"I think we'll go with you, Ms Toriel." Clover spoke up, zapping Faye out of her thoughts.
She'd tuned out of some of the conversation. It didn't matter too much anyway. They'd probably just be arguing over same old same old.
"This way." Toriel smiled at the children and led them away from the grass patch.
They went through a purple gate and came to a purple room with purple bricks and a white staircase leading to another entrance. A pile of red leaves was in the centre of the staircase. The genderless kid walked over to the pile of red leaves and stood there for a few moments. Faye waited for them. Then they walked away and joined the group as they walked up the stairs.
"Welcome to your new home, innocent ones," Toriel told the kids. They were standing in a small, purple room (the place seemed to be all purple). Silver buttons were on the ground. "Allow me to educate you in the operation of the RUINS."
Toriel walked over a few buttons and flicked a yellow lever on the purple-brick wall. A door opened. "The RUINS are full of puzzles. Ancient fusions between diversions and doorkeys. One must solve them to move from room to room. Please adjust yourselves to the sight of them." Toriel waited at the door to the next room.
"Bleh!" Brayden groaned. "Puzzles SUCK!"
"I like puzzles," Percy commented, eyeing the silver buttons. "Really good for training the brain."
"Did she say this is our new home?" Clover asked, raising her brow. "Is she sayin' we're stuck 'ere?"
"I'm sure she, uh, didn't mean that, Clover!" Cody chuckled apprehensively. "We'll be fine!"
"I hope so," Melody replied. "I don't want to be trapped. I have a dancing recital next week."
Faye watched the eighth human. They were reading a sign on the wall. Faye walked over to them. She'd decided she quite liked this kid.
"Only the fearless may proceed," she read. "Brave ones, foolish ones. Both not walk the middle road." She almost laughed. "I sort of understand that. I don't think I'm very brave. What about you?" She looked at the eighth human. They didn't respond. Not even an emotion. "I think it was brave when you saved my life. And when you saved all of us from that mean flower, and when you wanted to be my friend." She smiled. "You're my hero."
The eighth human smiled and walked through the door. Faye decided to wait for her other friends.
"Golly, that kid doesn't wait for anyone!" Clover exclaimed, watching the eighth human leave. "Wait up, pardner!"
"I love that kid!" Brayden cheered, fist-pumping the air. "They've got a fighting spirit, just like me! I LOVE IT!"
He raced after the eighth human.
"I don't love it," Melody grumbled. "Honestly, we can't all run like that."
She and the rest followed after them. Toriel was waiting in a large room with three rivers underneath wooden bridges. Vines were on the walls. So were signs.
"To make progress here, you will need to trigger several switches," Toriel explained. "Do not worry, I have labelled the ones you need to flip."
The puzzle was fairly simple, luckily for the group. The next one was not so much.
"As humans living in the underground, monsters may attack you," Toriel instructed. "You will need to be prepared for this situation."
"I don't want to hurt anyone!" Cody exclaimed, holding up his frying pan.
"Those monsters better watch out, 'cause I'm not afraid of 'em!" Brayden cheered.
Faye didn't know what to say. She'd wait and see what monsters were like before choosing how she would act towards them.
"There is no need to worry if you stumble across a monster for the process is simple," Toriel continued calmly. "When you children do encounter one, you will enter a FIGHT. While you are in a FIGHT, strike up a friendly conversation. Stall for time. I will come to resolve the conflict. Practice talking to the dummy."
She gestured at the dummy.
"LET'S GO, DUMMY!" Brayden exclaimed, racing towards the dummy.
"Were you even listening?" Melody asked, chasing after him.
"Battle simulation, I must take notes." Percy mumbled, getting out his notebook.
"Let's, uh, not hurt the dummy!" Cody squeaked, racing after everyone else.
His sister was behind him. Faye followed the eighth human. They didn't look like they wanted to hurt the dummy. The humans encountered the dummy. They were in that same battle simulation as before.
Four options were there: FIGHT, ACT, ITEM, MERCY.
Text was on the screen as well. It said, You encountered the dummy!
"Toriel said we should, uh, talk to the dummy!" Cody squeaked. He stared at the dummy's button eyes. "Uh, hi there! I'm Cody! It's nice to meet you. I don't really want to fight you, so how about we end this battle?" It doesn't seem much for conversation. "Well, you don't have to talk if you don't want to. It's okay!"
