Runa’s scream cut off as the ledge on the opposite side slammed into her stomach. Her chest and her arms folded over the top, and she had pulled herself up to be firmly on solid ground before Jorir had crossed the distance.
“Roll!” He shouted.
“Huh?” She rolled from her front to her back even as she spoke.
Jorir’s boots thudded loudly into the ground a moment later, exactly where she had been laying. “Nice reactions.”
She took a deep breath and let out a cough. “Somehow, I don’t think Einarr would approve of that method.”
“Perhaps not,” he agreed.
“You will regret that, you realize.” She was still catching her breath. He couldn’t allow her too much more time for that, though.
“Perhaps. But it was the fastest, most assured way of getting us both across – as long as you didn’t see it coming.”
She harrumphed – an amusing sound on any woman, but most especially on one so young – and rose, dusting herself off. “You haven’t heard the end of this. Let’s move on.”
Einarr and Troa had made it past the knives that stuck out randomly from walls and floor and were probably poisoned – they thought. Then the passageway opened out into a small room. In the center of the room was an uncomfortable-looking stone chair with manacles built into the arms. Einarr raised an eyebrow at Troa, who shrugged. They started across, and when they had nearly reached the seat the door behind them slammed shut.
Startled, Einarr turned to look behind. Where there had been a door, now there was another of those blasted steel shutters. He shook his head: they weren’t coming back this way, anyway. There did not appear to be anything else in the room, and then writing on the back of the seat caught his attention.
“Cursebreaker, Glutton, and Thief,” Einarr read. “Fate decrees that only two may continue. The one who remains will find that they envy Loki’s fate.”
A strange clicking sound echoed through the room, like clockwork, followed by a faint scraping of stone on stone. Einarr looked up, and then had to duck back quickly to avoid the drop of liquid that fell from the new opening in the ceiling. Whatever it was, the smell was putrid. Likely it was related to the smell on those knives that popped up seemingly at random in the hall.
“There are weapons on the wall.” Troa mused. “As though she expected a bloody fight in this room.”
“There are limits to her Sight after all, I think,” Einarr answered. “There’s nothing we need to do in here.”
Troa hummed and followed Einarr toward the door. “You’re plainly the Cursebreaker. We all know that by now. I can own that I’m probably the Thief. But who in the name of all the gods would the Glutton be?”
Einarr just shrugged as he hurried on.
A few moments later, Troa spoke again. “Even if there had been three of us, I don’t think that fight would have gone like she expected.”
Einarr chortled. “Likely not, no. We may have come to blows over who was to stay behind, but because we all had good reasons it should be ourselves.”
Troa gave an answering chuckle and then the two fell silent again.
Some time later, Einarr broke the silence. “Is it just me, or has this been too easy?”
“The Weavess has had well nigh twenty years to plan her escape. So why haven’t we run into anything more deadly than dripping poison?”
Troa stopped ahead of Einarr and turned to face him. “You think we’re missing something.”
Troa pursed his lips, thinking, and all the while he examined the space around them. “…I think there’s a curve in this wall.”
“It’s felt too long to you, too, then?”
“Far. I think she has us going around in circles.”
“But if there was an open passageway, we’d have seen it. Just a moment.” Einarr opened his belt pouch and dug around inside. Before too long, his fingers closed on exactly what he was after: the runestone he had carved last fall, engraved with ᚨ. Along with Wisdom came Sight, after all, and he desperately needed to see right now. He closed his eyes and willed the runestone to life.
When he opened his eyes again, it was as though the tunnel was lit with the full light of the sun. The fading glow from Sinmora almost hurt his eyes, but if Troa was going to be of any use at all he needed to be able to see, too. Even with the apparent increase of light, though, he could see details on the walls he never would have without the rune. He blinked several times, trying to get used to the sensation. “Well. That’s… bizarre. And distracting. Don’t count on me to do much other than notice things for a little, Troa.”
“Never fear, milord. I’ll have your back, same as always.”
Einarr was sure he would: he shrugged, a little uncomfortably, but Einarr was going to have to get used to that sooner or later. He turned about where he stood, searching for a join that might indicate a secret door in the rough stone walls.
“Not here. Let’s keep going.”
Troa marked the wall with a piece of charcoal he kept on hand and on they jogged, Troa keeping his eyes open for immediate threats while Einarr scanned their surroundings for any sort of a clue. By the time they returned to the mark on the wall, Einarr had spotted three likely locations, and no way to return to the room with the chair.
The other thing he had not been able to see was any way to open the doors from inside the hallway. “There must be a mechanism somewhere,” he mused. “Even if the trigger for the doors to open was meant to be someone sitting in the chair, something would have to operate out here, as well.”
“And now is when I wish you had Arring around instead of me. He could make short work of this stone, I’m sure.”
“But Arring would never have spotted those blades in the hall,” Einarr answered without even thinking. “I will mark the three doors and then give you some light.”
“What do you expect me to do?”
“Open them. One of them, anyway. Find the catch. I plainly don’t know what to look for.” He looked straight at the scout, weighing his options. Then he decided to take a chance. “Sivid could do it. Prove to me you can.”
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