Tainted Victory – Chapter 9, Part 9 (Page-a-Day)

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Evelyn walked down the new hallway. It’s sights and sounds were dull. That gave her time to think out what had happened. In order for someone to cross through this secret passageway they’d have needed to know it existed for one. Second, they would have needed to know how to traverse the winding path, pit of doom, and block puzzles. Third, they would have also been able to maneuver through it quickly to have escaped in the time they had, and return to where they were supposed to be. None of those are easy feats. So, she decided, that meant the doctor was out. He definitely could not have done all of this in time. Same for the mage. He might be weird, but too feeble to do all of this. The path turned. She went with it. Goblet, for all his skills is not a thinker, or would have the patience to do all of this she thought. Raisor, had he not been dead would have been the obvious choice. 

Evelyn scooted to a haunt. Her boot clacked hard on the stone. Like Raisor. That idea had not crossed her mind. Who left was like Raisor? Colt had the build for sure, but certainly not the brains to carry it. She felt the stone path begin to arch upward. Okay, she thought, so if it cannot be Colt it could be Siguard. SIguard would feel correct but doesn’t match with what his mission seemed to be. Also he, for all his faults seemed too earnest to her. That left one person. 

Almost on cue she felt her boot snap a twig under her foot. She stopped in her tracks and looked down. She lowered the jar. The soft light gave way to the same monotonous stones and a line of burnt up arrows with crude runes etched onto the shaft. She picked up the arrowhead and top half of the arrow. It was caked in dirt and soot like it had been lit ablaze. She rubbed the dirt off the shaft and looked over the runes. Magic was a weakness of hers, but the runic equivalent to letters spelled out “fire” clear as she could read it. A creeping thought crawled into her mind, digging its claws into her back on the way up. She never checked the pit. She could have been dead and done, but what if it too dropped her someplace else. It too split her up from the group. Not only that, but why had she been so reticent to continue down the halls? At first claustrophobe seemed reasonable enough, but what if the real reason is that she didn’t want to stumble upon these. 

Evelyn clenched her fist tight around the top half of the arrow. Its cold wood dug its way into her hand. She looked up and ran forward, unworried of what dangers lay in the passage itself, but instead of the people. It now seemed incredibly convenient that Claudia just so happened to set up the only way to check what people were doing at the time of the murder. Saying that she overheard herself with Hugh was easy enough to write off, but what if that too was just a cover for something worse. They would not have thought twice about someone so open to giving away her secrets. Being so open like that automatically made her seem less likely. Someone who planned and executed a kill would never give up information that easily. Her run slowed to a trot. Would no assassin give up information or would she not give up that information. Sure, she lied a little here and there, and based those lies on some reality. Either way that made Claudia more guilty. 

Evelyn ran until she hit a dead end. No curves, no turns, just a flat wall with small cracks of light filtering in from the sides. She laid into the wall. Its chilly surface froze her skin. She pushed hard against the wall. It gave with a squeak and a swing. She pushed harder. Her muscles flexed and throbbed. The wall gave more. The filtered light around the wall brightened. She gave one final push. The wall swung out like a door. The light flooded the passage, blinding her momentarily.

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