create a sphere as Amber watched in fascination, mouth open and eyes round. The girl flicked her wrist deftly and the sparking light moved to the table, revolving around its top effortlessly.

Amber’s stare moved from the luminous light back to the girl, whose arms were crossed and glare almost accusing. Amber breathed in shakily, trying to figure out what to say, but no words coming to her. Instead, she moved a trembling hand to her cargo pants' pocket. The girl’s fists clenched and she moved slightly, watching intently and readying herself to attack before Amber did. But then Amber pulled out the book that she’d taken, somewhat ashamed as she held it out anxiously. The girl’s lips parted in recognition, revealing her black tongue, and within a moment it was ripped from Amber’s grasp by a force ignited by the girl herself, the book in her grasp instantly. Amber held her breath, stunned and terrified simultaneously as the girl’s fingers traced the aged brown cover. Then her attention snapped back to Amber, who jumped in surprise as the girl spoke three words in a slow, hushed but harsh voice, the voice smooth and deep and dangerous.

“Who are you?”

Amber opened her mouth, though it took her a moment to stutter a response, her own voice shaky and uncertain.

“I- my name’s Amber. Amber... Obscura. And I don’t want to... I’m sorry for taking your book, but I needed to know who you are and... and why you took me here.”

“Why?” the girl echoed, a hint of disbelief in her tone. “You were in a dark forest on a dark night, going across a bridge that separates natural from unnatural. Why?”

“Because it’s what I do,” Amber found herself responding, to which the girl seemed slightly taken aback. “I- I felt like I needed to, and... I always take opportunities for adventure. It’s who I am. To try and kill me over that-”

“If I wanted you dead,” the girl interrupted, “you’d have died by now. One less adventurer... looking for opportunities.”

“So why haven’t you?” Amber asked warily.

“I felt like you did,” the girl told her. “If you come here for a reason other than chaos, and destroying what’s left of me... I want to know. You take a book and not a twisted life. Why?”

“Because I’m curious,” Amber confessed. “I read up on who I think brought you from where it is you belong. I’ve been waiting for something like this to happen all my life. I knew it would happen, but I thought it wouldn’t. I want to help you.”

The girl made a noise that sounded like a light scoff. “Help me. You, help me. Are you one of my kind? Do you have it in your head? See it when you aren’t looking? Feel it when you’re numb?”

The questions that came with no answers left Amber breathless, and it took her several moments to answer.

“I’m not your kind... yet. But I have it, and see it, and feel it, but in a different way than you do.”

The girl leaned forward, looking her up and down and inspecting her properly, her expression giving nothing away. “Obscura means dark in Latin,” she spoke up, leaning back a little. “You’re Latin, then?”

Amber shook her head. “No. Are you? I’m... um, I’m surprised you can understand what I’m saying and speak English.”

“I adapt to it in my own ways,” the girl said simply. “I’m not Latin. He is.”


The girl let out a short breath impatiently. “You said you read up on it, Amber.”

Amber’s name sounded strange and eccentric coming from the girl, her face highlighted by the flickering light in the corner. It took a little time to get used to her unnerving features, but Amber overlooked it as much as she could, trying to figure out what to say.

“I don’t know everything,” Amber said, before adding, “When you say ‘he’, you mean Dr Sanistri, don’t you?”

The girl’s brows twitched at the name, bemused.

“Insanis?” Amber tried again, and this time the girl flinched as if she’d hit her.

“How do you know that name?” the girl hissed in hatred, and Amber’s eyes widened a fraction, not wanting to get her any more upset or irritated.

“I- I was reading about him,” Amber said, feeling as if she was stepping on eggshells with each word. “He... he told some important people about who I think is your kind, and how your powers could save the world-”

"Save it?” the girl repeated, almost amused by Amber’s words. “Not how it seemed to me.”

“Maybe not anymore,” Amber agreed, “because he was turned down, and laughed at - but I know that you can’t have been taken willingly. And you shouldn’t be... well, here, separated from your friends or family.”

“But I am,” the girl told her, voice wavering for a short moment. “Not willingly, but that’s how it is. What can you do about it?”

Amber sat up a little more, taking a deep breath in and telling her exactly what she was rehearsing on her way to the house she was trapped in now.

“I want to get you out of here,” Amber said slowly, “and back to where Insanis is to free your species. Then I want to help you go back to where you come from... and maybe even... stay with you.”

The girl was silent for several moments, processing her words in astonishment. Amber readied herself for the assertions of how it was impossible for someone like her to help, and how she’d die trying, much to Insanis’ entertainment.

“Why?” the girl whispered. “Humans... hate us. Insanis told us.”

