Towers, tunnels…it seems if there is some structural phenomenon that can’t be fully explained, somehow I always end up being the one who investigates it. But, I guess when it says “Explorer” on your business card, that kind of thing is an occupational hazard.
When I got into the exploring business, I knew I’d be dealing with the “unknown” but I thought of that in terms of place – unknown territory, a new land, what have you. I never really thought I’d come in contact with “the unexplained” or “inexplicable.”
But that was before I settled in Winterfell.
Recently I was telling you about when my friend Seamus Gumbo visited me in Winterfell. He discovered a trap door in the floor of Storytellers Pub. Right next to the bar by the back door. Somehow I never noticed it before. He climbed in and came back up with a story of a labyrinth of underground tunnels beneath Winterfell. Amazing. Something to explore! And right under my feet…well, under my pub.
But at the time, I was physically unable to investigate these tunnels. I had good reason to be in such condition…I’d been drinking all afternoon. With Seamus. He was in no condition to investigate further himself. We decided to explore these tunnels the next day.
I slept in. Apparently Seamus had too because at three o’clock in the afternoon, I still hadn’t heard from him. Finally, I sent a messenger.
At about 5:30, Seamus walked in to the pub. He was moving slowly.
“I was supposed to meet you for something?” he mumbled as he sat down next to me at the bar and motioned to the bartender for a cup of coffee.
“We are going to investigate the tunnels,” I reminded him.
“Tunnels,” he looked at me, clearly trying to recall the previous day’s events through the haze of the morning after. Or the late afternoon/early evening after.
“Yeah. Don’t you remember? The hole in the floor? Trap door? Tunnels…every direction?”
“I remember a ladder,” he said as he accepted the fresh coffee.
“Yes…” I jogged Seamus’ memory and went over my plan to explore the tunnels.
“You’re the explorer, right?” Seamus asked. “Do you really need me? I have sort of a headache.”
I laughed and patted him on the back. “Take the rest of the day off, old-timer. I’ll let you know what I find.”
He just nodded and sipped his coffee.
Ulysses The Cat was pawing at the trap door as I pulled on my overcoat to head into the underground of Winterfell. I lit my lantern and opened the trap door and the cat scurried away. “Take it slow, Shay,” I said, smiling as I started down the ladder. “Yeah,” I heard him reply.
At the bottom of the ladder, I was in a tunnel that led immediately to a staircase. Down the stair was an intersection of tunnels. To my left and right were more staircases, back up to ground level, I assumed. Straight ahead there was another intersection and beyond that a three-way stop. I followed each direction until coming to an end or another intersection, upon which I would walk back the way I came so as not to get lost. It was dark but the lantern I carried was not actually necessary, there was just enough light to see without it.
I continued to follow the tunnels in this manner and found that they went on and on. In the process, I came across doors to empty rooms. What was this place? A dungeon? Secret storage spot? Was this built for escape or some military advantage? Why have I, as Ambassador, never heard Lady Twilight or Admiral Beaumont speak of these tunnels?
Or do they not know? Maybe I should alert them both immediately!
But how could somebody build this extensive tunnel system without being observed?
When I started following the staircases up to ground level to see where they led…I was astonished to find they took me right to the middle of the street. They were not hidden at all! If you were to walk down the street in Laudanum or Absinthe that day – the right sections of the right streets – you would see trap doors that you could open and follow down to the tunnels. But they weren’t there two days earlier!
I returned to Storytellers Pub to make some notes. Later, I went down into the tunnel again and placed a marker at the bottom of the staircase leading to the pub. (Just in case some night I’m coming back through the tunnels after a couple rounds at the Wolf & Raven in Absinthe. Well, it’s easy to get lost down there.)
Lady Twilight is in semi-retirement these days, so I take most matters to Princess Selena. I had to bring this to her.
By the time I met with the Princess the following day, Winterfell was abuzz with talk of the sudden appearance of underground tunnels. On the way to Rosehaven, I tried to avoid people so they wouldn’t ask me questions I could not answer. A couple of people called to me, “Good morning, Ambassador!…” and I could tell they wanted to chat but I just waved and walked on.
At the Castle, I waited for Princess Selena to arrive. She is not a big fan of mornings.
When we met, I reported my findings to the Princess, leaving out the part about Seamus, the trap door, Ulysses the Cat and the six ales, one stout and stray whiskey or two.
When I was done, the Princess had a strange smile on her face. “I had a dream about tunnels,” she said.
“It was sooo vivid.”
“I see,” I said. I wondered what this dream had to do with the actual tunnels under Winterfell.
“That was three nights ago. In the morning, when I woke, I went out…and there they were.” She smiled.
“Yes.” She continued smiling.
The Princess laughed. “I haven’t told Mum yet. Would you like to tell her?”
“You’re trying to make me laugh, aren’t you?”
“Yes,” she said. We both laughed.
“No, if this is connected to your dream, I would most definitely not like to be the one to tell the Seneschelf,” I said, “…unless, of course, you want me to.”
“Oh no, I wouldn’t really ask you. I’m going to tell her, of course. Just waiting for the right moment.”
“Well, people are definitely talking about it in the southern towns,” I said.
“Yes, I’m sure. I guess now is the right moment.” She smiled and stood. I thanked the Princess for her time and wished her good luck.
And then left as quickly as I could before she could have second thoughts about who should tell her Mother.
On my way back to Laudanum, I decided rather than do my usual and take the ferry to cross the canal, I would use the tunnels instead.
It took longer as I was careful not to get lost. And I did stop a couple of times to open doors and look inside empty rooms.
The thought then occurred to me that walking through these tunnels that were the apparent result of a dream, was like walking through the mind of the Princess.
That was a bit too weird.
I immediately stopped exploring and headed straight for the staircase that led up to the Storytellers Pub and ordered an ale. And a stray whiskey.
One last thing… If you should find yourself wandering about the tunnels of Winterfell and should become lost…or simply thirsty, keep a watch for my marker – a large ‘S’ – and follow that staircase up to Storytellers Pub.
Visit Storytellers Pub in Winterfell Laudanum, Second Life and see if you can locate the trap door to The Tunnels. 🙂