"Good job, bro." Clover told Cody. He gave her a grin, his green eyes faintly glowing.
"Can I beat it up now?" Brayden asked, staring at Melody. She shook her head. "Whyyyy?"
"Because violence is not always the answer." she responded. "That's what Toriel said - and adults are usually right."
The eighth human nodded. They were sparing the dummy, their red SOUL glowing.
"Battle simulation, strange..." Percy mumbled, taking even more notes. "Humorous flavour text, yes..."
"I think we should spare the dummy." Faye spoke up quietly, faintly smiling. It was a nice dummy. Faye liked nice people.
"A true man knows when to spare." Brayden said, looking out into the distance. Imaginary wind made his bandanna flow behind him.
"We're kids, Brayden." Melody pointed out. "Also, you wanted to fight it ten seconds ago." Brayden looked like he wanted to beat her up.
"Didn't do anything wrong," Clover agreed, nodding. "No reason to hurt anyone innocent." The kids spared the dummy, the eighth human looking pleased. Toriel looked pleased.
"Ah, very good!" she congratulated them. "You are all very good. This way."
She led the kids to the next room. It was quite large. There was a pale purple path on the purple ground. It went into a hall, then to a spike puzzle on some water.
"There is another puzzle in this room... I wonder if you children can solve it?" Toriel asked. "Perhaps by working together."
Percy didn't look too happy about that. Faye understood. He liked being by himself.
"COME AT ME, PUZZLE!" Brayden yelled, running ahead.
"You need unlimited PATIENCE to deal with that boy." Melody groaned, chasing after him.
Toriel and the rest followed. They went through the hall and ran into a monster - Froggit.
"LET'S GO, FROG!" Brayden yelled at the frog, intimidating it.
"Poor frog," Faye pitied it.
It looked like a frog with a pretty weird body.
"Hey there little guy, we don't mean any trouble!" Cody told it, waving his hands.
"Don't attack anyone, y'hear?" Clover told the frog, giving it a death-stare.
"Let's just spare it," Melody sighed. The eighth human was nodding in agreement. "It's the right thing to do."
"But I wanna fight someone!" Brayden complained. Faye was quite happy not to fight anyone. Fighting sounded scary. Faye didn't like scary.
"No fighting, Brayden," Melody told him. "Only if we need to - and we don't. That goes for you too, Clover."
"Chill, Mel..." Clover mumbled.
"Bleh." Brayden snorted. Faye kept staring at him. "What're you lookin' at, Faye?!"
"Nothing." Faye replied, feeling embarrassed.
She looked at the purple bricks. They were a really pretty colour and were covered in vines. It made Faye wonder how old this place was and what the bricks were made of...
Toriel showed up and glared at the froggit. It roamed away in shame.
"YEAH MS. GOAT LADY!" Brayden cheered. Melody glared at him. "I MEAN MS. TORIEL!"
Toriel only looked amused. "Come along, children."
She led them to the spike puzzle. She stood in front of it, fear on her face. Faye could see why. That puzzle looked daunting.
"This is the puzzle, but..." Toriel frowned. She stared at the eighth human, who was in front. "Could you all hold hands for a moment?" She took the eighth human's hand. They took Clover's hand and she took her brother's hand - very tightly.
"Uh, thanks... sis," he said, putting on a nervous smile.
He grabbed Percy's hand (who looked uncomfortable) and Percy took Melody's. Melody faced Brayden. He didn't look too keen about holding her hand.
"You're brave, aren't you?" she asked. She held out her hand. "Show me."
"YOU CHALLENGIN' ME?!" he asked. "I COULD RUN AHEAD AND DO THIS MYSELF! GIMME YOUR HAND!"
He grabbed Melody's hand too tightly. She groaned.
Brayden turned around and faced Faye. "LET'S GO BESTIE!" He grabbed her hand as well.
She looked happy about it. She was happy about it. Being with friends (especially Brayden) made her feel better.
Toriel led the conga-line of children across the puzzle. Faye was honestly being dragged along due to her fear. She was trying not to look back, but it was too hard. The spikes were getting dangerously close. She tightened her grip around her toy knife. Her parents gave it to her for reasons she didn't know. They gave it to her before they...
"Puzzles seem a little too dangerous for now." Toriel remarked when the puzzle was done. She headed to the next room. Faye wandered over to the eighth human. They were staring ahead, loosely gripping their stick.
