Gil was back at the ancient door leading down into the forgotten depths of the tower. But while the corridor leading to it and the stairway descending from it were unchanged, the door itself was not the same.
Its surface was rudely carved oak, two hands’ widths deep and roughly finished. Her hand attracted splinters as she brushed it against the grain of the wood.
Where before no air had escaped through the edges where door met frame, now there were narrow gaps through which it seemed that the whole dungeon beneath was breathing. The place beneath the tower was alive, pulsing with dark energy and entreating Gil to enter it’s forgotten depths.
Gil opened the door. Even with fear seeming to crush her under a great weight, grinding against the top of her skull, she was absolutely powerless to resist the attraction of that dark, damp place.
“Where are they?” She asked herself.
The cells were gone. Nothing was the same as it had been when she last visited the forbidden place. The stairway was now so narrow that she had to edge down sideways with the walls pressing against her.
Instead of opening out into a labyrinth of small corridors and barred cell doors, there was merely a single flimsy curtain of cloth stretched across the bottom of the stairs. Gil did not understand. This was not how it was supposed to be, something was wrong.
“You came back.” A voice called from behind the curtain.
The voice was the sweetest nectar dripping through Gil’s ears and warming her whole body. She knew then why she had returned. Nothing could keep her away from the sound of that voice.
Several pairs of heavy hobnailed boots thundered at the flagstones above her head. So the other guards had discovered her treachery and would be coming to seize her, she did not care. She could not care when that voice was caressing her so tenderly.
The guards halted at the top of the stairs and one swore in fury upon seeing the open door. Let them be angry, let them drag her into a stinking cell to rot until disease ripped the life from her body, she would not care.
“Can I see you?” Gil asked. “Please.”
“Can you see me?”
Gil’s heart hammered inside her chest as she heard the inmate’s long hair rustle like falling feathers behind the curtain. Her hands moved under the momentum of her desire, shaking with eagerness, and tore away the veil. She did not even notice the black key pressed inside her palm.
Light exploded outwards from the space beyond with such force that it rent a great crack in the stonework. The chasm tore through the middle of the stairway and cleaved the tower down its western side.
In an instant, Gil ceased to be. The light bore her away into nothing, cut her to mere splinters and blew her out onto the gusting wind. A troop of guards howled in agony behind her, then fell apart like wooden soldiers being crushed beneath a blacksmith’s hammer.
Something moved in the dark which followed the light. It was something like a shadow with human form. But there was nobody to arrest its escape and it passed through the split walls of the tower unchallenged.
Click here for the first in the Turnkey series.
To read about something a bit different, click here.