Hector’s flashlight didn’t last very long, and he was forced to carry a floodlight around in one hand like a kind of supercharged lantern. He made an iron harness for the large battery pack that Jamal had left him and strapped it to his back as if it were an oxygen tank.
In the beginning of his expedition, he was predominantly concerned with clearing rubble out of the hallways, which usually meant refilling the holes in the ceiling or the walls and then patching the whole section of corridor over with a layer of iron. It also helped him keep track of where he’d already been, because the place was a damn maze, and Garovel couldn’t do much to help him explore it when there was no light anywhere. He found himself sorely missing Harper Norez’s company.
The castle itself was not of uniform construction. The first few areas he found were all made of a mixture of wood and concrete, but then he started seeing whole rooms and hallways of tawny sandstone or dark red brick or deeply blue marble. He found one chamber with lavish rainbow tile, though it probably would’ve looked nicer without the fissures running through its walls. A few other times, rooms were simply small caves with natural rock walls and nothing more.
He tried to explore each floor completely before descending again, but some rooms were so thoroughly destroyed that he couldn’t tell if there were any other doors hidden behind all the debris. More things he’d have to worry about later, he figured.
Five floors below the surface, he came out onto a sudden balcony, and for a moment, he thought he’d found a larger cave, but after shining his light around, he realized it was actually just one giant chamber.
‘A banquet hall?’ suggested Garovel.
Hector took a deep breath of stale air and raised a metal platform up from below the balcony. He climbed on and lowered himself down. He ran his light across the room again, counting eight more doors to choose from--two on each wall. He just sighed.