The Captain’s Search

It hadn’t taken Abeth long to search through the four residential levels in the upper tower. The chambers he needed to search were directly above the floor his assigned rooms were on. He estimated that his search was complete before Craig had even arrived at the first of his floors. That the rooms were empty, and had been for some time, only increased the ease with which the search was conducted.

He saw no reason to rush back once he was done.

They were forbidden to enter the library or the Guiding Light’s chamber. There were guards posted at every door to every room they were not allowed to enter. The hidden corridor had doors to every chamber, none of which were guarded and all of which he had access to. It was too good an opportunity to pass up.

Find, count, return.

Simple instructions. Since he had joined up with the Goddess’ garrison his life had been one simple instruction after another. He had lived a soldier’s life for decades and there was comfort to a chain of orders keeping your world intact. No need to question, no need to think, just focus on achieving one goal after another.

A simple life, in theory.

Abeth had proven himself to be an extremely competent soldier, capable of carrying out his orders as well as supporting others in their duties. What set him apart from his warrior brothers was his willingness to take charge, he was never content to sit back and wait when he could be leading the charge. This facet of his personality pushed him up through the ranks and before long the simple life of following orders was behind him. His approach to his duties attracted the attention of Light Amoren who assigned him to Shan.

Working with the Illuminated Shan was a unique experience. The difference between Shan and the rest of the faithful was like the difference between night and day. The faithful that Abeth had previously served were careful and slow to make decisions, they were autocratic in their treatment of the soldiers. Shan was different: she was quick to make decisions and, although distant and reserved, fond of considering other opinions.

It was like jumping into a frozen river. He moved from mindlessly following orders to being responsible to handing out orders to others. Added to this new approach to his duties was Shan’s expectation that he take on a fluid, more free form, role in every endeavour they undertook. He was used to making quick decisions, it was how one made it through battle, but the bigger picture was always left to others.

It was more difficult to learn to think for one’s self than it was to learn to follow orders without question.

The struggle had been worth it.

His time working with Shan left him with no doubt she would approve of his plan. Shan was at least as interested in the results of a “failed” choice as she was in the results of a “successful” choice; every choice yielded information, information led to more options and better future choices.

They had been forbidden from entering the tower’s libraries, the common doors were heavily guarded and blocked from entry. The question was why. The only way to know was to find a way in. The tunnel entrance was not guarded, Abeth was betting the libraries were devoid of guards as well.

He followed the corridor through the walls of the tower, climbing stairs as needed and noting the locations of the doors hidden in the walls. The dust that covered every surface was undisturbed except for where he walked. His feet were the first to touch the stone floor in what could be centuries.

He moved swiftly past the last of the library doors. Investigating the libraries were important to him, but there was something more important for him to check first: the Guiding Light’s personal chambers, the chambers used by the tower’s ruler.

He continued rising up through the tower, his eyes jumped between looking for disturbances in the dust and hidden doors on the walls. The corridor ended abruptly, the door he was searching for was not along the side but at the end of the tunnel.

There was no sound of occupants as he listened at the door. Satisfied that it was safe to proceed, he stowed his torch in a nearby sconce and opened the door wide enough to glance into the chamber. The door opened into the small passage that joined the main chamber with the balcony. From his position in the tunnel it looked as if the balcony and the main room were both empty.

He was about to step out into the short hallway when a movement near the fireplace caught his eye and froze him in place.

It was the Lady of the Tower.

She appeared out of thin air. Abeth held his breath as he watched her glance lazily around the room. He waited, muscles tense, sure she would see him and ready to attack if needed. Far better to risk death for a chance to remove the danger she represented than to flee and have her set off an alarm. Better his companions can react in shock at his actions than be caught as co-conspirators.

He watched, still as the stones that made up the walls. He didn’t dare move his hand to his sword, any motion, no matter how slight, might attract her notice.

Her gaze appeared to linger on his hiding place and then her focus shifted and she moved out of the chamber.

“Bring Shan to the throne room,” Abeth heard her order.

“Yes, My Lady,” he caught the former prince’s response before the doors closed.

Captain Abeth cautiously crossed the room to the point where the Lady had appeared. He kept one eye on the chamber’s doors as he searched the wall before him. He was not surprised to find a door that blended into the wall.

He was surprised to find a circular staircase leading further upwards into the tower.


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