Of maps and men

Mirko sighed and pushed the parchment away from him, across the floor, and struggled to his feet.  His legs had been crossed beneath him while he drew out the floor-plan, noting Venne's calling out of his paces as he walked along the walls, and now they were aching as the blood flowed back into them.

"See," said Lianna sounding bored.  "I told you that this floor was too small.  There's going to be a door either behind this tapestry or somewhere in the other room."

"We could have looked behind the tapestry without having to draw a map first," said Venne.  He was leaning against the tapestry, supported by the wall behind it.

"We need to have a floor-plan to give to Sir Wickhold."  Lianna's voice was flat and she glared at Venne, who appeared not to notice.  "Start looking in here, if we don't find anything we'll return to the guard-room."

Venne might have shrugged, it was hard to tell, but he turned to the tapestry and pulled the edge of it away from the wall.

"I'll need a hand here, this is heavy.  Mirko, you grab this end and hold it open; Lianna, you'll need to keep pulling it away as I move along."

"No."

Venne let the edge of the tapestry fall back.  "Then how do you propose to check the wall?"

"We take the tapestry down."  She pointed up at the top corners of the tapestry where ropes were holding it against the wall.  "We cut those ropes.  That way we can see what's there, it might be booby-trapped.  And if there's anyone -- anything -- waiting for us, we're not retreating into a narrow corridor made by the tapestry and the wall."

Venne stood looking at her for several silent moments, then turned slightly and looked at Mirko.  Mirko was shaking a leg, trying to ignore the pins-and-needles of the blood flowing back.

"What do you think?"

"She has a point," said Mirko stamping his foot.  It still felt leaden and unresponsive.  "If we have to pull the tapestry away from the wall with this much effort, I don't see how we'll get back out from it."

"Fine."  Venne's face slipped backwards inside the hood of his cloak, concealing his expression.

Mirko and Venne went back down to the ground floor to collect the captain's chair from the night before and brought it up, then Venne handed Mirko a knife and Mirko climbed up on the chair and stood on tiptoe to saw the rope holding up one corner.  The blade felt cold and unfamiliar in his hand; the only blades the druids in the enclave used were silver-edged.  The rope frayed quickly at the knife's touch, and the first corner fell down with a thud as the heavy tapestry hit the floor.  The second corner went as fast as the first, revealing another wooden door in the middle of the wall.

"It's not locked," reported Venne quickly.

Mirko hurried down from the chair and grabbed his staff, assuming the en garde position.  Lianna barely glanced at him as she motioned to Venne to open the door.  He pushed on it, and it swung open away from them.

"It's full of maps!" said Venne.

The End

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