Scottie stirred on the cold wet stone of the sewer floor, his clothing soaking in Builder-knew-what and his body groaning in pain. He attempted to move his limbs and this time his body cried out in agony. Grunting, he started wiggling his toes and fingers, ankles and wrists, knees and elbows. His mental inventory complete and indicating that yes, he hurt like hell, he forced himself to roll onto his back and let out a pained sigh.
His boot was not on his foot and blood ran from a gash upon his forehead, and apparently from the soft tissue of his shoulder. What had happened? Fractured memories leaped at him from the darkness and his pain was quickly forgotten. He clamored to his feet and his hands scrambled about, one for his sword and the other for a sawed-off shotgun lashed to his belt while he peered into the darkness.
He saw nothing in the low light of the sewers, save for his boot. He stepped into the murky water of the sewer and dumped it out before stepping into it again. He’d have winced had he not been focused on the way he’d come, waiting for whatever it was to appear again.
He was near Clockhaven, judging by the turns he’d taken and the distance he’d scrambled. The thing in the tunnels had come from the Square. He had been coming from Academy, investigating the holes that had appeared in Loner Lane and Brunel. Damn it! He’d dropped some bottles of wine from Vic’s storeroom. Maybe they were still there, back there…
He shook his head and started walking back towards Port, gun and sword at the ready. What had he seen? It was big. Massive, in fact, and yet it moved quickly and silently for a creature of its considerable bulk. The damned thing had filled the entire tunnel, squeezing itself through… but that wasn’t entirely true. He remembered spines encompassing the creature, at least what he could see. Perhaps they dug into the tunnel walls. Perhaps they broke off or were shed from time to time. Perhaps those were the source of the so-called “Devil’s Toenails”.
It had teeth, and gigantic horn, on what passed for its face. Did it have eyes? A nose? He didn’t think so, but in his haste to outdistance the creature he was hardly a reliable witness, even to himself. He scolded himself as he came to the tunnel intersection in Port. He’d been armed, but he hadn’t been prepared to use them. He’d gotten soft in his time in town. A low growl rumbled from his chest, more frustrated with himself than in anger at the creature, though he certainly harbored a very real hatred for it. Right would take him to Brunel. Left would take him to the Lane. Ahead would take him to the Square. The good money was to take the right and acquire more wine from Brunel. The smart money was to take the left and retreat to the relative safety of the Lane to regroup. If the creature were still around, it may have gone back the way it came, to the Square, and it would be stupid to chase it there so soon.
Crossing into Square, he had sheathed his sword and found at least one bottle of the wine upon crossing the intersection. The sawed-off was held out in front of him when he heard voices coming from… his left. Strange. That should be City Hall. Finding a crossing between tunnels, he looked up to see yet another sink hole.
He sheathed his gun and stooped to run some water through his hair and over his shoulder to clear away the blood. Except it’s not water, he realized too late. Yeah, sewers. He sighed deeply and grumbled while he clawed his way up from the hole. Indeed, he was before City Hall, and looking across the street he saw the front of the Popplefot factory. On the ground. Hearing familiar voices, he made his way over to the wreckage of the once proud factory.