Readers voted to explore the under side of the city in hopes of avoiding Rat territory. Let’s see if this choice awards you the cane you need in the Prince’s game.
Aa. Under Town?
Grandmother suggested Under Town, so you trust she can handle the stresses of climbing. With any luck, you’ll avoid the Rat gang all together.
“Under Town it is,” you nod to Grandmother.
Red breaths a giant sigh and his freckles fade a bit as his color returns. Whatever interaction he’s had with the Rats, it can’t be good.
“That one,” Glasses points at the library, “we can’t access. There’s a giant book fair and the entire street’s blocked off.”
“All right,” you fold up the map, “to the baths.”
Grandmother’s a trooper but her eyesight must be poor as well as her back. She shuffles cautiously along, swinging her head side to side instead of craning her neck to look straight up.
Eventually, you thread her hand around your arm and guide her along.
Glasses takes her other side and Rapier takes the lead ahead.
Red trails behind, getting more nervous the closer you get to Rat territory.
The bath’s domed roof finally comes into sight with steam trailing out the open doors of the building.
“Almost there,” you encourage.
“I won’t be such a burden once we get to Under Town,” Grandma squeezes your arm.
“We’ll make it,” you tell her.
She flashes you a broken toothed grin and sighs as you stop over the manhole cover leading into Under Town.
You and Rapier lift it free and then he disappears into the darkness below.
“It’s dark,” he hollers back up.
“Not to worry,” Grandma yells back, “I know the way.”
Glasses gives her a confused frown but by now, you’re starting to think Grandma’s got something up her sleeve, so you’re willing to wait to see what she does.
The group lowers themselves into the darkness. When your feet touch bottom, they make a slight splash. Being below the baths, the water’s heated and it warms the soles of your boots.
“All right, Grandma,” you say. It’s completely dark, so you can’t look directly at her. “Lead the way.”
“With pleasure,” she says and she splashes a few steps away. Then she slaps her palm against the tunnel in a rhythmic pat-papap-pat-papap.
“What is this,” Rapier gripes as Grandma continues without a break in the sound for several moments.
“Shhh,” you say because you catch a different sound. Not a splash, exactly, but a subtle swish like a reptile entering a lake. And it’s rhythmic in a way that mimics Grandma’s palm.
Then she stops and the group’s breathing fills the silence.
“Don’t speak,” Grandma whispers. “Just climb on and let them take us to the Cathedral.”
You smack Rapier, who you located earlier by the sound of his voice, in the stomach and his spoken, and loud, question breaks off in a grunt.
“Just ride,” you whisper and nudge him toward the thing you felt touch your leg. You’ve heard of these creatures. People mistake them for reptiles living in the sewers. Alligators or something but no one you’ve spoken to has actually seen one. Some say they’ll eat you alive, others say they befriend those in desperate need. But to find someone who actually knows them, can call them, is rare indeed.
You climb onto a scaled back and the creature starts running. The water’s too shallow for it to swim but the motion’s just as smooth. In the dark, you grip a spike on the creature’s neck. It’s smooth and curved.
Red giggles and your creature shudders as though the sound runs through it. Perhaps it does. Grandma’s slapping wasn’t loud, so perhaps the creatures pick up vibrations.
After a time the running slows and then stops. You slide off and your boots splash onto the floor.
“All here?” Grandma questions.
There are four affirmative replies.
“That was awesome!” Red exclaims while you find the ladder to take you up to the surface.
“Grandma’s got some useful secrets,” she chuckles.
“Indeed,” Rapier mutters but his tone is disturbed.
The others follow you inside and then span out as you check the alcoves for Mother Sanchez’ cane.
Finally, Glasses gives a soft call that she’s located it and you converge on her.
In the girl’s hand is a twisted piece of oak with a rubber stopper on the end. Without the need to discuss it, the girl hands the cane to Grandma, who leans on it in relief.
“Note?” you ask.
Glasses hands over a tiny piece of paper. It’s a map with the river circled at a spot just outside the city wall.
“That’s the dueling grounds,” Rapier says. “There’s a sword there, stuck in the ground to mark the place. Do we take the river to get there or catch a carriage?”
They all look at you again. Both options require money. You run some quick math but before you finish a noise distracts you.
A small group of people just entered the Cathedral.
“The other team,” Red whispers.
It’s definitely time to go, so do you pick…
Grandma’s certainly resourceful! You’ve succeeded in the first part of the game. Now how would you like to proceed?
Blessings and see you Thursday for the end of the adventure,