“Do you know this place well?” Richard asked the merchant.
“Most of the places in this prison,” he replied, pulling a bundle free and walking to a shelf to the side. “I know nearly all the rooms on this level. The store room, for instance, is right next door.”
“I see,” Richard said. “And have you entered any of the dungeon cells?”
“No, the prison cells are all upstairs on the next floor,” he said. he picked up another bundle. “Why do you ask?”
“We need to get into the prison cells to free a friend of mine. She’s in danger,” Richard said.
“She?” the merchant asked. He stopped walking and looked at them. “She would have to be important, if she’d been captured. And just about anyone would be in danger if they were here. Those prison cells tend to be on the far right of the second floor.”
“How do you know that?” Brianna asked.
“I hear a lot of things,” the merchant said, winking. “Now, if you will excuse me, I must finish my work.” He walked off into a door to the right with a large bundle in his hands.
“Well,” Richard said. “At least we know where to look first.” Brianna nodded, glancing around.
“Where do you think there are stairs so we can get up to the next floor?” she asked him.
“Maybe through here?” he asked, pointing at another door, on the left. He walked to it and opened it. A guard looked over at the sound of the door opening. His startled look was priceless, but Richard knew that they were in trouble when he pulled a whistle to his lips. A whistle blew and the guard was running towards them.
Richard slammed the door and reached for something heavy. A large piece of equipment stood right next to the door. He gestured to it, and Brianna ran forward started pushing it in front of the door. It slowly slide in front of the door.
Richard heard another whistle from the other side of the door. Something impacted against the door, making it jerk. He could heard footsteps as he pushed against the door to keep it shut.
“Hurry,” he whispered to her. Brianna pushed with all her might. It slowly came to a stop right in front of the door Richard helped her push it up against the door. When he was satisfied that they wouldn’t be able to get through for a few minutes, he grabbed her hand and dragged her towards the opposite wall.
They ran for the door in which the merchant had gone through. They opened the door and slammed it shut. Right before it slammed, Richard looked over his shoulder. He was glad that the way they had come in, in the cart, had been shut. Otherwise, the guards would have been able to get through there.
Richard turned and nearly ran into the merchant. He stood with his back to them, lifting something in his arms. Richard stumbled and caught himself.
“What is that?” Brianna asked, helping Richard up.
“Something to block the door,” the merchant said, smiling. He turned and handed it to Richard. It was much more heavy than Richard had thought it. His knees nearly gave out as he set it down in front of the door.
Richard took a step back and looked at the heavy thing he had placed in front of the door. It was a statue of a woman in an elegant flowing dress. Richard thought that it might be of a queen.
“A goddess,” Brianna whispered, looking at the statue too. Shouts came from the other side of the door. Richard didn’t have time to pursue the issue any further.
“This way,” the merchant said, beckoning them. He was standing on the first step of a large stairway. Brianna was walking towards him. Richard hesitated. Why was the merchant helping them?
He heard footsteps behind the door. There were a few shouts and loud talking. Richard turned back to the statue blocking the door for a moment, then turned and followed Brianna and the merchant to the stairs. He ran up the steps behind them.
“You’ll have to hurry,” the merchant puffed after about twenty steps. “They will move the girl now that they know there are intruders.”
“Why are you helping us?” Richard asked.
“Well, I... I’m not sure, exactly,” the merchant said, looking over his shoulder. He was breathing hard. A smile formed on his lips. “Probably because you didn’t kill me when you killed the guard.”
“But won’t you get into trouble?” Brianna asked, worried.
“They probably won’t know I helped you. They will think you made me help you or that you forced me out of the way. I hope that’s okay?” the merchant asked Richard over his shoulder.
Richard nodded. He watched his feet as they ran the rest of the way up the stairs. In less then a minute, they entered a hall. The hall wasn’t what Richard would have thought. The hall was clean and the floor marble.
“Wow,” he whispered. “Not what I expected.”
“They have it like this to confuse intruders,” the merchant explained, gesturing to the nice paintings and floor.
“Which way?” Brianna asked, glancing down both sides of the hall. Each way looked the same. Richard was about to turn right.
