The darkness was smothering, so dark that it seemed to Seoc to be pressing on his eyes. Panic rose like bile in his throat, washing bitterly into his mouth and threatening to make him choke. He stumbled about, disoriented, feeling that he ought to have run into something by now, the opposite wall, perhaps. The corridor wasn’t that wide.
But now, in the darkness, entire worlds could fit between its parallel boundaries. Seymour could very well be miles—nay, leagues—away. What hope could he have of locating him?
“Over here, little fish.”
Seoc found him—actually nearly tripped over him—and knelt down beside him. “Are you hurt?”
“Could be worse,” Seymour replied weakly. “He missed.”
“What do you mean, he missed?” Seoc wondered, perplexed. How could Seymour be injured if his father’s curses had missed him?
“He hit me,” Seymour explained, “but not where he meant to, I think. Got me in the shoulder the first time and…grazed my ribs the second.”
“You mean he wanted ta kill you?”
Seymour grunted in the affirmative.
“Are you bleeding?”
“Not profusely. More charred than anything. What happened to…” he tried to say ‘your father,’ but the words caught in his throat. “…that?” he concluded after a pause.
“Remember the spider that crawled down my back in the infirmary? Weel, it crawled back out again an’ bit him. I think he’s dead.”
Seymour was silent a moment. “No…”
“He isn’t dead. I can hear him breathing. Do me a favor, will you, little fish?” he requested suddenly. “On the left side of my belt—well, my left, your right—there’s a leather pouch.”
Seoc felt blindly along Seymour’s middle until he had found it. “Yeah?”
“Open it. There’s flint and tinder in there.”
Seoc was lost. What good would flint and tinder do? “Got it.”
“Now light a torch, will you? It’s dark as a mineshaft in here.”
Feeling rather stupid for not thinking of it earlier, Seoc shuffled carefully towards where he thought a wall ought to be, hands stretched out in front of him. He must have been approaching it at a diagonal, for it took longer to happen upon than he had expected, but once he did, it didn’t take long to locate a torch. He took it down from its bracket and held it between his knees to light it.
“Are you close?”
“Can you hurry it up?”
“I’m…tryin’!” he grunted between attempts. “It’s…no’ lightin’!”
And as if it had been waiting for him to declare thusly, the torch suddenly caught. But Seoc’s shout of triumph petered out into a whimper as it illuminated the scene before him.