Hunter's Beginning (Veller) (10 page)

Kile threw herself to one side, another bad choice as the ground that she la
nded on also tilted, this time most of her weight had been on top of the trap door, and she nearly slid head first down into the pit. She quickly grabbed for the far edge, but with one hand still clutching the small ebony box, she only had one hand to scratch for some kind of finger hold on the smooth surface of the floor. She did manage to swing herself around, so if she was going down, she was going down feet first. Her left leg was now dangling into the pit but she got her right foot on top of the trap door which kept the door from closing and her from falling in. Of course now she was stuck. She wasn’t doing very well. Her only chance was to get more leverage and that meant an extra hand, she would have to ditch the box. It was not a favorable choice but it was the only choice open to her. With all the strength and what her predicament would allow her, she tossed the small ebony box to what she hoped was the far side of the hall. With the box gone, she found herself with a free hand, which was a step in the right direction. Kile eased her right foot so that it was now on the very edge of the trap door, she pushed herself into the side of the pit to take the weight of her right hand, now she couldn’t slide down any further, of course she had no way of getting up either. She wasn’t heavy enough to upset the counter weight of the trap door, so she wouldn’t fall in, but she wasn’t light enough for the counterweight to push her out. She had come to a status quo. The door wouldn’t let her fall, but it wasn’t planning on helping her either.

What she needed to do was to reduce her weight even more. With her left hand she untied the makeshift pouch that was strapped to her belt. She slung it up over the edge of the pit onto the safety of the floor above, unfortunately the apple she was saving wasn’t
so lucky, it fell out of the pouch, bounced off the top of the trap door, which gave her a jolt, and fell into the darkness. It took only a moment for it to hit the ground with a not so pleasant sound, which meant the pit wasn't all that deep, but she really didn’t want to find out for herself.

Kile felt blindly into the pouch until her fingers gripped on what she was searching for, the silver butter knife.
With knife in hand she wedged it into the narrow grooves between the stonework. Working it in until it was deep enough to support her weight. She didn’t have to pull very hard, just enough to take some of the weight off the trap door. The counter weight did the rest as the door pushed her up and out of the pit. Kile rolled off the trap, back onto the solid ground once again. She laid there for a moment to catch her breath.

Only when she was sure that the ground wasn’t going to try to eat her again, she slowly collected her food back into the napkin and tied it up. This time she slipped the knife and fork into her belt in the event that she might need them again, as she did she noticed the red line that crossed the area
where the trap door had been. That would have meant that the green line marked the safest route, of course it didn’t matter much now that she was so close to the end of the corridor, but, if anybody asked, she could always tell them she knew all along that it was the green rout, she just didn’t know why. Of course that would only work if nobody was watching her at the moment.

“I hope they don’t grade on style.” She whispered to herself as she
reached down to pick up the small ebony box. When she looked up she realized she had reached the end of the corridor and found herself staring at another solid wall. She looked back the way she came, but knew she hadn’t passed any other doors or passages along the way, or at least she didn’t think so. She had almost missed the first door hidden behind the painting. Would they try that trick again?

She examined the wall more closely when she noticed a small bronze plaque with raised letters that read -

“How do you get from THERE to HERE?”

It seemed like an odd question to ask, especially in a place like this, and she looked back down the
corridor for an answer, but no answer came. The obvious one, of course, would be that she followed the yellow… no green line, but again, that doesn’t really apply here.

She read the plaque again, unfortunately the question didn’t change. Ho
w do you get from here to there, no, that wasn’t right. The question was, how did you get from there to here, which really didn’t make much sense, unless it wasn’t so much a matter of destinations as it was of diction. She reached out and carefully pressed the letter “T” in the word “THERE”. There was an audible click and the wall slowly slid to one side revealing a long dark corridor beyond.

Kile proceeded slowly, trying to keep an eye on the walls, floor and even the ceiling this time but she encountered nothing as the corridor went endlessly onward. Once again she started to second guess herself
as she continued to walk, and thought about turning around until she finally reached the end and stood before a rather plain looking. She was beginning to believe that nothing was as it seemed in the mystic’s tower, especially plain looking doors. The only thing she was looking forward to now was getting out, hopefully in one piece. She tried the door, which didn’t exactly open as easily as it should have. No big surprise there she thought as she gave it a shove. The door moved, but not nearly enough for her to get through. She sighed and gave it another shove, and again the door only opened a fraction of an inch.

“Great, hardly any light, holes in the floor and now doors that are too warped to open. Haven’t these people ever heard of maintenance?”

Kile looked around for something to pry the door open with, but there was nothing at hand, and nothing that she was carrying with her was of any use. Brute force was the only way past this obstacle, something that she was also lacking. If you don’t have the strength, you use momentum she told herself as she took a few steps back and sized up the door. She slipped the small ebony box into her shirt, the last thing she needed was to damage that. She took a deep breath and ran at the simple wooden door, throwing all her weight into it. It was like hitting a wall as she bounced off it and hit the floor. She sat there for a moment, rubbing her shoulder as she looked at the opening. It didn’t feel like it, but she had managed to move the door, if it was only a few inches. A little bit more and she may even be able to squeeze through.

She took a few steps back and charged the door again, throwing all her weight against the wooden obstacle. To her surprise the door flew open without any resistance and what made
matters it worse, was the fact that there was no floor on the other side for her to land on, just another very large hole in the ground. If she hadn’t managed to grab the door handle and hang on for dear life she would have been at the bottom of the hole looking up. It wasn’t a great a drop, but if she had fallen in, there was no chance of her getting out. She swung her legs over to the far edge of the pit, until her feet touched the stone floor. If she was a little taller this would have been a lot easier she thought, but as it was she had to push herself off the door so that she was balanced on the very edge of the pit, slowly backing away and pressing her back against the wall to catch her breath.

