Up or Down?-Arrondissement Part Sixty-One

As they ran down the Rue des Rêves, Verdigris enveloped the statues that lined the avenue until they flaked away into a pale green dust. The worn cobblestones they were traveling along became smoother and easier to run on. Suddenly, ahead of them, the Rue de la Pensée became a fast, rushing river and they leapt into the archway of a stable building just short of the newly created riverbank.

“We need an alternate route,” said the Repairperson.

Arpin leaned out to see how far the water went but the rue, now a torrential waterway, turned to the left several blocks and to the right, it continued straight beyond his sight.

“Since we cannot cross, there are two choices, either go up or down,” offered the Gendarme Sergeant.

“I don’t care for either of those,” said L’Horloge.

“If things change while we leap from rooftop to rooftop it might go very badly,” said Unexpected while she stroked her chin, “On the other hand, it might be just what we need.”

“That’s hardly comforting,” muttered the watch-master.

“Not at all!” added Nikita.

“I suggest we use the catacombs,” said Maxi.

“What if we’re swallowed up by the stone?” asked L’Horloge.

“The catacombs are some of the oldest parts of the Arrondissement, even if they change we might not even notice it.”

They all gave this thought and then immediately agreed. Maxi led them to a Metro station and down one level. There, they walked counterclockwise around an extremely menacing gargoyle and found themselves riding a spiral de-escalator until it deposited them in the catacombs.

“I keep expecting spirits to be watching us,” said Unexpected quietly.

Nikita said nothing but the corridor became significantly colder.

“Pardon! I did not-”, the Chevalier began.

“Not your fault”, interrupted Nikita.

“If we get to the device in time, the rest of the spirits should return,” the Repairperson said.

“Interesting that you should say that because no one asked you what you thought,” spat the ghost.

“This alliance can only succeed if we work together and put aside our differences,” replied the Repairperson.

“Did you not hear what I just said?” asked Nikita as the walls began to frost over.

“Please,” interjected Arpin, “This will not bring anything or anyone back. Circumstances have made us allies but know this Repairperson. All of us will be keeping a close eye on you.”

“It is irrational to-“, began the Repairperson.

“If matters were rational, we would not be here,” said Arpin with sad smile.

They walked in silence after that. After a while, they walked past the iron doors of Les Requêtes. Odd popping and clattering could be heard from inside but they did not investigate further. Soon after that, the narrow passage opened up into a large, rough-hewn room, illuminated with braziers, and in the center, a grassy mound. Standing on top was a figure dressed in red and blue checkered pants, a fur cape, bronze helmet, and holding a large double headed axe.

“Costume or real?” Maxi asked aloud.

The Warrior, as they all later referred to him, bellowed words that they did not understand and charged forward swinging his axe with both hands. Unexpected drew her sword, which seemed to change length, heft, and width depending on how she wielded it, as she met the Warrior blow for blow.

Maxi pushed L’Horloge behind her and he did not fight her on this. Arpin drew his Morpheus and lacking a clear shot, he waited for his opening.

The Chevalier and Warrior fought, with Unexpected the more refined combatant but the Warrior possessing greater strength and fury. It became like a dance, a violent one to be sure, but artistic in its way.

Unexpected had just parried a blow that might’ve bisected her when the Warrior rammed his forehead into her nose with an unpleasant crack. She stumbled back, shaking her head as he raised his axe.

Arpin was about to shoot when the Repairperson jumped in front of the Warrior and punched him square in the face. Tumbling off the mound, he dropped his weapon and was knocked flat on his back. With preternatural speed, the Repairperson was there, striking him repeatedly.

His face a bloody mess, the Warrior did the only thing he could. He spat blood in her eyes. Before the Repairperson could wipe them clean, he drew a dagger from his belt and thrust it into her stomach.

He was about to twist the blade when Nikita flew through the Repairperson, her face distorted in a rictus of anger. With a howl that froze everyone, she ‘touched’ the Warrior on the sides. His eyes went wide and his skin, the portions not covered in blood, drained of color.

Quickly the rest of them attended to the wounded. Unexpected waved off any help, saying a broken nose was nothing to worry about. She proved it by resetting it herself, though she said nothing for a full minute after that.

The Repairperson was not so easily dealt with.

“I’m not going to lie to you, this is bad,” said Maxi as she examined the wound.

“Please just remove the dagger and bind me up,” said the Repairperson.

“You need a Chirurgeon,” insisted Maxi.

“Let me see,” said Unexpected as she looked in.

The Chevalier’s eyes widened.

“She’s right, that’s a mortal wound.”

“I’m tougher than I look.”

“She’s a member of the League of Spiders, we’ve all seen what they can do,” said Arpin.

“I’m no Chirurgeon but I’ve sewn up my fair share of cuts,” said Unexpected as she took a heavy bone needle and strong thread from a pouch on her belt.

Dagger removed, she quickly sutured the puncture. Once finished, the Repairperson got up and started walking towards the exit, despite the loss of an alarming volume of blood. Arpin shrugged and followed.

Passing Nikita, the Repairperson said, “Merci.”

“I don’t want your thanks.”

“You have them though.”

“I still don’t like or trust you,” said the spirit as they moved.

“But you saved my life.”

“We need you alive.”

“It’s true.”

“For now.”

“I know.”

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