He was hiding behind some barrels of Raice and salted gulatte, having reached the corridor that led out of the Court, when two Retainers rushed past with orders to wait at the exit for his inevitable approach, there being but few ways into the Court.
He thought through his difficulties, fighting the desperation that inevitably comes at such hopeless times.
Then an idea came to him and he quickly and quietly made his way back up the corridor, looking for the tool he would need.
He was not long in searching for it: a length of rope with a watercollector next to the kitchen cistern. Wrapping this around his narrow chest, Santulím then dashed up a stairwell and down another corridor towards the Retainers Hall.
It was, as he had hoped: Empty, the Royal garrison entirely occupied in the search for him. Peering across its expanse, Santulím’s spied his target: the privy.
Any Durno accustomed to labor or battle would not have dreamed of fitting through the narrow stone slots that emptied out over the steep void. But Santulím was neither of these things, so he tied the rope to the privy door handle and cast its length through the opening. Then he lowered himself feet first, his body scraping against the excrement covered sides of the hole.
Through persistent wriggling and effort, Santulím managed to get the majority of himself through. Icy winds buffeted his lower limbs as he gripped the rope, fearful of making too much progress and thus following all the way to an ignominious end.
But it was too late, a dried piece of excrement broke off, causing Santulím to slip entirely through. Down he fell, his slime covered hands desperate to grip the rope and stop himself. Seering with pain, they finally began to slow him down, but not before he reached the end and the watercollector. This caught Santulím’s boot as he went hurtling past. With a stiff bounce which caused him to collide with the excrement covered wall, Santulím stopped, hanging upside down.
Despite the rope’s extensive length, Santulím remained more than one third of the distance to the bottom. He tried to lift his body and grab the rope, but the change in weight caused his foot to come loose, and down he fell. He met the walls slope and proceeded to slide and roll down its soiled surface, finally coming to rest in the piled feces of many generations.
The smell brought Santulím back to consciousness. He peered around him into the thick darkness that had not yet begun to reveal any of Celem’s light. Above him the watercollector banged loudly against the Court walls.
Realizing it was only a matter of time till he was discovered, Santulím attempted to get up. After great effort, he realized his left lower limb was broken and would not bear his weight. So the young Alchemistic began to crawl.
Santulím’s journey out of Jotheim may not have been successful were he not so fortunate as to find a large trader’s cart outside an Inn on the Vilma Road beyond the gates of Jotheim. There, under the cart’s canvas top, he curled up and slept, only to awaken by the jolting movements of the cart underway.
Two fadouil pulled the cart, its master trudging before them both with a lead in his hand and young one next to him.
–By Celem’s light, there is such a stink following us.—said the Master as he turned towards the cart.—I do not recall Jotheim smelling so bad.—
The young one wrinkled his nose and nodded in agreement.
–perhaps it is a dead animal in the cart, or someone tipped rubbish on it at the Inn.—said the young one.—let me to check.—
He lifted the canvas top and let out a surprised yell.
–Watch! A vagrant! A bum! An escaped prisoner! And he is covered in shit!—
Santulím looked warily at his hosts and then down in shame at his condition.
–It is true what you say, young one.—he paused.—but I am no ordinary bum. I am a gifted alchemistic. And if you let me ride with you and tend to my injured leg, I will make sure it is worth your trouble.—
The master looked shrewdly from his young one to Santulím.
–If you are an escapee of the Court, harboring you is punishable by death. And there would probably be a reward for returning you…–
–I assure you, whatever you do request within the scope of my powers is yours.—replied Santulím desperately.—I command a large store of gold and knowledge.
–Indeed?—the Master coiled and uncoiled the lead in his hands.—well, I have little regard for the Court and many problems on my estate. You may stay with us, stowaway, on the condition that you wash.—
A giant boar, almost as big as a hippopotamus