Chapter 4: Smoke and Mirrors
Now, however, she awoke. A pair of blue eyes flickered open to an unfamiliar ceiling, lit only by the viridian luminescence of the mossy coating upon the walls, and the muted sound of a gasp escaped into the chilling underground air. She was alone. For the first time in her life, she was truly alone. Father couldn't watch over her here, and most of her siblings were far away - NO!
Something was very wrong here. This image, it seemed familiar, if barely. Like a construct of her imagination, or a nightmare of her - NO!
That was a memory, not truth! It couldn't be true! It was downright impossible! It was becoming increasingly clear to Roselia that she was dealing with a foe who was just as proficient at illusion as she believed herself to be, and certainly far more proficient than her in combat. She sighed. That thing had said something about using her as a power source, but only when she slept. That meant that, the more she rebelled against it, the weaker its illusions would become. Roselia managed to crack a smile.
Now that she had a plan, Rose needed to bait this thing into coming after her directly. First, she tore the glowing moss from the walls, scattering it on the floor and causing the lighting to come from that point instead. The first layer of the deception came here: She had to make the creature think that she was trying to go to sleep by turning the lights out.
The second layer was more complex: She had to break the first layer of this illusion. After all, it seemed that she still had the butter knife here, meaning that the layers of illusion were certainly separate. She took the knife, thrust it into the wall, and tore it down again. This time, she wasn't distracted by the road; she continued tearing down the walls until the ceiling fell. The illusion collapsed in upon itself, and she awoke upon the moon, the Malcanthorix having exited the illusory world. The door here was already open for her: She simply stepped through.
And now, she awoke again in reality, as she had the first time, when the Malcanthorix had first put her under its thrall. Now, however, she was in control of the situation. She took her knife, and began marching through the tunnel towards the beast's lair.
As she emerged, she was suddenly beset on all sides by the thick coils of the beast, as its head appeared above her.
"YOU HAVE CROSSSSED ME FOR THE LASSST TIME, FOOLISH MAMMAL!"
Roselia, in a desperate move, flung the butter knife at the creature's right eye, piercing it. The Malcanthorix emitted an ear-piercing shriek, and its left eye turned bright red rather than its usual yellow. Roselia's face paled at the realization that she'd barely even affected the beast with her ploy. This was bad. This was very bad. And now she was about to pay the ultimate price for her foolishness. Maybe a two-layer deception wasn't all too great of an idea, after all?
"WELCOME TO SSSLEEP ETERNAL, MORTAL!"
And thus it was that the Malcanthorix unleashed its greatest weapon, the gaze of death. A simple eyeing that burns souls away in mere seconds, and leaves the body a shriveled, lifeless husk. And this evil eye was pointed directly at Roselia.
There was nowhere to run, nowhere to hide. This was the moment that she was about to die.