The Lady of the Tower: Part VI

 Dumbee opened the door of the tower. Inside was a little dark room with one window. It was like a scullery: there was a work bench with various pots of nameless substances on it against a wall, with long iron spoons sticking out of them. As Dumbee crept to a door which was at the other side of the room from the little bed and the only window, he saw that the handle of it was veiled in a spider’s web. The owner was dangling down from it, headed for the floor. The whole door seemed to be covered in a thick layer of undisturbed dust. ‘She must never have touched it,’ he thought in astonishment as he studied the surface. His excitement of what he might find in this tower only grew.

“Get one of those spoons,” Dumbee told Cilious over his shoulder.

With spoon in-hand, Dumbee wound the spider’s web around its handle, and closed his hand around the knob. He turned it and pushed with all of his strength.

The door refused to open. Out of frustration, he ran back to the other end of the room. He took in a deep breath, and dashed back and crashed down the door. He blinked away his shock and stood up from it.

“Come, Cilious, Idior,” Dumbee said matter-of-factly, and began to climb the stairs.

After a while the stairs came to an end at another door. Light came through the crack under it in a shaft. There seemed to be movement in the room beyond, as shadows kept breaking the light and moving across it. Dumbee opened the door and heard the sound of trumpets, as if announcing his entrance. He walked into a room of dancing people. Each person seemed to be dancing a different dance with their partner, and wearing a different coloured dress. Even the men seemed to be wearing an alteration of a dress: the men’s dresses were much flatter, as if they were wearing sheets, and where the women’s dresses brushed the floor, a pair of curly toed shoes could be seen. Each person stared at him as if he were not supposed to be there, but kept smiling terribly widely with glaring bright white teeth. Suddenly he was snatched away from the others and found that he was dancing with a woman with bright red eyes. She spoke to him in short quiet clips of a language that he did not know. There was a door at the other end of the room, and Dumbee tore himself from the woman’s grasp and bolted across to it.

Then followed six more flights of stairs and six more rooms. Dumbee started to confuse each dream-like room with the other before it. In the second room, there was a beautiful rose-garden. Dumbee remembered the sweet smell which made him affectedly pick one of these such deep-red roses. By a fountain, a lady sat on a bench with her head in her hands. This, however, did nothing to muffle the wretched shrieks and wailings that she made. “Oh! Oh!” she screeched. “Where is my fiend, my devil, my love and my life?” Dumbee and the others carefully crept past her.

There was a man sitting in the middle of one room. He was wearing grey rags, propped up against a wall. He was in tears because, as he miserably explained, he had lost his marbles. The floor was at a tilt with a small hole at the bottom in the middle of it. He looked up pitifully and begged Dumbee to retrieve them. Dumbee felt something inside of himself which longed to help the man, but he simply ran to the next door. One room was full of angry howling spitting cats. They all ran up to the boys and jumped at their heads at once. Dumbee got a bad scratch up his arm in that room.

Finally the party reached the largest door they had come to yet. Dumbee opened it into a room which smelt of cool damp stone. It was the largest room of the last six: when Dumbee stepped inside, his foot-step echoed many times, bouncing against the gigantic great grey-blue walls. In the middle of this room was a sort of orb on an iron pedestal, and exactly opposite it, a small window. The orb glowed with a ring of shifting light around it on the floor. It was the brightest thing in the room. Dumbee crept to it and thought that the air grew warmer.

And then Dumbee got near enough to look into it.

Inside was a dancing flickering flame. Dumbee could not tear his eyes away from it. Its brightness seemed to entrance him so that he stared until his nose was almost against the glass. The flames suddenly turned into a girl’s face, looking up at him. Dumbee jumped back in alarm. The girl had bright flaming eyes, like a pair of interested candle flames, and flickering orange-tipped hair with sparks flying off of it.

Dumbee gruffly threw his cloak over it. “We have got what we came for,” Dumbee grunted, as he wrapped it, picked it up, and cradled it in his arms.

But as soon as Dumbee had said this, the room began to grow larger and larger. The three boys ran to the door as it grew farther and farther away, and the room became colder and colder, and their pattering footsteps became louder and more echoed.

Dumbee reached the door and once his friends had darted through, he slammed it shut.

All was quiet but for the soft pattering of their feet as the party descended the six flights of stairs and ran through the seven rooms. All of the people in the rooms had vanished. They went through the scullery that used to be the strange girl’s room, and stepped out of the door and into the sunlight.


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