"Hi," she said meekly. "I'm sorry if I'm annoying you. I just wanted to say... you're really smart. And it's... it's so cool how you don't have to talk and we get what you're saying. It's amazing! You... you really know everything." The eighth human smiled at her, only for a brief second. "You're welcome."
The kids went to the next room. It was large and spaced out. There was a path on the floor. Toriel was waiting.
"You have done excellently thus far, my children," she told the kids. "However... I have a difficult request to ask of you all." She paused. "I would like you to walk to the end of the room as a group, without me. Forgive me for this." She raced ahead.
"WALK?!" Brayden asked. "Screw that, I'M RUNNING!" He ran away, abandoning everyone else.
"Get back here, pardner!" Clover yelled, chasing after him. "Toriel told us to stay together!"
"For goodness' sake..." Melody groaned.
"According to my calculations, they'll come back," Percy spoke up. "When they get bored, that is."
Faye, meanwhile, was feeling very scared. She walked next to the eighth human, who was emotionless as usual.
"This is scary," she told them. "There's... usually always an adult around, and when there wasn't... we fell down a mountain. I nearly died. I'm scared." The eighth human didn't reply. "I'm scared. I miss home. I wanna go home. I want my parents to get better." She tried not to cry. The eighth human gave her a bandage. "I like bandages. Mommy always said it's a good idea to have bandages."
The eighth human grabbed her hand. Faye's lip began trembling. She then started to smile.
"Thank you," she whispered.
Art by https://www.quotev.com/WhatsUpdog%C2%A0
"HURRY UP, SLOW-POKES!" Brayden yelled. He didn't sound scared at all. Faye wondered how that was possible.
"Are you okay, Faye?" Cody walked over to the sad Faye. He pulled out a cookie and patted her shoulder. "Do you want this? I made it before."
"Thanks, Cody..." Faye said, taking the cookie.
Cody was too nice. The eighth human put another bandage on Faye's cheek.
The kids reached the end of the room.
"FINALLY!" Brayden yelled, groaning at them. Clover, standing next to him, was giving him a death-stare. Melody gave him a glare as well. Toriel came out from behind a pillar.
"Greetings, my children," she greeted them. "Do not worry, I did not leave you." Faye felt relieved. "I was merely behind this pillar the whole time. Thank you for trusting me. However, there was an important reason for this exercise. To test your independence as a group."
"Is that an oxymoron I hear?" Percy asked, looking up from his notes.
"The heck is an oxymoron?" Brayden asked, staring at him.
"An oxymoron is a figure of speech in which apparently contradictory terms appear in conjunction." Percy answered fluently.
"...what?" Brayden asked, looking even more confused.
"It's a phrase with two or more words that have opposite meanings," Melody translated. "For example, alone together, or open secret."
How did she know? Well, when you're friends with Percy, you learn a lot.
"Ohhhhh." Brayden replied, sort of understanding.
"We can talk oxymorons later, y'all." Clover told them. She pointed at Toriel, who was patiently waiting.
"It is quite alright, my children," Toriel assured them. "As I was saying, I must attend to some business and you all must stay alone without me. Please stay here and together as a group. It's dangerous to go anywhere alone." She gasped. "I have an idea. I will give you a cell phone. If you children have a need for anything, just call. Be good, alright?"
She handed the children a phone. She waved goodbye and left. Faye didn't feel very good.
"This phone is ancient," Percy gasped, observing the phone. "Oh wow, I haven't seen a phone like this for a long time. It doesn't even have texting! I can only add so much onto this - I need more tools."
He raced off to fix the phone.
"What a geek." Brayden commented.
"Welp, Toriel's gone," Clover sighed. "I suppose we'd better travel by ourselves, y'all."
"Can't we wait a bit...?" Faye quietly suggested. "I mean..."
"BORING!" Brayden yelled, punching the air. "LET'S EXPLORE!" He gave everyone a thumbs up. "Ms. Toriel won't mind."
"Now, Brayden-" Melody began, but he was already running off. "I should've expected that." The eighth human was going after him, but walking, not running. "Wait up!"
Soon, everyone was following them, except Faye. She was behind. She thought she could just wait by herself-
"COME ON, FAYE!" Brayden came back. "WE'RE NOT LEAVING ANYONE BEHIND!"
He grabbed her arm and dragged her off. And so her great adventure began.