Chapter Four: The Anguish's Odour
The faecal matter could be felt hardening in Kate's usually light weight hair. Inside her loose men's clothing she could feel more of the sewerage matter caking onto her skin. The worst thing about it was the smell. She was having problems not gagging continuously. She had already vomited twice now and her throat was burning with the pain of her stomach acid. At least the Gastric acid was killing dome of the taste that was still plaguing her mouth, with bits of poo grime still wedged between her teeth. When she got back to camp – she was going to murder Garm for this ridiculous plan.
“I think it would be best to find somewhere to clean ourselves off as soon as we escape this maze.”
Kate really couldn't agree any more with Kenai and his logic. The drying dung was not exactly a pleasant feeling.
“What's tha point? Where just goin' ta get drenched in blood afta anyway.”
Of course the Barbarian didn't care, he probably rolled around in his own bodily fluids on a daily basis. He was a bit of a swine, so such a pass time wouldn't surprise.
“You fail to see the point. With us all reeking like shit, we aren't exactly going to be sneaking up on anyone.”
Kenai had always taken a more stealthy and assassin approach to combat, it was definitely a valid point he raised. Simply being clean though was still more to her concern. Although she did not like the idea of finding somewhere to bath along side Jack. There was no way she was going to strip bare and wash in front of that perverted Neanderthal.
“Let's just cut 'em head on then aye. Who cares if we raise tha alarm? Once we off the fat Duke it's sure to rin' anyway.”
One minute the brute enjoys killing from behind, the next he just wants to start a full on, front on, assault. Is all the brute really cared about was slaughtering regardless of the means? “Is the only thing you know how to do, is kill?”
“Didn't I just save yah life?”
Why had Jack saved her life. She honestly thought she was dead for sure when she lost her grip on the rope back at the pipe's edge. She certainly had not expected Jack Striker of all people to save her from a grim plummet to a cold watery death. A man who had earned the title The Decimator in combat certainly didn't seem like a man who'd risk his own life to save another. After everything the brute had done and tried, it seemed more than a touch out of character for him to suddenly go rescuing her. She could not think of Jack as a good person, no she knew much better than that – but maybe, maybe there was some hope for him as a human.
“I guess I owe you for that.”
“Bloody oath yah do!”
Being in debt to Jack was not a pleasant thought, the image of her drowning in the chaotic ocean though was far less pleasing. She gave as good a smile as she could in thanks, covered in crap there wasn't a great deal to make her want to smile.
“So Katherine, do you know which way we are meant to be going.”
Thankfully Kate had an unusually good memory, probably born from needing to memorise the exact quantity of specific ingredients to thousands of different concoctions, so she could remember the sewerage layout and castle blueprints almost off by heart. Good thing the Commander had trusted that information to her, Jack would have forgotten that for sure and Kenai, well Kate had no idea what went on within that guy's head.
“We need to take a turn left not too far up ahead then we'll need to go right about a hundred feet and we'll be under the bathhouse; however, if we continue on and take another left we'll reach the prison blocks sooner to rescue Julian first. We could rescue him first, give ourselves another man and sneak back through the drains to the bath house then take out the Duke.”
The idea of rescuing Julian while smelling as she did was not overly appealing but at least she could guarantee his rescue first.
“Don't be a stupid wench. Yah save Jules he's just goin' to get 'imself killed with no weapon.”
Jack didn't understand – Julian wasn't weak. He could handle himself so long as she was here.
“I must agree with the topless savage. In addition if we do that we'll raise the alarm when they notice the empty cell. If we take out the command first, the alarm won't be as much of a threat.”
Even Kenai, didn't they understand Julian could be killed while they dilly-dallied about.
“Look Katie, I wanna get Julia out also. I'd love to punch tha' bastard in the face for getting' 'imself caught. If we save 'im now, he's as good as dead an' so are we.” Jack actually looked serious. “Dyin' ain't on my agenda.” His stern stoic face returned to it's usual oversized grin. “How's 'bout we kill everyone before we get their aye – that way we make sure none o' 'em can hurt him.”
Maybe there was some kindness within the infamous Jack Striker after all. She wanted to believe, but she had a thin scar underneath her left, bony shoulder blade to remind her otherwise.
With a sigh she finally agreed with the idea of cleaning then removing the Duke from the mixture. “Fine, let's just make this quick then.”
The positive to the new plan was she could greet Julian not infected with the odour that currently hovered around them in an eerie brown and green haze. Pushing through the sewerage's swamp, they plunged their way through the maze of pipes. She counted each one of the source routes until they reached the nineteenth on the left hand side and took a sharp turn. The only thing that made sound was the gushing water and the heavy breaths of herself and Jack. Kenai's breathing was deathly silent – it sent chills up her spine.
