The Tower

I had tried every alternative, yet nothing had worked. The room lay silent as I paced, light swirling around me, lush velvet floors whisper soft beneath my boots. A key fashioned from your own bone, the prophet had said. But whose bone? Those of the entrapped, or those of the one who wish to enter? The prophet hadn’t answered then. The room offered me no answer now.

Shadows shifted as my companion passed me, nosing a shelf on the mahogany wall. A small box clattered to the floor and she turned, sitting with tail wound around her legs until I retrieved it. I paused before replacing it, recognizing the ornately carved wood. I flicked open the lid, revealing tiny forgotten bones on pale silk.

“These will work?” I asked. The little dragon tilted her angular head in answer, light shimmering on inky violet scales. “Well, they’re as good a chance as any.” Fetching a knife, I settled on the lounge to work.

Slowly they began to take shape, yellowed teeth reforming into jigsaw pieces that fit snugly together until a key of bones lay in my palm. I stretched, rose, and looked at the coil of dragon with her tail over her nose. “Shall we go?”

The stairs wound high into darkness, cold seeping from stone walls, the minute clicking of talons on stone echoing through the narrow space. The door at the top was as solid and immovable as ever, its surface slick smooth except for a keyhole. I regarded it with distaste. Already I was half hoping it would open and half convinced it would not.

Carefully, I removed the bone key from my pocket and slid it into the lock. Pressing gloved fingertips to the door, I pushed, and light slipped from a crack in the stone. I stared at the gap, cautious triumph blooming as it widened.

“About time, girl! What took you so long?” I fell back as a woman hobbled out. Her clothes were as colorful as ever, if a bit more rumpled, her emerald eyes bright. She stopped a few steps below me, turning to peer back up. “Well, what are you waiting for? We’ve got places to go!”

“Are you alright?” I asked. She had been here for weeks, surely without any outside contact. No one ventured near unless they sought the amulet, and few dared do that. When she had come to take it, the tower had trapped her in its uppermost room, which was cursed to only open with a key of bone.

“I’m hale and hearty!” She chuckled, brandishing an emerald jewel hung on a thick gold chain. “I’ve got the amulet, and you’ve sprung me from its trap. Now come!” She trotted down the tower steps, words echoing up behind her. “We’ve only got four hours to deliver this, and I won’t be late!”

I glanced at the little dragon next to me. I smiled and her tail twitched smugly. Then we hastened down the stairs after the mage.

Isabel Nee loves reading, writing, science, birds, and mythology. She sporadically practices archery, and is known to research bizarre genetic disorders which she then inflicts on her characters. Isabel has had prose and poetry published in elementia magazine and Showcase Selections ~ 2016. She is currently writing a YA fantasy novel, and hopes to some day become a professional novelist. Isabel lives in Kansas where she hatches chickens and (she would like to think) great ideas.

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