Ascension

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Jason Arson walked across the rooftops. Most other people in his position may have ran, but Jason was a punctual infiltrator. He was already ahead of his own schedule by fifteen minutes, and his schedule was set half a sixth ahead. Running would actually be detrimental in this case as the longer he stood around in his hiding place, the more likely he was to be discovered. The only real downside to walking was that he had to push harder to jump from roof to roof, but Jason had strong legs, so he didn’t mind.

So Jason Arson walked.

He ran down an alley, thrusting his legs from wall to wall.  He ran, losing a cubit of height with each step, hitting the ground right before running out of alley. Then, he stepped out into the streets, entirely unassuming.

Arson wore a brown trench coat, cut right above the knee. He preferred black, but brown would blend in better with the castle’s insides, as well as its inhabitants. Jason patted himself down, checking items off his mental list.

Short sword? Left side, tied high on the waist. Spike launcher? He felt around. Also on the left side, above the sword. Truncheon? He knew he had that for sure, it kept knocking on his spine as he walked. Wallet? Jason tapped around his seven pockets. Nope, forgot the wallet. Hand pick? Yes! In a pocket! At least he had that.

The last item was his ear trumpet. The use of the trumpet had made him a laughing stock, until it had allowed him to hear a vital piece of information that everyone else had missed. They stopped calling him ‘the deaf spy’ after that.

The inside of the castle was extremely crowded, the walls browned with age. Jason quickly got lost. It is an infiltrator’s job to get lost. He quickly made his way to the second floor, and after making two lefts in the wide halls, he found a broom closet. According to the map he had been supplied with, and subsequently memorized, Jason knew that this closet was only one wall over from the throne room. He looked around. So far, he hadn’t seen anyone on the second floor, and he guessed it was restricted from the public. This was both good and bad. It meant he was less likely to be caught, but it also meant that his presence would immediately draw suspicion. Jason tried the doorknob. Locked. He felt around for his picks, and then remembered that he didn’t have the wallet that he kept them in. He was going to have to get creative.

Jason casually launched himself back towards the staircase, sidling around the second corner. Before turning the first corner, he stopped. He could hear footsteps, and they were unusually jagged, as if they were made by some sort of broken machine. He rifled around his coat for the small ear trumpet. The sounds became louder, and more distinct through the horn, but they still made no sense to him.

He took a deep breath in, and then turned back from where he came. He tried every single door as he skulked down the hall. All were locked. He ran around the second corner once more, and vainly tried the closet again. Nothing. The footsteps were far now, so he took the extra time to feel around the walls for loose stones, maybe a hidden entrance. Again, he found nothing. He could hear that his oblivious pursuer had rounded the first corner. He didn’t have much time.

Jason tried all the doors in this hall. No. No. No. No. Yes. Wait, yes? He opened the door and saw that it was another staircase, but that this one went up. He ran to the top and found the door up there unlocked as well.

“Okay.” he whispered.

Right as he opened the door, Jason heard the knob at the foot of the staircase turn. The odd footsteps had caught up. He rushed through the portal and closed the door behind him, carefully turning the latch so that it clicked silently. The steps got even more unusual, as if they couldn’t understand the concept of stairs. Jason shuddered, but continued trying rooms, and continued to be denied entry.

He was getting nervous now, running out of options. He noticed that the rooms here had labels. ‘Bath house,’ ‘Supplies,’ ‘Crystal,’ ‘Janna,’ and then around the corner, ‘Chloe.’ He grabbed the supply door and to his relief, it turned. Jason entered and slammed the door as silently as his nerves would allow.

Minutes passed, and the footsteps became audible once more. He listened as they passed, and then turned the corner. In an act of poor judgment, Jason opened the closet and looked around the hallway corner to see what kind of creature was making the noise.

He saw shorter man, older than him but not old enough to be his father. The man had dark skin and matted hair. He was wearing plate and cured armour, and had a large sword tied to his back. Was this a guard? No, he was far too wild looking. What was truly unusual about the man was his walk. He looked like his legs were in a constant state of agitation, as if he was dodging gnarls and rocks in rough terrain. The result of using such a gait on perfectly flat ground was a lot of tumbling.

Jason receded back into his closet.

He hadn’t memorized the third floor, so he felt around, hoping he had his map. He did. He quietly unrolled it and looked. The throne room was tall, two storeys tall, which meant that Jason could probably listen in from this closet, if he dug right.

Jason Arson took the hand pick out of his pocket and started at the mortar by his feet. Within twenty minutes he had removed many of the smaller stones from behind the outer brickwork. He worked his way around a wooden support beam, and broke through into another room. In his excitement, Jason hadn’t realized how much noise he was making, or that he had alerted the strange man. He stopped digging, pulled the debris inward, and then peered through. It was the throne room. He could see the King’s wife milling about and talking to her daughter.

Jason lay next to the wall, holding his trumpet. He just had to wait for the King to arrive. And then, he heard the footsteps returning, and choked on his own breath.

“Please don’t find me.”

Daniel Triumph.

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