I glared at the locked wooden door of the clock tower as beads of sweat rolled down my neck. It was humid tonight, inspiring a chorus from the frogs. I rattled the handle again, hoping it was just stuck. Nothing.
With a sigh, I glanced up to the top of the tower where the bells had been silenced. We’d been running up and down those steps constantly for training and I still hadn’t had a chance to take in the view.
“Dax?” a voice called suddenly.
I jumped with a gasp, putting a hand over my heart as I turned to see Celeste standing nearby, barely even an outline in the clouded starlight. “You nearly gave me a heart attack!”
She frowned. “What are you doing out here? You know we’re supposed to be asleep right now.”
“I wanna go up,” I replied, gesturing towards the tower.
“The pamphlets said to find a calming a place and the camp,” I kicked at the door. “Isn’t.” Another kick. “Calming!” I landed the last one the hardest. The door barely even moved, but I hadn’t actually been trying to get it open. How much trouble would I be in if I really did kick the door down?
I gave Celeste a blank stare. “…What?”
After giving me a rather confused look, she asked, “Why here?”
“I like being up high,” I replied. “The air’s cleaner; helps me clear my head.”
“Does it have to be this high?” she asked, peering up at the top of the tower.
I craned my neck back as I looked to where the tower disappeared into the sky. It was as tall as the trees, just a bit thicker.
“You’re right,” I replied. “I’d rather be higher and get on the roof.”
“The higher, the better,” I replied with a shrug.
Returning my gaze to Celeste, I saw her take on a thoughtful look. She glanced at me. “Iteidfsjmtkljuhfdsjkmtejrhiejmr, but I think I have something you’ll like. Come on.”
We walked through the wilderness, though it was difficult to see where she was going in the darkness. I mostly kept up by the constant snapping of branches under her feet.
After what felt like hours, we finally emerged from the trees in front of a solitary house. Celeste opened the front door, beckoning me inside before going into the dark building herself.
I paused for a moment outside the doorway. A house by itself in the middle of the forest was weird enough, but why was it so quiet? I couldn’t even hear anyone snoring. It appeared well kept yet no one seemed to be home.
“Are you coming in or not?” Celeste asked, suddenly appearing in the doorway.
“Whose house is this?” I asked in response.
“Mine. Now, gheoijtehwdfsndtjhfdskmfhrijfmdkshrfjmdskgheiwmne.”
I shrugged, following her inside. Eventually, I crawled through a window onto a roof composed of the orange cylinder like tiles common in Illagu. I sat next to Celeste and looked out on a stunning view of a pond reflecting the scattered starlight shining through the clouds.
“Better?” Celeste asked.
“Absolutely,” I replied, bringing my knees up to my chin as I enjoyed the view with a smile and taking a deep breath of the crisp air.
“Tehdsmlkthefiosndhtgfsidjkmghfh,” Celeste said. “And I’m notfedhssmfhn, but you can come here any time you like.”
“We should probably head back to camp now. Before we get caught.”
“Or, we can stay here a little longer and sneak in to the ranks in the morning,” I replied, giving her a sly smile.
She raised an eyebrow.
“We’re already dressed.”
Celeste remained silent for a moment. “I blame you if that trick doesn’t work,” she said finally.
We gazed out at the pond for the rest of the night, taking the time to enjoy the quiet.
To be continued…