Marble steps turned to rough-hewn stone and the gaslights to flickering torches as they ran up the staircase.
“Don’t look back!” shouted Unexpected as she slashed at an Escher Spider’s leg.
It had woven a pattern of overlapping stairs behind them and was trying to draw them in. Using only peripheral vision, the Chevalier kept the dimensional arachnid at bay as they ascended.
In the front, a large Escher Spider unfolded from the wall and was about to spin things into a loop when the Repairperson grabbed on the legs and flung it into the middle of the stairwell where it fell until it folded in on itself.
“Quickly, to the door!” cried L’Horloge.
They moved as fast as they could and slammed the door behind them. The watch-master sat on the tiled floor, which shifted from a black and white checkerboard pattern to a burnt umber and forest green houndstooth.
“How many floors did we climb?” asked L’Horloge.
“One,” replied the Repairperson.
L’Horloge lay back with a groan.
“Think of us as one floor closer to our goal,” declared Unexpected as she cleaned fractal ichor from her blade.
“We’re not going to make it,” said L’Horloge.
“Come now, you should not lose heart!” said the Chevalier.
“I can’t fight like the two of you.”
“You sell yourself short. I saw how you dispatched that beast in the park outside.”
“It was pure panic. I also threw up afterward.”
“It’s not unusual, I- “
L’Horloge stood up and loudly said, “I can’t do this! I’m not a Chevalier or a…”
He looked at the Repairperson.
“Whatever you are. No offense.”
“If I keep going, I will likely die or worse, one of you will die trying to protect me. I could not bear that.”
“You must have faith,” said Unexpected as she gripped him by his shoulders.
“She’s right,” added the Repairperson.
Unexpected gave a crooked smile.
“I had no idea that the League of Spiders had believers in their ranks.”
“Our faith is of a different sort but that isn’t what you are correct about. We cannot stop now, whatever the cost.”
“But if anyone is killed- “, began L’Horloge.
“If we all just sit here all of the Arrondissement will be unmade. Everything and everyone you care for will be gone. If we press forward, there is a chance we can succeed. Not a huge one, but a chance.”
“Depressingly inspirational,” said Unexpected.
“Still, I’m a burden. Leave me here, the Repairperson can readjust the Penultimate device,” said the watch-master.
“No. I’ll need your help and the Chevalier lacks the skill to aid me. No offense.”
“Are you absolutely certain?”
“Then let us continue.”
They all entered the stairways door. Just before it closed, a silver tabby trotted from a shadow and followed them in. Ears flat, eyes determined.