The Lady of the Tower: Part V
“Where are you The Lady of the Tower?” Dumbee called, with a slight grin on his face as he peered through the evergreen trees. After a small climb they had reached a disintegrating flight of stairs carved out of the side of the mountain, which curled around it the rest of the way until they reached the top.
“The Witch of Seven Elders, we would be honoured to be dawned with your presence!” Cilious yelled.
“Where are you?!” Idior hollered, joining in. ‘We have come to deceive you!’ he was about to add; however, he tripped on his undone boot-lace just then.
Dumbee turned to gloat at Idior lying on the ground, but he froze as he heard the sound of heavy fabric slithering across dead leaves. Something dark abruptly loomed in front of him which seemed to appear out of the corner of his eye.
It was there. It stood in front of Dumbee, staring at him with large green eyes. His breath was sucked away: it was not an it, but as frightening and ominous as the stories depicted. His friends on either side of himself stepped backwards in fright. The most disturbing thing about her was perhaps the way that she was completely still, as if she were really a statue or a standing corpse. Her skin was so pale that it looked as if she had never touched daylight; there were dark circles under her eyes; she was draped in a long black shadowy formless dress; dense black hair fell in slight curls past her shoulders. She was in every way like the night. Her face was slack with expressionlessness. Her eyes seemed to pierce through him as if he were nothing at all or not really there.
“Why have you come?” she said in a voice that was both quiet and fierce. There was no hint of doubt or suspicion in it.
Idior, from his position on the ground lying on his stomach, stared most uncomfortably at this strange girl. He could not tell her tone of voice. ‘Is she angry or sleepy?’ he wondered vaguely.
Dumbee swallowed very hard. “You are not really supposed to be here,” he said.
Still, no creases in her face appeared out of suspicion. “How can you know this?” she asked coolly and disbelievingly. Dumbee could almost feel scorn. “Are you wizards of the Seven Elders?”
“No,” Dumbee said. He paused and put on his biggest smile. “But we would like to help you because we have heard of your disposition.”
“What is it then?” she demanded. There was a strange desperate look in her eyes. “What is it that I have been guarding?”
Dumbee rolled his eyes to the night sky and thought as quickly as he was able to. After a few thoughtful moments, he decided to say his own fear: “Nothing,” he said.
“Nothing…” said the strange girl as her eyes steadily pierced through his head.
Dumbee said, “You are the most powerful sorceress of the land, are you not?” He lowered his voice. “The Seven Elders sent you to this place to keep you away from society. They keep you here to drain your powers. They exploit you.”
“How long have you been here?” Dumbee asked.
Her eyes dropped and darted back up at him almost guiltily. “I do not know…” she answered rather sadly, and seemed to trail off into a deep thought. Then she seemed to realise that she was acting sad, and stood up more straightly. “I march around the tower every night,” she said.
“Every time that you did, you fed their burning flame,” Dumbee said, passionately embellishing his idea. “They have become filthily rich. They rule the land, and you fuel their wondrous improvements that they make to the city of Cacklewitch. You are their gasoline, and their gold.” He stepped towards her. “Go and be free,” he said. “Why not go and have a wonderful, normal life?” He breathed out in his most beautiful voice: “Feel the sun on your skin and breathe.”
The strange girl did seem to breathe. She somehow became more alive and less statue-like. She smiled the most beautiful smile that Dumbee had ever seen. He almost felt guilt and regretted what he had done. Almost.
She said, quietly, “thank you for your kindness,” and turned away.
Dumbee smiled and closed his eyes in satisfaction as she disappeared through the evergreen trees. When he opened his eyes again, she was gone.