Friday, 19 November 2010

Precious Time

I stole a great treasure today. A gem.

You should have seen me. I came to it through the shadows. Through the tiled halls, my felt-soled boots soundless as a wild beast killed and hollowed into a rug. Through a crenellation in the battlements. Up the walls, climbing so fast and so surely you’d have believed my body was made for only that art. But, in the shadows, that’s where my real work was done. I waited there the longest short time I ever knew, crouched and pressed in against a wall, listening to the footfalls of a patrolling guard die down to raindrop sounds. Then, deft and mute as a light breeze shifting through a cornfield, I shimmied up a curtain rope, made my way along a roof beam, balancing with ease, and then hung down above the gleaming gem, pillowed in velvet upon a pedestal in the chamber’s centre, took it in my gloved right hand.

Swiftly, I placed it in amongst my belongings. Swiftly and smoothly. I was so ecstatic my heart was racing, pounding, but I kept my self together. I made no noise. No scratches, no heavy breaths, no din. I left the same way I entered, unchecked.

It was with that gem I earned the money to buy the armour I’d been eyeing up for quite a while, from that trading post on the edge of the forest. Trying it on, waving my favourite sword around, testing my skill (though never doubting it), I felt glorious. The likely bane of all my enemies.

With such a feeling risen and rooted in my breast, I could no longer avoid the call of that beleaguered harlot trapped inside the high tower in the forest’s silky, murky, cobwebbed heart. I charged in through the trees, noting how the grass and undergrowth all shifted at my passing, as if cowed by fear and reverence for the legend I was become. A pack of goblins challenged me, leering through dark death-mask faces, offered to spare my life for half of my new-gained gold. I laughed. I roared with laughter, inside and out. They were vanquished within seconds, my sword sated with their gore.

Before long, I came to the molten lake that circled the tower, serpents clamouring for space within its turbulent, eternal flow. I did not tremble. I – thief, knight, sometime-practitioner-of-spells – did not quake with self-doubt and worry at the scene. I refused to heed the sign that bade me to Abandon hope…

Across the rope bridge I trod, slicing and severing serpents’ heads from their vermiculate forms, revelling in each heavy hiss released upon their ruins crashing back into the lava. And then, at the gate, I solved the riddle scratched into the wood, in almost no seconds flat, and the door opened before me like the promise of high Valhalla itself. I had no need for stealth now, careening up the stonework stairs like a berserker, possessed with battle-love and bloodlust, cleaving through the cursed minions of that place. You really should have seen it.

Of course, if you had been there to watch, maybe you’d have seen the next bit coming, been able to warn me to watch out for the trapdoor hidden outside the captive’s room. Of the fall, the agonising reeling of my body, end over end into the abyss.

Because then, simply, pitifully, I was dead, and I couldn’t remember where I’d last saved. Perhaps 4 hours ago. Perhaps 6. I’m staring in through the glass door of the oven now, waiting for the pizza to cook. I should eat before trying again. I really should.

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