Monday, February 13, 2017

Story Seed - Sultan

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I quieted my horse and looked across the glass-smooth waters of the River Inra. The sultan's palace loomed on the other side of the water like a man-made mountain, illuminated from behind by a gibbous moon. I tied the horse up under the arching curve of the bridge. Stealth was now my greatest asset and the darkness my ally.

I checked the straps on my clothing and gear and then slowly entered the waters of the river. The dry-stone in my pocket would keep me from getting wet, which was especially handy as I didn't want to leave dripping footprints for the palace guard to follow.

The air-stone in my mouth allowed me to dive under the surface and stay there for the two thousand paces of river that I needed to cross. Magic was handy stuff when you understood how to make the runes work for you in the simplest way possible. These two single rune stones had cost me barely a dozen crowns, a mere fraction of what a runed up weapon or item would cost. As a bonus the engraver had known from my request that I knew exactly what I wanted; haggling for price had been easy.

I emerged from the river and stowed my air stone away while I stared upward at the walled foundations of the palace. Twenty feet high and patrolled day and night, the wall was formidable. I let out a low twittering whistle and was rewarded a short time later by a length of knotted rope that descended not ten feet from where I was standing. I made my way to it and climbed, wondering if I would pay off the guard or be arrested. Fortune favors the bold, they say, and tonight was a night to be bold.

The guard was alone, and a small sack of coin made him smile and wander off. I took to a skulking trot in the shadowed streets and slowly made my way toward the palace proper. It was walled off from the rest of the island, but I already had a plan. A nearby building, slightly taller than the wall, was an easy way up. A long pole in segments, was a slightly less easy way over. I quickly broke the pole down as I crouched among the crenelations and surveyed the courtyard. The servants entrance was my next goal, one for which I already had a key.

It took time to get down from the wall. There were guards that needed to be avoided and by the time I made a quiet sprint to the servant entrance the moon was noticeably farther along its path. I unlocked the door with my key and crept inside. The smells of the kitchens, even this late at night made my stomach grumble. I ignored it, moving quickly and quietly, following the directions I had memorized.

There was no lock on this door, and while plain, it was a heavier door of finer material than the others in here. I opened it and stepped from the drab realm of servants into the richly appointed realm of the sultan. Plush carpeting and velvet curtains, and gold everywhere. I smiled at it all. Slowly I moved down the wide hall, thankful that in the dead of night there were only a few sconces lit, and those far between.

At last I came to a set of golden double doors, and pushed one of them open. The room beyond was dark and with a sigh of relief I slide inside, closing the doors behind me. A single candle burned in a gold and glass candlestick, but my eyes were well adjusted to the dimness of the light and I was able to cross the sultan's sitting room to the bedroom door with ease.

The bedroom was lit only by the moon's light through the windows, illuminating a massive bed of carved and gilded wood. A single form lay on the bed, it's shape softened by the covers. I stole over to it and looked down into the face of the sultan's wife. "Hello my love," I whispered to her.

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