Ups and Downs

Danny’s search for a weapon produced little besides light-headedness. He found himself sitting at the table, contemplating the potential of a small paperweight when his body suddenly went limp and he slumped to the floor.

“Sir?” shouted a voice as the guard rushed in. Danny was barely breathing, as his thoughts slowly trickled through his consciousness. He was hungry. Exhausted from the fight. From trying to read Sir Raymond’s mind. Food. He had lost a lot of blood. His shoulder sent flashes of pain from the sword wound. And the gashes on his neck and cheek had not yet healed. Something was warm on his neck. Blood from the wound that Scout’s claws had torn into his skin as he ran. There was rain. Blood. Yellow feathers falling. Fire crackling along hair. Along the sky. The guard was gone. The footsteps had disappeared minutes ago, rushing down the hall. He was alone. The room was unguarded.

Danny tried to stand but quickly dropped to a crawl, almost dragging his body across the thread-bare carpet. As he reached the hallway he heard footsteps echoing. Quickly, Danny pulled himself behind the only tapestry in the hallway, barely noticing the image of a woman with long dark hair exulting over a man’s lifeless frame. The footsteps were almost at the door as Danny noticed an opening in the wall just above him. As he pulled himself up, he heard shouts in the room.

Danny pulled himself into the space, only to find himself tumbling down a chute, sliding along greasy stones that reeked of rot and mildew. As he slid, he noticed a lighter area approaching and grabbed for it as he slid past. His fingers slipped along the stones, unable to grip the edge of the opening.

He picked up speed as he continued down into the depths of the tower, only another kind of waste. For a moment his thoughts tended toward the philosophical. Then he landed with a thud in a creaky bin of refuse. And somewhere, through the smell of decay, he was sure he could detect the incredible scent of fresh bread. Filled with longing, he fainted once again.


Through the walls, Aster and Sarah could hear a rushing and tumbling sound. Aster turned from the torch on the wall that she had just lit. “We’re near the garbage chutes,” she explained. “They run all through the city and most of them arrive here. The garbage rooms, storage rooms, and kitchens. All the unwanted in the basements of our great city and the tower.”

“Tower?” Sarah asked. She had been setting out the food, setting it neatly on top of the sack. Her worn blue silk rested across her shoulders, helping to give her some warmth. Now she stopped, surprised at Aster’s words. “The tower…” she repeated quietly. She pulled the note from her pocket, unfolding it and squinting at the words, willing herself to be able to read the warning Marigold had scribbled. The note mentioned a dark lady in a tower. “And she never finished reading it...”

“What’s that?” asked Aster, sitting down and biting into a piece of bread.

Sarah looked at Aster, noticing the messy braid and the tiredness lining her eyes. Noticing the carefully cleaned hands and the quality of her cloths.

“Can you read?”

The End

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