The first thing Fatilla noticed was the cold stone floor against his face. A moment later, the second thing he noticed was that something nearby absolutely reeked.
He raised his head to find the offending item right next to it: an open glass bottle with some letters on the side. Recoiling from the smell wafting out of it, he pushed himself into a sitting position and pressed an arm against his nose and mouth before shuffling away. As he came alongside a wellway – he recognised it now as Dungarth, where he'd been guarding the entrance to Level 2 – his eyes were drawn to a small white object lying on the bottom step. The stopper! He quickly grabbed it, slid himself back towards the bottle and jammed it into the neck. The effort left him feeling woozy and he propped himself against the wall to recover.
It was all coming back to him now. One of them nasty little dunger-thingies in the moo-cow helmet had given him the bottle, encouraging him to sniff it – an action he had immediately regretted. Never had he inhaled anything quite so revolting, even though some of his own bodily functions had been known to clear a large room. It had made him light-headed and unable to stand. He remembered retching and choking, a clammy feeling, trying to get the bottle away from him, fearing it contained some deadly poison... then nothing. It was a relief to have woken up again. No sign of the boy here now – he must have known exactly what the stuff would do, leave him incapacitated so he could sneak into Level 2. He should have blopped him while he had the chance.
With his strength now returning, Fatilla climbed to his feet and picked up the bottle. Holding it at arm's length, he stepped forward and chucked it down the wellway, glad to hear it go clattering away into the chamber below.
It was a fancy glass bottle, round at the bottom with a pretty fluted lip, and labelled with the word 'SNIFF'. It must have contained some exotic fragrance – in fact it still had a useful amount of clear liquid inside. "That's odd. Why would someone leave a perfectly good perfume bottle lying around?" she wondered aloud. "Oh well – finders, keepers!" With a gleeful giggle, she went to pick it up.
Hold on. This bottle was on a table in the dungeon... could it be a clue object?
No, the quest season was nearly over – and she'd given the last dungeoneer excellent directions to Level 2, so he should have passed through this room by now. Come to think of it, wasn't he carrying a bottle rather like this one? She'd noticed it when she checked he wasn't armed with an Assassin's blade. That explained it, then; he would have abandoned any unneeded Level 1 items when he came down the well. The only question was, did it still belong to anyone?
She glanced around. Nobody seemed in any hurry to collect it...
Feeling a ripple of excitement, she opened the bottle. "Smelly Mellie indeed," she huffed, placing two fingers over the glass lip and tipping it up, before setting it back down on the table. Motley's taunt had been bothering her all week. Was she really getting a bit whiffy? Had anyone else noticed? If so, this was a particularly lucky find. She dabbed the oily substance onto one wrist and rubbed it against the other, then gave it a sniff. And gagged. "Ugh, that's disgusting!!"
It was a horrid sweaty smell, like the worst kind of midsummer body odour, mixed with the rancid stench of rotting meat. Whatever this stuff was, it definitely was NOT perfume. She fought the urge to throw up. Moving her hands away made no difference – the awful smell seemed to linger in her nostrils and rapidly became overpowering. It made her wheeze until she felt like she was going to pass out, and sank to her knees as the room spun around.
Even if Mellisandre had noticed the figure creeping up behind her, it is doubtful she would have been in any state to fight it off. A shambling, quasi-humanoid creature with an acutely sensitive proboscis, unable to either see or hear her, but hungrily attracted by the potent scent...