It was dark, it was scary, and I didn’t want to go in.
I was never given a choice in the matter. Never even asked if it was what I wanted.
There was so much I’d do for these people, but they just kept asking things of me that I couldn’t always give. This? This was one of them.
“Princess, either you go on your own, or I’m pushing you down those stairs. It’s just a basement.”
“No!” I cling onto the upper railing as Garrett tried to pry me off. “Why do I have to clean it by myself?”
“Because you’re the one that flooded it,” Another heave and Garrett almost managed to pull me free. He wasn't in a very good mood. Ferros had sent him to lock me in the basement till it was clean and was being a bit rougher than he should have. I still didn't let go, even though I was sure I had several bruises by now. I wouldn't give in to the bullies! Either of them! “Maybe next time you will think before casting Ice spells... inside... in the middle of summer."
“It was your idea Mister I-want-cold-ale,” Petulantly I cling on tighter. “You should have to help.”
“I wasn’t the one who lost control of my wand and froze half the cellar,” With a final tug I was tossed over Garrett’s shoulder as his greater strength won out. “Now stop being a baby and go.”
Not letting me free Garrett walked down into the dank and rather chilly cellar.
“You leave me down here alone and I’m setting everything on fire to dry it out!” I threaten as we enter the first area of the basement where Ferros kept his kegs. “I swear it!”
I hear Garrett chuckle, “You know damn well that I don’t care a rat's ass about this place.”
“Fine. When you leave, I’ll go find Breken and make him help me. At least he won’t be so mean.”
“Go ahead,” With no warning Garrett dropped me on my bottom in a puddle. Soaking my robes and boots. “If you want to spend time with a bootlicker in a dark basement, who am I to stop you?”
Standing up and wringing out my robes I start towards the stairs. Near the bottom I take a deep breath and shout. “Hey! Brek-” As I’d predicted a gloved hand clamped over my mouth.
“Shut the hell up and start cleaning,” Glaring down at me from over my shoulder Garrett hissed. “I’ll watch. Make sure nothing eats you while you’re down here.”
“That’s all I was asking for,” I smirk after he’d let go. “Never know around here.”
“You’re telling me,” With a habitual grace Garrett ran his hand over the broken horn on his head. A bit of a souvenir from one of my earlier magical screw ups. I still felt a little guilty about it, even after almost a month later. Not too guilty though, since Garrett had lost the horn headbutting a demon goat-pig.
I start at the easiest point by cleaning up the puddle. It was the only spot in the keg room that my ice spell had affected and thus rather small. Since I’d soaked a good deal up with my cotton robes I only needed a little heat from my wand to dry up the rest.
“That was easy,” I happily reply once it was all done.
“Now on to the other three rooms,” Pushing me ahead with his normal impatience Garrett led me to the second room of the cellar where most of the vegetables and grains were kept. As the guild hall held a fair amount of people we always had a large supply stored down here. “No fire in here. You’ll ruin the food.” A regular old stick with some rags tied to it was shoved at me along with a toothy grin. “Have fun.”
Contemplating on how far I’d make it if I hit Garrett with the stick and ran, I start on mopping the somewhat stagnant water out of the divots in the floor.
There was a lot more water here since the mass of the spell had blasted this room which in turn meant there was quite a bit of damage to more than a few wheat and flour sacks. They had gotten wet and most looked unusable. Nihla was going to be mad when she found out.
To mitigate any lectures I’d get from the head cook later, I tried to repair the food sacks. It took a lot longer to clean up the pantry than I’d hoped.
By the time we got to the drying room I was sore from scrubbing. So, I sat on a bench near some drying lavender and cinnamon bark and tried to rest for a bit.
It was darker in this room than the others since our Naturopath Liam insisted his herbs dried better without the heat of a candle near them. That meant the only light came from the crystal embedded at the head of my staff. It barely reached a few feet beyond where I sat, and this lack of light made me jumpy.
Garrett wasn’t too far away when I started to hear a scuffling noise. I thought it was the Delgen at first, but he was on the wrong side of me for it to be him.
“What the hell!?” I jump up and glare in the direction I’d heard the chittering.
“You jumping at shadows now?” Not seeming to have heard it Garrett just looked at me with a frown. “There is nothing down here. Now get going. It’ll be time to eat soon and I don’t fancy being here much longer.”
“I heard something!” Knowing he wasn’t going to believe me I had to insist anyway.
“There is nothing here,” He repeated and crossed his arms stubbornly.
Gritting my teeth and taking my mop up once more I began to dry up the floor. I also started to light candles as I went to make sure that I was able to see. By the time I’d finished, and lit the candelabras, whatever I’d heard was gone.
“See? Nothing sweetheart.” Walking past me Garrett entered the equipment room before I did. “Hurry up.” He called back.
Already paranoid, I do as he says, trusting that it was all in my head.
I light the candles in the equipment room too and dry up the floor. Not much water had made it in here as only the smallest bits of magic had flown this far. There was more noise however. Scratches and soft hisses. A gentle scraping noise that Garrett just didn’t seem to hear at all even though Delgen were supposed to have better hearing than the rest of us.
I’m chanting to myself that it is just my fear of the dark messing with me when I hear something shift overhead. I squeal and dart behind Garrett who stood staring up towards the rafters. I knew then, he’d at least heard that.
“I told you, I told you, I told you!”
“Stop screaming it’s just the floor settling,” Garrett reached back and patted my head condescendingly. “You’re fine…” About the time he said that I saw a shadow slowly drop down from the ceiling.
“Garrett?” I point at the large blob, which had several long slender legs, shakily. “Spider.”
“Seriously? That all?” He looked back at where I was pointing and froze. “Shit.”
The Black Widow looking thing, with shiny black bottom and electric yellow belly, was at least the size of a large dog and looked rather upset that we were in its room.
I back up. Garrett backed up. The spider lifted its front legs threateningly and the moment I saw its fangs, a good six inches long, I set it on fire. It ran. Setting a few other things on fire along with it. I panicked again and froze it.
Garrett and I both ran for the stairs.
“Ferros!” I screamed the moment we were free and had made it far enough from the basement we felt safe enough to stop.
“You okay lass?” About halfway through his tankard of ale Ferros looked us over as we burst into the Cantina.
“The basement is clean.” I announced first. “I also might have set it on fire. We didn’t stay to see.”
“What the hells is wrong with you girl!?” On his feet and headed back towards the cellar Ferros thundered at me.
“There was a spider!” I defended and, for once, had the satisfaction of Garrett echoing my valid reason.
Ferros stopped and looked back at me. He’d only made it just past the door when I’d said spider. “You say a spider? How big?”
I point to the ground then at my own stomach to give him an idea.
A courteous nod and an understanding look was given to me before Ferros turned and yelled. “Breken!? I need you to check the basement for me!”