My head is immediately overwhelmed with a dusty fuzziness as I stride further down the underground corridor. Our footsteps echoing and crunching on the gravel with no light source to help lead the way.
Tikki, my “mentor”, opens a stone door with a loud push. It’s only been a couple of weeks since we’ve met and my dislike towards Tikki is already festering. Immediately he thought he could dangle relationship ties over my head. If I play along though I can keep my sisters safe, keep the situation under control…hopefully. After all, my options are quite limited unfortunately. Finally! We’ve arrived at our destination.
I await for candles to be lit before entering, should always take precautions no matter what.
“Come. We have much work to do.” Tikki finally speaks.
I steady myself as I adjust to the dim lighting. In front of me lies a stone table with various objects accompanying it; some vials with liquids, others empty, a couple of dusty old books, among other seemingly useless items.
“What do we need to do here?” I feel suffocated in this enclosed room.
“Drink this. You’ll need it for the tasks ahead.” Tikki outstretches a bony hand while smiling slyly.
“Why exactly are we here?” I ask crossing my arms. He’s constantly avoiding my questions. It’s difficult enough as is to bring myself anywhere near his presence. Referring to Tikki as a “mentor” makes me want to spit on the ground.
“Drink. Trust me you’ll need it.” His hand still clasps the vial of liquid.
“You nearly killed my sister, threatened my others sisters along with my own life, and you want me to trust you?” I narrow my eyes with as much determination I can muster, but waver.
“I warned you about your sister…I wasn’t bluffing. My terms are simple: your compliance for the safety of your loved ones.” He still has that sneer across his face but his eyes are grim. “And I will remind you only so many times, Florasia.” His gaunt face is inches away from mine. Glaring eyes pierce my own.
I try my best to level my gaze with Tikki’s, swallowing my pride and shrinking under those maddening eyes. I’m staring into the face of a madman.
“What’s the drink for?” I swallow hard.
Tikki sighs. “You don’t stop asking questions do you?”
Finally stepping away, only slightly easing my discomfort, he tends to the other vials.
“You’ll have much to learn, Florasia. And you have an important lesson to learn here tonight that’ll help you in the future.” Tikki said stressing out each word filling the stone room. “Now…drink.”
There’s something about his expression that I try to make sense of. A different vial in his hand, he notices me studying him for answers, hardening his gaze in response.
I slowly take the vial from his scrawny hand and swirl the contents inside. The lack of lighting sure isn’t helping me determine exactly what kind of liquid is in this thing. Before I put the container to my lips, I hesitate.
“What exactly is in here?”
“Honey suckle. For hydration.”
I contemplate for a moment. It does smell sweet like honey suckle, although there’s a slight tang. With our eyes fixated on one another, I chug down the vial. At first the sweetness tickles my taste buds…until it burns my throat. My knees falter. How stupid! But as soon as I took a sip I realized…
“It’s poison.” I manage to gag out.
“And it will prove useful, you’ll see. Did you know that you can build a tolerance to certain poisons if you…”
Tikki’s voice fades along with my vision as I fall to the ground with a thud. The poison coursing fire through my veins, searing me from the inside out until nothing but darkness engulfs me.