“How original, another pit. Don’t these people have any imagination at all?” She exclaimed, at least she could see the next door, which again worried her. This was too
obvious; then again, maybe she was looking more into it than she really should.

She took a step forward, and that step landed in a very foul feeling substance which brought back memories of mucking out the stables back home, but
whatever the substance was, it was spread over the entire length of the corridor all the way up to the far door, a distance of maybe twenty feet. It was like a heavy slime that had the distinct odor of swamp mud, and the same slippery consistency. It wasn’t much of a deterrent, and if it was there just to slow her down, well that worked. She took another step, and sank into the slime as it covered the top of her foot. The feeling was unbearable as it seeped into her boot and as much as she wanted to just run to the next door she wouldn’t be able to move her feet fast enough, which was probably to her advantage since, if she could run, she would be sliding all over the place. She had to make sure one foot was firmly on the ground before she lift the other.

It was slow going, as she was forced to take each step carefully. She had almost lost it once or
possibly twice, bracing herself against the wall for extra support. She had managed to remain standing that was until she got within four feet of the door and was just about to reach for it, when the floor suddenly shifted and Kile went down hard.

“Great.” She cursed through clenched teeth as she wiped the muck from her face. When she was able to get back to her feet she made a futile attempt at cleaning her hands on her pants, but the ground shifted again, and again she found herself back in the mud. It wasn’t until she started to get up for the second time that she realized what was happening.
Either the floor in front of her was rising or the floor behind her was falling, either way the corridor was tilting and she was slowly sliding backwards, away from the door and toward the pit. Kile tried desperately to get to her feet in the hopes that she could lunge for the door, but it was too late. The door was already moving out of her reach and the muck on the floor was just too slippery. She couldn’t gain any traction and was losing ground fast as the angle of the corridor began to increase. Kile was sliding backward toward the pit she only just managed to avoid once. It didn’t look as if she was going to be as successful the second time.

tried to stop her descent, but it was no use. She was completely covered in the foul smelling muck, and the more she tried to slow herself down, the faster she appeared to be moving. She was too small to brace herself against the walls, her arms just weren’t long enough, and there were no ledges or cracks in the floor that were wide enough to get her fingers or feet into. She scrambled for the butter knife she tucked in her belt. It had helped her out of the last pit, it should save her from this one.

Quickly wedging the knife into the crevice between the stones, she managed to halt her decent just as her feet reached the edge of the pit. Kile lay there in the muck, gripping the small, now bent, butter knife. The utensil had served her well, but it didn’t look like it was going to last much longer. She had hoped that the floor would return to
a horizontal position, but, if anything, the opposite was true. The angel of the corridor was slowly increasing. It would be impossible for it to go completely vertical, but then it was impossible for an entire corridor to tilt the way this one was. Whatever she was going to do, she would have to do fast. The steeper the angle the harder the climb.

Kile pulled the fork from her belt and wedge it handle first in the
seams of the stone beside the knife. From that point on it became clear. She was going to have to climb her way out using her breakfast utensils. She was sure this wasn’t covered in any handbook, maybe it was something she should think about writing if it worked. Survival with a knife and fork by Kile Veller.

She shifted her weight to the fork and reaching up as high as she could with the
butter knife, tried to wedge it into another grout line. It took a few tries, and only when she was sure of how sturdy it was, would she pulled herself up on the knife and repeated the process with the fork. The steepness of the slope was a hindrance, but it was better than trying to go straight up, and the muck took away any problems of pulling herself along.

If she had though walking through the slime was slow going, this means of travel was worse. It took her the better part of an hour to navigate up the corridor that she had just walked in five minutes,
by the time she reached the base of the door she was covered from head to foot with the foul smelling mess, and her arms were screaming at her to just let go. It was a thought that had crossed her mind more than once. How easy would it have been if she just let go and slid down into the pit. She was sure the pit wasn’t too deep. Six, Seven foot at the most, they were trying to detain her, not kill her, but that would have been the easy way out, and she was all for not taking the easy way out.

Kile struggled hand over hand until she was able to look up
at the door that leaned over her, the handle of which was right over her head. There was only one way to reach it, and only once chance.

tested the knife and fork, making sure they could hold her weight. She then pulled herself up, placing one foot on the knife and fork. With the last of her strength she pushed off, leaping up toward the door handle and grabbing it with both hands, the knife slipped out of its groove and went skittering down the corridor to disappear over the edge. She was going to miss that butter knife. Kile hung there for a moment, her hands, slick from the muck, were starting to slip. She flicked the latch on the handle, but the door remained closed.

Searching for a solid foot hold, she had to find something she could use to reposition her weight, she found it when she felt the fork still wedged into the floor under her foot. It wasn’t nearly as sturdy as the knife but it was enough that she could push off it and throw what little weight she had at the door. The latch gave and the door swung open and Kile pulled herself into the next room to collapse. She laid there for a few moments trying to catch her breath and rest her arms. She wasn’t sliding so there was no need to be moving just yet. She glanced back through the open door to see what she already knew she would see. The corridor was as flat and as true as it had been when she had first entered through the far door, which was still open. The room was back to normal, as it had always been, except for the bent fork that was still stuck
in the floor.

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