Axra and Lilly traveled quietly, hand in hand.
Axra wanted to find Twila. To tell her… what exactly? Maybe it would be better to say nothing. Still…
“I want to see her,” Axra whispered.
“Excuse me, Prin… Axra,” Lily said. “But, well… I was wondering… are you okay? Because, you know, if there’s anything I can do… if there’s anything that will comfort you… I’ll do it.”
“It’s my own fault,” Axra said. “I thought we’d meet up, have a happy reunion and return home together. I’d surprise my dads and the four of us would be a family. I… I didn’t know she was so bloody nuts.”
“Well… she was,” Lilly said “but it isn’t her fault. I… I think she’s in the final stages.”
“Final stages of what?” Axra asked.
“Well… I don’t know the name,” Lilly said. “But… umm… there’s a condition mages get if they, you know, lose their familiars. They eventually… just go insane. I… I wish I could tell you there was a cure…”
“It’s okay,” Axra said. “Let’s just find our way up.”
They made their way through the dark, past the point where they dropped in and to the other side of the corridor. It led to a small rectangular chambre with a ladder.
“It looks like we can get up here,” Axra said. She started moving towards the ladder when she caught sight of… something.
It was small, metallic and looked sort of like a brooch, but without any kind of pin or clasp. Axra put it into her bag.
“Did you find something?” Lilly asked.
“Maybe,” Axra answered. “Come on, let’s go.” She led Lilly to the ladder and the two went up. They found themselves in a smooth featureless chambre.
“I don’t see an exit,” Axra muttered.
“M… maybe it’s a secret passage,” Lilly suggested. “I… I’m sorry for being useless, but I can’t see to find it.”
“Don’t worry about it,” Axra said. “I’ll find the switch or whatever.” She let go of Lilly’s hand and started examining the walls, floor and ceiling. After several minutes, she found a slight groove in the floor. Pushing it to the side, she found a toggle switch buried under the tile. She flipped it and a portion of the wall opened up. She took Lilly’s hand again and the two headed out.
They were back in the long corridor. Much to Axra’s relief, she could hear voices.
“They’re going to kill me,” Velvet muttered. “That’s all there is to it.”
“I’m sure Lilly’s okay,” Twila said. “Now keep looking, there has to be a trapdoor or secret passage in here somewhere.”
“What a drag,” Velvet complained. “I can’t believe I lost Lilly and the p…”
“Twila, Velvet!” Axra called. “Where are you?”
Velvet stopped in mid-sentence, much to Axra’s relief. She called for them again. The two came out of the large chambre, their torches blinding Axra temporarily.
“Thank the Gods you two are okay,” Twila said. “We were quite worried.”
Axra released Lilly’s hand, a sense of relief coming over her, but it didn’t last long.
“Is something wrong?” Twila asked. “Did something happen?”
Axra put her head against Twila’s shoulder and started crying.