The Tower

Thursday August 21, 2003 @ 01:02 PM (UTC)

The sky was feigning black, but could only manage a blustery grey, as if somewhere far along the paths of the sea, light fell and shone back along the miles onto this storm sky. The clouds milled slowly in shades of charcoal and slate, inking the stars out. The sea was fretting below, a sullen grey-blue, and rose swiftly and briefly under the little boat as if it was trying to slough her off.

In the boat a small figure sat, swaying imperturbably with the waves. The silhouette was accented with a venerable, stained canvas parasol, and between the glints of water running off its rim an occasional twinkle of black eyes emerged. The sea was shoving the dinghy towards an outcropping of rock, a black tumble topped with a more ordered tumble that was a tower, its top swathed in hissing steam from a wind-teased and much abused flame.

The boat neared the crouching rocks, and the little figure within stirred and stepped onto the bucking bench, waiting until doom was well and truly nigh before hopping into the air and drifting a few feet landward with the maelstrom under the parasol before falling awkwardly but safely on a particularly large and uncouth-looking rock.

The tower was tended by Brogg. Brogg had always tended the tower, and whether his bronze skin had once been bronze, and had weathered to the pores and wrinkles of skin, or had once been skin, and had weathered to the sheen and toughness of bronze, you may guess yourself, as I abstain. Brogg knew his job was frightfully important, and himself frightfully imposing, and for those reasons, in some order, no one ever bothered him, and he was glad they did not.

So when a rat-a-tat came from the door, Brogg did not rise from his chair. Rat-a-tat. He looked around. Rat-a-tat. Perhaps the sea was throwing pebbles at his tower. Rat-a-tat. Perhaps the stones were finally falling from the crumbling parapets up above. Rat-a-tat. Brogg looked at the door. Rat-a-tat. The sturdy oak did not shake, but Brogg was certain that someone was ratting and tatting his door. Perhaps it was the tower-builders. Brogg hastily shoved his very domestic reading material under a suitably nasty-looking stone. Rat-a-tat. Brogg brushed a biscuit crumb from his shining bronze muscles. Rat-a-tat. Brogg opened the door.

Brogg’s employers, or makers, had had two legs, two arms, and two eyes. In this much, the figure at the door was like the tower builders. The legs wore faded blue trousers and ended in very battered brown boots, the arms held a drenched wool cape out like bat-wings and brandished a waxed canvas parasol, and the eyes were black and gleaming.

Brogg forgot that he was important and imposing. “Who are you?”

The woman smiled, and the web of lines on her face deepened like creek beds in flood. “I am Isabella.”

“Why are you here?”

“I go where I like, and I do as I please, and you can’t say better than that.”

The Trireme →



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