“Hey Kenai, what's your last name?”
Katherine felt more than a little disrespectful not knowing his family name.
“Kenai is, my last name.” He smiled at her to inform her it wasn't meant as an insult.
Well that was not what Kate expected, she knew some cultures only used first names with close relatives but Kenai's semi-bronze complexion did not look like that of such a culture. There was no harm in asking though, right?
“What about your first name?”
Kenai's faeces coated ponytail whipped about as he turned his grey eyes to face her.
“My name is of no relevance. We are trying to be stealthy.”
He had a point, she wasn't overly interested in talking anyway. She only really asked out of courtesy.
Muffled sounds started to come from above, more than likely guards doing the rounds, babbling like idiots thinking they were perfectly safe within the castle walls; how surprised they would be when she, Jack and Kenai jumped them and shoved truth serum down their throats. It would be their own fault for patrolling so casually. Unfortunately the fact they were within earshot meant they would have to slow down. Splashing as loud as a whale's tail fin slapping the sea resounded from behind her. Clearly Jack the caveman had no intention of slowing down, instead he was speeding up.
“Hey.” she was trying to whisper and shout at the same time. “What are you doing.”
His face was terrifying, Cast in the shadows of the dark pipe. His brow seemed larger than normal, causing the darkness to pool around his eyes. His nose stuck out of his face like the blade of a scimitar. His hair was still plastered down in a ghostly shade of red and brown hanging down like sharp vicious talons. His yellow teeth were the worst though, they were the most visible feature in the dark confines, their jagged edges looking like the fangs of a monster ready to pounce on its prey.
The one to pounce was Kenai. The youth span in the slush and hammered a series of fists into Jacks gut. Normally a man would have been winded from such blows but Kate knew better. Jack's grin grew wider while Kenai's face fell into a state of horror. With a powerful back hand Kenai was sent flying deeper into the dark abyss of the drain. Suddenly a sense of claustrophobia enveloped Kate as she realised she was now standing alone with The Decimator in a very dark and cramped maze. How many paths had they passed? How far were they from the bath house? Was she going to end up drifting out the pipe and out into the ocean after all? She tried to find one of her poison capsules. Without Jack they didn't have a chance of saving Julian – but she would let him kill her.
A loud crash echoed from above. The Decimator's death stare snapped upward. He looked like he was going to crash through the ground and tear whatever enemies lied above into pieces of gory flesh and muscle. The real threat erupted from below as Kenai returned from the river of waste and grabbed he monster's head in a sleeping hold, snapping his jaw shut so he wouldn't alert the guards with a furious roar. Thrashing about, the Goliath tossed his weight to and fro – trying to rip Kenai's grip from his skull. All Kate could do was watch the scene take place, rooted by a senseless fear.
“Calm down Jack. Please, hear me. I know your in there.” Such a soothing and calming voice, it was like Kenai had tamed the flailing beast previously.
Slowly Jack began to succumb to Kenai's hold and his movement became sluggish. Jack's eyes seemed lighter than before – his face less distorted.
A strangely weak voice escaped from between Striker's sharp teeth. “Yah bastard, 'et off me.”
Kenai dropped back into the knee deep water. “Good, your back to your senses. Now lets follow the plan before you decided getting us caught is a better idea.”
The youthful Kenai had half his face bloated from Jack's powerful blow. It was amasing that the skinny bloke had remained conscious after the strike; it was going to bruise and blacken for certain.
“Hey Kate, which way are we going.”
Like a whip crack she snapped out of her daunted daze. She tried to piece together her thoughts, how many pipes had routes had they passed, how many exits did they need to pass to get to the Bath house section of the Castle.
“Ah, I believe it's the next passage to the right and we'll be almost directly underneath the Baths.”
“Good, let's get going. Oh, and Jack, you may wish to keep your composure – else Katherine’s going to stab you with that snake's venom in her hand.”
Kate had forgotten she was still holding the syringe in preparation to defend herself. She barely remembered finding the nasty toxin. She went to return the miniature weapon back into her small pouch filled, which was filled to the brim with liquid guano. Cringing as she placed it amongst the muck, she made certain the syringe had its safety nib on its sharp stinging tip.
