Tower Jump

Max took his clothes with him and some time to refresh himself.  He returned to the chair.  Dr. Floyd looked up and immediately flipped the switch.  The soapy feel slipped him away, ankles up.  His feet landed on cold dressed stone.  All around him were the blocky notches of castle walls.

Nobody chased him right off.  He smiled.  A breeze brought up the smell of a river and sunny wheat fields.  The cool air also reminded him that he had nothing on.  He ran for the nearest door he could see.  It was set in the corner tower that seemed to have rooms and roof at the top.  He pulled on the wrought iron ring and heard the squeak of a pivot door for the first time in his life.  He paused to marvel at it.  He shut the door and opened it again just to hear the sound.  Over his right shoulder, he caught a glimpse of movement from another door in the opposite tower.  He moved quickly through the door and up the stone stairs beyond.

The curving stairs that went gently up and gently to the right were lit with classic murder slits for aiming weapons outside.  They studded the outer wall here with two feet between each one’s angled sides leading into the slit.  Another breeze blew and reminded him not to try out one of the slits for how good a view it might have of those wheat fields.  The stairs had no railing on either side, but the inside edge had absolutely nothing to prevent a slip right into the middle void.  Max’s right leg tingled with a need to make sure it didn’t step wrong.  He thought it curious that a few chains dangled in that void.  When he got to the top and the stone beneath him flattened out, he saw the reason.  The wider ledge at the top reached out to a steel platform.  Those chains were wound into fat winches with open gears and from those fat winches another set of chains reached up to massive rings set in huge stone arches.  Max saw another stair outline just ahead.  He ran for it, and turned the corner to look up it.

Nobody.

Voices from above were now drifting down to him.  The stair led through to the top side of those arches.  Max ran them double time.  The curving hallway at the top moved in from the outer wall to a center hub that had half a dozen doors, but also another stair leading to an even higher level.  Some of the voices were coming from behind these doors.  The numbingly cold stone under his feet was at war with the sweat from his running.  He found a door that had no voices and opened it cautiously.  A sleeping from in a four-post bed and a wardrobe on the far wall were all the room’s large leaded window lit up.  Max moved on to see if there were any better prospects, but found none.

He snuck into this room and opened the wardrobe slowly.  When the figure stirred, Max climbed right into the wardrobe and pulled the door shut after.  His clumsy attempts to find things in the dark that he could put on and pull them over his head met with the sides of wardrobe.  Suddenly the door flung itself open.

“Who are you?”

Max slowly came out of the wooden box.  His head was shoved into a long sleeve that dangled off the top of his head, but he had to hold the massively thick fur coat in front of him.  Through the place his head should’ve gone, he could see that the person addressing him was a brown haired young woman in a long embroidered gown.  She had freckles everywhere, even out on the backs of her hands.  Max marveled at their novelty.  He reached out for one to examine it more closely.

“Guards!”

Max dropped the fur coat on his way to the door.  He ran the stairs upwards and found himself in an alchemist’s laboratory.  Bubbling beakers and connecting tubes were laid out on several large work benches.  The large windows had sills meant to step up onto and led right out onto the roof.

Max heard a clatter from below.  He made for the nearest window.  A figure attending one of the beakers across the room straightened up.  Max slipped out the window onto the roof.  He was grateful for the wooden planking that kept his bare feet off the hot clay tiles.  He positioned himself halfway between two of the window dormers, out of options.  He pulled on the neck opening to look down.  Would jumping for the river he’d smelled be an option?  He couldn’t see it.

Guards were leaning out the window he’d used.

“Oi!  There he is!”

Max pulled the shirt off his head to see better and started running in earnest.  On the far side of the tower, he could just make out the river at the distant base of the tower.  At the point closest to it, he stopped and looked down at it.  His stomach flip flopped at the distance and how small it seemed from up here.

Guards began converging on him from both directions.  Their disciplined confidence let them tread with ease despite their added weight in chain mail and the halberds they carried pointed at him.

Max looked down at the river, hoping to see if it was very deep and could take him safely.  His stomach flip flopped again.  When he tried to relieve it with straightening up and leaning back, his feet got soapy and felt like they’d gone over the edge.

Back in the chair, Max was covered in sweat.  He marveled that his feet were no longer numb, though.  He quickly dressed.

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