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Chapter 14 : Chapter Thirteen: The Other Side of the Wall
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Chapter Thirteen: The Other Side of the Wall
Even though the key was covered in bed sheets, the next morning, Lottie nearly gave into its temptation. Only Andrea noticed her odd behavior in classes that day, but just assumed that the previous night’s business had distracted her.
Even during dinner, Lottie retained a stoic silence. Andrea gave up in trying to figure out what could be wrong and introduced herself to the shy first years. Lottie finished her supper as quickly as she could manage and rose from the table. “Lottie?” Andrea turned from the first years. “Where are you going?”
Lottie had considered telling Andrea about the key, but knew that Andrea would just tell Palmyitor before she could check anything out for herself. “I just feel sick,” Lottie answered. “I think I’m going to bed.”
Frowning, Andrea muttered, “Okay.” Lottie turned to leave, but Andrea stopped her. “Don’t worry about the seventh years,” she said. “I’m sure they’re fine.”
“Yeah.” Lottie started towards the door. “Thanks,” she called behind her.
The corridor was completely deserted. Lottie ran back to the common room, looking over her shoulder every few minutes. She nearly ran into the clock, stopping just in time to change the time and dive in. She sprinted down the stairs to the girls’ floor, taking the last four steps with a running jump.
Her duffle was already opened. She pulled the bundle of sheets out triumphantly and unwrapped the key – it looked safe enough. The sheets had covered it all day and they hadn’t been affected at all. Carefully, she pulled the key out and pocketed it. She didn’t feel like she was about to die. But didn’t the pack of cards kill days after it was touched? Lottie suddenly regretted her decision. As she climbed back up the stairs, she decided that she would take a trip to the hospital wing as soon as she felt sick.
What door did this key open? Was the door even at Alsemore? Lottie started down the corridor, sticking the key in every door she found. She decided to work her way up from this floor. It was rather tedious, and she had to run quickly, because she couldn’t be caught exploring the school during dinner when she was supposed to be sick.
By the third floor, Lottie was starting to lose interest. What were the odds that this key actually opened a door at Alsemore? Dinner was nearly over; she could hear the distant voices of students leaving the Great Hall. Lottie looked around desperately.
A hunched and withered man was weaved into a fading tapestry hanging on the wall across from her. The torchlight flickered across his face and made his dull eyes glimmer to life. The rest of the stone wall was blank, except for a rusting suit of armor whose face almost seemed to move when the light illuminated it.
The voices were getting closer. Lottie ran to the tapestry and stood as still as she could behind it. Just as she got situated and the voices were right around the corner, a clanging of metal interrupted her panicked thoughts.
She peeked out from behind the tapestry. The suit of armor had moved. It held its hand out, as though waiting for somebody to put something in its palm. Lottie pulled out her key. The suit opened its hands wider.
The voices must have been nearly there. Thinking hastily, Lottie dashed to the armor and dropped her key in its hand. It promptly wrapped its fingers around it, turned around and put the key in a perfectly sized hole in the wall. The wall split to reveal a gap just big enough to crawl through. Lottie paused. What was on the other side of the wall? Was it worth risking the danger to not get in trouble for snooping? She fell to her knees and pulled herself through the hole just as the voices passed her. From her spot on the ground, she could see the suit of armor step in front of the hole, covering it innocently.
Lottie grinned and pulled out her wand. “Lumos.” The passage revealed was only tall enough for her to push her way along on her stomach. Keeping her wand between her teeth, she used her arms to pull her entire body down the corridor.
A tiny door appeared to her left. Lottie unlatched it and maneuvered awkwardly to get through.
Past the door was an empty hall. It was pitch black – Lottie could only see as far as her wand light shone. Relieved that it was large enough to stand in, Lottie pulled herself to her feet. Flickering torches illuminated the entire room. Aged benches formed a pentagon in the center. It must have been used for some sort of meeting place.
Oversized trunks were scattered around the perimeter of the hall. Lottie ran over to the first one and opened it carefully. Knives in scabbards lined the inside of the trunk. Lottie decided that she would need some evidence for her discovery, so dragged it along with her as she checked the other trunks.
In the seven trunks she visited, Lottie found bottles filled with some dangerous looking substance, a silver ring with a faded crest, a small snuffbox, some robes and what looked suspiciously like snakeskin. Lottie dragged the trunk back to the door leading to the tiny corridor, but once she pulled her hand on the doorknob, the torches in the hall put themselves out, leaving her in darkness.
Her wand light illuminated the open trunk. She didn’t have enough time to move out of the way when the contents of the trunk flew out. Lottie stood, dumbstruck, at the levitating objects. She moved her wand before her defensively. Suddenly, everything flew towards her. The snuffbox, the robes, the ring and the snakeskin didn’t scare her as they were all relatively harmless, but she was rather concerned about seven knives.
