They’d found a way in, but the smell was horrendous, worse in fact than it probably should have been. But every castle had a weakness, no matter how hard it was to find. Every last fortress, castle, and keep had to have an area designed to remove waste and while some had learned how to construct exits and channels for such purposes that could not be used against them, Grimhilde had not. The waste chutes in this place were located roughly below the castle dungeons, which made sense in a way considering that it would have allowed the former queen to dispose of her prisoners in an easier fashion.

The very thought sent a shudder down Merida’s spine as she was already pining for the scent of the open air and the green forests beyond this benighted land. The cavernous space beneath the castle was quite large and well-maintained as far as sewers went, but it wasn’t nearly open enough to make her feel comfortable. Thankfully Red had a great sense of direction no matter where she was it seemed, otherwise they might have been stuck already, seeking a way through the maze of slime and excrement-streaked walls that they’d already passed.

“This seems a bit too easy,” Mulan said quietly, keeping her voice low as Red led them around another bend, motioning behind her as Mulan and Merida stopped. With two fingers Red mimed climbing a set of stairs, which had the effect of relieving Merida just a bit. When Red stopped them again as they were moving forward however she tensed, already reaching for her bow and knowing it would be about useless in a stairwell. She would need a clean shot if she was to take someone from afar and by surprise, but Red motioned them to come forward again only a few seconds later.

“Quietly,” Red whispered back to them, “There’s a single guard up these steps, as far as I can see.”

“Human?” Mulan whispered back. Red shook her head, grimacing as she mimed something that neither woman could understand.

“Like the ones outside,” she whispered. Merida rolled her eyes as she motioned to both women to come back and join her. She didn’t expect it to work, but when it did she halted them in front of her as she took a great breath.

Mulan wasn’t quite fast enough to stop her from what came next.

(to be continued)

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