There wasn’t anywhere she could hide so she had the holy rat skeleton ready with his light sword in front of the door. If she had to kill someone else today to earn her freedom then she would.
She almost ordered the rat to attack but she saw what had opened the door. A large beige dog, quietly sneaking out of the room. He paused for a second when he saw Sofia and her rat. Then got on his hind paws, closed the door as gently as it had opened it and stormed off in another corridor.
Sofia hadn’t so much as flinched through the whole experience, frozen in shock and relief both.
It could have just barked once and I was dead meat. Good dog.
She had an urge to take out a bone from her armor storage to leave for him in a corner but it was best not to leave too many traces of her passage.
She finally reached her destination. A small laundry room. She saw where she had to go through to reach the second level : a dirty clothes chute. It was very narrow, and it stank but that was the most discreet way to reach the upper floor. The stairs in the paladins’ quarters simply weren’t an option.
Not being able to fall was very helpful when it came to climbing in weird places.
[Way of the Fool] is such a nonsensical passive skill, how many variations could exist… Can’t faint? Can’t drown? Can’t burn a steak?
The second floor was some kind of paladin training facility. Training rooms, storage rooms, smithies, fighting rings, prayer rooms… All of it had a very stern atmosphere. Navigating through the place was easier than she thought. There were some duos of paladins patrolling here and there but they were quite relaxed. Many of the rooms connected to each other, making avoiding them an easy task, especially with the rat scouting from the ceiling beams.
Why are there so many wooden beams everywhere anyway?
It seemed like it would be a paradise for rodents but besides the one rat, she hadn’t seen any traces of more.
It took her half an hour to get to the ‘exit’ the rat had found before. It was in a small square room.
There was a small paper note pinned on the wooden door.
‘Scheduled for repair on the 18th, do not enter, risk of falling’
I have no idea what the date is but I’m feeling very lucky that it’s still open right now.
The exit in question was a decently sized hole in the fortress wall. Thankfully it was large enough for her to go through. The wall was more than a meter thick but it looked as if the stone had melted to form a hole. The floor near the hole was missing too, covered by a blanket and a few loose planks. The whole room had signs of the walls and furniture melting, whatever substance had made the hole had splashed everywhere.
Dunno who did this but I doubt they’re still alive… No alchemy, I decided. Nope. Never touching that crap.
She looked through the hole. It was still the dead of the night, she could see quite a few lights coming from the capital below. As expected the exit was on the right side of the fort. The immediate good thing Sofia noticed was nobody would see her leave from here. In fact nobody would expect her to leave from here.
The bad thing was that this hole led to exactly nowhere. Just a cliff. It was smooth for a few meters, until the fort walls ended and led straight to a steep rocky cliff. It was almost completely vertical, but if one could still go down from there it would be easy getting to the city. The cliff ended about a hundred meters below. Down there were the fields cultivated on the many plateaus overlooking Einsen.
Great, second worst case scenario. Now how do I go down? My initial plan in case of a cliff was to try to get a rope. This is a... tiny bit too high for your usual rope… [Way of the Fool] all the way down it is then?
What followed was one of the worst hours of her life. She painstakingly jumped from protruding rock to protruding rock in a risky descent. Although she wouldn't fall when she was already grounded, what if she missed her jump and didn’t touch any kind of ground? She doubted she would suddenly start defying gravity.
There was still about six or seven meters down to go. But no more rocks to jump to anywhere. Only a nice, clean and polished cliff side, and a rice field down below.
Sofia couldn’t jump. She was stuck on the same rock for at least ten minutes. It cracked, and an instant later, so did her legs.
She had expected the worst pain of her life but the burst of pain had been quite brief, she only felt shaken now. She only felt her body from the arms up, in fact.
She panicked. Her eyes got wet.
[You have been affected by : confusion. But your skills negated the status]
Her mind felt clearer in a flash. She thanked her lucky star that today had happened how it did. Her hand weak and trembling, she retrieved the tiny healing potion from her inner pocket. It had survived the fall.
