Thursday, April 3, 2014

The Hunter Prince: The Impossible Climb

Janiva tested the wall for five full minutes before she gave up. She tried different places for her hands and feet; she leaned back to see if she could reach the far wall. She tried the other wall, went up a few feet, then slipped back down. Cyjar, watching quietly, nodded his head: it was too steep, and the stone was just damp enough to be slippery. After a moment, Janiva placed her hands on the heavy wooden beams that braced the remaining stairs. There was a crossbeam just above her reach, and she gathered herself to jump for it.

"Don't," said Morius. "With a section missing from the middle, those stairs are even more likely to collapse than they were when we were walking on them. The whole top section could tear loose, and drop you right back down here. That's ignoring--" he coughed, "--the likelihood that it, and you, would land directly on top of us."

Janiva frowned at Morius for a moment. Then her expression softened. "I suppose you're right," she said. She eyed the wood thoughtfully. "If we set it on fire, would the smoke bring help?"

Cyjar touched a beam. "It's pretty damp. That might mean a lot of smoke... if we can get it to burn at all." He looked down at Morius. "Would the smoke go through the door? Or past it?"

"I don't know," said Morius. "The door's heavy, but I think some smoke would go around the edges. It might not be enough, unless someone happened to be standing in the wine cellar. And we might be very uncomfortable while it was burning."

"Then we either wait here," said Janiva, "or we move away before we set the stairs on fire." She looked out to the edge of the magical light that Cyjar had summoned. They had fallen through the middle of the stairs, leaving a tall section behind them and a lower section blocking the way between them and whatever passageway the stairs were supposed to lead to. "Someone will come looking for us."

"We should wait," said Cyjar. "If nobody comes, we can rest - and then heal Morius' leg."

Janiva scowled. "I'd rest better with a blanket."

"Oh!" Cyjar fumbled at his belt, then opened a hard leather pouch. Reaching in with his his fingertips, he pulled out a containing-crystal. He examined it briefly, then tapped it with one finger.

The crystal dissolved, and a set of blankets blossomed in its place.

"I was thinking about the hunt," Cyjar said, apologetically. "I forgot I had them with me."

Janiva took a blanket off the pile, and spread it over Morius. "What else do you have?"

Cyjar hesitated. "Food and water, a sword. Arrows and bowstrings, but no bow."

Morius chuckled. "I thought I was the sneaky one. Well... rest if you can. I'd like to be healed."

"You two should rest," said Cyjar. "I'll listen, in case anyone comes looking for us."

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