For a heartbeat, neither of us moved. The man in the doorway - for a man it was - stood there as if he had just seen a ghost. I swallowed, clenching the knife tighter in my hand. The man stepped forward, raising a large truncheon cautiously in his right hand.
"'Ow did you get in 'ere?" he slurred, voice thick with drink. "Get outta that."
As the man advanced, I heard a clink at his side. I looked down and there, hanging from his belt, was a large set of keys. I smiled slightly, it looked like I'd had the misfortune to run into a member of the Night Watch. Evidently I must have been out for some considerable time, for it had been barely midday when I'd first been flung into the Arena and "died". Then again, I could have been out for days for all I knew.
The guard stopped half a meter from me, glaring at me with bloodshot eyes. I moved sideways, slipping the knife up my sleeve and trying to ignore the bolts of pain that shot through my chest.
"What ye doing 'ere?" mumbled the guard, raising his truncheon threateningly. "You ain't supposed to be 'ere unless ye're dead."
"Sorry sir," I said, trying to keep my tone as casual and pain-free as the situation allowed, "I'll just be leaving."
I began to try and edge around the guard, hoping I could get out of the door before he decided to attack. Or worse, recognised me and called for backup. I was halfway to the door before the man spoke again, his breathing heavy and laboured:
"'Ang on! Ye're that Ryder scum ain't ye? Ye went in the arena wif that Vengeance fing didn't ye? Ye were dead!" The bloodshot eyes widened and he reached for the whistle at his hip.
Realising the game was up, I whipped the knife out of my sleeve and lunged for the guard's chest. Unfortunately for me, he saw me coming and lurched out of the way, truncheon just missing my head as I ducked. Desperate, I swiped at him again, but soon found myself diving under a desk to dodge the truncheon. I had to finish this quickly before I became too weak to fight. I couldn't let myself fail now, I'd come too far. I wouldn't let my friends down.
The guard lumbered towards me, snarling drunkenly. As he drew closer, I flung my knife at him. It missed, but while he was distracted it gave me the opportunity to snatch the truncheon out of his hand. Before he could try to blow the whistle again, I smashed the hard wooden club into his temples. The guard collapsed, hitting the floor with a dull thud. I stood there, panting and clutching my abdomen as pain seared through me.
That had been close, way too close. I had to get out of here now, before I ran into any other guards. I'd just have to hope this man dismissed this incident as a drunken dream and didn't tell anyone about it. Then again, better to get out of here and be on the safe side then hang my hopes on the logic of a drunkard. Snatching the keys from his belt, I limped out of the door as fast as I could go, heading for Kris' cell.
This was it. Now was the time. We'd escape, or die.