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[personal profile] wonder_city
Early post because I'm sure other folks need other things to think about today. I sure do.

“At least we didn’t have to be dunked,” said Christopher, examining the granite slabs that made up the walls.

“Shut up,” said Tom, seated on the stone floor of their prison, chin determinedly on her fists.

“Seriously,” said Christopher, accidentally nudging Tom with his foot as he squeezed past her. “Did you see what was in the wat--”

“SHUT UP,” said Tom. She swatted irritably at his leg.

“I suppose,” said their once-upon guide from his rickety wooden stool against the wall, “It would be in bad taste to say ‘I told you so,’ so I won’t.”

“It would,” said Tom. “And besides, you didn’t. And besides, coming here was your idea."

“I told you not to trust me.”

“No, you didn’t,” protested Christopher.

It was too dark now to see the saturnine man, but Tom could hear the rustle as he moved, and a sigh. “Well, I’m an OBVIOUS villain-prototype, if you chose to trust me, it’s your own fault. We’re not reliable, even with the best of intentions. Everyone knows that.”

“Did you stab the Dean just because you’re not reliable?” snapped Tom.

“No,” said their erstwhile guide, somewhat sadly. “I had an irresistible compulsion. It might have been that it’s been a while since I stabbed anyone in the back, but it came on so quickly that I’m more inclined to think it was Her.”

“Godmother?” whispered Christopher.

“Shhhh!” hissed the villain-prototype. “I have told you and told you that she has ways of listening!”

“Even here,” said Tom. “D’you think she’s the sword?”

“Almost undoubtedly,” said their long-ago guide dryly. “Or, rather, She is speaking through it, as a sort of telecommunication device.”

“It’s a cell phone?” asked Tom, bewildered.

“It’s a palantir?” asked Christopher, horrified.

“Your archaic language, while doubtless poetic, is of no use in the present conversation,” replied the almost-villain with a heavy dose of sarcasm. “It’s a sword that She is... able to use to listen and speak through. Is that clear? Given that the President seems to be in the habit of consulting it...”

“Does that mean these... freedom fighters are just another little scheme of hers?” Tom was surprised by how disappointed she was.

“That would seem to be the case, yes.”

Christopher said, plaintively, “What for?”

“I’m not as worried about that as about what’s likely to happen to the Dean,” said Tom.

“It does seem as though Herself has a particular animosity to your friend,” said the part-time villain.

“The Dean thought so too,” said Tom, just as the heavy wooden trapdoor which opened into their basement was lifted. Tom could see the flare of a torch.

A smoky voice with the broadest Scotch accent she had ever heard said, “Are any of ye doon there hurt?”

“No,” said Christopher. He was, to give him credit, at least a little wary.

“Gude. Hang on a wee minute.”

They stared at each other (as best they could in the dark) and then a rope ladder fell down from the beams surrounding the trapdoor. “Up ye get,” said the voice.

Tom seized the ladder. Climbing up was a lot more difficult than rope ladders look in the movies. She could hear Christopher complaining on this theme behind her and their once-guide hissing something impatient.

Above ground, it seemed to be very late. Only a few torches burned outside tents, and the air had the flat, chilly taste of the wee hours.

Their rescuer -- if rescuer she was, Tom thought -- hushed them and started to lead them away towards the edge of the camp. Tom thought about asking questions, but then considered: what could possibly be worse than sitting in a dark basement waiting for the President of the Wartime Republic to decide on their punishment?

When they had gone a little way into the woods, they met a small group of people. There was a mutter, and then someone opened up a lantern (it actually had a flame in it, Tom noted peripherally). Their rescuer stuck out a hand, “I’m Iona mac Cormaic, and I am weel pleased to meet ye. Come along, we’ve a safe place for ye.” Tom blinked.

“What about the Dean?” asked Christopher. “She wasn’t being kept with us, we need to rescue her too!”

“Och, aye. She’s the one told us where ye were.”

Tom, meanwhile had been examining their companions, who closely resembled the Merry Men and Women. “I’m pretty sure I saw you at the feast,” she said to a woman whose red hair was streaked with gray and bound in braids around her head.

“That you did. I’m Mor McKellan,” she replied, “But all you see here are safe bind, lassie. Come along and see fer yersel’.”

They followed their small group of rescuers into the woods, passing several points where their new friends had to exchange passwords with guards hidden in the shadows and behind trees. Finally, they emerged into a clearing where the grass had been trampled down, and perhaps a hundred people were sitting in a circle around the clearing, on blankets. Many had little candle lanterns, so the effect was of a midnight picnic.

As they approached the circle, a tall, familiar androgynous figure stood up and approached them. “Dean!” said Christopher.

“I see Iona and Mor got you out safely,” said the Dean.

“Och, weel, all it took was a wee dram to their guard,” said Iona. “‘Twas quick work.”

“He’s mickle young to be on his feet all night, that one,” said Mor. “He’ll naught tell of a pretty lassie and a cup of something, eh?” The two of them laughed and looked at a third, younger woman, who laughed as well.

Tom whispered to Christopher, "I thought we had some sort of instant-translator thing."

Christopher shrugged, wide-eyed. "Maybe it can't understand them either."

“Where are we?” asked Tom more loudly, trying not to be plaintive.

“That’s a thing,” said Mor. “Tis with us you are.”

Iona seemed to understand the implied question, and added, “This, then, is the true revolution, lassie. We call oorselves the Web. I’m mostly a Marxist; Mor here is a folloower of Freire, and I’m dommed if I can pronoounce it.”

Mor laughed. “You didn’t take the Republic seriously, did you?”

Date: 2012-11-06 05:10 pm (UTC)
the_rck: (Default)
From: [personal profile] the_rck
This is definitely a much needed distraction. All I can do right now is wait (and take my daughter to the dentist, but I'll still be waiting while I do that). I do find myself wondering if having an adventure is quite as much fun as Christopher expected.

Thanks for writing!


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