Memory of stone

The stairs were the same as all the others they'd climbed in the tower at first, then they started to come apart.  Literally.  The steps appeared to have buckled and flexed like waves, then petrified again.  Climbing them slowed them all down; Lianna pushed Mirko to the front, and he tapped each step with his staff, bringing as much of his weight down on it as he dared before they trusted it enough to carry on.  The stones in the wall to the side of the stairs bulged out and there were gaps between them through which the ground could be seen.  Venne peered through a gap once, and then moved to the inside of the staircase silently.

When they reached the top, Mirko looked around, his jaw dropping open.  Lianna pushed past him, and Venne hovered on the top step just behind.  The whole room was like the staircase: the walls bulged outwards with large gaps between stones that seemed to barely connect with each other.  The floor rolled and rippled, the paving stones looking like they'd been made of wax and then coated in stone after a heat-wave.  What had once been bookcases were stretched across the room and turned back on themselves, dragged out to thin branches and knotted into themselves again.  A bare handful of books were trapped within the cage of bookcase, and something glittered on a wall on the far side of the room.

"What the hell happened here?" said Venne softly.

"Is this safe?" said Lianna, talking over him.

Mirko looked around again, making himself close his mouth.  There was something organic about the room, something that seemed strangely familiar.  "I... I don't know," he said.

"I wasn't talking to you, druid, I was talking to the watchmaker.  What would you know about stone?"

"Well I don't know either," said Venne looking around.  "It's held together this long without falling down."

"There's something over there."  Lianna pointed across the room to the glitter.

Venne slipped across the room, looking for a way through the bookcases, but never managing to quite find one.  Finally he gave up, still several feet away, and peered through a particularly filigreed branch.

"It looks like a mirror," he said after a moment.  "I can't see what's sparkling though, it should be..." he turned, pointing up towards the ceiling.  All eyes followed him, but there was nothing there but shadows and cobwebs.

"There's no dust in here," said Mirko suddenly, looking back down at his feet.

Lianna immediately stepped back into the largest area of free space and drew her sword, looking around her almost aggressively.


The End

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