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B2MeM 2011: Haradhrim Nights  by Mirach

Day 23: Dol Guldur

Challenge: Everyone avoided the tower. It was believed to have ...

Write a story or poem that starts with this line or create a piece of art that reflects this line.

Two Faces of One Tower

Everyone avoided the tower. It was believed to have something sinister about it. Not a sinister past, as it usually goes with such towers. It was a quite a mundane past, but a sinister present. The tower was a simple building from burnt bricks, used as a town hall until a few months ago. There were a few arched windows and a symbol of golden sun on the rooftop – not even golden, just gilded. There was nothing scary about it then. But now…

The tower remained, unchanged on the outside. But the city knew. The city was like a living being, it felt the tower like a thorn in its side and retreated from it like an animal from a burning stick. The streets were quiet around the tower. No merchant dared to set a stall here, no beggar dared to approach those who walked here. It was just a few months ago that the tower became a menace, but to the city it felt as if it would be so from the very beginning. Cities have a short memory…

It was just a few months since the Corsairs took the tower. They came from the north, fleeing from something. But now – the people of the city fled when their Captain walked the streets, flanked by his guards. They have lost their ships and haven, and so they took the city, behaving to it like to a ship that they own.

Sahir did not know that. He came looking for Kadar not long ago, but the city seemed to swallow the men of the desert, as well as the stranger. When he asked the people in the streets, he could only find out that they have been here, but where they are now, nobody knew. In the tavern he learned that they left about an hour ago, leaving the horses in the stable – four men and five horses, and Nazim was not with them. Sahir frowned. He could wait for Kadar in the tavern, but he felt he should find him as soon as possible. It could be too late already…

And so he went looking for them into the city, heading to the one orientation point he could see from afar.

When he arrived at the tower, the silence stopped him for a moment. Then the sound of a nocked crossbow.

“Do you have business with the Captain?” a voice sounded from the window above him.

He took a step back. “What captain?”

“Then you don’t...”

“I’m looking for someone, but it’s not your captain.”

“If you are looking for someone to give all your money, then you are on the right place.” The laughter that issued sounded like at least five men looking through the windows.

Sahir reached for his sabre, but before he could draw it, the voice sounded again. “I wouldn’t do that on your place. There are a few crossbows aiming at you right now. One wrong movement, and…”

Sahir froze, thinking it unwise to pick a fight when he had a much more important task. “I have no money,” he said.

“Oh, really?” the voice sounded mockingly. Then the voice got a face as the door opened. The man was short and fat, and obviously not doing this for the first time – he paid good attention to not stand between Sahir in the crossbowmen in the windows.

“What do you have in that purse?” he asked with an unpleasant smile.

Sahir took a step back. “Nothing valuable.”

“What a pity…”

The man’s smirk was getting quite annoying, Sahir thought, and despite the crossbows he was tempted to draw the sabre. How quickly could he pierce the man’s heart?

…the man was certainly quicker. Sahir didn’t know how the purse came into his hands.

“Ah, what a nice earring!” he exclaimed as he surveyed its contains.

Sahir clenched his fists. It was Rasha’s earring…

“And he says he has no money…” Again that annoying smile. “Where is the second earring?!”

“I don’t have it. And I need the first one too, it is not mine.”

“Not yours!” the man laughed as if Sahir would just tell a good joke. “I bet it is not yours! You have stolen it from some wealthy woman, didn’t you?” He turned back. “Search him!”

The order was carried out immediately. Three men stepped out of the shade behind the door. Sahir struggled, but a hilt of a dagger hit his temple, and he knew no more.

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