“Let’s be off, then,” James said at last, rising from his chair.
Nobody argued with him on the point. The group stood and followed him out of the room, leaving behind only the remnants of their late lunch. He led them this way and that, though all number of hallways, making them wonder at times whether they had not backtracked or gone in some sort of circle. At last, they hurried quietly around a corner, and he urged them to make no delays– but also to make no noises– as they traversed an abandoned hallway. He opened the door at the end with only the faintest click, ushered everyone inside, and closed it again as silently as he was able.
With a finger to his lips, James looked around the room, and then walked over to a wide, dusty tapestry.
“Not a word about this to anyone else,” James said to them.
“Who is there to tell?” Peter scoffed, keeping his voice low– to everyone else’s relief.
Nashtra, meanwhile, was nodding his agreement. Cerys glared at her brother and turned to the baron’s son with an apologetic look. He did not seem to have expected better behavior than that, and so he turned back around to the tapestry. He reached out an arm and pulled it aside, revealing a carved wooden door.
“Shouldn’t I have been able to tell that there is a door here?” Bayani asked.
“Did you bother to check for it?” James whispered back. Bayani only blinked, so the young noble reached for the door handle and said, “Come this way,”
The tunnel beyond looked dark and narrow, lit only by widely-spaced torches, some of which were glowing dimly at best. They walked through without further argument, and James followed last so that he could make sure that the tapestry fell evenly against the wall. He pulled the door shut silently, and then stepped up to the front.
“Stay close,” James told them. “The catacombs should be safe, but the way things have been lately, I can guarantee nothing.”
Cerys stared up at him wide-eyed.
“Keep your magic ready,” he added, and got a nervous nod back from her.
They walked on, through another series of hallways, although with far fewer turns this time. They went down every staircase that they came to, making Himeko wonder just how far down the catacombs went. Finally, they started to see doors along the way, many of them painted different colors, and James chose one that was a deep shade of brown. It had a horse carved into it, reared up on its hind legs in the same way they had seen on medieval banners back home. It was surrounded by two interwoven vines that were covered in thorns, and Cerys wondered what they represented.
“We enter slowly,” James whispered as his hand went to the door handle. He waited for everyone to nod their agreement before he pulled it down.
The door opened with a faint creak. The room on the other side smelled faintly of dust, but it was pleasantly warm. There was enough lamplight to see by, though not so much that it blinded their eyes, and it flicked gently. James stepped into the room first, his posture straight, his held held higher, as though her was remembering all of his lessons on how to behave like a noble and putting them to good use. He stopped a few steps in, ensuring that everyone had made it inside.
“Ah,” a voice said from the other side of the room. “It is James Saravel.”
“Good,” another, older voice replied. “Bring him in. And close that door; one can never be too sure about the whereabouts of prying eyes these days.”