Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Day Six-Fifty-Three: Sloth recreational sports

Good lords above. This is surely the apocalypse.

Celine and I couldn't manage to locate Dragomir, dad, and the rest of our company yesterday. There's just too much activity in and around the palace. Guards and soldiers are running back and forth everywhere, leading delegates and politicians and noblemen/women to safe places, and constant calls for backup in other sections of the city are changing their plans every five minutes. Chaos reigns, because of one fuzzy little terror.

Roughly a third of Rodentia's defense force has been wiped out thanks to the sloth, I've overheard. Apparently there are plans to escape up the Stalk of Rodentia if things get any worse. A poor plan, that - if this Stalk is anything like the Stalk of Cheem, it must be encrusted in ice right now. Anything's preferable to a sloth, though, I guess.

Celine and I spent the night in an ignored storeroom, down in the dungeons. Filched some food to fill our barren stomachs. Couldn't find our old clothing, but we did locate close approximations - as well as a lot of very familiar-looking stuff. Like, from-the-Dauphine stuff. 

After successfully evading a massive influx of guards on their way up to street level this morning, Celine and I crept back into the dungeons. She checked the southern wing; I checked the east. It was a tense two hours, slipping through darkened, fearful corridors, surrounded by pleading inmates and the sounds of activity overhead. Twice more, massive impacts rocked the walls around us; twice more I ducked, just to be safe.

I don't know what Celine found, but I found Libby.

Libby was nude and strapped into an interrogation chair, her head drooped and unresponsive. Her arms, legs, chest and belly were covered in little bloody nicks, and her face was ashen grey. A thin layer of dust lay on her skin. She was unconscious and alone when I found her, with no evidence that she'd been attended to for the last day or so. 

"LIBBY!" I yelled, dashing forward and covering her with my cloak. I quickly undid the metal restraints holding her in place. "Gods alive, Libby, what'd they..."

Libby groaned. Her eyes fluttered open... and when she realized that her hands were free, they jabbed up at my throat. 

"Where the fuck am I?" she hissed, spitting chunks of dry blood out of her mouth.

I strangled a short "Rodentia" and "dungeon", my windpipe too restricted to say much else.

Eyes widening a little, Libby wheezed a cough and let me go. She shivered under the cloak. "Water?"

Doubled over, I handed her a small canteen. She downed as much water as she could manage, then puked most of it up on the floor. That seemed to bring back her full awareness, though far from full strength.

They'd interrogated her. Tortured her. For three days straight Libby was harassed by two questioning women, both demanding answers. They knew she was the engineer behind the Dauphine, a fact probably gleaned from another prisoner, and they wanted full details on its construction and capabilities. Most important, they wanted to know if it could be repaired, and quickly. They'd humiliated and brutalized Libby into talking, cutting her with a small dagger, punching her in the stomach, stripping her naked to crush her spirit.

Then the sloth had penetrated the city. That was the end of the interrogation. Libby was abandoned, left to accumulate dust as it shook down from the ceiling, a testament to the carnage outside.

After allowing Libby to rest a short while, I helped her hobble into the nearby corridor and back, back, back to the storeroom. We found her clothes, we fetched her some food, and despite the pain of her wounds and the weakness of her condition Libby was already looking a great deal better - 

- when the world came down on us. Again.

We'd just left the storeroom and headed out into one of the main corridors, cautiously watching for troops, when the entire palace was seized by a fantastic rumble. Every bit of stone in the place seemed poised to drop out of its niche and crash to the floor, though, remarkably, the ceiling above us did not collapse. I hastened Libby to the next floor up, hoping to find a rare window, a balcony, anything that might allow us to figure out what the hell was going on -

- but life answered that question for me without requiring a window. Swiftly, and brutally.

The palace is topped by an enormous sphere. Within this sphere, on a normal day, the reigning council of the Imperium makes decisions of state. On an abnormal today, such as today, the sphere is instead used as a bowling ball, and as we darted through the corridors, Libby struggling to keep up, the hallway behind us was sheered away as the enormous council chamber came rolling down through the remains of the palace's east wing. Millions of tonnes of rock careened down into the streets, dragging most of the slate-grey facade with it -

- and as I looked back, horrified and awestruck, I swear I caught the briefest glimpse of brown fur clutching to the side of the sphere. I swear I saw it.

The floor beneath us began to crumble and collapse. Grabbing Libby's arm I hurtled towards the nearest stairwell, running past a flabbergasted guard who had just come around the bend and seen the sphere fall. Going away was not good enough, the whole floor was giving way, I had to go down, down, find an exit, find a way out -

- but the stairs were falling apart, falling away, and though I could hop and skip across them Libby could not, she's only normal, so I had to go up -

- and up - 

- and up -

- and up.

Eventually, the rumbling stopped. The screams of panic began. The palace yet stands... but it's an utter ruin.

Libby and I are nestled in some ambassador's quarters. They're relatively untouched, given the length and squatness of the palace (wise design, under the circumstances), and I've given Libby the bed for the night. Less seems to happen in the evening, and I suspect the sloth goes to sleep when night falls. So we should be safe.

As for the rest of the Dauphine's crew... that I can't say. Not for certain.

Libby rests. I'm going to rest, now, too. I've done enough running for the day, and I'm hungry and exhausted. All I can do now is pray that my sister is safe... and the rest of our friends with her.

Gods, please be safe, everyone. Even you, dad.


Logan the Thief

1 comment: