This is a continuation of a story begun in the post “Chapter 1. Part 1.” If you enjoy it, please like and share it with others!
CHAPTER 25: BREAKING AND ENTERING
The plan was set and we set to work. We packed up camp quickly and quietly. Skreech was given a sleeping pill that Brew had produced from the backpack and all of the Umbili in the group covered their shining skin with black cloths to keep from giving them away.
We headed toward the mansion at a brisk pace. Because of how far we were from the camp, and because we needed to be there when the ostrogles would be asleep, Shishu and Brew were carrying me and Pathena. The twins were glad to finally have a chance to move as quickly as possible and I was surprised at how fast we moved as a group. When we could just barely see the mansion peaking over the black horizon, we halted.
We scampered around so that we were at the opposite side of the building from the main entrance keeping the distance about the same so that it would be clearly visible but out of earshot. Chak turned around and spoke to everyone in an intense whisper.
We started digging. In order to execute this plan we would have to dig fast. Luckily, Thrump, Shishu, Fwik, and Chak were expert diggers. Thrump and Shishu set to work building a pond. They started by digging 10 feet straight down, so that Chak and Fwik could get started on the tunnel. It was quite impressive, as they were moving practically at the speed of sound. They were already halfway done with the pond and the tunnel twenty minutes after starting. The rest of us, helped where we could, but for the most part we just stayed out of their way. Fwik kept cracking jokes under his breath about men being at work, and Fwish clotheslined him with her shovel when he tried to head back into the tunnel where he and Chak were working.
To pass the time, I whispered with Dr. Lee going through the plan again so as to fully understand it.
“So, when this tunnel and this pond are finished we’ll connect the tunnel with the moat encircling the mansion.”
“So all the water will drain out of the moat and into this pond.”
“Not all the water, just enough that the drainage systems from the mansion into the moat are revealed. We don’t want the Frog to notice that the water has suddenly disappeared from the moat.”
“Right, so about a third of the water drains into this pond.”
“Then Chak, Fwik, Plink, Shishu and I will wade into the moat and get in the mansion through the drainage system and come back out through the front door.”
“Meanwhile, Brew, Thrump, Flye, Skreech, Pathena, and you will approach him from the front and make sure he is distracted as you guess at the password.”
“And how do you intend to spend more than a minute guessing at a password when you only have three guesses?”
“Improvisation my dear boy.”
“Okay,” I said slowly, privately thinking that he hadn’t thought this through. “Then while the frog is distracted by your… improvisation… my group can attack him from the back, and dispose of him quietly.”
“Yes, and since he has no defense for a rear assault, the advantage is ours.”
“Okay. I think I understand. I just have one last question.”
“And that is?”
“Are we crazy or something? How convoluted and confusing can we make this plan? We’re literally building a tunnel that goes almost five hundred yards to drain out a moat!”
“To that, I merely reply with a simple, ‘you got a better idea?’” said Dr. Lee.
This was enough to keep me quiet and watch as the team worked away in the dark. The pond was about twenty by twenty feet and almost thirty feet deep. Dr. Lee had explained to me the calculations he had done to determine that this was the correct size, but I don’t remember how it worked exactly.
After about an hour of work, Fwik and Chak emerged from the dark entrance of the tunnel, which was just barely big enough around to fit Chak’s shoulders, and whispered that they were about to break through. This could not have come at a better time because the Ostrogles were due to wake up within the next hour. We ran through the plan again to make sure everyone was on the same page and the group split up.
I went with Shishu, Chak, Plink, and Fwik and we followed the path of the tunnel from above all the way to the moat. The other team made a large loop around to the front of the mansion, and we had lost sight of them through the darkness in a matter of seconds.
Once at the moat Chak gave a meaningful look at Shishu, who took his shovel in one straw-like hand, nodded, and dropped silently into the stream. He went under water instantly with only a little plop and for a second I thought that someone had said Plink’s name.
We waited on the shore of the moat and shared a tense silence.
Then, almost imperceptibly, the water level in the moat began to lower. Shishu’s head was gradually revealed as the surface of the water sank. Before long, the water was only about halfway up Shishu’s torso, making it about four feet deep. I could barely see the one-foot hole that was the entrance to the tunnel on this side, and the water level reached barely to the bottom edge of the hole. It lapped into the tunnel as Shishu waded forward to the middle of the moat and motioned for us to join him.
The four of us on the bank silently slid down the side and into the moat. The water almost went over Fwik’s head and he had to stand on tiptoe in the water in order to breath. It came up to my neck, and I grabbed tightly to Chak’s iron-like arm as we waded through, searching for the drainage outlet that would get us into the mansion.
We had waded down almost to the end of the wall when Shishu whispered in his monotone, “There.”
