Alice snapped upright, gasping for breath. She blinked several times, taking in her surroundings. The walls were a sterile white colour and the floor was tiled, with a little too much blood than should have been. She recognized it as the medical room, but couldn’t recollect any sort of injuries she’d sustained. Looking down, she saw the clean white sheets that covered every bed, and was wearing a long robe. Swinging round, she hung her legs off the side of the bed and dropped to the floor, stretching. Inspecting herself she found no wounds or bruising, or any kind of damage, confusing her. She didn’t remember getting injured, and since she didn’t appear to be there didn’t seem to be much reason for her presence here. Shaking her head, she checked the bedside drawers. As she expected, her clothes were in the top drawer. Retrieving them, she placed them on the bed, shut the privacy curtains and proceeded to get dressed.
A few minutes later she opened the curtains again. Her bed was made and the hospital gown neatly folded on the bed. She stretched and shook her arms a couple of times to loosen them up, then patted her pockets. She felt something in one, and reached in, withdrawing a small folded piece of paper. The writing was very formal, and looked as though some care had been put into the note. It read:
If you are reading this, then I am glad. Your life was in grave danger. Although you may check yourself and find no injuries, this was no normal injury. Your mind was trapped in your body, unable to control it. The rest of the guild had given up on your condition and did not expect you to come back to life. I, however, sent a trustworthy acolyte to you to revive you. As I write this I do not know how long it will be before you return to the world of the living, but know this: the guild is falling apart. You will meet me in the abandoned room in the main tower at midnight. Be careful and try not to be seen.
Make haste, my friend.
Alice turned the note over in her hand and tilted her head slightly. There was a symbol she didn’t recognize on the back, very faintly. She sighed, and looked up at the clock.
She blinked a few times before she realised that whoever wrote the note wanted her in 18 minutes. She began to run, but then stopped, wondering why she was so eager to meet this person she didn’t even know. “The guild is falling apart”? What nonsense, it was doing fine. Slamming open the doors she stepped boldly into the hall.
Fire licked the walls, casting dancing shadows around the room. Parts of the wall had fallen in, and the windows were smashed. Broken glass and rubble covered the floor. Overturned furniture lay scattered around in pieces. Alice stared in horror, before gathering herself and picking her way through the rubble to a nearby hole. Looking through, she saw a battleground outside. Dark figures ran past as soldiers shot at them. Bullets and arrows flew in every direction. Alice jumped back as a bullet whizzed past her. She broke into a run, neatly leaping over obstacles. She reached the stairs and took them three at a time, ignoring the shouts of combat outside. The medical room was on the ground floor, so she had to climb 40 floors worth of stairs.
Alice stopped for breath on the 19thfloor, resting against a wall as she gathered herself she heard a faint whistling. Sitting there, she suddenly realised what it was, breaking into a sprint as she leapt up the stairs. A few seconds later an explosion rocked the building as a shell obliterated where she had been sitting. Rubble fell down the stairway, and dust coated Alice. She coughed and spluttered, but kept going.
She reached the 39thfloor in a few minutes, but as she went to climb another floor, the ground shook again as another shell hit the tower. Rubble cascaded down from the roof, destroying the final flight of stairs as Alice reached them. She leapt back, landing roughly and covered in dust. Propping herself up, she observed the damage; the entire staircase had gone. Cursing, she looked around for some way up, before spotting the 39thfloor dorms. Smirking, she kicked the door down, ran down the hall and opened the first door she reached. Inside was a young boy crouched over another acolyte, a girl. Alice walked in, and he looked up at her, stifling his tears. She felt pity, she wanted to help, but she had to reach the top floor. She checked the clock on the wall. 11:57. Peering around the room, her eyes met with the boys again, who was silently pleading to help. But she had to find a way up. Spotting a rope and a sharp hook, she grabbed them and made to leave before hesitating and looking back at the boy, who’s tears were now falling over her body. The clock read 11:58. Just enough time if she rushed…
“Oh screw it” Alice rushed to the boy’s aid. Grabbing the girl, she checked for a pulse. It took her a few seconds to find it, but it was very slow. The girl wasn’t breathing either. Checking her pockets, she retrieved a case from her pocket. It contained several ingredients for her poisons, and for pranks. Taking out syringe of caffeine she injected the girl, and then proceeded to give her CPR. The boy sat there, silently watching in awe. Alice was no doctor, but had heard that this could work, and desperate times call for desperate measures. The girl coughed and spluttered, and the boy rushed over to her. As he went to thank Alice, he noticed she’d gone. Sighing, he helped the girl to stabilize, got her to her feet and found a place to stay during the attack.
Alice rushed down the corridor, tying the rope to the end of the hook. She pulled it tight, checking for any weaknesses, then gave up and held it ready. She burst through the doorway, slid a couple of feet and threw the hook, which caught on a railing and wrapped around it. Quickly, Alice jumped and started climbing up the rope, reaching the top and bursting through the old wooden door. The room was abandoned, and she thought she’d arrived too late. Closing the door, she sighed and slid down it, sitting defeated.
“Why so glum?” the voice made Alice jump. There was no one else in the room… except for Dark.
“You’re kidding me, right?” she asked the cat sarcastically.
“Not at all, my friend.” it replied, although Alice had no recollection of its mouth moving. “Now, shall we get down to business?”