It was my first dungeon walk, and, in my defense, it was not my fault that Genevieve stepped on a trap. Okay, yes, it is possible she would have been paying more attention to where she was going if it hadn't been my first dungeon. Or if I hadn't almost lost a hand, a foot, and my voice, however that last one was going to work. But this one still wasn't my fault! Technically!
Honestly, that fact was more surprising than the bars and walls snapping from the ceiling and floor.
I blinked a few times while Gen crouched to tap at the bars with a little stick she kept on her person at all times. Some lights may have flickered, but given that the light was coming from her torch and mine, that may have just been light and dark playing off metallic bars. Eventually, she put the stick away again. "You have to say something true to get the door open," Gen said.
"Uh," I said with great wit and grace, "Then why can't you just--"
"It has to be a person on that side, Charlie." My gut twisted a little, and I may have flinched. She rolled her eyes, though it seemed more aggravation at the situation than at me. "Pick something."
"Two and two makes four."
Silence. A notable absence of movement.
She said something under her breath and the bars definitely gave off some type of light, and it looked like some of it was either going to her or coming from her. "Something true and personal," she corrected. "But," taps with what appeared to be a different stick, how many of those did she have? "It doesn't look like it should need to be a secret. Just something about you. Like, say your name."
"Charlie," I said, and my gut twisted a little, but I had enough warning to brace for it this time so I didn't flinch.
"Hm." Gen furrowed her brow. "Try a full sentence? The spell doesn't feel picky like that, but you never know."
I clenched my jaw, then let it go. "My," breath, "name is Charlie."
No movement, though this time there was a grinding sound. Gen's eyes sharpened on mine. "That isn't true." I started shaking. "Honey," she said, in that I-have-exactly-enough-energy-to-be-gentle-one-more-time voice, "What is your name?"
"I--" Cecilia, Cyan, Francine, Genevieve, Jennifer, Tiana, Titania, Ariel, nothing ever ever ever
(I didn't notice at the time, but looking back I remember her suddenly giving me the same look she had when she'd almost led me into a lightning trap. "You don't have to; you can say something--" I didn't hear her.)
"I don't know!"
There was a different grinding noise, then it went silent and the bars snapped away as easily as they'd come out.
Gen stood up and offered me a hand, which is when I noticed I'd fallen. "If you need someone to lean on, I can help," she said as I stood. "But let's get out of here first, yeah?"
I shook a little. "Yeah."