Torquis in Machina, Part 7

“Hold still,” I said, and Laid Hands on Yoru quickly. He rolled his shoulders, tested his jaw gingerly with his fingers, and grunted his thanks. “Creepy-”

“Don’t touch me.”

“Fine,” I walked across to the cell door, which was ancient wood filled with big black iron nails. I stood on my tip-toes and looked out through the little barred window. “Anybody out there?”

There was no answer, except for a quiet symphony of drips, squeaks, and a distant voice complaining about loss of circulation to its ankles. I shrugged, and put my hands on either side of the locking plate.

“If you’re about to magic open the door,” Yoru said, “I wouldn’t.”

“Why not?”

“Three reasons. Firstly, you just healed yourself and me and you’ve been getting around with your night-vision eyes on, and sooner or later you’re going to get worn out and you’ll faint, leaving us right up the creek. Secondly, any Paladin caught breaking locks and otherwise misusing his talents is permanently stripped of his medallion and forced into clerical work. Complete with ritual castration.”

“Who came up with that one?” I demanded incredulously.

“And thirdly, there’s no point opening that door because it leads out into a corridor that just goes around to the other cells. The way out is up there,” Yoru pointed. I followed his finger, and with my enhanced eyesight could make out a small circular grille in the ceiling. It was a long way away. “They lowered us down on a hook, and they’ll throw us a rope ladder when they’re ready to let us out,” the huge man concluded.

I stood, stunned, while Yoru explained a bit more about the ‘circles of redemption’, a huge round courtyard built over the top of an underground prison. The cells were accessed from the concentric rings of manhole covers set in the courtyard cobblestones, and the closer to the middle you were dropped, the deeper your cell. We were in ‘the first circle’, for drunks, vandals and disturbers of the peace. The seventh circle was apparently waist-deep in water.

It was diabolical.

“Whose brilliant idea was all this?” I demanded.

Yours!” Yoru exploded. “You’re Sir Garçon de bloody Chapeau, aren’t you?”

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