Night fell. Ginette came back with one of her extra dresses, apologizing to me quietly about how it would be too big for my smaller lean frame. The package that had been left behind was a small dagger, easily concealed in the baggy servant gown I had donned. I did not touch my evening meal, a slight fear of it being drugged by the kitchen cook or my mother overtaking my desire to eat the rich food I grew up with.
Sir Aindrias entered, not even bothering to close the door behind him. The guards were in heavy sleep, their drinks spilled on the floor and slumped forms, snores like a summer thunder. Ginette gestured to me to follow Sir Aindrias down the creaking steps. As quietly as I could, I tried to avoid making the stairs creak as I made my way down the spiral steps I had been forced up just a week prior.
Sir Aindrias took the lead, peeking around the corners to make sure no guard spotted me. It was in the hallway of my mother’s suite where Ginette prodded about a wall, pulling at the sconces. My eyes widened as one gave way, a secret door opened.
“You two must move ahead without me. Be quiet, and I shall meet you in the Wandering Wizard Tavern. Your escort will meet you somewhere inside the passage.” Sir Aindrias gently pushed us in the direction of the opening.
I hugged Sir Aindrias, scared. “Thank you, Sir, for helping with my escape.”
“It is my duty, my lady. I have much to tell you when we are away from here. Now go, someone is approaching.”
Ginette grabbed my hand and pulled me into the passage. The door closed and plunged the passage in complete darkness. Leading me forward, Ginette continued through as if she could see.
I stumbled constantly, mumbling curses with each one.
“For Corhilios’ sake, I cannot see anything, Ginette!” I hoarsely shouted at her.
“Missus, just abit further, then I can light a torch so ya can see.”
I groan, feeling the ground slope beneath my feet as we descended deeper into the bowels of the passage. A putrid stench infiltrated my nostrils, my aching stomach now knotting and rolling. I felt faint and gagged.
“Where are we?” I choked out.
“The town sewers, Missus, guessing by the stink. Watch ya step, the middle has a canal ya don’t want to go a’swimming in.”
“I still cannot see, yet you order me to watch my step. Who is the noble here?”
“Sorry Missus. There are unlit torches on the wall; I’ll fetch it for ya.”
I heard her heavy steps splash through unseen puddles, her soft mutters sounding like whispers that echoed around in the sickening sewers. I shuddered, chilled by the damp air. An orange glow started filling the cavernous space, but did not reach deeper into the darkness like I wanted it to. Ginette smiled at me.
“There, now we can continue forward, and avoid the nasty canal.”
She took my hand and led me forward again. “You seem to know where to go, Ginnette?”
“Yes Missus, I’ve been down here before.”
I frown, confused as we took a turn. “Why?”
“Many of the servants go through this passage just to leave the grounds. Rumor was that right before we was born an uprising failed in here.”
“An uprising… I’m glad I’m not the only one who thinks my mother is terrible.”
We took another turn and a large rat bolted across the wet floor. I squeaked; the thing was horrific to look at. Ginette seemed unbothered by it.
“Don’t worry Missus, it won’t come to us. It hates the light.”
I shivered and there was a sickening crunch, something crumbling under my foot. I yelped and dangerously sidestepped towards the sewer canal. I had stepped on and broke a large bone. Ginette turned to me quickly.
“Missus! Do not take another step! Ya might fall in!”
“I just stepped on a bone! Ew!” We had completely disregarded whispering, our voices echoing around, bouncing off the walls.
“WHO GOES THERE?!” Another voice boomed from another corridor. This new voice sounded very much like the head guard of the manor.
Ginette spotted the incoming light source before I did,
coming in from behind, grabbing my hand and broke into a run, half dragging me