Chapter 12: Stained Class; or The Stupid Tower Problem
“No, it is bronze.”
Astore looked down from the belltower. “Who—Chloe?”
I should be able to see her. Where—oh man, how can I, as an Agent of the King, not see someone who’s within earshot?
Her soft voice continued. “Brass dents too easily. You cannot make a bell whose wounds deepen at the sound of every toll or knell.”
Astore looked around the tower. He circled the bell and even examine the stone in the floor, and the pillars that held up the bell and its cover. Where… he almost called out for her, but, of course, a young man is fifty-percent pride. Instead, he mumbled to himself.
“Where… is she invisible? Why can I hear her? Is this…some form of ventriloquism?” He scanned the rooftops that surrounded him. Most of them were empty. There was a group of more wealthy noble Riley on a roof to the north, but no Chloe.
Finally, he gave up and called out. “Where are you?”
She said, “I believe I have made a mistake…”
She didn’t answer, but Astore had been paying attention this time. Her voice was coming from below and to the south. She must be downstairs!
Then, he saw a hand grab the ledge, gripping tightly.
Chloe jumped up off of the beam. She was just tall enough to reach the fingers of her left hand up around the stone guard. She grabbed tight and hauled herself upward, managing to get one elbow safely up onto the ledge. Her muscles shook with the effort.
Astore’s voice startled her, and her arm slipped. Chloe lost her strength and fell down the side of the tower.
“Ah!—Ouch.” Chloe’s rear hit the scaffold beam below. “Hmm…maybe these are not that useless after all…” she mumbled.
Anxious, Chloe let her head fall and touch the tower’s outer wall. She leaned on it, breathing.
“Hey!” Astore peeked over, “we have to go back! Come on, I’ll help you.”
Chloe looked up. She didn’t have the energy to reply, so she sort of just waved at him, trembling. She was sure that Astore was still talking, likely saying something important. She heard a name that was familiar too, but she was dazed and her mind would focus only on the issue at hand:
She was dangling on an ancient support beam, level with the ceiling of the third storey. She looked down and the vertigo rush grounded her senses. I…I am dangling here, floors above the ground. Likely a lethal height to fall from, and I do not have the strength left to pull myself up after that. How—there are three and I’m on the third. If I drop down, the trip will be easier on my…arms. Chloe vocally sighed and opened her eyes.
Astore was waving his arms from the roof like an idiot. “Yes! Prince! Come up, I’ll help you! Didn’t you hear me?”
Chloe stood and then kneeled back down. She grabbed the beam and dropped off of it, hanging by her arms.
“I said that Lilllith is here already! Woah! What are you doing?”
Chloe, a highly neurotic woman by nature, lost her grip when she heard this. She fell; two cubits down; landing on the next beam. Uhhg. …that is beam two…one more and then the ground. I have to get rid of Astore before he gets me injured.
“Meet you on the ground,” Chloe called.
Then, she kneeled, grabbed the second beam, and dropped off again, pushing her body back and away from the tower.
“Are you crazy? Are you sure that’s safe?”
“It is not safe if you do not hold your words!” She shouted back in anger. Her long legs hit the wall and she braced into it.
Astore frowned and then disappeared.
Chloe walked her hands forward, climbing down the wall, digging her toes into the mortar cracks. When she was ready, she let her feet dangle, and then dropped again.
And there is the ground below me…
She considered beam hopping to the support that stood over the doorway and then jumping on Astore. She blushed and changed her mind immediately. Don’t flirt with the servants again Chloe! She kneeled and hopped the eight cubits down to the ground. The instant her feet touched earth, her anxieties caught her by the throat.
Then the prince’s countenance was changed, and his thoughts troubled him, that the joints of his loins were loosed, and his knees smote one against another.
She cried aloud.
Then came Astore: but his words did not make sense to the prince.
Chloe blinked. She was on the south side of the tower, between it and the city wall where no one could see her. What was that?
It took a full minute for Astore to get down all of the tower’s steps and find her. By then, she had mostly composed herself and was sitting on the ground despondently.
“Er…to the castle then? Miss? I mean, Sir?”
She stood up, caught her balance, and spoke to Astore.
“Are you okay?” They both said in unison.
“No, you don’t get to ask that, you scaled a tower. I just went down some stairs.”
Chloe laughed and wiped her eyes. She tried to stand up and failed, and then stood up again with Astore’s help.
“Y—ah,” she exhaled back, and then continued, “Let us return to my home…and let that I may greet our guest” Lilllith…
Sketches of characters from this scene: