It was dark in Joel's office; he had left it for the day and was now likely either in his bedroom reading a book, or out taking care of other responsibilities. His office had a unique shape to it, which could not be described accurately through words. Books lie in the shelves that were inlaid in the walls throughout much of the room, while a large set of windows looked out on the property from behind Joel's desk.
The door to his office slowly creaked open and a thin line of light entered the room as Saya gazed in through the opening.
"No one's inside." She told Haji before pushing the door open more. The light from the hallway would be their source of light within the office itself, since it made it possible to see in the office, but was not too obvious from outside.
Haji entered the room as well, though he understandably wasn't as stress-free as his female companion; he would get more than a scolding if he were caught in here when he was not supposed to be.
"Where did you say it was, Haji?" Saya asked as she walked towards Joel's desk, her shoes makes more noise on the carpeted floor than either of them would like.
"In the top left desk drawer." He spoke quietly, staying near the doorway so that he could see if anyone was coming down the hall.
Saya walked cautiously over to it, not wanting to alert anyone downstairs that someone was in Joel's office; it was easy to tell the difference between the sounds of her footsteps, no matter how cautiously she treaded, from Joel's.
She started to pull open one drawer, but it creaked, so she stopped and told it to "shush".
"Not that one, Saya. It's left when you're facing towards the desk."
She tried the drawer on the other side, and luckily it did not squeak as she slowly pulled it open, and saw a dark wooden box inside. She opened the box, and sure enough, within it laid the key. It was made of gold, and the pattern of its inlays made it just as viable of a décor piece as a practical key. But this would not be ending up on someone mantelpiece; it would be used to unlock the key to Diva's cell.
"It won't unlock the cage, but it's something." Saya said, pulling it out of the box and closing both of its previous storage places.
"Saya, did you find it?"
"Yes. I have it." She told him while trying to tip toe her way back across the room to him. Haji was still sticking his head out slightly to check for passersby, but he apparently had not seen anyone yet. Saya reached him and tapped him on the shoulder to let him know that she was nearby.
"Are you ready?" He asked her, to which she nodded. He gave her a nod back, and then started to move back out into the hall, but she held his sleeve to keep him from doing so.
"Haji… thank you."
It took him a moment, but the young man smiled, and nodded once more.
With both stealth and speed the two moved out into the hall and closed the door behind them. They moved quickly down the hall, trying to make as little sound as possible, and continued moving at a quick pace even after they had left the vicinity of Joel's office.
"Haji, I need to go back to that place I was at earlier today." She told him.
"What? You're going there tonight?"
"I have to, Haji."
Haji stared directly into her eyes, likely looking for any trace of willingness to put this off until at least tomorrow. He found nothing.
It had been hard finding their way back when it was daytime, but not that it was so dark out it seemed near-impossible. Due to the secrecy of their mission, they could not use a lantern either, so for a while, until their eyes had adjusted to the lack of light, they had literally been walking blind. Once they had accidentally walked into another servant who was heading back to his quarters for the night; when he inquired as to what they were doing out so late they told him they had been out for a while and were just now coming home.
Once they had traveled far enough they did not worry about encountering any more servants and eventually the sights began to look familiar to Saya as they made their way closer to the tower in which Diva resided. As they grew closer to the tower, Saya wondered if she should tell Haji about Diva; after all, if it hadn't been for his knowledge of where the key was stored, she never would have found it. At the same time she was worried about what he may do if he discovered Diva's existence. She knew that Haji would never intentionally do anything to get any of them in trouble or hurt, but sometimes he did things she did not want him to, and she could not take that risk.
Finally they reached the narrow path between the walls which she had gone through before. Despite the darker atmosphere and the even narrower appearance of the passageway, Saya was not afraid this time to travel through it.
"Haji, I need you to wait here for me, okay?"
"I can find the rest of my way myself. I'll be back as soon as I can."
With a sigh, he conceded.
"Alright, just be careful, will you?"
Saya nodded, and then continued on down the narrow passageway, her pace quickening as she drew away from Haji rather than slowing. Saya turned the first corner, making sure not to trip this time, and then ran down to the second one, and faced out towards the clearing, and Diva's tower. Saya smiled and gazed down at the key held in her hand before nodding and running into the garden of roses.
"Just a little bit longer, Diva." She thought, ignoring the sweat that had once again built up on her body.
All around her roses of various kinds sprang in and out of her vision, gradually growing purpler in hue, and then violet, and then finally blue. However, no true blue roses existed in his garden; the blue roses could only be found on the ivy within the hall leading to Diva's cell. Saya remembered it, and upon learning that Diva was trapped inside, that the world must have been yearning to release her, but could not do so on its own.
Saya reached the tower and pulled open the door before running up the flights of stairs, her heart now pounding in her chest more from excitement than from the incredible strain all of this running was putting on her lungs. And with the speed at which she ascended the stairs, Saya had soon reached the top of those steps, now running down the hall to the door which would no longer bar her from the girl awaiting within. She reached the door, and pulled up the padlock, inserting the key and unlocking it before allowing the cursed thing to fall to the floor and sliding the key into her shirt. Saya pulled the bar which held the door shut out of the way and then placed a hand on the door handle. Then, with a sigh of determination, she pushed open the door and stepped into the dark room.
"Diva? I'm here; I came back soon just like I promised."
It was difficult to see in here, even though she had, for the most part, grown used to the darkness of nighttime by now after running for so long. Despite this she could still make out the pale form of a girl doing a handstand. Her arms were shaking from the strain, and Saya could tell from the slight sheen to the girl's body that she was sweating.
The girl's head looked up towards her as best it could, though the long mane of black hair kept either from seeing each other's faces.
"Saya." The girl spoke.
"What are you doing?"
"You said I could not stop until you said 'Saya says'."
Saya actually leaned towards Diva; it was an exaggerated display of surprise.
"You mean you've been doing a handstand the whole time I was gone?"
Diva seemed to shake more than usual and as she said "I am sorry", her balance faltered, and her legs descended down towards the floor. "Diva!" She shouted while rushing forward as first her friend's knees, and then her face struck the hard stone floor. Saya reached the cage and held the bars tightly as she waited for the girl to move. For several moments, Diva did not. Then, as Saya was deciding whether to apologize first or ask if her friend was all right, the girl spoke up.
"I am sorry. I thought I was doing what you wanted."
Saya's grip on the metal bars loosened, and once again she felt sadness drifting over her like a climate which surrounded Diva.
"Oh, no; I was just surprised that you could do it that long. I didn't mean to startle you and make you fall down either; are you okay?"
"No one has asked me that before." Diva spoke. Perhaps the saddest thing about her statement was that Diva did not even sound sad; her tone was hollow and flat. It was almost impossible to believe that someone who could say such a thing in such a tone would be capable of such beautiful singing.
"I am unhurt." She stated, pushing her nude form up from the dusty form. Saya could see areas of her body outright covered in dust and dirt, and she wondered when it was the girl was last allowed to clean herself off. Her friend reached for what looked like some sort of old sheet, and Saya realized, as her eyes darted to the right and left of Diva's true cell, that the torn sheet must have been what amounted to clothing for her underprivileged friend.
"I will have to bring her a dress to wear the next time I come here." Saya thought, realizing just after the thought occurred to her that it would only be proof that someone else had discovered Diva and could reach her. And if whoever was horrible enough to lock her in here discovered that who knew what measures they would take to ensure Diva would never be reached by the outside world again?
"I am glad you came." Diva told her, snapping the girl out of her thoughts and making her smile for a moment.
"Of course, Diva; I told you that I would find a way to reach you."
