Owl sent out a Jigensson, a Northern serpent spell, which swarmed and slithered along all the sides of the tunnel, feeding their findings back to his mind as he hastily tried to keep up, pencilling the map into his book by the faint light of a bug clamped in his teeth. The spell revealed to him every turn off, upward shaft, pit, or stairway, without the need for a dangerous amount of light and moving around. He rather shabbily indicated verticals by diagonal dotted lines and numbers, mapping different levels on different pages of his book.
Several of the serpentine manifestations of the spell near the end of their course abruptly spread out, and Owl’s heart leaped: an exit – or a room. He finished drawing what he could remember and hadn’t missed that the spell had revealed, used a rude endless stench curse to mark the wall, and put out his bug. The Jigensson spell had not felt anything that seemed like feet, or that moved when touched, nonetheless he crept as quietly as his longing for the exit would allow.
As he drew nearer, he began to see the rough contours of the ground. It looked more and more like sunlight. Peering round the last corner, he was sure of it. Then a report lashed the echoes into life, and a bullet nicked his ear.
He shrank back from the corner as further shots shattered it, and bit his tongue to keep from crying out. He should have realised long ago that things already flying, or with thin legs like spiders, would be missed by the Jigensson serpents. He cast a seal on his wounded ear quickly, and summoned a vampire moth: wherever the moth found a drop of his spattered blood, he purged it away with a small pin-pointed cleaning spell. When the moth could smell no more blood, it dissolved into dust.
From what Owl could remember, the gun was held by thin, jointed limbs, very much like spider legs, without any body, clinging or bracing on the floor, walls, and roof of the tunnel, so that he might have mistaken them for plants. It was placed and animated by a curse, laid by some cruel and strong enemy, which Owl hoped was far away. He also remembered seeing a Boarsuch creature beyond the gun-wielding curse, well into the light.
He filled a creeping whisper with insulting epithets, and directed it to find the Boarsuch. It took some time, as it was unfortunately a slow spell, usually used for shorter and clearer distances. His wounded ear was throbbing, and the seal made him itch. Finally he heard the Boarsuch growl, and lumber indignantly down the passage, tearing through the gun emplacement. Nothing else was necessary but to wait in the dark while the creature passed like a troll with a tapir’s head, still blind from the light. With great satisfaction Owl heard the scrape and thunderous tumble as the Boarsuch fell into a pit.
The gun seemed to be missing only the three shots fired at Owl; he had only rudimentary knowledge of handling firearms, and about that particular weapon he knew no more than that it was an automatic rather than a revolver. He fed it to a rope-pile worm to hide it in his pack till he could get to one of his vault doors; he would probably sell it rather than try to keep ammunition stocked.
He was then stepping into the light: which he soon saw was from a lamp in a raised ceiling: a lamp made to look like a mocking sun. It was merely a room rather than an exit from the tunnels. Ah well. At least there was an unopened chest lying near the far wall…
To be continued.
2023/03/06 #DailyWrittenOOM #OwlOfTheMaze