Oriana and Kelly looked at Paul with a mixture of surprise and sadness, neither of them had known this about Paul. Kent reached out and put a comforting hand on Paul’s shoulder.
“I’m sorry Paul, you clearly care about her a great deal. It sounds like she doesn’t think she’s worth praying for herself to get better though.”
Paul shook his head, “Nope. She doesn’t think it matters if she dies of cancer.”
“Wow,” said Oriana, “I hadn’t thought of it like that, I thought that prayers had to be directed to god or something. I didn’t think you could just pray for yourself.”
“Oh, having some gods to pray about certainly helps with prayer too,” remarked Kent.
Kelly sniggered, “What, do you believe in gods?”
“Of course I do,” answered Kent calmly.
Kelly laughed at this, “But gods aren’t real, they’re just myth.”
“I agree with that too,” answered Kent with a trace of a smile.
Kelly frowned confusedly, “Wait! What? You just said you believed in gods, and then agreed they don’t exist. How does that work?”
“I would be delighted to tell you another time, but I actually have some important work to do. Kelly, would you be so kind as to jump down into the tunnel and check to make sure the coast is clear? I have a suspicion that Peterson and his side kick might be waiting outside in the street. Be discrete and peek outside for them. Then come back here and let us know the situation. Paul, how is your knee feeling?”
Kelly quickly darted back down into the tunnel while Paul tried putting weight on his knee but groaned painfully. Oriana helped Kent to lower Paul down into the tunnel below his chamber. By the time the three of them were all down in the tunnel Kelly had returned.
“Bad news guys, Peterson and Nix were practically sitting on top of the drain box cover. They almost saw me. They’re definitely looking for your place, I heard them muttering about it. Should we wait them out?”
Kent shook his head, “I don’t have time; I need to make a delivery. The sun is going down soon and I am expected shortly after dark. Besides, if the Tyranni find us altogether they could easily kill us all before we could share the video. I think we will need to get some help on this one.”
“What kind of delivery? Can we come with you?” asked Oriana.
“It’s just a load of food, I don’t mind you coming, however, I expect that I will get in trouble for bringing you along with me, but under the circumstances I think I would rather get into trouble now and apologise later.”
“Leave? But we can’t get passed Peterson and Nix. We’re trapped in here,” exclaimed Kelly.
Kent shook his head, “We can take another route out of here. There are plenty of alternatives available,” he said indicating towards the other direction of the tunnel.
“It’s going to be hard on my knee,” complained Paul.
“I’ll help you,” volunteered Kent.
They all ended up taking turns helping Paul to hobble through the underground tunnels. Oriana marvelled at how they could still breathe this far underground. Kelly bragged about how she had gotten lost in the tunnels while looking for Kent. They eventually arrived at the chamber Kelly had found Kent in earlier. Kent instructed Oriana and Paul to wait while he and Kelly walked across the pool of dirty water and down the tunnel. Kent explained to Kelly how to find the concealed footbridge.
Soon sounds of laughter and splashing greeted Paul and Oriana from around the tunnel. From the tunnel out popped Kent and Kelly paddling on a large camouflaged raft which they berthed on the edge of the underground pool. Paul and Oriana boarded the raft and soon Kelly and Kent were paddling them down the tunnel.
“Where are we going?” asked Oriana.
“Just to deliver some supplies to another outpost; this raft is loaded with rice and beans. Once a month I deliver a shipment this way.”
Oriana searched the contents of the raft. Sure enough there were sacks of what looked like rice. There were also lots of cans labelled beans. She picked up one of the bean cans.
“Are these really beans? I mean, these aren’t drugs are they?”
Kent smiled, “They’re beans alright. I bought them in bulk from the store myself. It takes me a month collect enough for this journey.”
“Why do you do this?”
Kent signalled for her and the others to be quiet. The raft came around another bend and there was now some light coming into the tunnel up ahead. It looked like the entrance to train tunnel, with foliage hanging down from above forming a curtain that obscured the entrance from outside observers. They paddled the craft out of the tunnel and onto canal running between the back fences of two rows of houses. Looking up into the sky they could see the moon and stars twinkling through the gap created by the tall buildings buttressed up against the sides of the canal. Once in the canal the raft moved along the gentle current. They drifted down stream for what seemed like only five minutes. Kent insisted that they just sit quietly this entire time. Oriana counted the bridges they went under and when she had reached half a dozen Kent stood up and grabbed a handle on the concrete wall of the canal and eased the raft out of the flow and into a tunnel that looked remarkably like the one they had left upstream.
Kelly pondered the fact that while she had known about these canals running behind people’s houses throughout the city, she had never actually paid much attention to them. They were after all hidden behind fences and barriers for the most part. The idea that people like Kent might have been using them under the cover of darkness to move materials from one part of the city to another secretly stoked her excitement. The thought occurred to her then that maybe she had just been “praying” for more adventure in her life. The idea seemed peculiar because up until then she had always imagined her feelings just happened to her. Yet, was she actually the one making her feelings?
Once inside this tunnel they had to paddle again and Kent answered Oriana’s question.
“One of my duties as a druid novice is to deliver supplies to this outpost. It’s a training and broadcast outpost for the Aeshir, in this case manned by members of the Salvati. The base is well hidden and secret; so supplies have to be snuck in underground to avoid suspicion. I don’t actually know what it looks like from above.”