Her friend nodded and stood up, walking over to her. Despite the fact Diva's hair was still mostly covering her face, and the girl was trying to cover herself with the sheet, a significant amount of her body was showing. The sheet looked like it had torn a while ago, and had as a result been reduced to a portion of its original size; as it was now, it could barely cover her pelvis with its length. Another reason for that may have been because Diva also had the top of it draped over her head like a hood on a cloak; likely it was because it helped keep her warm. Saya could only imagine how cold Diva must be in here during a snowy night in wintertime and wondered how it was the girl had managed to survive such conditions.
Diva's footsteps sounded like "patting" as the soft skin of her feet made contact with the hard cold stone, and for some reason it scared Saya a little. Yet at the same time, the steps sounded so weak that she also felt sympathy at the same time. When finally Diva reached the bars of the cell, she merely stood there, looking down at the floor.
"What is it, Diva?"
"I do not know what to do."
Saya didn't understand.
"What do you mean? What don't you know how to do?"
"I have never had a 'friend' before; I do not know how to act around one."
"Don't worry; I do not have many friends either. Still, I'm sure we can figure things out!"
Diva drew the sheet over her more.
"But first; Diva, would you mind showing me your face?"
"I… am afraid to."
"Why is that?"
"I do not want you to leave if you disapprove of the way I look."
Saya didn't know if she found the statement sadder or cuter. Either way, however, she had to find a way to make Diva feel comfortable.
"Diva, come closer."
The girl did as instructed until she was within reach, at which time Saya stretched her arms out through the bars and embraced the girl, bringing her closer though also making sure not to knock her head against the hard metal. Saya placed her forehead against the sheet which covered Diva's, ignoring the dusty smell as her embrace of the girl tightened.
"Saya, what are you doing?" Diva asked her.
"It's called a hug; people do it when they want to show affection for someone, or to make them feel better."
It took a few moments for Diva to respond.
"It feels nice."
Saya was almost surprised at the statement, but her emotions never grew that high; she simply smiled and rubbed her head against the other girl's.
She maintained the hug for almost an entire minute before Diva asked if she could place her hands on Saya as well. Her friend said "yes", and she felt the girl's unsure hands come around her. Saya did not tell Diva how to hold her; the more experienced girl merely waited until Diva's arms wrapped around her back just as Saya's had around hers.
"Is this good?" Diva asked.
"It's perfect." Saya responded, rubbing the girl's back to comfort her more. She felt Diva lean more towards her, and surmised it must have been because her friend was relaxing more. Saya waited for a minute or two, and then she asked Diva again if she could see her face.
"Will you stay, even if you do not like the way I look?"
Saya was going to tell Diva that she was sure the girl was beautiful, and that there was no way her face could be scary, but instead she simply told her that she would remain with her. Diva drew away slightly as one of Saya's hands came up and reached for the hood.
"I have to stay with her; no matter what she looks like, I can't leave her." Saya thought resolutely. Even if Diva didn't look human, she had to stand by her friend.
Saya pulled the hood back, and looked up at Diva- she was staring into a mirror; it wasn't Diva that gazed back at her, but Saya herself. It was her own face, down to the bone structure. The only difference was that she had pale skin and blue eyes, and her hair was not combed. Saya realized, however, as the blue eyes blinked and her own did not, that this was Diva's face.
"You are beautiful." Diva told her, once again snapping Saya back to reality as the eyes fluttered down, looking away out of embarrassment.
"What is it, Diva?"
"Am I scary?"
"No. Not all! You look just like me!"
Diva looked up at her; her expression was the closest to showing excitement that Saya had yet seen from her.
"Aside from the color of your eyes and skin, you look exactly like me."
Her friend managed an attempt at a smile, and Saya felt herself brighten up at that.
"What color are my eyes?" Diva asked.
An image of roses flashed through her mind, roses which were not natural in color, which were not allowed into the world. And then Saya blinked, and she decided both Diva and "her" roses would be freed very soon, so that they could show the entire world their beauty.
"Your eyes are blue."