For The inventrix‘s commissioned prompt, a continuation of Scrounging for History (LJ), and Digging through History (<a
href=”http://aldersprig.livejournal.com/391242.html”>LJ) Part 2 of… probably 7.5
The stairs seemed to go on forever. Karida hated places like this, going into the dark, not knowing quite what was there. She couldn’t imagine doing it “blind,” like a normal human, not knowing if the stair under you would crack or not, not knowing where the walls were. She couldn’t imagine doing it at all if she didn’t know if something lurked in the corners. Not knowing what was lurking was hard enough, nightmare enough.
She hit the bottom of the stairs, reaching for her senses to reassure her that Dor was right behind her, Amalie up at the top looking out, or at least there, if not actually watching. And the something was still there, hiding in the back corner. Waiting for them? Aware of their presence at all? She did not have the Words to know, and Amalie’s Workings were too unreliable (like everything about her, except her song). She kept walking, feeling her way, avoiding the detritus on the floor and sweeping what she could out of the way for Dor.
They were not silent. There was no point in silence, and much more point in being safe. They could trip and fall in stealth, and then both their quiet and their tactical position would be ruined. So instead, they moved forward, hoping it was a wild animal, hoping to spook it out instead of spooking it into attacking them.
Three more steps. Four. The something in the back corner hadn’t moved. “Light,” she murmured to Dor, and he lit the lamp with its small share of oil. A door hung half-off its hinges, a small room defined by broken walls, one hung with pegs. Anything that had hung on the pegs had long since been taken, except one tiny wrench hiding in a corner. Karida pocketed that, pocketed the three remaining pegs, and pushed aside the broken door.
It had been – she wasn’t sure. The ancients had rooms for things she, wagon-born and raised, could hardly imagine. Maybe a storage room? Half-broken crates lined the walls, a few of them, near the bottom, looking intact. They would deal with those later. Hiding, nearly in the crates, in the back corner….
The thing hissed and jumped out at them as Dor swung the light towards Karida’s gesture. Thing, no, not a thing, “flat, Dor, flat,” she called, and tried to take the small woman down with her staff. Two quick thumps to non-vital parts, a third and fourth from the flat of Dor’s wakizashi, and their attacker lay sprawled whimpering at their feet.
“Do you think she’s feral?” Dor murmured. If she was, there would be no reasoning with her, no bargaining. The kindness would be to leave her to her wildness.
“Lee-mee-lone,” the woman muttered. Girl, Karida realized, filthy but with some effort to tidy herself. No older than Amalie.
“No,” she answered slowly. “Or… at least not entirely.” It might have been better if she was.
This entry was originally posted at http://aldersprig.dreamwidth.org/251765.html. You can comment here or there.