The Lady of the Tower: Part VIII

 

Gwendolen stepped down the last stairs and stared down through the trees at the city of twinkling lights below. The ground was now closer to her than it had ever been before. The stairs ended where a small but steep hill began. Gwendolen slipped carefully down it, grasping the trunks of the evergreen trees as she went. Finally she reached the bottom. She breathed and looked up at the stars in the sky, although she could not see their full expanse as it was obscured by branches. She smiled for the second time that night. She knew that they were the most real smiles that she had smiled in years. It was because this was real. This was no waking, strange but realistic dream. This was not a story which she told herself to see her off to sleep. She looked down at her feet. She was now on the same level as an ordinary person.

There was a rustling in the forest underbrush beside her. She felt no wind. The mountain shielded everything from that.

Gwendolen turned and looked suspiciously at the now silent dark bush beside her, with dark leaves and small blooming purple flowers. Moonlight was able to sift through the tree branches from above in patches of white pale light. The moonlight showed Gwendolen something black and human-shaped slide headfirst on the ground out from under the bush. Its speed increased as it drew closer and slithered across to her. Gwendolen turned and ran through the forest for her life.

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