Gris and the pirates return to their secret hollowed-out mountain base, the latter all excited that now that they've got a hostage they can finally start robbing banks. Gris assures them that he he'll be scouting banks for gold shipments soon, but in the meanwhile orders the Antimancos to dump Krak in the dungeons. Specifically Crobe's old cell, the one that if memory serves Gris designed himself.
This chapter is rather pathetic.
The cell is still appallingly filthy from Crobe, who just crapped all over the place. Gris decides it needs to be cleaned for Krak, then decides she deserves to be surrounded in filth, then decides to put Krak inside before he activates the room's self-cleaning water sprayers, for bad karma points.
I looked through the small square port. What a delight! There she lay, tousled and defeated---my prisoner. At last I had removed her as a menace!
Just a reminder, in Book Four when Krak was naked and sedated, Gris was still in mortal terror of her, feeling that he had barely escaped with his life after inspecting a nude, unconscious female. So has he conquered his fears? Keep reading.
The room goes through its automatic wash and dry cycle, even though Gris just wanted to douse Krak with water. The cold water ends up waking Krak early from her paralysis stabbing, and though Gris activates the restraint clamps built into the bed, she manages to wriggle out of them.
She was standing, disheveled, in the middle of the floor.
She saw my face at the port.
Her mouth framed "You!" She pointed. Straight at me!
I reeled back. No telling what that finger could do to my wits.
Far down the corridor, I looked back at the door.
Oh, she was dangerous! Part of her theater training must have been as an escapist. She had made nothing of those bonds.
Yeah, back to wetting himself because she pointed her finger at him.
Now, that custom-made cell is super-locked. It's got an inner and outer door, a lock that only Gris knows the combination to, and another lock that only Gris has a key for. Still, somebody might look through the window at Krak, so Gris can't afford to take any chances. That they'll look in there. And see Krak. And then something bad happens.
So Gris takes action!
I went back into the hangar and found a square of cloth and some tape.
I sneaked back up the passageway, staying very low so she would not see me.
All in one motion, I taped the cloth over the port.
Gris briefly entertains the thought of Krak starving to death before remembering how many "space rations" he dropped in there for Crobe. Eventually he concludes that he could drop some poison-gas capsules down the air shaft that leads outside the mountain, an air shaft that a dexterous circus performer could probably scale to escape, or a sure-footed combat engineer could use to rescue his girlfriend.
I felt easier.
When I had killed Heller and no longer needed her for a bargaining pawn, a capsule or two could be dropped down and that would be the final breath of the Countess Krak.
Hey, he skipped the part where his first attempt to kill Heller fails, thus necessitating Krak as a bargaining pawn in the first place.
Only then did I permit myself to feel I had done well.
The way was wide open now.
All I had to do was kill Heller.
All he has to do is the thing he hasn't been able to do for the past six books.
And all my problems would be solved.
I went to sleep congratulating myself on how clever I had been.
I dreamed I was at a banquet, attended by a thousand Lords. It was a banquet of my inauguration as the Chief of the Apparatus, loyal servant of the redoutable Lombar Hisst, who now controlled all Voltar.
If nothing else this chapter proves that even when Gris wins, he remains a loser.
Back to Part Sixty, Chapter Nine