As promised, Roxanne's story continues on the blog today.
Roxanne dreamed of green grass and fields of flowers, and thought the morning came too soon when she was woken by Rocket. Inside the caverns, there was no real sense of time with only the subdued pink and blue crystals lighting their rooms.
With a sigh, she got up. She noticed for the first time that she had been dressed in a soft, but sturdy, black nightgown, and felt invaded for a moment or two, before realising it was silly. For the second time that morning she sighed and started to move. Going to the small basin against the wall of her room, she splashed some of the cool, crystalline water on her face, and seemed to wake up completely with that. She continued to wash her travel stained body in the cool water too, feeling clean for the first time in weeks.
For some reason, she was extremely glad for the small brush near the basin, and Roxanne took some time to brush out the tangles in her purple hair, marvelling at how used to it she'd become. Maybe I'll even dye it purple when all of this is over...
She found that her clothes had been washed during the night and were folded in a neat pile at the foot of her bed. She dressed quickly, thankful for the clean clothes, and made her way out of the room.
The others were all awake and waiting at the breakfast table when she finally joined them. Oliver smiled at her and beckoned that she sit down next to him. Their relationship was blooming into something more than friendship, Roxanne realised, and it scared her. She had no idea what would happen when her adventure was over. Will I go back home, or will I stay? Would he come with me if I went?, she wondered, avoiding his eyes. The thought of leaving him didn't appeal to her at all.
Samir and his mother were present as well, and greeted her warmly. Breakfast consisted of eggs - of which kind, Roxanne had no idea -, toasted bread from the night before and lizard sausages. The drink was a mild, milky substance, which Samir explained to her came from different kinds of cacti in the Blacklands.
Cookie and Madra were lost in a culinary discussion, each sharing and learning the other's secrets.
When they had eaten, their host offered to take them on a tour of the caverns. Roxanne and Oliver accepted, while Dusk had already disappeared, and the rest decided to remain on their own. With Samir as their guide, Roxanne and Oliver followed through the caverns quietly.
Each carried a bowl of crushed crystal, either blue or pink, which lit their way in the darkness. In some of the caverns the slow, echoing drip of water was the only sound to break through the silence, while their footsteps sounded like a marching army in others. Some caves were so dark that no light could pierce it, while others glittered from wall to wall with different kinds of crystal.
As her eyes became accustomed to the darkness, Roxanne began noticing movement in some of the caverns. Samir explained that there were different kinds of mammals and reptiles in the caves, as well as a wealth of insects. There were so many, in fact, that Samir believed they would never all be discovered. "And in some of the farther caverns, there lurk creatures that do not want to be found." he continued. "Some of them are carnivorous."
"If they don't want to be found, how do you know that they exist? And more importantly, what they eat?" Oliver asked in a hushed voice.
"The dying screams of the explorers echo in the caves for many long days." was Samir's explanation. That put an end to the discussion.
They had been going for about an hour or so, when they came across a beautiful cavern. It was one of the larger ones they had seen, with the far end of it disappearing into the darkness beyond. At the base of the cave was a very large pool, which glowed with a soft, violet light, casting the moist walls in a gentle and mystical hue. Along the edges of the pool grew many kinds of moss, coloured in an array of shades of blue, green and purple. Some had beautiful patterns and small petals that looked like flowers, while others pulsed and oozed out some kind of mucky liquid.
"That is to attract their prey." Samir stated. "The sticky substance attracts insects, which then become stuck in it. They die and are digested slowly. Gruesome, it may seem, but necessary. You see, at the same time, the insects attract smaller mammals, who come to feast on them. The seeds of the moss gets stuck in their fur, and the mammals distribute it throughout the caves, where the seeds fall and are planted. It's a circle. But we like it when the moss attracts the mammals. It makes hunting much easier for us." He grinned.
But Roxanne had barely heard a word the man had spoken. Her eyes were fixed on a small cluster of crystals, growing on a small rocky outcrop in the very centre of the pool. There was nothing significant about these crystals; they almost paled in comparison to some of the others Roxanne had seen since her arrival; but somehow, she knew she had to have one.
"What are those?" she asked, pointing.
Samir looked at the crystals with a sigh. "The rarest jewel in all of the underground, Amberiolus. It has healing properties unlike anything we've ever seen before. Alas..." He became quiet and stared longingly at the small cluster of yellowish crystal.
"Why not harvest it then?" Oliver asked with an arched brow.
The guide laughed. "If it were that we could." He picked up a small rock and tossed it into the pool.
That's all I have for today. You know what you need to do now, get your vote on!
Stay beautiful and be kind to animals,