A Cook, a Room, and a Mystery

Chapter  2

    Michael walked brickly down the stone corridors of the castle, feeling the glaring eyes of portraits of kings and queens past scanning him. He mentally went over the plans of the palace, the ones he'd stolen from an unsuspecting drunk in the tavern one night. His father did not really own the tavern, though he'd used the alibi before the king. Craig, who actually owned the tavern, would cover for him if any questions were asked.

     His theives instincts were kicking in, but he walked straight and tall, as if he had every right to be here. A sudden shout from his right startled him, and he turned, to see a large woman brandishing a rolling pin. He dodged the heavy weapon.

    "The new help, ain't ya? Late, they'll be! I should box ya ears, ya insolent boy! Get in here!" Michael scurried in, growling under his breath. This would be a bit of a setback. Minutes later, nursing several rolling pin-inflicted bruises, he was carrying sacks of potatoes from a truck outside the door into the pantry. he tried to be pleasant, but he suspected the cook had been drinking a bit much. After a while, he slipped away when the cook's back was turned. Sprinting up the hallway, he escaped.

    He ended up at the foot of a flight of stairs he definitely did not remember from the plan. he stopped, trying not to look to conspicious, and debated wether to turn back or continue. The plan flashed in front of his eyes. Maybe he did remember it.

     A tower... Wasn't there a tower in the west wing? he thought. he spun on his heel, looking around the square hall before the stairwell. And wasn't there a servant's entrance right.... He stepped to his right and swept a tapestry out of the way. ... here? Sure enough, a stone door was concealed behind it. His chocolate eyes lit up in triumph, and he pulled the latch.

    His hours spent studying the plans of the castle and plotting his adventures had payed off.  The door swung open, and he slipped inside. The passage was musty, as if it had not been cleaned in a century. He wrinkled up his nose in disgust. it smelled worse than the lavatory by the old bathing house. The one no one went near unless they were drunk or were doing a bet.

   He inched forward, his thoughts turning wishfully to the candle stub in his coat pocket... Why hadn't he thought about this before? Those hours of planning, and he was stuck in the dark in a damp passageway that he wasn't sure led to anywhere. He muttered a curse under his breath and took a careful step forward, trying to peer ahead into the dank blackness. A squeak and scurrying feet reminded him that such places were infested with rats.

   There was a crack in the wall ahead, letting some light through, and  he inched towards it. Through it, all he could see was a dimly lit room with a covered table and some swords hanging on the wall. He moved on, probably some random meeting room in the palace. It didn't give him any hints about where he was.

   He tenderly placed his foot forward, and felt nothing but air beneath him. Leaning down, he felt over the edge, and felt a step.

   Okay.... We'll go down then. Down into a dark black hole leading to who knows where... Encouraging.... he thought sarcasticly. It wasn't that he was scared, but the idea of going down a musty passageway didn't  thrill him. He'd been down plenty. But not all of his outings had had happy endings. His hand jumped to his left arm, tracing the scar carved by a guard's knife several months ago. That had been a terrifying journey...

   Feeling carefully for the steps, he walked on, and came up against a wall, he felt along it, and found another stone door to his left. His dexterous fingers found the latch and pulled. The door swung open with a grating sound, and a beaming light blinded him momentarily.

    Sheilding his eyes, he blinked, trying to adjust to the change. He was in a torchlit corridor with another door at the end, wooden this time. Wondering where in the world this could lead, he strode forward. The door opened, this time revealing a set of steps leading up. He climbed them, ears listening for any sound.

   To his surprise, he entered the room he had seen from the corridor through a crack in the wall.

   There was a blood soaked corpse on the floor.

The End

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