The sounds of fighting outside continued, but it wouldn’t be long before Doctor Dinosaur would pursue him. Arnold was going to try a broken window in the back when he noticed the cellar door had been left ajar, and there was gray smoke drifting out of it slowly.
It was the only lead he had at the moment. He prepared himself by placing the sword back where it belonged, and then taking the cane and bag the cat moved for the door. He made his way down the stairs.
There was no cellar filled with wine bottles down here, it was more like a crypt. Lining the walls were names that had long faded away, and pools of ugly black and green liquid bubbled to the surface and that green-yellow fog seemed to come from the ground in some patches. People that laid next to the liquids were not moving, just coughing miserably while covered in assorted wounds and sores which oozed pus and infection.
He moved forward slowly, carefully as he tried to understand what was going on. After a few moments he realized that he had entered a plague pit.
He turned around in time to see movement to what was now his right as a tall, dead man was standing up; the festering claw wounds and the bullet on his head leaking as the man he recognized from photographs, Cortman, rushed forward snarling.
Arnold lifted the cane, but he’d already used the only ammo he had carried with him on the ravens. Cortman hadn’t been intimidated either as he tackled directly into the barrel trying to get at the cat.
The two fell and Arnold felt his head come down dangerously close to the edge of the pool of sickness and the fog resting above it. He held his breath as Cortman tried to push his way past the cane.
Arnold set himself, letting go of the bag he gripped the cane and pushed as hard as he could on the weapon, which sent the heavy man flying back a foot. It was enough space for Arnold to get to his feet and flip the cane around. Swinging as hard as he could with both arms he aimed for Cortman’s head. The man raised his arm to defend himself from the blow, but there was a sickening crunch and the sound of breaking wood.
That would have felled a living man, but Cortman reached out and grabbed the cane with his other arm and then move towards the cat trying to bite him. Arnold let out a hiss as he abandoned the cane and went to all fours slipping past the man and running up the stairs.
“Get back here,” Cortman shouted as he pursued him up the stairs, carrying the cane with him. Arnold was going to leave, when he realized that he had forgotten something. The bag.
Wishing that it had been a pack he could wear, he turned around and faced Cortman on the stairs. The man was running up the stairs with the cane in his only one good arm.
Arnold didn’t think he had much choice as he undid the straps on the wooden sword. He risked infection if he let the man get close enough to bite him again. He took the sword and adopted a stance that felt familiar.
The wooden sword batted away the cane which had been thrust forward like it was a sword, and when Cortman tried to bite at him as a follow up Arnold brought his free claw around scratching his already festering face, sending dark blood and pus flying.
The man took a few steps back to steady himself, and Arnold charged forward swinging his wooden sword, which was deflected by the cane. Cortman and the cat attacked and countered with their weapons, one a cane and the other a sword and claws, as they danced up and down the stairs dangerously.
Arnold moved without thinking, adrenaline and instinct fueling his actions as they crossed their faux blades. If he had tried to think or guess what he was going to do then he would have been at a loss and defeated in moments.
Cortman backed off for a moment suddenly, as he looked at the cat with a renewed horror, “You’re not dead!”
“No,” Arnold agreed as he took advantage of the reprieve to steady himself, “I’m not.”
“The raven was right. You are a monster!” Cortman sneered. “I should have used a silver bullet!”
Arnold didn’t respond and Cortman rushed forward again with a thrust. Arnold deflected the sword and then fell back as the man continued forward to tackle him against the steps. Now that he knew the cat was among the living he knew he had the advantage now.
Arnold didn’t have time to do anything else as he kicked with his lower legs as hard as he could, and the kangaroo kick was enough to send the larger man tumbling down the stairs. Even from here Arnold could hear the sound of breaking and cracking bones as the dead man was unable to stop his rapid descent.
Arnold checked himself, and then reached for his medical arm band and the peroxides to quickly clean his claws so he could avoid infection. He went over it twice, and then felt that he had probably gotten it. It seemed strange to his body at least to have stopped only at two, but he put up the supplies and then checked his sword. He was shocked that it showed no signs of stress or chipping. It appeared to be as indestructible as his hat or the clover had proven to be thus far.
He went back down the stairs, ready for another attack, but found Cortman at the bottom of the stairs broken. His bones were sticking out in places as he stared at the cat balefully. The cane had also been bent which would make it useless as a gun.
He considered it for a time, and how awkward it had felt to use instead of the sword. The only reason he had to hang onto it was because Momoe had given it to him. After a few moments he took a small wood clipping from it and put it in his pocket, and then went retrieve his bag wordlessly before he made his way back to the stairs.
“Come on, Nurse!” Cortman’s voice said cutting through the air. “Do something about it!” Arnold turned back to Cortman for a moment, wondering what he wanted. “You’re not a Nurse though are you? That oath to bring no harm to anyone hasn’t stopped you from killing has it?! And I don’t see you helping any of us!”
Arnold turned and looked back at the plague pit. There were people here that needed his help, people that he could not help. A healer would have felt the first instinct to try to help them, but he hadn’t even considered it.
Looking down at Cortman broken as he was, he also had no desire to help him. A nurse was supposed to do their duty and help even those that they felt might not deserve it.
“You’re right, Cortman.” Arnold said as he made his decision and removed the nurse’s armband. “I may know some first aid, but that does not make me a nurse.” He threw the medical supplies down the stairs where it landed next to the broken dead man. He watched for a moment as some of the victims slowly began to crawl towards the medicine he did happen to have before he turned and made his way out.