“Insanis was lying to get you all to turn against us and make whatever he’s planning easier,” Amber concluded confidently. “Not all humans are bad. I want to do this because I just... I just have to. It’s in me. I want to help you. Please. You can’t stay here forever, alone, until Insanis finds a way to win. Haven’t you been waiting for a chance like this?”

The girl’s milky white gaze moved to the floor before she looked up again.

“Why should I trust you?”

“Because you need to,” Amber insisted. “We have to try. The longer we leave it, the closer he gets to succeeding. I know that this is what I have to do. I’ve been waiting all my life.”

“Who are you?” the girl asked again, the wonder in her voice evident.

Amber shrugged, not knowing what to say.

“I don’t know,” Amber murmured truthfully. “Who are you?”

The girl hesitated, the white glaze of her eyes beginning to darken to a pale grey as Amber watched in bewilderment.

“I... my name, it’s Cressela,” she told her slowly, as if she was only just remembering. “And I escaped with my mother and younger sister a long while ago...” The grey of her eyes darkened with every word she uttered, Amber watching the scene completely spellbound as the shade dimmed to a smoky grey. “They died... because they went Delusional... like me.”

Then the dusky grey was pitch black, the crimson tears ceasing altogether. She blinked as if she was just coming alive, and the black was replaced by normal-looking eyes - the whites at each side, the pupils black, but the iris’ were a silver-grey colour. Cressela exhaled shakily, eyes wide and aware as they focused on Amber.

“The- they went... Delusional?” Amber repeated, mystified. “What is that?”

“Not death, but not living,” Cressela informed her, almost shivering as she called it to mind. “When you’re separated from your kind for too long, in a place that isn’t your own... your mind isn’t your own either. You go crazy, and rabid, and desperate, until black turns white and morals die with your sanity. My sister and my mum... tore each other to part in that state. And because we aren’t at home... they didn’t heal fast enough.”

Amber’s eyes filled with horror and concern. “That’s awful,” she breathed in dismay, “I’m so sorry...”

“Not your fault,” Cressela dismissed, brushing aside the poisonous memories. “It’s Insanis. And we’re going there to get the rest out.”

Amber’s breath caught in her throat at the comment, relief and excitement bubbling up inside her. “Really?”

Cressela nodded, standing up. “But don’t try anything, Amber. Don’t go back on this. There’s no point. And it won’t be fun to watch.”

Amber nodded. “Of course not. So, wait - were your mum and sister’s names Nova and... and Zanya?”

Cressela frowned at the names, suspicion creeping into her mind. “You read the book, then?”

“Not really,” Amber said quickly. “I can’t understand the writing, just the Latin and the words on the chips, or tags, whatever they are, on the back.”

“Identity implants,” Cressela told her, opening the door and stepping to the side to let her out first. “From Insanis. We all have one.”

“How many of you are there?”

“Not many. He couldn’t take the whole race,” Cressela said. “Including me, my mother and Zanya... nineteen of us were taken.”

Amber nodded slowly, the lightning hovering above the table in the room they were previously in suddenly out and dissipating like a blown-out candle. “So... who’s Katarina?”

“You have last names, don’t you?“Cressela asked distractedly, making her way to the padlocked and boarded front door and pointing at it. The restrictions and chains instantly fell to the floor, and Amber eyed it in awe.

“Wait,” Amber called, and Cressela turned back to her, standing in the hallway. “You’re... you’re just going to leave the house like this? Will someone else find it?”

“I’ll get rid of it,” Cressela told her, as Amber came out and pushed the door closed. “It was never a home anyway.”

Amber smiled a little at that. “You sound just like me,” she murmured to herself, and then she caught up with her as the two walked back across the bridge, Cressela clutching the journal to her chest and scanning the forest warily.

“No one will notice you, don’t worry,” Amber reassured her. “It’s night, so there aren’t many people around. I know it must be a horrible feeling, being alone in an unfamiliar place.”

“I know worse feelings,” Cressela said quietly, and then she turned back to the house, staring at it in concentration as her eyes darkened into the abnormal midnight glaze. Then the house creaked and burst into bright blue, electric flames as if it had been hit by lightning, collapsing into a mess on the forest floor before disappearing, one piece by one, until there was no evidence that anything had stood there apart from the empty square of space. Cressela’s eyes returned to normal, and Amber smiled slightly.

“Teach me how to do that?”

Cressela raised her brows, showing a hint of a smirk. “Maybe.”

Then the girls ran off into the forest, Amber leading the way as they advanced towards the entry, opening the gate and rushing to Ruey’s bungalow. Amber knocked on the door several times, Cressela observing somewhat anxiously before the door swung open and Ruey ushered them in, the dull yellow glow of lamps from inside shining out onto the garden path briefly before thinning and vanishing as the door was firmly shut.

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