Into the tower

Up the dark stairs the boy was led. They wound around and around as they continued their ponderous way upward. They appeared to have been recently swept, but even his young eyes could tell that they were very old. The many feet going up and down the stairs over the years had worn them smooth in the middle. The walls bore mysterious pit marks and scars whose source the boy could not even begin to guess at. At what he surmised to be fairly even intervals, a mysterious rune would appear on the wall. The simple efficient lines of the foreign alphabet filled him with a strange dread. Just when it seemed that the stairs would continue up forever, they came to a door more heavy and foreboding than the last. It was wooden, unlike the last door, but it had the entirety of the runes they had passed burned into its' surface. The maid pulled another key from her apron pocket and this one was even larger than the last.


"What is this? A prison?" Cren said. He tried to sound indignant and royal, but all he sounded like was a boy out of his depth.


"No, your majesty. The king has decided that these rooms would be better for you."


"Better how? If it's anything like the stairwell, it shall be worse for me!" 


Instead of answering the maid simply put the key into the lock and turned it. The heavy door swung open easily. On the other side was a sitting room. Cren was rather surprised by how civilized the space was. Carpets of red and brown covered the cold stone floor. A large couch, the first couch he had seen outside of the Eastland, sat squarely in the middle of the room next to a low wooden table that had a dull glossy shine. Across from the couch in the tower wall was a pair of large windows. They were so tall that Cren had to crane his neck to look at them. He was struck by how very similar to his mother's room back in the Eastland this sitting room was. Even the small tables laid throughout the room were very similar to the elegant spindly works of art that his mother preferred. Near the end of the room sat a low heavy table surrounded by cushions. Cren gaped in wonder at the thing. He had not kneeled at a table and ate from communal dishes since he had lived in the Eastland. Just seeing a table, a bit of familiarity in this strange land even after a year was more than Cren could bear. Tears ran down the boy's cheeks and soaked his green tunic. The maid, not wanting to be a bother, or just uncomfortable with the boy's sudden change in mood, quietly left the room.  Cren dashed the tears from his eyes. He had been so taken with the sitting room that he had not noticed a door to the far right. If he had been older, he would have wondered how this tower could possibly have more than one room. But, he was not older and so did what every child does. Assume their situation is the norm and take it all in stride. The prince opened the door and found a bedroom very much in the Eastlander style. 


An ornate hammock hung about midway between the floor and the ceiling, which was rather high to begin with. Cren noted that there were handholds chipped into the walls so that he could reach the bed easily without needing wings. Across from the hammock there was a loft of sorts made from a solid shelf of stone built into the tower wall. Another low table sat there, but it wasn't like the dining table in the main room. It was built much more thickly and given a rough finish. Cups and cubbyholes hid along the edges and under the table that lay a little off to the side and was surrounded on all sides by shelves. Shelves full of bottles, shelves full of nothing, shelves full of strange tools, shelves full of even stranger books. Cren was given the impression that that it was to be a workroom of some sort.

Off to the side, almost as if it were hiding, was a wooden door. Like the entrance to his rooms, the door was covered in the same runic alphabet. It had a keyhole, but the boy tested the knob and found it unlocked. On the other side of the entrance was another flight of stairs. Instead of leading up though, these stairs lead down. Cren sighed in frustration and was prepared for another annoying trek back down to the base of the tower, but was surprised when it ended only a few minutes after it started. He stood in a library. Possibly the grandest library the child had ever seen. Shelves rose almost to the ceiling along its perimeter. They were built into the wall by the looks of it and made from a dark stained wood. Even though there were dozens of shelves, only one had any books on it. And not even the entire shelf was stocked. One shelf that Cren could reach without any stretching was full of books. Cren tugged one out of its' place and looked at the title.


"Magic theory for the neophyte?" Cren read aloud. What nonsense was this? He placed the book back on the shelf and picked up another. " Elementary spell theory?"


Cren shook his head and let the book fall from his hand. It hit the floor with a muted thunk but he didn't bother picking it up. He had had quite enough of this library. The Prince turned on his hell and stalked back up the short flight of stairs to the main room to find the midmorning meal waiting for him. Cren kneeled at his new table and ate. For once, he had no complaints. He was happy with his lot.


The End

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