((And so begins our harrowing "Escape from Paryer" sequence!!!))
Unfortunately, "the barmaid" was not in any condition to respond to Emi's expression of concern. That's because she had fainted! After watching the deceased spy's soul depart from his body
and enter that of the Reaver, Meara Edeline had collapsed, senseless, onto the tavern floor! Per'dra gave a start, hearing the thud
of the tavern-keep's head meeting wood, but as soon as she checked to see who it was, the Elf sternly commanded:
"Tulsí! We must go...You know a city better than I would; lead!"
After listening to his instructions, the Bard nodded and then looked at Meara. Thinking she'd be able to lift the stalwart wench upon her shoulders, Per'dra was promptly forced to the ground. After struggling for a bit with the fully unconscious woman, she brushed herself off and cried, "I have stamina, but little strength! I'm sorry, old friend, but I can't carry you--especially when on the run." She took a deep breath. "Follow me. We have no time to lose!"
Grabbing the two hands nearest her--Emi's and that of the Elf--Per'dra dashed for the shoddy and rarely-used back door of the Drunkard's Haven. After releasing the two from their grasp, she informed them, "If you stay close to me, you'll be able to run like the wind. My steps shall pound a rhythm that propels us all, if indeed luck is with us. One, two, three--"
She sped off. Leading the Elf and the Reaver through a winding maze of back alleys and side streets, Per'dra concentrated on her breath and her pacing most of all. If she faltered for a moment in them, the powerfully suggestive effect of her steps would vanish. Who could afford to fall behind in this situation?
I know these dung-and-trash-filled cul-de-sacs like the sound of my own voice!
As a Bard, the comparison was fitting, and Per'dra's exacting memory served her well. Navigating through the dark and filthy corners of the slums of Paryer was far from easy, but if anyone who was poor ever wanted to flee the city, this difficult task had to be undertaken. As she ran, her steps quickened from a steady one-and, two-and, three-and, four-and
to a pounding series of frenetic semiquavers. [http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BEG7OzvSMBA]
During this part, which relied far more on speed than the knowledge of the streets, she grasped Emi and the Elf's hands again. Propelling them further into the darkness, she gasped suddenly on a turn:
The flames in the Gold District were becoming higher and brighter. The peasants, seeing this, were either rioting and looting (a stupid idea) or running for their lives (a far better idea). However, Per'dra knew they were going the wrong way, straight toward their own destruction at the regular slum gates. They were either going to trample one another to death if they found the gates closed, or else they'd pour into the forests like a bunch of blind rats. The Purge was either waiting there, or they would follow and murder away!
"We can't join them. The river--it's our only hope! Hold on..." Gritting her teeth, Per'dra resumed her former pace, the one that made her feet fly like bats' wings, taking her two allies with her. There was a path to the river that very few people used, because it led to the muddiest and wildest section...