Dark Stars (The Thief Taker Book 3) by Quinn C.S

Dark Stars (The Thief Taker Book 3) by Quinn C.S

Author:Quinn, C.S. [Quinn, C.S.]
Language: eng
Format: azw3
ISBN: 9781503942110
Publisher: Thomas & Mercer
Published: 2016-12-12T16:00:00+00:00

Chapter 47

Charlie and Lily followed Bitey through the dank earth tunnel. They shuffled in the dark on their hands and knees, Hyde Woods vanishing behind them. Charlie could hear the swish of Lily’s silk dress and smell the damp soil.

Ahead of him he could see Bitey’s square frame illuminated by the flare of a tinderbox. Then unexpectedly the earth opened up. Charlie dropped down, landing on his hands and knees in a dank pool of water.

Bitey was lighting a rudimentary torch.

‘Catacombs,’ he confirmed, patting the slim curving bricks. ‘Been under Hyde Woods for hundreds of years. Poachers been using ’em for the past twenty.’

‘What does this mean?’ Lily’s slim fingers were tracing Roman letters, chiselled neatly into the wall. They made a single word.

‘Ostium.’

‘Means “mouth” in the old Roman tongue,’ explained Bitey. ‘There’s a few marked around London. Mostly old sewers still in use.’

‘Mouth?’ Lily was looking uneasily into the dark throat of the tunnel.

‘We have a few hours until the torch goes out,’ added Bitey. ‘Plenty of time to make a search.’

The tunnel was the height of a man, round and neatly bricked. It smelt of long-forgotten damp places. Charlie touched the arc of the low ceiling. The amber bricks felt cool and dry.

‘I can’t imagine someone hiding down here,’ said Lily, who’d brought up the rear quickly once she’d seen the torchlight. ‘It’s like a sewer.’

Charlie agreed with her. Disappointment bloomed. The narrow corridors seemed much too small for anyone to live and sleep in.

Lily was looking around. The ceiling was curved over, and bricked corridors snaked away in different directions like open mouths.

Bitey waved the torch. ‘That way leads to under the gamekeeper’s hut,’ he said. ‘We’ll not take that path unless we wish to be hunted and gutted for sport.’ He squinted around. ‘Never been too sure about every path,’ he admitted. ‘’S like a labyrinth. But that one,’ he said, pointing, ‘leads to a safe place. Comes out by the edge of a small lake, near the Upside-down Tree. The big beech tree,’ he added, catching Lily’s face. ‘Where Londoners used to make wishes.’

‘How do we find it again,’ asked Charlie, ‘if we lose our way?’

He was trying not to let the shadowy dark spook him. The damp tunnels brought back strange memories from his childhood.

In answer Bitey lowered his calloused hand to the ground. ‘Running water,’ he explained. ‘Not much, but you can feel it at your feet. It flows to the lake. We need only feel the direction the water runs and follow it out.’

Bitey splashed over the watery floor, then stopped suddenly. He raised a warning hand. Then he knelt and drew a stout stick from somewhere in the depths of his coat.

‘Mantrap,’ he said, extending the stick into the dark.

A metallic crack followed, and two steel jaws leapt forth from the water-soaked floor.

‘Nasty things,’ added Bitey.

‘What would it be doing here?’ asked Charlie. His instincts were on high alert now. Someone expected unwanted people in the tunnel.

Bitey straightened. ‘Most likely an old one,’ he said, but he sounded uncertain.



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