Saturday, August 17, 2013

The Weary Wanderer Homeward Wends His Way--Part 21

Opal had sat for a long time in the darkness with only her thoughts for company. This was not particularly pleasant, especially when you considered that there was a good chance that whatever they had done to her would be permanent and that her body would simply lie in its hiding place, paralyzed and slowly dying, as she rotted away inside her own head. Or the fact that her present situation reminded Opal of a certain childhood punishment that had quite frequently been visited on her, and left her somewhat… vulnerable to being enclosed in dark spaces for prolonged periods of time. The fact that this dark space didn’t even really exist was surprisingly uncomforting--in fact, Opal found it somehow made things worse.

Curious. She should think about why that was. It’d be a good distraction. Better than wishing horrible things on Jasper, who she was fairly certain was behind this present torture. She was starting to repeat horrible things, which usually was a sign of profound boredom with the activity. Besides, by her reckoning she really hadn’t topped ‘force him to eat his own hands’.

She had a sudden awareness of light. Opal wondered if she was going mad. To be sure, this was something that had occurred to her on and off over the years based on people’s suggestions, but at the moment she was willing to admit it might just be true. “Opal, my dear,” came a calming voice. As the place she was in suddenly became a place, it was suffused with a gentle green light. Opal realized what this meant.

“Emerald? What are you doing here?” said Opal softly.

“Protecting you,” said the Pendant member. “Steps were supposed to be taken when you stripped of your membership that would have… made certain you were no threat. I prevented them.”

Opal stared at the green form in suspicion. “How?”

“Onyx and Pearl may have… taken over things, but all you see around you is my creation,” said Emerald. “There are secrets in it that are known only to me. And I have used one to save you.”

“So it’s like Castle Terribel,” said Opal quietly.

Emerald nodded. “A very apt analogy. It is quite like it.”

“Yeah, the Cthoniques loaded that place with secrets and stuff,” continued Opal, almost not seeming to hear Emerald. “And they forgot about it. There’s all sorts of stuff hidden in places, just sitting there, and they don’t know what it does. But I know. I know because that’s what they did to me, put me in a corner, and forgot about me, and so, I just looked around and found stuff, and figured out how it worked.” She was silent for a moment. “I think a lot of it’s as angry as me.”

“And is that what you were going to tell us about at the meeting?” asked Emerald. Opal nodded. “Then we must talk more. But not now. I will send you on your way, and we will speak of this later.”

“Right,” said Opal. She glanced around the room--which she realized was foolish on some level, as the thing didn’t really exist--and then tossed herself at Emerald’s feet. “Oh, thankyouthankyouthankyouthankyou….”

Emerald accepted her thanks with a rather distracted air. “Yes, yes. Now… hurry…” She raised her hand and the figure of Opal vanished in a puff of smoke. A second wave, and the little chamber ceased to exist.

“…is the Emporium’s stance on the new mail service,” droned on Sapphire. The other members of the Pendant were stirring fitfully as the blue-clad member finished a typically detailed report.

“Astounding,” said Jasper. “Your dedication to detail remains… exemplary.”

Sapphire bowed and then sat down. “I strive to be comprehensive as possible.”

“Well, you appear to succeed,” said Emerald.

Sapphire’s eyes narrowed. “Why don’t you tell us your report on the Agate, Emerald?”

Pearl nodded. “I think it is about time,” he noted.

Emerald stood up. “If you all insist.”

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