The grey man ran along the hard incline that spiraled slowly upwards. On either side of him stood multi-story buildings, made of clay and brick and rising in stark contrast to the faint blue glow of the crystal under his feet. Above him Titan’s ribbons snaked across the black sky in hues of blue and green and red. He stopped momentarily and gazed up at Dyon’s flame to get his bearing. The flames that crowned what was once the pinnacle of Babylon flickered to his right, making shadows dance against nearby walls. The flame was a constant beacon to the city, the Theos only extinguished it for a short period each year to commemorate the Cataclysm. Otherwise, the slow burning blubber that came from the outer reaches near the wall ensured that there was always a bright blue flame.
He didn’t have much further to go to reach his mark. He had recognized the surroundings from the dream. A red painted door, a two story brick building with one window pane broken out on the second story. He had just happened to have noticed that broken window while searching for food the day before. It had been pure luck then that in the void he had found the dream of the building’s owner, and seen that he was leaving the next day to travel. The thoughtstream told him that the man lived alone and would be gone for a long period. It also told him that the man was fretting over whether to risk losing his valuables on the road or leaving them hidden but unprotected. He hoped the man had decided the road was too likely to part him with his treasures. One way or the other, there would be something he could trade in the markets for food and there would be a place to stay for a while.
He reached his destination, the house with the red door and the broken window. He looked around and saw none of the guards that patrolled the streets of the capitol. The city was under the peace of the Theos, a peace that was strictly enforced by its Paladins. A careless move could end him up in the dungeons, if not the gallows.
He nonchalantly made his way around the side of the building and into an alley that spaced it from the adjoining residence. Sure enough there was a side entrance with its own door, also red. He walked up and gave one final look out towards the street. When he was certain there was no one watching he grasped the metal doorknob and concentrated. In his mind he could see its construction, see the cylinder with its obstructive wards. He focused on the lock and in a matter of moments it disintegrated into dust. He was careful to leave the doorknob so that the door was still functional and the damage would not be noticed.
After a few moments his concentration broke and he slumped against the door. Whether one was a saint or a demon in the eyes of the Theos, prayer was exhausting. He turned the knob and staggered inside. he found himself in a storage room with crates stacked to the ceiling. He fumbled around looking for another door that would let him into the main residence.
As he groped his leg banged against a low stack of crates and almost sent him tumbling. He sighed in resignation and pulled a small vial out of his pocket. He had hoped to save this blubber for a later time, but it would do no good to bring the stacks down on top of him as well as the city guards. He pulled the stopper off the vial and blew a full breath into it. He then placed his finger over the opening and shook it vigorously. A faint light began to be emitted by the vial that grew brighter as he shook. Eventually there was more than enough light for him to see his surroundings.
He held the vial in one hand and used it to illuminate the walls looking for a door. When he found it, he sighed again. It was solid metal on this side. He pushed against it and it did not budge. He pushed his hand against it where he suspected a lock would be on the other side and probed with his mind. Without a point of reference there was just too much metal for him to make out the intricacies of a locking mechanism.
He sat down with his back to the door. He thought he might be able to use prayer to dissolve a portion of the door and crawl through, but he was too tired and hungry to do so any time soon. Resigned to remaining in the storage room a while, he set the vial on a crate and set to opening up the other crates around him.
“Maybe I’ll find enough in this storage room so that I don’t even needs bother with the door.” he thought to himself. “Maybe I’ll at least find something to eat.”
Image used with permission from Johnathan Nightingale via Creative Commons 3.0. Obtained from Flickr.com.