Lottie ran through the hall, but the knives followed. She dodged to the right, but, if anything, the knives only sped up. She tried weaving, her way to the door, but she couldn’t escape. They were right behind her; she could feel the tips of the blades brushing against her back. She was quickly losing stamina.
A knife sliced through the sleeve of her robe and cut her arm. Lottie changed direction, just to find a knife right in between her eyes that cut across her nose and cheek; it only stopped when Lottie wrestled it away and down to the ground.
She ran back to the large trunk and stuffed the harmless, floating objects in it. With a sudden idea, Lottie jumped in after, letting the knives come down at her. They grazed her legs and cut her arms as they came down. Lottie hopped out of the trunk quickly and shut it with all of her force.
Panting, Lottie opened the little door to the corridor. She could hear the knives straining to be released. She pushed the trunk through the door and followed suit, with her illuminated wand held in between her teeth.
Getting out of the narrow hallway proved to be much more difficult than getting in was. She had to push the trunk forward first and then pull herself. After what must have been ten minutes Lottie reached the tiny crawl space in the wall. The suit of armor was still guarding it. Lottie reached over the trunk and tapped the suit’s legs. It stepped out of the way with a clatter.
“Not a very graceful suit of armor,” Lottie panted as she pushed the trunk through the passage and then pulled herself out. “Are you?”
She pointed her wand at the trunk. “Wingardium Leviosa.” Carefully, she steered the trunk down to the Palmyitor clock. The trunk must have been influenced by magic, because she had a rather difficult time controlling it.
The trunk barely fit through the clock. The clock, though, Lottie realized, must have been magicked to fit everybody because even the largest of people managed to get through it. The common room was relatively deserted. All of the people left either didn’t notice or didn’t care that a second year was guiding a trunk down to the dormitory.
Lottie’s dorm was completely silent when she entered. Everybody was asleep. She must have been down in the hall longer than she thought. The trunk landed with a thunk on the ground. Nobody stirred. Lottie pulled off her robes to change into her pajamas.
Lottie looked up from her duffle. “Andrea!” she hissed. “Go to bed!”
“I’m not a dog, Lottie.” Putting on her glasses, Andrea clambered out of her bed. “I thought you were in the hospital wing for the night. What’s that trunk?”
Lottie put a finger to her lips. “It’s nothing,” she whispered. “Let’s just go to bed. I’m tired.”
“Lottie, you’re hurt!” Andrea shouted. “What--” Lottie put a hand over her mouth to shut her up.
“I’m fine,” Lottie whispered calmly. “I’m just going to go wash off and go to bed.”
Andrea raised her eyebrows and stared at the trunk again. “I’ve never seen a crest like that on a trunk,” she said, pushing Lottie’s hand away.
“I doubt you have,” Lottie sighed. “Look, I’ll tell you, but you don’t tell anyone else, okay?” Andrea nodded. “I found this key under one of the seventh years’ beds. It led to a really long secret passage on the third floor. I found all of the stuff in the trunk there.
“Lottie!” Andrea slapped Lottie lightly on the shoulder. “You shouldn’t go exploring dangerous places by yourself! What if there were Death Eaters in there?”
“If Death eaters were in the school, I’m sure they would have attacked us by now.”
“Well--nevertheless, you should have taken the key straight to Palmyitor!” Andrea’s blue eyes sparkled with curiosity behind her glasses. “But first, can I see what’s inside?”
“Sure.” Lottie unlatched the trunk. “I’m warning you, though, last time this thing was opened, it attacked me. You might want your wand.” Lottie waited for Andrea to get her wand from her bedside table before opening the trunk.
Nothing happened. “That’s interesting,” Lottie said thoughtfully. “Well, better this way than before. The magic must be contained in the passage and not in the trunk.
“Wow.” Andrea cautiously tiptoed closer to the trunk. “And you found all of this?”
“Yeah.” Lottie eyed the trunk. The knives had fallen on top of the robes, which covered everything else she had found. “Well, no.” Lottie never knew what led her to lie, but suddenly she reached down and pulled out the robes, trying to take as many objects with her as she could. “The robes are mine. I took them off to run faster.” From what she could see, she had managed to grab the snakeskin. “I found the rest of it,” she said, carefully putting the robes with the snakeskin in her duffle.
Andrea held up one of the bottles. “This is sort of scary,” she said, examining it in the little bit of moonlight that came from the window. “I can’t open this.” She threw the bottle back and picked up one of the knives. “I can’t get this out, either,” she grunted. “Do you think they’re enchanted so only one person can use them?”
Lottie unsuccessfully tried to free a knife from the scabbard as well. “I don’t know. They seemed to open themselves pretty well on their own down in that chamber.”
Andrea dropped the knife. “Maybe we shouldn’t touch enchanted objects. I don’t want to get the entire dorm killed.” Lottie fell a shot of guilt run through her, though not enough to return the robes and the snakeskin. “Let’s just take this to Palmyitor tomorrow.”
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