“This way,” the merchant said, leading them to the left.
“But I thought you said that she would be kept in the right side,” Brianna said, pointing in that direction.
“I did,” he replied. “But they use many tricks to hide what is really there.” Richard looked over at Brianna and saw his confusion reflected on her face.
The merchant led them around a corner and to a black wall, a dead end. Richard stopped him and turned him around.
“Tell me, what is your name?” he asked.
“Daemon,” the merchant said.
“I’m Richard, and this is Brianna,” Richard said. “I thought it would only be fair to know each others’ names.” The man nodded. “Now, what are we doing here, at a dead end?”
“There is a hidden door here,” the man gestured.
“And you know this. . . how?” Richard asked.
“Like I said before, I hear things,” Daemon said. “They don’t think I listen, but I have learned many things about this place over the years.”
“How far until we get to Katie’s cell?” Richard asked.
“After this door, there are hundreds of cells. I don’t know which one she is kept in. Plus, you don’t have the keys,” Daemon said.
“Where can we get the keys?” Richard asked.
“From the warden,” Daemon answered, looking slightly scared by the thought.
“Who?” Brianna asked.
“The man in charge of the cells. He should be patrolling the halls here, so you won’t have too hard of a time finding him,” Daemon replied.
“Perfect, now we have to hunt down a man with keys, too. He’ll be buff, no doubt,” Brianna said.
“Huge,” Daemon said, cracking a smile and enjoying himself.
“And the door?” Richard asked, watching the halls all around them.
“Right,” Daemon said. He swiftly looked around to make sure no one was watching them. He slipped a key out of his pocket.
“I thought you said we have to hunt down the warden,” Brianna said in an irritated voice.
“Ah, but this is not to the cells, is it?” he said.
“Where did you get those?” Richard asked.
Daemon winked. He reached out and touched the wall. He moved his arms up and down the wall, as if searching for something. Richard was starting to get impatient.
Minutes past as the man slowly walked along the wall, moving his arms up and down. He touched everything on the wall, including a torch that hung there. He concentrated on something for a moment.
“Here we are,” he said. Richard looked at where his hand was, but saw nothing.
“What?” he asked, looking down the hall again. Any minute, the guards could be upon them.
“The hidden lock,” Johnny said. He inserted the key in his hand into the wall. For a few moments, nothing happened. Then a keyhole appeared on the wall. They watched for a moment. Then an entire door appeared on the wall. It creaked as it fell open on rusty hinges.
“Amazing,” Brianna whispered. “Is that magic?”
“Yes,” the merchant said, smiling at her amazement. “The guards had said that there was a door hidden by magic and the only way to find it was to feel for the unusual texture.”
“Magic,” Richard muttered as he climbed into the hall beyond.
The hall through the door was terrible. It smelt like rotten meat, waste, and filth. Richard thought that it was more of his idea of a prison. It was dark with a few torches along the walls. The distance of the hall went on forever.
“How will we find her?” Brianna whispered. She followed Richard into the disgusting hall.
“On the far right of this floor,” Johnny said. “Weren’t you listening to me?” Daemon said. Richard smiled.
“Thank you, Daemon,” he whispered.
“No problem,” Daemon said. “Just be careful.”
“We will,” Brianna said. They started out, looking into the first barred door. It was empty. The cells went off into the distance, into the darkness. A few torches lit a small patch of the hall, but it wasn’t a lot of light to go off of.
The cells didn’t appear to have any kind of pattern. They were scattered about, some in the way of the path so they would have to go around them. It was like a humongous maze with no end.
Richard pulled a torch free of the bracket. He held it in his left hand. His right hand settled on the hilt of his sword. His eyes darted around, looking for trouble. Brianna did the same. She knew that if Richard needed to fight, he would drop the torch. They had to have some kind of light if they were going to fight.
“The far right,” Richard whispered, turning to the right at the first junction they came to.
“Yeah,” Brianna whispered, fearing to be too loud, in case her voice echoed through the dungeon. She hand rested, as Richard’s did, on the hilt of her sword.
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