Arnold rested in his cell as calmly as he was able to considering his situation. Everyone but Willow had stood up for him saying that they would keep an eye on him and make sure he didn’t cause any trouble, while the dwarves insisted on questioning him about the surface. He considered the fact they would deign to speak to him at all as a good sign, and the four had managed to get him provided with water and food though it was mainly just bread and soup.
Willow was less than thrilled with their undertaking, “Have any of you heard about the rabid dog and the peddler? Takes him home and nurses him and then gets bitten and dies? Or the flea-infested plague rat that ended up wiping out an entire village of morons?”
“No,” Nicholas said cheerfully, as he handed Arnold another piece of bread which he inspected thoroughly. “Besides, what’s that got to do with this?”
Arnold had needed time to recover, and his imprisonment was perhaps the best way for that. He was getting fed and being underground surrounded by a high concentration of metal was probably the last place he’d have to worry about the Lady. Probably. He hoped that Fae hated being in an underground cavern surrounded by metal at least…
He spent the next few days being questioned by the dwarves and hearing tales of the four friends exploits, neither of which were especially pleasant for him. He couldn’t answer the questions satisfactorily and none of the questions made any sense to the cat, although he was starting to learn some things about where he had arrived. It seemed that the dwarves and the four were trying to fix what had been broken about their world…the dwarves because one of their own kind had played a part in breaking it and the four claimed that they had been born to do it, which somehow reminded him of home once again…and Jimmy for some reason.
The only person who believed him completely about knowing nothing about the surface was Nicholas, and that didn’t appear to be a great feat. The young man had regaled him with some of their exploits thus far and was quite proud of the time he had mounted a rescue of Willow and Finn who had been trapped in an enemy submarine. He’d had gotten a hold of the controls of their own sub and crashed through the glass of the other sub with their own submarine nearly drowning the two. That this had actually worked boggled everyone, and not just Arnold.
“Willow’s a witch or something!” Nicholas said happily when Arnold pointed out that by all rights his friends should be dead, his mind going back to Sam and the others. “He just had to turn them both into frogs and they’d be fine!”
“Shut up, stupid!” Willow shouted at him, and from the sound of it he had thrown something at Nicholas.
Arnold sighed as more days passed. At least he was once again in a place where people who did the foolish things that at least had the same mortality rate as Babbage instead of a significantly higher one.
Still, of all the universes where Light might have been a benevolent thing did he have to wind up in a place where people had somehow burnt their world up and the only people trying to fix it had the survival instincts of a lemming. “…I really am magnetically attracted to people and places like you…aren’t I?”
“What?” Nick and Finn asked at the same time, but he shook his head as Finn nursed his eyes again. He was sure they were improving, but he didn’t want to take chances on something this vital to his survival.
“It doesn’t matter really…I’m just reaffirming to myself that if I ever make it back home I am never leaving again. Ever.”
The sound of the door opening announced the dwarves entry even more than the sound of their boots. The heavy set man’s scent announced him as Nchledame, which Arnold couldn’t pronounce along with two warriors. The man was more convinced than anyone that Arnold was hiding something.
He raised his voice accusingly, angrily, “Two men went above and went missing. They were found dead with thorns in their lungs.”
Arnold jumped at the news, horrified. “Thorns?!” Arnold asked incredulously. “She can make thorns grow inside of someone too?!”
“So you do know something about this!” The man proclaimed as the room filled with heads turning towards him.
“I…” He paused uncomfortably and then sat up and regained his composure. He figured he might as well be as honest as he had been until now. “I told you from the start I reached the surface because somethings were chasing me. One of these things was a…Fae of some kind that’s trying to kill me.” That lady might not have been the immediate cause, but it was true enough. “She got close to filling my own lungs with rose petals not that long ago.”
He’d have been more concerned about talking about such things, if they hadn’t been dwarves and strange people themselves. “Very well, you shall go over everything you know about it and your other pursuers if I have to beat it out of you!” The thick man sounded like he was coming closer, but Finn and Nicholas put themselves between him and Arnold. “Two men are dead for its silence and one of those sent to recover them is missing! Stand aside!”
“How could knowing that they wanted Arnold dead have helped keep your men alive?” Finn asked, as Jaeger entered the room with them.
The dwarf seethed at them and it seemed that it was going to come to a confrontation, but Jaeger caught their attention, “He’s not missing anymore, I found him waiting above almost immediately. He’s in some kind of trance I think…says he has a message for the runaway ‘Servitor’ and you, sir Nchledame…though not by name.”
Arnold grimaced, but took some solace in the fact that the Lady was still above and not here.
“A servitor?” The dwarf mused. “A runaway servant then…that explains a few things…what is the message?”
“He says he’ll only tell both of you,” Jaeger explained.
The dwarf cursed loudly, and then replied, “Bring it in here then! Let’s see what curse this cat has brought upon us!”