The Lady of the Tower: Part XI

“It is I,” Dumbee proclaimed as he strutted down the cobblestoned street, “Dumestovall, your king!” The people on the crowded street gave Dumbee a queer look and kept on with their business. A boy with a satchel and a letter in his hand passed the party on the other side.

“Boy,” Dumbee said as he crossed the street. He grabbed his arm. “Which way is to the castle?”

“I dunno,” he said, looking up at Dumbee with curious brown eyes. “And my name’s not ‘boy’.” Then he looked at the near-glowing girl, and wriggled free and ran away.

Dumbee looked up and there was the castle, only a block of houses with a verdant lushly growing hanging garden over them away. As the party approached it, it became more obvious that people were watching them with interest. Their eyes stayed with them as they passed by on the street. A crowd was forming of on-lookers as they came to the bridge which crossed the moat to get to the castle courtyard. This pleased Dumbee greatly. He looked down at a black cat suddenly trotting beside him, as if Dumbee belonged to it. “Go away,” Dumbee muttered in annoyance at it. ‘People might think it will bring bad luck with us,’ he thought.

“I am not an it,” said the cat in a deep man’s voice, looking up at Dumbee with clever green eyes. Dumbee stared as the cat turned his head forwards again and trotted off ahead of Dumbee with his tail in the air. When the party entered the courtyard, the cat was nowhere to be seen.

Dumbee turned to one of the two guards with dark pointy hats and robes at the top of a small flight of stairs by the entrance. “We are here to see the high wizard of this castle,” Dumbee said as politely as he could.

“Ah,” said the guard, “yes, he is expecting you. Keep climbing the stairs until you reach the top. He likes to sit in the far right tower.”

Dumbee thanked the man, and wondered as they went inside, ‘how can he be expecting me? They must be wizards,’ Dumbee guessed.

There was an ankle-deep layer of dust as well as bird droppings spotted about on the floor, and little holes in the walls where daylight was coming through. Dumbee looked about The Great Hall in disgust. He ran up to the thrones, his feet echoing, and knelt before them. He could cry. The once fine fabric was now moth-eaten and speckled brown in places, and the metal which bordered it was severely tarnished with lack of care. All of the precious stones had disappeared, and there were only empty spaces where they had once been. ‘Stolen,’ he thought. For the time in which he grew up and lived his life poor in The West, his rightful castle had at the same time disintegrated. The high wizard who now inhabited it did not seem to care.

Dumbee ran in a rage through the dim halls, with specks of dust illuminated in the squares of light which came through the cracked windows, to the far right tower stairs, and ran up them. The others panted as they tried to keep up with him.

Dumbee burst through the door and there was the old man, sitting cross-legged in the middle of the floor and quietly scribbling with a quill-pen into a large leather book. His long beard was a snowy white, and so was his woollen robe with a diamond-shape pattern.

He looked up at Dumbee, and then his eyes went to the ceiling as he laid his quill on a page and closed his book with a ‘wump!’ Dumbee stared at the old man, as he breathed heavily—he stared at the polished stone floor and dark wood desk and chair and the perfectly clear glass roof.

Dumbee heard the others come through the door behind him, out of breath.

“I am now king,” Dumbee said, his voice like gravel.

“I see that you are quite severe,” said the wizard as he continued to stare up at the ceiling. He spoke with a dawdling wheezy thoughtfulness. “I will introduce myself as High Wizard Piecebly. I will now tell you that you were sent away because every king in your blood-line did a terrible job at being king. Perhaps you do not remember your tyrannical father, as he was only briefly king. Being king means to take care of the people, not to become rich—to rule everyone with animosity, executing whoever one pleases with hatred—to want everything one’s own way.”

This infuriated Dumbee. “But I will be a good king,” he said between clenched-teeth. “No matter what you have said, I am now king,” he repeated, “and there is nothing that you can do to prevent me.” Dumbee turned around, his back facing the wizard, and looked at the near-glowing girl. “I have acquired a powerful being,” he said quietly. “It will insure that I am king of all of Inglid. Now do as I say, and make it so.”

The wizard chuckled in long wheezy bursts. Dumbee turned back around in shock. The wizard looked straight at him, into his eyes. “Do you know what this thing is that you have with you?” said High Wizard Piecebly. “You have The Light!” he exclaimed. He bent over, laughing and laughing.

What?” Dumbee said through the wheezing bursts. His voice had become rather small and astonished.

“Come forward, my dear,” the wizard said, smiling. He held out his hand and The Light went to him and took it.

“I cannot do as you ask,” said The Light. Dumbee stared into her flickering candle-flame eyes and she stared into his. He had to look away because they seemed to burn into his mind.

Wizard Piecebly said, “the Light cannot tell a lie.” He stood and spread his hands around The Light. She shrank until she was little again—the size that Dumbee had first seen her as, and then a glassy casing grew back around her. The wizard took the bubble out of the air and held it in his long woollen robes.

A seriousness seemed to creep into the wizard’s face, and somehow the shadows on it deepened. “And now, you must return her, or we all shall die because she is time and happiness itself. She is everything that keeps chaos from roaming freely. In this world of magic, can you imagine the variety of ways that one could cause harm and evil to others, merely by closing their eyes and willing it to happen? Without her, we would not be having this conversation at this very moment.”

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