The cartridge fit snugly into the chamber, its base bearing a small etched symbol in the center. A forward push, another clack, and a twist to the right to lock the mechanism. The lever again sat in her palm, but it was no longer locked in place. It offered up significant resistance to a downward bend of the wrist, but with some effort it gave way with a satisfying click. Zelsys dared not push any further, aware that working the mechanism any further would likely result in a thunderous blast and a wayward ball of lead ricocheting off the walls. She relaxed her wrist, and the lever popped back into place just below her palm, close enough to reach if she bent her wrist but far enough to not stop her from using her hand.
She looked over the shelves again trying to find something, anything else that could be of use. “Mortar and pestle… Empty bottles... Bandages… No clothes? Seriously?” she thought, sighing as she reached for each item in turn and stored it in the Tablet, including the shank. The only thing she didn’t store just yet was the huge roll of linen bandages, which she used to fashion rudimentary undergarments, going on to wrap her lower legs for at least some foot protection, as well as her left arm to a degree that concealed the gun. Her still-damp hair was too long to not get tangled, thus she also went to the effort of braiding it, tying up the resulting braids with more bandages.
Once all that was done she used the remainder of the bandage to wrap the Tablet and tie it to her waist, put her cloak back on, and began the long climb to the surface. The ladder stretched for hundreds of meters upward, with naught but a speck of light at the end of the shaft to suggest it led to daylight. And long, the climb was.
Left. Right. Left. Right.
For what seemed like eternity, the only thing to keep her company became the monotonous sound of her own hands and feet on metal rungs. The shaft’s damp interior was illuminated by sporadic, flickering light-crystals, whose milky-white uniform glow did little to counteract the monotonicity of the climb.
Left. Right. Left. Right.
The mouth of the shaft approaching, Zelsys began to climb faster. The sound of whipping wind. The smell of fresh air, and… Something else. Smoke, but not that which rises from a wood fire. It was the foul, sulfurous stench of coal smoke, barely present, but noticeable. As she neared the top, a realization dawned - the ladder ended a solid half-meter before the top of the shaft.
She braced herself, sucking in a short breath. With a sharp exhalation of Fog she threw herself upward, passing through the mouth of the shaft as a familiar static washed over her. She looked back down the shaft, and saw that it was just a basin filled with silver Fog. The wind picked up, blowing the Fog away as the weathered sigil underneath faded.