Chapter Nine - Behind the Round Door

Story so far:

Hannah is in the midst of a strange adventure in a world full of lava, rock and cruelty. Having survived a deadly curtain of fire, she still might be caught by the pursuing Mezards. That is unless Kaspian can get them through a door in the ceiling…

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With no time for manners, Kaspian scaled the wall quickly and prised the door open without knocking. Hannah muttering, “a door, of course there is”, followed suit. She had just climbed through and watched Kaspian heave the oak door shut when they heard the ominous sound of the hunt screeching down the stair case below them. 
“That was close,” she said aloud. “Where next?”
“Lets get some clothes, this is a storeroom. There should be something lying around. And there’s some pools, you can wash the smoke off. Then we can plan.” 

“she blushed at the thought of running all that way with no clothes on”
- Own photo - 

Breaking open some barrels Kaspian fished out what he was looking for and disappeared. Hannah heard a splash from round the corner. She found her own pool on the other side of the store room and dipped into it quickly, embarrassed suddenly at her body. The removal of danger had given way to shame and she blushed at the thought of running all that way with no clothes on. She sunk deeply into the pool enjoying the soothing effects of the cool water and stroking the remnants of the fire off her skin. It was quite clean and new again. She was astonished. How was it possible? Every law of nature told her she should have been burnt, at least injured. How was her skin so untouched? Perhaps it was because of the icy water. Maybe they had cancelled each other out. But it was still odd. She ducked right under the water, weaving her fingers through her loose hair and feeling the swirls and eddies of water caress her body. She rose the water, Kaspian was nowhere in sight. Drying herself on an old linen shirt she found some rugged trousers. They were at least three times too big but they were all that she had. In want of a bra she swaddled her chest in strips of linen and did the same for shoes, knowing how impossible it would be to run in the types of boots they had lying around here. Belting the trousers up with more linen she picked up the damp shirt and went in search of answers. 

She found Kaspian in an ante-chamber pouring over some old maps. He suited the rustic clothes much better than she did. They weren’t so different from his old ones. Just slightly more old fashioned. He looked up as she entered and suppressed a snort. She glowered. “I don’t look that bad,” she said hands on hips. 
“Course not,” he said, smirking, “There’s food if you want it. Bread, ham, pickles. And water in that jug. Nothing fancy but its good.”
“I thought you said this place was inhabited centuries ago,” she wrinkled her nose.
“It was but I brought this here a few days ago, on my way in”
“Are we near the surface?” she said as she broke off a chunk of bread. She hadn’t realised how hungry she was. 
“We’re quite near,” he said. “That passage we were on, before we came down the stairs, that leads to one of the gates.” 
“Can I see it?”
“No, unless you help me, then maybe I’ll take you there myself. Show you my gratitude” he winked as he said it and she blushed.
“Do the Mezards know it’s there?” she said, changing the subject, swallowing a bit of bread hard.
“Of course they do”
“Why don’t they go there?”
“They don’t want to. They prefer it here. They like fire. And they like being the most powerful beings. They wouldn’t want to contend with the blackness. They go up sometimes though, on raiding parties. That’s how they got the Tikas.” He frowned again as he said it. 

Realisation crept over her. She knew now why she was here. She had suspected it all along, even hoped it when she had seen the torture but now faced with the prospect of it she shrank back. She was overwhelmed by the magnitude of the task. It was surely impossible. She looked at him. “We can’t help them Kaspian, you said it yourself. The Mezards are too strong, there’s too many of them. We can’t fight them. I don’t even know how to fight.” She trailed off, unsure, lost for words. She had been lost since she left the office really. Maybe she wasn’t the adventuring sort after all. She couldn’t help these creatures. If it hadn’t been for Kaspian she would be dead already. 

“Look” she said, eyes downcast, “I wish they weren’t captured. I wish I could help you but I can’t. I don’t know what I’m doing here. I keep getting everything wrong. I’m slowing you down. I think, I think it would be better if I just, if I just went home. I’m sorry.”

For Chapter Ten - The Plan - click here

© Isla Robertson 2017