The fireplace swung shut once we were inside the passage but my strong flashlight lit up the area very nicely. I told Mr. Cat to take the lead but just ahead, not too far, and Muffin I put on my shoulder to watch behind us. I really don’t like surprises and there have been too many already tonight. We turned right away and went down stairs, 3, then 4 levels and we were in the stone passageways under the chateau. We could still hear the roaring of thunder down here, but it had a different, eerie sound to it. We were still going down, but a gentle slope then we came to the end with a passageway going to the right and left. Hmm, which way to take. Suddenly a loud tumultuous type laughter! Calanthe grabbed hold of my arm, “that’s Francois, I would know that laughing anywhere!” I heard an odd noise. Meow,meow!=Door close behind us! Sure enough, and no time to try to escape either.
“Guess that means we don’t go back that way,” I said trying to speak calmly. “I don’t like this,” said Calanthe, almost in tears. “Neither do I, but obviously Francois wants us to go a certain way,” I said, “so we will.” “Why is…”, Calanthe started to say. I put my fingers on her mouth and whispered to her that we need to be careful what we say down here, Francois is likely listening. She nodded. I figured going left would take us to that old cellar, nothing exciting there. “We’ll take the right passage,” I said and off we went. We soon came to a fairly large room where people had obviously been looking for the treasure. “I think people are wasting their time looking for that treasure,” I said. “Why do you say that?”, asked Calanthe. “It was probably found by family shortly after, or perhaps found by some enemies that attacked the chateau way back,” I said, “or it could have been used to give enemies so they wouldn’t be killed. These are all very likely possibilities.”
This part of the passageway was narrow so we had to walk in single file. Meow!=Danger here! We stopped and I aimed my flashlight at the floor. Mr. Cat was too light to set off the trap. I pulled him back then stepped carefully and…wow, sharp wood spikes came out of the floor, about 3 feet (nearly a meter) long! Calanthe screamed which echoed through the passages. “It should be safe to walk through them now,” I said, and it was. Once past they went back down again. A very nice trap, I wonder what else might be down here. “Francois wants us dead,” said Calanthe trembling. “Yes, you’re right about that,” I answered her, “but he has had plenty of opportunities, I think he wants to scare us first.” We come to another room with some old furniture. It was wasn’t large, but we go inside to look around. Just as we get inside there is a loud ‘whump!’ behind us and a heavy wood door had shut. “Guess we will be in here for awhile,” I said, “at least there is some beds in here.” Muffin jumps down and joins Mr. Cat looking around the room. They checked the beds for us and gave the all clear, meaning no bugs or mice.
I lay down on the one and Calanthe on the other. But her bed was suddenly pulled through an opening in the wall before she had a chance to jump off. By the time I got there the door was closed. I hate to think what will happen to Calanthe now. “Well, well my PI friend, you are not doing so well tonight,” said this voice, “but things could get better, if you decide to help me.” “Why should I help you?”, I asked. “For one thing, there is no way out of this room except through that wood door, and that would not be easy,” said the voice, “for another thing there is Calanthe, I’m sure you would not want harm to come to her. And then there is Linnea, I’m sure you would not want her to die either, that would be very bad for a PI to lose his client like that. So, do we have a deal?” “I haven’t yet heard what the deal involves,” I said, “but I won’t say yes to anything unless Calanthe and Linnea are returned to me first.” There was silence, a very long silence, perhaps I pushed too much this time. Half an hour went by and still nothing, then an hour. This is not good. Meow,meow.=Air getting bad fast. She’s right, the air in here won’t last us very long…
To Be Continued.
©2021 Steve McLeod.