The three re-embarked on their conquest even quieter than they had initially. Wading through the waste the crept below the voices that could be heard from distorted sound of words from above. Turning to the corner the followed down the passage, trying not to breath in the toxic fumes. In the dark cylinder hallway, little could be seen but their bodies creeping through the sewerage. The occasional spider dangling from the roof of the pipe forced them to move to one side. Kate was familiar with what spiders where deadly and which were not; in such darkness however, there was no way for her to tell what kind of spider it was. There was one such arachnid in the Greenthorne region that she knew could kill within moments of biting it's prey – she was not going to take any chances. Dozens of small little pipes, on the sides of the large main, poured water in around them, a hint of light sparkling in their circumferences. They had to be under the bath house now.
Surprisingly, it was Kenai to break the silence with a whisper. “So how do we get up?”
The blueprints hadn't marked any locations for ladders or the like, more than likely their wouldn't be any. They were probably going to have to break through the floor – not that she wished to mention that fact.
“There is an antechamber alcove up ahead, how best chances lie there.”
It would be better to break through a few bricks in the roof than smash through the concrete, stone and the bricks that currently sat between them and the Castle floor above.
“Tha hell? How's an ant chamba goin' to 'elp us?”
Kate really did not want to have to explain it to the thick skulled beast. “Antechamber, not an ant chamber. In this situation it's a small square area where a tonne of large pipes from above get poured into one bigger pipe – the one we are in now. The roof of said area should be high enough to be relatively close to the castle floor. With a bit of luck, there will hopefully be a ladder?”
Dammit, she had said too much. “Well, honestly, I don't know if there are any ladders out of here. We may need to break through the floor.”
staggering to the side, Kate felt Jack push past her.
“I was gonna do 'at anyway.”
With Jack in the lead they reached the alcove where water gushed from above. There were five pipes above with different shades of liquid: The first pipe gushed out a white tinted water, most likely filled with soaps; the second was pure clean water, a nice relief from the rest; the third flowed with a range of colours and lumps of discarded food, probably from one of the nearby kitchen areas; the fourth was salt water; the final one was flowing rather dismally and was the attractive blend of brown they had experienced thus far. All five of the sources poured the different fluids to create some of the sewerage concoction they had been walking through for the past half hour. There were two positives to where Kate was now standing. The first was the clean water gushing out of one drain, which she gratefully stood underneath like a shower. The second was a hatch to the ground floor above with a small platform equipped with a ladder. On the negative side, the platform was several foot up with the ladder folded up and out of reach.
Wiping off as much of the crap that had stained her skin as possible while she stood in the sewerage concoction under the clean water, Kate tried to think of a way to reach the ladder. Kenai looked at her equally as confused at to how they could defy the obstacle before them. No one, not even Jack spoke; the roof above them was now far too thin and the voices of the patrolling guards from somewhere in the bath house. From what Kate could make out of their conversation they were talking about friends who had fallen to arrows. There were good men and women on both sides of a war, and a similar amount of fallen comrades on each side.
“I 'ot an idea.”
Kate shoved her finger to her lips, preying the patrol hadn't heard Jack. The enemy seemed far to concerned with their remorseful chatter.
Stepping out of the water flow the three huddled up to whisper as quietly as possible.
“So what's your idea?” Trusting Jack with a plan didn't seem like the best idea but their was no harm in finding out what is idea was.
“I throw one o' yah up and yah drop tha ladder.”
Kate just blinked in reaction – that was an absurd plan.
“Alright, just watch you don't throw me into the bricks”
Was Kenai mad?
“Nah worries.” Jack The Decimator smiled a none too reassuring grin.
Sure enough, Jack grabbed Kenai around the gut and started to spin. With a mighty toss – he ditched Kenai up into the air like a perfectly thrown shot-put. Kate watched from below as the Youth sailed through the empty space before grabbing the base of the platform between his gloved hands. The platform swayed slightly but was surprisingly silent. She gave a sigh of relief as Kenai started to swing himself up onto the edge – then the ladder creaked. It had become unhooked and was beginning to fling itself out. It was going to crash in a sound of metal and alert the entire Castle, her heart pounded as she envisioned having to fight through every guard in the vicinity. Still clutching onto the platform with one arm, Kenai caught the ladder with his other.
Kate's heart continued to beat spastic-ally even while Kenai lowered the Ladder slowly into place. She didn't know if she could handle any more close calls.
Kate shook her head in bafflement; it wasn't the most delicately worded statement but the offer seemed far more gentlemanly than Kate thought Jack was capable of. Climbing up the ladder she made her way to the platform. Kenai was already up and turning the hatch to escape the dreadful sewers.
This one goes back to Kate's perspective. Kind of feeling that with me throwing them all straight into the thick of it that I'm having to push aside a great deal of Kate's personality for the present time. This is kind of bothering but I'm just not sure how to work it in there effectively given their current situation. Even some of her "I can do it" attitude gets lost for the sake of foreshadowing and back story hints.