Instead of acknowledging the accusation that Matticus had thrown at him, Revis used the magic of his ring to turn invisible. Except for the Jester, who was used to Revis disappearing, everyone was startled by his disappearance. Steph, in particular, was unnerved by it. “Did he just abandon us,” she asked, going back-to-back with Matticus.
“Don’t worry about it,” he reassured.
“Don’t worry about it? It was bad enough when it was ten against three. Now it’s ten against two. I’m good, but I don’t know if I’m that good.”
The Jester’s reply was lost when one of the circling vampires cried out in pain. A second later, its head fell off. With their attention momentarily fixed on their fallen comrade, Steph and Matticus leapt into action. In one motion, she unsheathed her sword, decapitated the closest vampire, and plunged the blade into the chest of another.
Matticus hit the vampire closest to him with the flat of his blade while simultaneously activating the sword’s magic. It ran away, its clothing on fire. The next vampire took its time coming at him, wary of the flaming weapon. The Jester feinted to the left and, when the vampire went to block, he quickly brought the blade in from the right. It cleanly separated the vampire’s head from its neck.
After dispatching two vampires each, Matticus and Steph turned, ready to face the rest. There were none left standing. All they saw was Revis casually leaning up against the wall. “There were only eight, not ten,” he informed them with a shrug of his shoulders.
“Show off,” Steph mumbled under her breath as she cleaned her blade and returned the steel to its sheath.
Matticus, standing close enough to hear her, couldn’t help but laugh, and he whispered back to her, “He’s always doing stuff like that. I guess you’ll get used to it too, if you stick with us.”
“What are you two chatting about?” Revis returned his full weight to his feet and sauntered torwards them.
“The Jester was informing me that I would eventually grow accustomed to your antics if I journeyed with you a while, but, alas, that shall not be the case. Once I get us clear of the city, I will send you on to Long Beach and I’ll stay here to help those I can.”
Revis surveyed the bodies of the vampires she had slain and nodded with approval, “It is obvious you can take care of yourself.”
“So, should we get to it then?” Matticus asked, finally having extinguished his blade and safely stowed it away. “Before even more vampires decide to descend on us, perhaps?”
Steph looked up and down the alley to get her bearings, and then motioned for them to follow her again, “Let’s go.” Matticus and Revis fell into step behind her.
She led them through another series of twists and turns until she finally entered a burned out building. Matticus threw a questioning glance at his Knight, but all Revis could do is shrug. They continued to follow her down a hallway. The hallway came to an abrupt halt at a brick wall.
“Why are there so many hallways that lead to nowhere,” Matticus asked in confusion. “And why do we keep finding them?”
Steph shot him ‘The Look’ right before she reached down towards the floor. “The wall was put there to stabilize the house and keep it from collapsing after the fire,” she informed them as she pulled up a trap door.
“Oh,” he replied meekly.
After Steph had descended down the stairs, the Jester heard something at his back. Matticus turned to find his Knight trying not to laugh at him. “Shut up,” he commanded Revis, following their guide.
At the bottom of the steps was a tunnel. Turning to her companions, she told them, “This tunnel will lead us all the way out of the city.”
“Who built it?” Revis queried, peering as far into the darkness as the small amount of light filtering in from above would allow. “It seems too old for it to have just been constructed in the last couple months.”
“You are correct,” Steph answered, pressing a hand into the ancient stones, soaking in their coolness. “None of us know how old the tunnel is or why it was originally built. As we go through you’ll see sections that we had to improve to make it passable, however. Bardictale spread the word about it when the vampires came out in force and said the two of you had been killed.”
“That guy, again? Really?” Revis whined, and Matticus rolled his eyes. “He’s not at the other end of the tunnel, is he?”
“No, he’ll still be at his bar. As long as he keeps his stocks of wine up the vampires will leave him alone.”
Matticus pulled his sword from its scabbard and Steph and Revis both took a step back. “What are you doing, Jester?”
“We’re going to need some light, aren’t we? Or, did you have some torches in that magic bag of yours?”
“Of course not, your Jesterness,” Revis said with a bow. “That would be silly.”
Feeling triumphant, Matticus started uttering the phrase to activate his sword. Before he could finish, Revis spoke the word, “Illuminate”. A small part of Revis’ chest armor began glowing, throwing off a beam of light. Matticus sputtered the rest of his phrase out, failing to complete the magical enchantment.
“Why would I bring torches with me,” Revis continued, “when I can just use this piece of armor to light my way?”
The Jester took a look around, ensuring that no children were present, and then began a string of cursing under his breath that lasted for several moments. Revis didn’t hear all of it, but he was pretty sure one of things that was said involved bugs invading his crotch. When Matticus had finished, Steph leaned in to Revis and asked, “What’s a douchecanoe?”
With a shrug, Revis answered, “I’m not really sure. I think it’s something he picked up while we were in my brother’s universe.”
“You have a brother? And what’s this about another universe?”
“Uhh, nevermind. Let’s just get going. I’ll take the lead, since I have the light. Steph, just make sure you warn me about any twists, turns, or anything else before I stumble into a precipice, okay?”
Revis slowly started moving forward, with Steph and then Matticus following closely behind so they could all use his light to find their own footing. Steph shot Matticus a glance to make sure he had calmed down and was going to be able to focus, to concentrate, on the arduous journey ahead and was surprised to see him looking at her.
In the dim glow, she could just make out the the Jester mouth “douchecanoe” and then point at Revis. Steph shook her head and rolled her eyes. Matticus would always be silly, no matter how dire the situation was. She turned back to warn Revis to duck just in time before he cracked his head on a section of the tunnel that was a bit lower.
They walked in silence, except for their heavy breathing echoing off the close walls, and the occasional pinging drip of water collecting in unseen pools. The journey seemed to last for hours, but they all knew that time was funny underground where there was no sun or stars to track its progress. When Steph saw the marker that indicated they were nearing the end of the tunnel, they were all happy their journey in the darkness was at an end.
“I’ll go up first, and see if the exit is clear.”