(Rough Release 5)

[[ From The Enfolding Abyss: Prologue ]]

The Royal Court of Alisandre Capital was as old as it gets and as new as they could make it, byzantine to youth who had never been given a guided tour.  To Draig’s memory, the Princess had never been lost, though he’d often kept her company through encouragement, a personal sense of duty, and sheer curiosity.  No one ever stopped them, and he understood without being told that no one was to stop her.  Besides, why would he?  She couldn’t get them into trouble bigger than he was.

This time they had found a seam, where well-kept ancient building met gleaming expansion.  Soleil peered through a waist-height opening.  “There are stairs.”  She boosted herself to hang through it.  “Small, not grand.”  The Princess wiggled over the lip and stood up again to face him from the other side, a little taller.  “They go up,” she said as she disappeared, beckoning him with a gesture.

They went around a bend in the stair, losing the new wall behind them.  At the top ahead was an opening of similar size and height, blocked with a piece of fitted and barred wood.  Fists at her waist, she inspected it.  “You can reach that, can’t you?”

Draig raised his arms to grip the wooden bar.  “I can get a good hold.”

Looking from him to the barricade, her smile grew slowly.  “Will you help me open it?”  Catching her smile, he nodded.  She held up the barricade while he removed the bar, and together they cajoled the piece of wood from its dusty seat.

They squinted their eyes against the sudden breeze that blew across their faces.  The Princess peeked out.  “It’s a walkway.”  She boosted herself over like last time.  Draig felt his heart pounding.  Soleil’s head poked above the ledge; she was sitting.  “It’s high down this side.”  Her dark hair picked up in the wind.  He made to follow her out, but she said, “You’d better not.”  All he could see from his view was part of her and a section of stone.

“I’m just going to…”  With a hand inside the opening, she stood.  The breeze couldn’t be that strong, could it?  She was standing differently, eyes blinking, face serious.  And then she just climbed back in.  They left things the way they’d found them.

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