I looked at where he was pointing. There, on the stone wall of the mansion just above the current water level, was the top of an arched grate. The water mark on the side of the wall showed that it normally was completely covered, but now about six inches could be seen. Iron bars were welded to the top edge of the arch and descended into the water. We made our way over and Shishu’s head disappeared again.
He emerged on the other side of the grate, looking as if he were in jail.
“The bars only go halfway. You can walk under them. The stone on this side is slippery. Be careful.”
One by one, we made our way under the iron grate and into the pitch-black tunnel on the other side. It was obvious that this tunnel was usually full to the top with water and it was impossible to see. Fwik stepped in front and unwrapped the cloth covering his face so that a little bit of his shining blue skin could light our path. In the walls of this tunnel were smaller holes, about a foot in diameter, out of which trickled water constantly. We were in the main outlet shaft of the plumbing.
It was about five minutes of walking up and down shallow slopes and making left and right turns when eventually we came to the foot of a flight of stairs. The stairs descended into the water, and the line on the wall showed us that they were usually covered about halfway. A door sat menacingly at the top. We crept up the stairs and Fwik reached for the handle. Chak stopped him.
“Before we go in, we need to be sure of our plan. Priority one is to find the front door. If we are unable, priority two is to find the garden. The others do not matter if Nicholas does not plant that seed. Anyone we encounter along the way gets taken out as quickly and quietly as possible. Agreed?”
“Agreed,” we all whispered.
Fwik opened the door quietly and discovered a dark and empty hallway. We each slithered through the doorway and closed it behind us before heading left. Plink said confidently that she had kept track of the turns we made and knew about where we were inside the mansion. According to her, at the end of the hallway would be a right turn and the main doorway would then be on the left-hand wall.
We glided down the corridor following Plink’s lead and approached the right turn. In unison we flattened ourselves to the wall with Plink in front. She slowly peered around the corner and then whispered quizzically, “Flye?”
“Plink?” we heard whispered from around the corner. Plink ushered us forward and, to our surprise, we saw the entire group huddled in the middle of the hallway, and Flye was beckoning us forward.
“You made it!” she whispered spiritedly.
My entire group was a little bit dumb-founded. We stood there dripping water in the middle of the hallway with flabbergasted looks on our faces.
Chak was the first one to find his voice. “So… How?”
“Flye guessed the password!” said Brew.
“I don’t know, it just sort of came to me. Dr. Lee was doing his improvisations to try and get the frog to talk. He was asking him a whole bunch of questions, and buzzing around, and then I had a flash and I blurted out the word that I heard in the flash.”
“What was the password?” I asked.
“froggiesrock2000,” said Flye.
We all stared at her, but she simply looked at us with that wide-eyed innocent expression and nodded.
“So we came in here, closed the door behind us and that’s when you all showed up!” she finished cheerfully. It was clear that Skreech’s unconsciousness left Flye feeling more comfortable.
We congratulated her on a job well done and laughed about the fact that our complicated plan ended up being completely unnecessary. After a joyful but noiseless reunion, we began to reapply ourselves to the task at hand, deciding to stay together for the time being. We headed around the corner from the way my group had just come. It continued for thirty feet after the turn and dead-ended in a large oak door.
Just before it, Flye whispered for us to halt.
“Chak, get me the orb,” she said. She wasn’t messing around with small talk and no one cared.
Chak took the backpack from Thrump, who was glad to only carry the unconscious Skreech, and extracted the Agnoscian Orb. He handed it to Flye, who sunk her hands into the sides and closed her eyes. Moments later she opened them and whispered, “Through the door, and down the hall. There will be lots of doors. Take the third one on the right. It will open to a large room. That’s the center of the complex, we can get anywhere else in the building from there.”
Chak nodded and led the way. The mansion was frighteningly quiet. We encountered no opposition as we made our way down the hall. When the door to the center of the complex opened, we held our breath, but it too was empty.
It was a huge room. The ceiling was sixty feet in the air, and everything was a dark steel blue. It was nicely decorated. There were doors, tables, couches and rugs, and knick-knacks that you might find in anyone’s décor. In the center of the room, a dark blue spiral staircase disappeared into the ceiling and descended through the floor. The room was dimly lit and the details were hard to make out.
Even with all of this, it felt oddly empty. It looked like a lounge where Umbili might gather to socialize, but there was not a single Umbili in sight.
I thought that maybe I simply couldn’t see them, so I whispered to Chak, “Are we alone in here?” He nodded his head.
Our shuffling feet made the only sounds in the room as we turned to look back at Flye who was immersed again in the Agnoscian Orb. There was a sense of urgency and optimism in the group that hadn’t been there before.
But the optimism was short-lived, because that’s when Skreech woke up.
Want to keep reading? Go to the next section! >>> “Chapter 26. Part 1.”