“The Princess and her companion went in there,” Lilly said.
“Good. We’ve found her,” Velvet said. “Now all we have to do is wait for her to come out.”
“We… we should go inside,” Lilly said.
“Why?” Velvet asked. “It’s not like there’s another way out. If we just hold tight she’ll show.”
“But… well,” Lilly said. “She could be, you know, trapped or hurt. If anything were to happen to her… We just really need to get to her side.”
“But if we go inside we could miss her coming out,” Velvet said.
“You… you just want an excuse to sit around!” Lilly said.
“That’s not true at all,” Velvet said. “I’m just concerned and stuff.”
“Fine,” Lilly said. “You wait out here and I’ll go in and try to find her.”
“Kay,” Velvet said. “Let me know how that goes.”
Axra and Twila continued on their trek. Thus far they hadn’t encountered any living things aside from some insects and spiders. Not, Axra noted with some disappointment, giant ones, but the more mundane variety.
“This should be the spot,” Twila said. “Help me look for some kind of switch or trigger.”
The chambre was a larger one. There were some broken and rotting pieces of furniture, fungus was growing from the walls and floor around them. If anything valuable had ever resided here, someone had taken it. Twila was scrutinising the walls and floor carefully. Axra did as she was bade and studied the area carefully, but her gaze kept diverting back to Twila as she worked. Why couldn’t she focus? She looked away and something caught her eye. It was a small painting on the wall, oddly untouched by time. A wolf carrying a rabbit in its mouth.
“Did you find something?” Twila asked.
“Maybe,” Axra said. She tried touching the image. It wasn’t a switch, it was perfectly flat. “Maybe not.”
Twila walked over and examined the painting. Axra was acutely aware of her closeness. If she were to move her arm just a little she could be in contact with her. Maybe if she brushed her hand against Twila’s their eyes would meet and then… Axra could feel her cheeks flushing.
“It’s not a switch,” Twila said. “But there’s certainly some kind of magic to it. It could be just what I was looking for!”
She produced a book from her pouch, her hand coming very close to brushing against Axra’s. “I’m going to try a spell,” she said. “Stand back. I don’t know exactly what this’ll do.”
Axra reluctantly backed away while Twila started chanting in a language Axra didn’t recognise. Her voice started low and began rising. At the height of her chant she snapped her fingers and a violet bolt flew from her palm into the painting.
Axra could hear a rumbling. It started out faint, but gradually grew louder and louder. She looked around for the source, but it seemed to be coming from all around. Axra glanced at Twila who was looking around expectantly.
A small segment of the floor slid open to reveal a staircase.
“This could be it,” Twila said. “Let’s hurry!” Axra followed her down the staircase and into the unknown.