If this was the real deal, a potion used by the church’s paladins, then this thing could even regrow limbs. Or so they did in the books she had read. She prayed that it wasn't some baseless zeal on the author's part.
She gulped down the dark green liquid.
Tastes like grass.
Health : 18 / 335
Sofia could feel her body fixing itself, wriggling into shape. Bones fusing, tissues connecting, blood coursing. The pain came back with the feelings of her lower body, then it faded away.
A minute later she felt like she was completely reborn. She had never felt so healthy.
Health : 5018 / 335
Oh, ok then. She observed her health take a sharp decline before settling back to 335.
Fuck, I should have stolen more…
She despised her caution that had robbed her of the opportunity to have more lifelines like this. Looking at the capital city still a few dozen meters below, it was time to get a move on.
Still a few hours before morning, the church will notice something’s wrong soon… The later the better. Since I wasn’t seen I still have the option to hide in the capital for a while. I still think I should flee the kingdom as fast as I can… first I need new clothes, can’t go in the city covered in blood like that.
She had imagined a million ways to make money but none of them worked if she got arrested for looking like a murderer.
So much for not falling…
It wasn’t long until she found a water well with a pump near a farmhouse. Her small church provided water-skin had been empty for hours. She hadn’t focused on the need to drink until now but she was actually quite parched. Which the potion had only worsened. She also cleaned her hands and face as well as she could, but nothing could be done for the white clothes, it wasn’t even worth trying.
She walked through the mountain fields for a while until she was far away from where she had landed to feel a bit safer. She searched for a while, approaching every farmer’s house. Not a single one seemed empty, but she did find one where it seemed few people lived. One of the windows was open. Sofia snuck into the small house.
This isn’t my proudest moment…
It was a tiny farmer house, every door was open inside. She had entered through the kitchen’s window. From there she had a direct view of the living room on one side and the bedroom where a couple of young adults were sleeping on the other.
What caught her eyes was the stacks of folded clothes piled on a bench in the bedroom.
I feel bad for stealing from them… they don’t even have a closet. But the woman looks only slightly shorter than me so… I’m sorry. I’ll try to take the worst thing I find.
She told herself that but she couldn’t afford the luxury to be picky. She didn’t want them to wake up and call for the guards, although it was questionable whether they would hear them from here anyway.
She picked a long featureless brown linen dress, even folded it looked worn and of poor quality. She was glad that she had managed to be silent the whole time. The loudest thing in the house had been her beating heart. She felt shame from her actions.
As she exited through the window, she ran and didn’t look back.
She stopped a few hundred meters further, completely out of breath.
Why do I feel worse from stealing a cheap dress than from killing someone? Life is weird. Or I am.
She took off her blood stained shirt and pants, her back shivered from the early morning’s cold.
The dress was a bit tight in some places and didn’t quite reach her ankles but it was better than her bloody rags. She also took off the gold headband. Wearing something worth so much money wasn’t a good idea, and it would look weird with the cheap dress. She tried to just hook it to the side of her underwear but it was so heavy that it pulled it down. In the end she had to wear it as some kind of thigh ring as this was the only good way to hide it she found. There would be a slight bulge around her left thigh whenever she stepped forward, somewhat showing under the dress, this was good enough. As long as no one can tell it’s solid gold.
It’s weirdly uncomfortable wearing a dress without an undershirt now… I got corrupted by the church’s luxury clothing… Now how to get rid of these?
She looked at the old clothes. If the church found them it would be obvious she wasn’t dead and had escaped.
She found a large rock, and had the rat prop it up. It was shocking how the small thing had more strength than she did. She threw the things under there.
Who will ever find this now? I don’t believe the church will literally turn every stone to search for me.
Finally looking more like a farmer and less like a bloody vampire, Sofia headed toward Einsen.