:: Solday Evening, the 97th of Jhyel's Slumber ::
"Oh ...” said Theo with a voice equal parts horror and relief.
"... no” finished Cory, as they both realized that escape from their immediate predicament involved a flight into the sewers.
Neither of the scurries hesitated, thoughts of mounted city guards hastening their decision. Swimming up to the rusted grating, Theo could feel that it would be easy to fit his slight scurry frame through the wracked and corroded lattice. But cocking a suspicious eye in Cory's direction, he suspected that he'd need a little bit of help getting his slightly stockier frame into the sewers beyond.
"You have to stop eating that rich food, Cory, it's at times like this that it really makes a difference” sparred Theo, amazingly in a cheerful mood despite the circumstances. He was also just trying to keep himself optimistic with his joking, as the winter water's tried to sap his strength from him.
"Your just jealous that I always beat you at arm wrestling!” parried Cory.
Theo, taking a deep breath, dunked under the chill water while feeling for the opening in the iron lattice. Grasping the crumbling bars on either side of the hole, Theo pulled himself through, still losing some fur in the process to the hungry teeth of the sharp iron. He surfaced on the other side and urged Cory through.
"We *do* have armed guards after us, if you recall!"
"Theo, had you gone *through* quicker, we'd be in the city by now,” replied Cory to Theo, who was unable to respond as Cory took a breath and himself plunged below the waterline.
Thankfully, one pull was all that was needed to bring Cory bobbing beside Theo in the small duct. The wavering rays of the sun dimly filtered into the sewers, feebly illuminating the filthy mortar and granite walls of the tunnel. Diluted with the waters of the harbor, the smell was bearable at this point. As Cory and Theo moved forward though, the stench increased in vigor
"You can almost see the fumes!” grimaced Cory.
His eyes almost watering as the rank air burned it's way into his nostrils, Theo replied, "That reminds me how much I'd like to thank you once again for getting us into this predicament."
"I suggest that we head to Lizbeth's, it will be a place of shelter,” added Theo.
"You do realize I know you're merely seeking her encircling arms and a down bed,” replied Cory.
"Aaah, jealousy does not suit you well, Cory. It is *truly* unfortunate that *Duyna* couldn't shelter us. And besides, Lizbeth has some of the finest red wine in Argonhurst aging in her father's wine cellar."
Theo was enjoying the verbal fencing, because it was really keeping his mind off the dreadful turn of events that he'd currently had the misfortune to land in. That and the fact that it was now pitch dark in the sewers, now that the two had moved away from the opening which had afforded them the small amount of light that they had been getting. Stopping Cory with a touch, Theo pulled two of his throwing knifes from within the confines of his clothes and passed them to the other scurry through the murky waters.
"I of course don't *expect* trouble, but it's safer that you have some kind of defense,” said Theo as he pressed his trusted knives into Cory's paw.
"Thanks, Theo. I appreciate it,” spoke Cory with honest sincerity, slightly out of breath from treading water.
"Just *don't* lose them,” Theo couldn't help but add.
As he clumsily found footing in shallow water after all of the wretched swimming, Theo ran over the recent events in his mind
First it was clear that there was something afoot in Tisden Weald, though he was unsure what normally occurred there and therefore could not determine what was normal. Feeling the walls, Theo told Cory to bare left at the first fork they came upon.
Second, there was the appearance of Tinker, something of a mystery, making it impossible to determine his actions, even though he seemed willing to help. Theo shrugged invisibly in the inky darkness and Cory took a right, not following the left tunnel which ran perpendicular their tunnel.
Then there was this Corbin fellow, he's the third point. Who was he, and how is it possible that he *owes* me? Some imagined slight? Did I seduce his lover or is he the father of an ex-lover, I just don't know. And was that *Corbin* on the battlements just now? Unluckily enough, I couldn't tell. A straight passage and they continued on, trusting their fingertips as they felt along the uneven slimy walls.
The plot to kill the king is a point so large that it's impossible to overlook. From Theo's slight grasp of Daed and Argonhurst politics, he really didn't recall anything that would specifically spur an attack on the king. It was of course rumored that the man was getting old and senile, but that was primarily vicious gossip as far as Theo could tell. Lost in thought, Theo's mind wandered back to the tactile darkness and the increasingly difficult and wearisome act of putting one numb foot in front of the other.
* * *
After countless left and right turns in the labyrinthine darkness, Theo and Cory saw a gloomy light seeping from above to shine darkly on the dingy waters of the sewers.
Pulling himself up by bracing legs against one wall and back against the other, Theo shimmied up the wall, finally reaching a narrow aperture that would allow him access to the street.
With his constricted vision, Theo tried to see as much of the cobblestoned road as he could, and was successful at seeing that most of the roadway held no-one at this hour.
Pulling himself up onto the rough hewn stone, Theo looked about and tried to determine where he was.
"You are truly a fickle god, Casastan, but it's clear to me that you're in a very good mood,” said Theo joyously, as he realized that he'd come up almost directly in front of Lizbeth's familiar dark green door...