Chapter Five - The Climb

Story so far:

Hannah has embarked on a mysterious adventure. Following her feet, she has found her way through The Tunnel to Nowhere and Everywhere to a strange new world. With danger at every corner Hannah must keep on her toes but help comes in the form of a handsome stranger who pulls her out of harms way, just in the nick of time…

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“You must be Hannah,” said Kaspian. How did he know her name? Somehow, that didn’t seem to matter at the moment. She had never met anyone quite like him before. She had dreamed of meeting people like him of course, but, well, that wasn’t quite the same. Kaspian was tall, much taller than she was, even if she had still been wearing heels. His dark tangled hair fell around his face in a way that made her simply melt. And his voice…Hannah was quivering just thinking about it. He was still staring at her, waiting for something, and she realised with horror that she’d been gaping. She stumbled into speech. “Oh, um, yes. Hannah. That’s, well, me”. He grinned at her again, there was something in that smile. Something that meant something. Could he feel it too? That immediate, unmistakable surge of attraction. It was love. It had to be. 

“I must admit, I was expecting someone…less…” What was he going to say? Attractive, gorgeous, alluring? Hannah raised herself, seductively on her tiptoes, lifting her body closer, anticipating…
“Useless” he finished. Hannah came down with a bump.
“Hey” she cried, “useless?” 
“Ssssh!” he put a hand over her mouth again and whispered, “do you want us to get caught?” 
She fought him off, glaring with indignation. She had just run what felt like a marathon, in heels! She bloody well wasn’t useless. 
“I am not useless,” she hissed. 
He turned to face her. “What kind of sensible person sees a herd of murderous Mezards running at them with spears and just stands and stares?” He tilted his head to one side and raised his eyebrows, he was enjoying this advantage, she could tell, and it infuriated her. 
“Fine, but to be fair I have no idea where I am or what’s going on. I don’t even know what Mez-whatsits are!”
“Mezards. They’re in charge here. Do me a favour and don’t get caught by them. They don’t like people very much.”
“So why are you here then? And how did you know my name?”
“I sent for you. Well, not you specifically. If I’d known I would have asked for someone else but The Organisation said you were good.” he said. The Organisation? The email? Was that from them? But how did they know her name? This was all very strange. But she could think about that later. Right now she had some pride to regain.
“Are you always this rude?” she said.
“It’s not rude if it’s honest.” He smirked at her again. 

Hannah decided to give up. She wasn’t going to get the better of him now but she damn well would in the future. Kaspian was edging back towards the tunnel and she decided that she might as well follow. It couldn’t hurt. Once back on the rough earth of the tunnel floor she managed to get a better look at him. He was wearing rough clothes, all darkened by soot and dirt but practical. Light, tough and hardy. Taking a quick look at herself, she realised he was right to judge her useless. She looked ridiculous. Still wet through from the tumble into the pool, her tight pencil skirt had ridden right up her thighs so you could see the tops of her stockings. She pulled it down quickly. Her legs could barely move. The expensive flouncy top she had bought with last month’s bonus was torn, soaked in sweat and not at all becoming. And it was so tight she could barely lift her arms to her shoulders, let alone over her head. No wonder it had torn. What was the point in clothes if you couldn’t move in them? She wondered how on earth she hadn’t noticed it before.  She needed some better clothes but there was no time now, Kaspian was already beckoning to her and, determined to suceed, she followed him further into the labyrinth, towards the fiery lair. 

“So, why are we here?” she whispered as she got closer to him. There was a shriek of fury round the next corner and Kaspian pulled her quickly into a tunnel on the right as a troop of the Mezards hurled past them. Kaspian turned to her and put his finger to his lips in a warning. For once, Hannah obeyed without argument. When all was quiet, they emerged from their hideaway and sped silently onwards. They reached a crossroads in the path and he stopped, sniffing at the air, examining the ground. Before she could ask what on earth he was doing, he had shot off down the right path and she darted after him. Rude he might be, but she didn’t want to be left along for the Mezards to find. He knew what he was doing whereas she, well she would just have to get the hang of it. The path started climbing steeply and after several other sharp turns, Kaspian reached what he seemed to be looking for. There was another fissure in the rock about a foot deep. Kaspian edged into it purposefully and in another moment, he had vanished. Following, Hannah found that once in the gap there was a narrow passageway shooting off immediately to the right, totally invisible from the main tunnel. The fiery light, though weaker, was still present and she could make out his dusky silhouette, feeling the walls, searching, touching, moving on. What was he looking for? Eventually, just as she caught up with him, he stopped and she gasped at what he had found. A rough ladder, chiselled into the stone. Extremely rough, barely distinguishable from the stone all around them. What on earth? This place would never stop surprising her.

“She gasped at what he had found. A rough ladder, chiseled into the stone”
- Own photo -  

“How did you know-“ she began but he cut her off. 
“Legends spoke of it. I have been studying the old books of lore for years. They reveal many secrets about this place.” Seeing her look of confusion he continued. “Centuries ago, humans ruled these lands. They were driven underground by a dark power and these caves became their citadel. The darkness couldn’t reach them here. Some of the leaders wanted to build a great army, to come out of the mountain and fight. Reclaim their homelands. But no-one listened to them. They were thrown from power. The people preferred safety. And hiding.” Kaspian glowered again, then said, “The next cave is where they held their meetings, the  rebel leaders built these stairs so that they could see what was going on. So that they could be ready if the mood began to change.”
“And did it?” Hannah was breathless again, his voice was so beautiful. 
“I don’t know. Probably not, those people were cowards. The fires came and the entire race was wiped out. There are very few of us left now, only those who were on guard duty at the tunnel entrances. The Mezards came to dominance because they thrive on the fires. We burned” 

Kaspian leaned forward, testing the cut rock against his weight, feeling for hand holes above him. Hannah was yearning to know more. Finally someone was answering her questions. “So why are we here? Why did you come back?” she said.Kaspian looked at her hard. “To restore justice” was all he said. “Are you ready?” he asked her. His face glowed with exhilaration and Hannah was nodding before she knew what she was agreeing to. Kaspian was still speaking, “It’s a long climb, you might want to leave those behind, you wouldn’t manage” he said, gesturing to her heels. Defiantly she placed them back on her feet, ignoring the wincing pain. He shrugged, amused. “Your loss,” he said simply before turning his back on her and starting to climb. Triumphant at scoring a point over him, Hannah followed. She immediately regretted her decision. Her feet were agony. Every step was a nightmare but Hannah gritted her teeth against the pain and kept climbing. She wasn’t going to let him see her being weak. Not now. And so on she climbed. Step after step towards, what? 

As they climbed, Hannah began to hear echoes of noise. Harsh cries and loud cracks rent the air, cutting through the screaming that was making Hannah’s skin crawl. That endless crying pain that seemed to call through every rock. Something was needing their help, desperately. Mezards?  It couldn’t be. Suddenly Hannah twigged. She remembered the little creature she had seen earlier, fire pouring from its mouth, in terrible terrible pain and she retched against the rock face. Something horrible was happening here. At the top of the ladder she found Kaspian who pulled her over onto the ledge and bent to pull off her shoes. With a gasp she allowed the removal, ignoring the way he was smirking and rolling his eyes at her stubbornness. She was in terrible pain but she couldn’t let him see her cry. Besides, someone was in far greater pain than she was.

For Chapter Six - Mezards and Tikas - click here

© Isla Robertson 2017