Tonunda sent the rats ahead as he strolled toward the temple doors. A halo of clear space accompanied his footsteps all the way. When he stopped the rats stopped with him.
One of the guards tapped the other’s arm. Both masks turned, regarding the living horde covering the street. Tonunda could only imagine their unasked questions.
The rats moved forward. Guards began to draw their swords, then decided to flee from the impossible situation.
Tonunda addressed the horde. Go inside and tell me of a way to enter unseen.
He opened the door just wide enough for a stream of a dozen rats then closed the door.
The rest of you, go up on the roof.
They trailed up the stone wall, attached like a hive of bees. Tonunda sat down on the kerb. He waited possibly a sixth of a turn of the glass, before a rat stood beside him.
To the rear of the building is a place where the ones in white heat food, it said
A kitchen; can I get in there?
It is the only entrance large enough to accept you. Men with metal faces stand just within the front doors. Fortunately their backs were turned to you when you opened it.
What of windows?
There is one accessible for you, on the level just above the kitchen.
Then come with me.
Tonunda pinched the neck of the rat and slipped into a narrow lane between the temple and the next building. His mouth watered as the smell of cooking food filled his nostrils. The rear of the temple had a small yard. Tonunda could make out movement within the window filled with yellow light.
His eyes rolled above, picking a route up the wall to a window above the kitchen door.
It is possible he told himself.
Yet he doubted he could stand on the wooden eaves over the door without alerting the kitchen staff. He crept across the yard and ducked beneath the window.
I will need a distraction; enjoy yourself said Tonunda, dropping the rat inside the window.
At least two minutes passed with no break in the kitchen workers’ routine. He sat in huddled silence, wondering if the rat, had hidden somewhere, then grinned as he heard the first shriek and the banging of kitchen implements.
Gripping the eaves, Tonunda gained the top and jumped, catching hold of the window sill above. His feet scrabbled against the wall as he pulled himself up and struggled his way through the opening.
In the gloom, he made out oversized pillows on the floor and a veiled enclosure the size of a double bed.
A bed chamber .
He inhaled deeply to give him warning of possible guards lurking outside the door. Instead, the heady scent of flowers filled his nostrils, overpowering all else.
A female chamber.
Women used flowers to create a liquid they called “perfume.”
Footsteps sounded close to the door then proceeded further on. Tonunda pushed the door open and watched a guard dressed in the same robes walking down the corridor. He closed the door after him and went off in the other direction, careful to employ his senses before turning the corner.