Tainted Victory – Chapter 7, Part 5 (Page-a-Day)

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Earlier, Siguard stood in the stone kitchen of the castle. His sword was safely sheathed, and his shield rested along his arm. Evelyn finished turning the handle of the pantry to reveal the secret door. “To think,” she began, “I was here all this time and never knew about a secret treasure vault.” She pulled the secret door. A hollow wind blew out. 

“Well it was a secret vault, you know,” Claudia said. “Emphasis on the ‘secret’ bit, you see.” 

“You can direct us back to the passageway and into the vault?” Siguard asked.

“I can do my best,” Claudia said. She adjusted her arrows and crossbow along her hip, and tied her fizzy red hair into a ponytail. 

“It should not be too hard to find,” Olivier said. “Just follow the trail of greed.”

“I’m sure that will work,” Evelyn said with eyes rolling. 

“I was being metaphorical.”

“We will need a not metaphorical candle if we want to see in there,” Colt said. “Doggie eyesight can only do so much.”

“I thought it were cats who could see in the dark,” Claudia said. 

“I mean…” Colt said. 

Evelyn stuck out a candelabra to Claudia. “If you say anything about how all animals can do it, I will…” she paused, “make myself sound more suspicious by saying anything.” 

Olivier snapped his fingers. A spark flipped from his hands and illuminated the candles. He gave her space and extended his hand out. “Ladies first.”

Claudia nodded, then entered the stone tunnel. Olivier followed. Colt and Hounder went next. Siguard took the next position. Evelyn placed a hand on his chest. She stepped in front and handed him a candelabra. “You’ll have to light that thing the old fashioned way.” She entered next. Siguard stood in the kitchen. He snapped his fingers once before grabbing a match, lit the candles, and followed in behind the rest of the party. 

The light from the kitchen quickly dwindled to nothing the further they walked into the passageway. The passageway twisted and turned in a now familiar fashion as Claudia lead them back to the same spot. The temperature rose with the increased breath and body heat, turning the confined space into a dense sweat box. Claudia paused knelt down. She waved the candelabra over the stones.The rest of the party tumbled over themselves to stop. Someone said, “It is too tight in here.” Claudia  removed her knife from her sheath. She scratched it against the stone until it slipped into the lock. She turned the lock. 

The whole passageway began to stutter and shake. Claudia shot up, and quickly backed away. She felt her body pressed against a hard, human wall. The shaking gave way to a scraping and grinding when the passageway split into a three pronged fork. Dust and sand sprinkled over the party unevenly. The shaking soon stopped and revealed the two additional passages. Trapped wind exploded out from the entrances and ruffled the party. Hounder had to squint and crouch to endure the blast. He shook his mane once the air current stopped. 

“I am surprised I didn’t know this existed,” Evelyn said. 

“I am also surprised you didn’t know this existed,” Siguard said.

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