Bitter 269

Dad snapped the book shut. The golden glow filling the outhouse vanished, but there was still some light leaking out from the edges of the closed book, illuminating Dad’s horrified face.

“Should go out in a sec.” The book continued to emit light. “Any moment now… Any… Sod it.”

He stuffed the book between his legs and dropped it into the loo.

“Dad! I need the book!” Britta whispered through her teeth. She had to put her hands out to keep her balance as she stood on him, one foot on each kneecap.

“Damn. Sorry, panicked. Don’t worry, I used it. Got the boost.”

“But I have to destroy it.”

“Right, right.” He opened his knees, making Britta wobble as her legs were pulled apart. He peered down. “I don’t think it’ll last long down there.”

That would hardly help Britta confirm if the Mayor’s information was correct. How long would it take the book to fully decompose? A couple of years?

“Did they notice?” said Dad, looking up at Britta.

With all the messing about in the cramped outhouse she’d almost forgotten about the town guard.

She peered out from the top of the door. The guards could hardly have failed to have noticed an outhouse turning into a lighthouse. She could hear them calling out to each other. They weren’t rushing over, though. Perhaps they hadn’t seen which outhouse it was.

They’d seen. Silhouettes were gathering and moving in their direction.

“They’re coming. We need a distraction. Don’t you have something we could use?” she said to the nearest dwarf. It seemed like a reasonable question to ask ninjas.

He shook his head.

She didn’t have her teleport spell, she’d already used her daily allowance. If she had taken the spell that threw her voice, she could call them away. Confuse them, at least. But she hadn’t taken it.

There was also her Magic Mirror spell. A copy of herself would lead a few of them away. It was unlikely they would all go after it.

She could log out and come back some other time. It was the cheesiest option and she really wanted to avoid those sorts of solutions. There had to be a way to get out of this predicament.

“I’ve got it,” said Dad.

“What?” said Britta hopefully. He was an outlaw, constantly on the run. He was bound to have been in this sort of situation before. Well, probably not exactly like this, but trapped and in need of a quick escape route.

“The book, I know how to destroy it. All the excrement down there must produce gases. Flammable.” He pulled something out of his jacket and snapped his fingers. A flame appeared.

“NO!” cried out all the dwarves as one. But it was too late.

Dad had opened his legs and dropped the flame.

“Run!” shouted the dwarves, pushing them all out as they rushed to vacate the premises.

They burst out and fell in a heap on the patchy grass. Behind them, the outhouse exploded. The wooden building shot into the air like a rocket, powered by a streak of flaming poo. There had apparently been more of a buildup of gases than Dad had estimated.

Britta lay on the grass, arms covering her head as blazing turds fell from the sky.

The guards had recoiled from the blast, but were slowly creeping forward again. They were being understandably cautious.

Britta kept her head down but tried to look around. Smoke drifted around but not enough to provide cover. Lights had come on in the shacks around them. If people came out in enough numbers, it might create some confusion, giving her a chance to get away. Nobody had come out so far, though.

She was remaining calm and trying to think of options, which was a good sign. Unfortunately, all the options were terrible.

Britta’s heart jumped as there was another explosion, further away. Followed by another, then another. Outhouses were launched into the air in every direction. They were all connected, it seemed.

The guards ran around looking for cover.

Dad jumped to his feet. “Right, time to leave.” He threw something on the ground and it burst into a cloud of smoke. He threw more until they were in the middle of an impenetrable fog.

Hands grabbed her and lifted her to her feet.

“Let’s go, sweetheart.”

They began running. It was hard to see where they were going and figures occasionally loomed out of the smoke without warning. She had to swerve to avoid them and other obstacles, stumbling many times. She was lifted back to her feet after every fall.

The smoke thinned as her and Dad emerged near the remains of a stone wall. It wasn’t very high, but they were hidden from view if they lay down. They both fell to their stomachs, facing each other.

Dad tapped on the air in front of him to check his status screen. “Looks like my stat boost is still there.”

“We don’t know the book was destroyed,” said Britta.

He stuck his head up over the wall and quickly looked around to make sure they were still safe. He ducked back down. “Can’t have survived that, surely?”

It was pretty likely the book had been blown to smithereens, but she would have preferred to be sure.

“Wait, what’s that?” Britta pointed at one of the shacks. There was something smouldering on the roof. It looked ever so slightly like the remains of a book.

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