Previously: The Legend of Leonard Letterman, Pt 31
Leonard drew comfort from the hand tucked in his that pulled him along since the owner seemed to know where they were going, or possibly could see better in the dark. Whatever the reason, Leonard was glad that Wilhelmina was undeterred by the pitch black hallway leading them to further into the unknown.
For a while, Leonard could only hear the shuffle and tromp of their paired feet, which echoed slightly off the walls. At some point it sounded like there was a soft, steady, drip to be heard between the footfalls. There was a dank quality to the air the farther they walked, and eventually a gentle downward slope to their path that caused Leonard the slightest hesitation when placing his feet.
They’d been walking long enough for Leonard to start wondering whether they were in a corridor or a tunnel when a dim and distant light could be seen up ahead; between their steps also came the steady rumble of voices that grew louder as they neared.
Leonard’s pulse quickened at the sound. Wilhelmina’s fingers twitched in his hand.
The darkness of the passage they’d been traversing had acclimated Leonard’s eyes enough to the dark that he was partially blinded when they found themselves outside of a room with an open door as the source of the light. His head gave another nasty throb, reminding him of its recent contact with stone.
They could hear the voices more clearly now, but it seemed like there were at least two people speaking at once at all times, though the pairings seemed to change. It made the tangled mess of words difficult to separate and absorb into any meaningful message.
Osric halted at the door to give Wilhelmina and Leonard a measured look before squaring his shoulders and entering the room with a low, “this way,” to them.
The many-tongued conversation paused immediately when Osric stepped into the room. His presence was soon followed by a raucous greeting, which abruptly ceased the moment that Wilhelmina and Leonard appeared at Osric’s shoulder. At some point, Wilhelmina reclaimed her hand.
Leonard squinted marginally, resisting the urge to raise his arm and shield his eyes from the blinding light. The room looked far smaller than its dimensions suggested, the space largely filled with a battered but sturdy looking table surrounded by mismatched chairs in similar condition, most of which were occupied.
Five pairs of eyes grew wide as they surveyed Wilhelmina and Leonard. They looked to be of a variety of ages; the oldest seemed to be a man sitting at the corner of the table with gray hair knotted at the base of his skull; the youngest appeared closer to Wilhelmina’s age, a man with chestnut hair and sharp features who had turned in his chair to gape at them.
There were three men and two women. The remaining man looked like a younger, wilder version of the eldest, his long hair dark and untamed, left to entangle itself in the scruffy beard that reached his chest. The women looked like inverses of each other; the younger had hair so blonde it looked white, cropped short in a fashion similar to Osric’s and blending into translucently white skin, giving her a ghostly appearance; the other had her long, black hair plaited and wrapped around her shoulders like a scarf with golden beads threaded through it, her dark skin emanating with an ineffable glow.
Osric held up his hands to deter interruption. “My companions do not understand why nothing has yet been done about the information we recovered regarding the portals and the taken.”
Though obviously riddled with questions and shock at the unexpected arrivals, Osric’s statement had an even more surprising effect on the seated group, which seemed to push all focus on who the visitors were from their minds.
The man with iron gray locks rose slowly from his chair.
Click here for Part 33!