"The door's alive," he said slowly.  "So's the bookcase.  That's why they're warm."  He could feel, like a second heartbeat, the slow, steady pulse of the life in the wood of the door and the warped, twisted bookcase.  The life was sleeping, somehow dormant.  "It's alive like a plant, not an animal.  There's no-one on the other side of the door...."

He rocked on his feet as a wave of green engulfed him, washing around him, embracing him and threatening to pull him away with it.  Something within the greenness seemed to sparkle and there was a sensation of another mind just inches away, someone or something not quite sleeping, but not able to wake.  Everything suddenly fluoresced around him, a green nimbus surrounding his body, flaring like a candle flame suddenly catching the wind.  He pulled back in abruptly, slamming closed the mental shutters on his mind.  Being back in the normal world was like being drenched in cold water: sweat leapt out on his forehead and down his spine as the shock struck him, and everything around him seemed flat and two-dimensional.

"What was that?"  Lianna's voice was as hostile as it always was, and she had her sword out, the tip of it too close to his throat for comfort.  "First you say everything's fine, then that damn mirror sparkles like a dragon's egg, and then you burst into green flames.  What the hell are you doing, druid?"

"Something's been trapped in this tower," said Mirko, starting to shiver.  He tried tensing his muscles to stop it, but the shivering was stronger.  "It's been caught here for a while, I don't think it really knows we're here.  If it did I think it would be... angry? curious?"

"What kind of thing?  Trapped how?"  Lianna's sword didn't waver.

Mirko's teeth starting chattering as the shivering grew stronger.  "Something... something green.  Something old and strong.  It lost some kind of battle.  It... It can't hurt us at the moment, it doesn't really know we're here.  We just have to not wake it up."

"And how do we do that?"  Frustration erupted in Lianna's voice, and she finally lowered her sword and glared angrily at the druid.  "You're telling us to not wake it up, but what would wake it up?  What must we not do in order to not wake it?  What's safe to do and what isn't?  Can I even leave this tower without waking it up?"

"Can we even leave this tower," said Venne quietly.

"Like you'd stop and help if you thought you could get away now!"

"There's no easy way to wake it up," said Mirko, grabbing his hands and squeezing, trying to control the shivering in his arms.  "It's bound into the tower somehow, maybe if you started destroying the stones you'd wake it."

Lianna shot Venne a venomous look, poison written all over her face.  "And you wanted to break the bookcase."

"Are you waking it up by looking for it?" said Venne, his face paling.

"Maybe... I haven't yet."

"No more, druid.  Whatever you're doing to find it, stop."

"My pleasure!"  Mirko's words were sharper than he'd intended, but Lianna's constant distrust and short-temperedness were getting to him.

"Right, so can we open the door then?"  Venne's hand was resting on the handle already.  Lianna nodded curtly, and Mirko gritted his teeth, wishing the shivering would stop.  Venne pulled on the handle, and the door swung open.

The End

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