The Dark Times; Part 31
Down in the hole Aituár listened, and waited. There was not a sound to be heard. Maybe their stalker had lost track of her and Déomarr when they had fallen into the trap? She inspected the walls of earth around them, but they were too smoth to offer any hand- or footholds.
Time passed, but still nothing happened. Aituár looked at Déomarr, wondering if she might reach high enough to push the dragonling up over the edge of the hole. But then what? There was no use sending him to get help, because it would be at least one more day before Antaja and the others would be back. Besides, Déomarr might not remember the way back to the cabin, ending up getting lost. No, they had better stick
Aituár inspected the twigs that had been covering the hole. They were fresh and green, meaning that somebody had set the trap recently. But for what reason? Surely not because of herself and Déomarr - Aituár had not known herself that they would be travelling this way. There had to be something else in the forest that this somebody wanted to catch - but what? And what if it fell into the hole while she and the dragonling were still in it?
Aituár decided to stop worrying. There was nothing that she could do about their current situation right now anyway. Instead she lay down to get some sleep - she had been walking all night and most of the day. Aituár swept her woollen cloak around herself and Deómarr, and promptly fell asleep. It turned out to be a rather restless sleep, full of ill-boding omens.
Aituár woke up to a faint rustling of the leaves covering the bottom of the hole. That was odd - surely the wind could not reach down here? She sat up and noticed that Déomarr had woken up too and was staring at a specific point among the leaves. The dragonling seemed to be curious rather than wary.
Then it struck Aituár - she could have tried to use her power to move objects to get herself and Déomarr out of the hole! Her mental powers were however still so new to her that the possibility had completely escaped her mind until now.
Aituár tried to concentrate on moving herself, but to no awail - maybe it was not possible to use such a power on oneself? Instead she draw back from the heap of leaves, pulling the dragonling closer to her. Together they waited, wondering what would happen next.
Suddenly a thin hand emerged from the leaves. Aituár stared at it - she had never seen anything with a skin so green! The hand fumbled around, and was accompanied by a sound that, to Aituár, sounded like a hysterical giggle.
A head popped up out of the leaves, just as green as the hand. The face was twisted in a wide and inane grin, and Aituár bit her lip trying not to laugh out loud. The creature might not like being laughed at - but it did look funny!
The creature stood up and, from what Aituár could see, its looks seemed to fit with the description of pixies that Neni had once given her. The pixie giggled again, and then suddenly lashed out at her. Almost without thinking Aituár focused her mind at it. She managed to send it tumbling back into the heap of leaves. The pixie suddenly disappeared out of sight, and a light thud was heard.
'There must be another hole hidden beneath those leaves' thought Aituár. Cautiously she approached the heap, but jumped back when the pixie's head popped up again, still giggling hysterically.
'I - hi, hi - had my doubts about you when I first saw you but - hi, hi - you seem to be the right one - hi, hi, hi! You must - hi, hi - help my people! We must go now, before - hi, hi - the big one comes to check the trap! Follow - hi, hi - me!'
The pixie disappeared again, and Aituár carefully brushed the leaves aside. Sure enough, there was a hole, but it was rather narrow. She first lowered down her backpack and Déomarr before climbing down herself.
Much to her surprise Aituár found herself standing in a wide tunnel, with solid and smooth walls. Somebody must have put a lot of work into this. Meanwhile the pixie quickly climbed up to brush leaves over the hole again.
The pixie then turned to look at them, and seemed to notice Déomarr for the first time. The giggle did sound a bit nervous this time.
'Is that a - hi, hi - real, live dragon you have there - hi, hi? Oh dear, oh dear!'
The pixie twisted its hands.
'Well, it cannot - hi, hi - be helped, I guess. This way - hi, hi - come with me! Hurry - hi, hi - please!'
Despite the giggling the pixie seemed to be genuinely concerned and upset about something, and Aituár quickly wriggled into the backpack, scooped up Deómarr, and followed the little green creature.
Aituár's footsteps echoed eerily in the long corridor. Light seemed to filter down from above at regular intervals, and it was not as dark as she had expected it to be. She kept on walking until she suddenly noticed that the pixie was nowhere to be seen. Where had it disappeared to?
And then came the sound - a sound that Aituár had heard before and recognized all too well. A low and dark noise that made the ground beneath her feet vibrate - a sound that filled the air around her.