The two of us stood at the entrance to the catacombs. Roodaka’s tall form was slightly crooked in the moonlight.
“What are we doing here, Sidorak?” she asked. Her words were slightly slurred together. Only moments ago we had been attending her naming day party, and Roodaka’s only weakness was being served by the cask. She still clutched her glass in her dainty hand. I recall seeing a glazed-over, intoxicated look in her eyes, a look that would never naturally be there. She smiled. This was not the small, coy smile she usually wore, but a large, mirthful, and dare I say, jovial grin.
“I have a gift for you,” I said, “I kept it here for a surprise.” Her face lit up as I spoke. I knew Roodaka was quite fond of gifts.
“What is it?” she inquired. I could see the greed that glittered in her sapphire eyes as she spoke. No longer was it masked by her false etiquette.
“Rubino,” I replied. Roodaka stared dumbfounded at me.
“Rubino…” she echoed. I smiled. Roodaka was a fiend for Rubino, a famous beverage that was made in her homeland of Xia. It was frustratingly rare and maddeningly expensive, so it was no wonder that it was her favorite.
“Come along,” I said, “It’s rather far inside.” Roodaka snapped out of her trance.
“Of course, of course,” she replied, “Let’s be off then.” I lit a torch that I had brought, and we started into the dark, forbidding catacombs. I heard Roodaka giggle with excitement. Her laughter was a rare noise.
We journeyed into the deep, cavernous darkness of the catacombs. The walls were overgrown with an insidious crystal; a milky, opaque, mineral that I was unable to identify. Roodaka walked behind me, occasionally stumbling on the uneven floor.
“How much farther is it?” Roodaka asked, barely able to contain her enthusiasm. I gave her a warm, reassuring smile.
“Not very,” I said. “How did you like your party?”
“I suppose it was fine,” she replied, “But I think it could have been better. Let’s not invite the Visorak next time. They got webs in everything.”
“Indeed,” I agreed. Even I had to admit that my soldiers did not make the best of party guests. We continued into the catacombs. Here was where the Matoran of Metru Nui had buried their dead. Already I could see that the walls were lined with small stone doors that led into tombs. The doors were inscribed with the names of the deceased. As we descended further we started to come upon skeletons that were laid in tight, uniform piles. The little skulls of Matoran peered up at us in the dim torch light. As we walked I heard Roodaka stagger into the stone of the corridor, and turned around to see if she needed help. She was leaning against the wall, trying to stand up erect. But her level of lucidity was not up to par. I had to help her to her feet, and she wobbled unsteadily on the high heels of her shoes.
“Perhaps we should come back tomorrow night,” I suggested. Roodaka shook her head as she let out a small cough.
“No, no,” she insisted stubbornly, “I want my gift now.”
“Really, I think it would be much better if we did this some other time,” I quickly replied, “You’re in no condition to go any further.”
“Don’t be a fool,” she scoffed, “I’m perfectly fine. It’s my Birthday, and I want my gift.” She once again began to cough. I suppose it was the mineral on the walls. I felt the air was rather foul and heavy. I held out one of the bottles I had brought with me.
“Have some of this,” I said, “It will do you good.” I saw Roodaka’s avaricious eyes light up as they peered upon the green bottle.
“What is it?” she asked as she searched the bottle for some sort of label. The thought of that makes me laugh now, because I doubt she would have been able to read one at that point.
“Uncino,” I replied. It was a cheap substance, but Roodaka, despite her high tastes, snatched it from my hands. She uncorked it and poured some in her glass, then thrust the bottle back into my hands. She threw back her head and emptied the glass down her throat. I simply smiled again at her.
Eventually we reached our destination. At the very end of the Catacombs was a large pit that had been formed when the floor collapsed at some unspecified point before our invasion of the city. It was here that I had placed an enormous cask of Rubino. I had left the top off, and the red liquid glittered like diamonds in the torchlight. Roodaka stared at it transfixed. I was certain she had never seen such a vast amount of it by the way she looked at it with reverence.
“Rubino…” she muttered. She moved away from my side to get a closer look at it. She never once thanked me, spoiled, ungrateful creature that she was. But it didn’t matter now. The Vortixx kneeled down, scooped up a glassful and guzzled it down. She let out a giddy, euphoric laugh. Immediately she went to get herself another. With the slightest push of my foot, I sent her toppling headfirst into the cask. She let out a shriek as she disappeared beneath the surface. She came back up gasping for air, with wide, shocked eyes. They soon calmed down again as she saw where she was. She let out another laugh. To my amazement I noticed she still clutched her glass in her hand.
“Oops,” she slurred, “Sorry.” She reached out with her dainty hand. “Help me out please, won’t you Sidorak?” I gave her another smile. Then I shook my head.
“I don’t think so,” I said. I sat down on a nearby block of stone and watched as the color drained from her face.
“Why not?” she spoke in a soft, almost frightened squeak. I never bothered to reply. I simply watched as she tried to lift herself from the cask. She let out a squeal as she slipped back inside. I had covered the outer edges in lubricant. I watched her do it again and again, until she finally let out a low, defeated moan. Then she began to scream.
“You’re not going to get away with this!” she screeched, “I swear it! You’ll pay dearly for this!” I never responded, but merely reveled as she continued to rant for almost ten minutes. Eventually the rants became frantic pleas. “Let me out!” she bawled, “Please let me out!” At that point I stood up from my block and retrieved the lid to the cask from behind it. I peered down at the miserable creature. To my surprise I saw a small smile on her face. She let out a pathetic, nervous laugh.
“A very good joke, Sidorak,” she said in a sad little voice, “We can talk about it back at the party. We should be getting back to bid everyone good by. Let us be gone!”
“Yes,” I replied, “Let us be gone.”
“For Mata Nui’s Sake, Sidorak!”
“Yes,” I said, “For Mata Nui’s Sake.” I bent down and began to hammer the lid into the barrel. All the while Roodaka screamed mindlessly. I heard her pound against the lid in a futile attempt to push it off. As I drove it further in the shrill shrieks became loud gurgles. When at last I finished I sat back on my stone and listened as the gurgles grew quieter and quieter. Eventually they ceased all together. For a while I just sat in the silence of the tomb. Then I got up and began the long journey upward. My heart felt sick. But I suppose that was just from the strange mineral. As far as I know, no one has ever disturbed Roodaka’s resting place.
Puo riposa nella pace!
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