The prisoner transport wagon passed through the gates and into the darkness before creaking to a stop. Seymour saw that the anti-magic barrier over the gate had been effective: he was visible once more. Cautiously, he eased out from beneath the wagon, looked both ways to check for observers, and got swiftly to his feet, slipping into the shadows by the rough tunnel wall.
He had worked his way around a corner and down a passageway before anyone noticed him.
“YOU!” a guard bellowed, brandishing a spear at him. “Merhag!”
Seymour’s heart jumped into his throat. “Yes? Yes, sir?”
“To the kitchens with you. You will take the prisoners their supper. Do you hear me, bitch?”
Seymour reached into his mental files to find an accent approximating that of an Aechyed slave. “Yes, sir. I taking a de preznors der supper, sir.”
Seymour got, hitching up the filthy skirts of his disguise for more efficient scurrying. He hoped that no one would notice his leather boots in the gloom. They were a bit incongruous with the rest of his dirty, ragged attire.
Nothing to be done about that now.
The previous day, Alasdair had shown him a blueprint of the institution, and Seymour had committed it to memory. He used it now, following it to the kitchens. This hadn’t been part of his original plan, but he could adapt. He didn’t want to double back and risk being seen by the same guard.
The deeper into the underground prison that he went, the worse it smelled. The odors of fear and pain assaulted his sensitive Aechyed nose, then intensified, complimented with the unmistakable stenches of mold, sweat, rot, piss, shit and death. Fighting his gag reflex, he pressed onward, trotting past rows of barred doors, through narrow corridors lined with sputtering torches, and down uneven earthen stairways to reach his destination.
The kitchens were a horrid sight to behold. Everything was covered in a thick layer of soot and grime, including the skin of the bony, scar-covered female slaves. Nearly all of them were half-naked on account of the terrible heat inside. They sawed at burnt meat and stale bread with rusty knives, placed and displaced things from hot, angry ovens, their sweat cutting shining rivulets in the dirt on their skin.
In the center of the chamber, pacing a small circle and giving off an air of menacing authority, was a large, male goblin. His only garment was a threadbare loincloth, and he held a whip in his hand, its end dragging on the floor. His uneven maroon hair was braided down his muscular, lash-scarred back, and his eyes, when they came to rest on Seymour, were amber and angry.
“I hain’t never seen yew ’ere afore, merbitch.”
Seymour swallowed. “I taking a de preznors der supper. Guard said me so.”
The goblin bared his chipped, yellowing teeth at him and raised his whip threateningly. “Get to it, then. Move yer ol’ green arse!”