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Stories from the Verse
For Better or Verse
Chapter 47: Slade 62
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It quickly became apparent that there was an unanticipated complication involved in getting Phasius out of the castle. He was not entirely well. Although he had not been tortured, neither had he been well tended. They gave him a bit of food and water immediately; but he was unsteady on his feet, clearly stiff and sore and in need of exercise, not at all in shape for what lay ahead. When climbing the ladder left him winded, Slade recognized that they needed a new plan.
"We've got to find another way out of this castle," he said.
"What other way?" Filp answered. "We came in over the wall; as far as I know, it's back the same way or out through the front gate--and unless you're going to pull a much more impressive trick out of your hat than I think you've got, going out the front gate means announcing our presence."
"I know, I know," Slade said. "All the same, even if we can get this man through the guard barracks unnoticed, he is not going to be able to climb down a rope. We would have to lower him--and with even a few guards on the walls, well, we can't very well drop him and hide if they come around."
They had reached the dungeon gate.
"Lower this slowly," Filp said. "Let's hope we're lucky twice." The gate went down with as much noise as it had made coming up, and a bit of extra as it found the floor. "I can't think of any choice but to lower him from the wall. And don't forget, we're going to have to do it again--we've got to get out of the city tonight, too."
"I can get us out of the city," Phasius said. Filp and Slade both looked at him. "I know someone who will get us out. But what hope is there outside the walls?"
Filp looked to Slade; Slade answered. "Outside the walls we have horses; our companion is watching for us. We have a place to hide which we can reach by mid morning, if all goes well. But first we have to get out of the castle, and then out of the city."
"What was your plan?" Phasius asked.
This time Filp explained. "We came up the castle wall and crept through the guard barracks. We were going to go back the way we came, and then go over the city wall much the same way. But you don't look like you can manage climbing down a rope."
"And we hadn't thought of that," Slade added.
Phasius steadied himself, and stood to his full height. He was not so tall, particularly compared to Slade's towering height; but he was taller than Filp. "What we must do, we can do. Get us out of the castle; I will get us out of the city."
Slade shrugged. He'd been killed before; if Phasius was killed on this trip, he'd be out of the castle and probably with the Caliph, or Odin, or someone on the other side. "All right. We've got to be quiet, and you've got to follow directions. This way."
The door to the barracks was unlocked; Slade pulled out the mirror to check beyond it. As he had suspected before, the magic had passed; but given a minute he was able to bring the image back to it. The room beyond was lit, but appeared empty.
"Go," he said, and Filp opened the door. In they went, and out the door on the far side. Slade scanned ahead in the mirror as quickly as he could, leading the way up the tower steps toward the battlements above.
Reaching the top, he raised his hand to stop them. Something was moving in the image on the mirror.
There is a behind-the-writings look at the thoughts, influences, and ideas of this chapter, along with ten other sequential chapters of this novel, in mark Joseph "young" web log entry #180: Versers Focus. Given a moment, this link should take you directly to the section relevant to this chapter. It may contain spoilers of upcoming chapters.
As to the old stories that have long been here: