The Burning Tower Burns, Part II

The problem with being a flier is the same as its benefit. Wings. It’s tough to walk down the street with wings and not cause a stir, or get noticed. Fliers are a small portion of the populace so we stand out. Sure, you can throw a cloak over it, but who wears cloaks these days? That would be as noticeable as wings, and with the huge lumps of wings under it, it seriously gets attention.

Luckily, Kee had scrounged me an item that made me appear to be a normo. Of course, his sense of humor took over and it was a cloaking cloak. Nerd. As far as I know, only Kee and I know I have it. I don’t use it often, and I don’t recall that I have used it at all since I joined The Rookery. Now, I wasn’t going to fool a mage, they would know I had a magic item, and depending on their ranking they might be able to see through the disguise. But it would get me out of the building without alerting Sals. As long as the Counsel wasn’t watching the building for me, and I find that unlikely, I mean, who am I, I should be okay.

I decided I was going to confront the old man. I mean, it might be stupid if he was as powerful as the news was saying, but I needed to help Kee out if I could. I left through the vendor door. I wouldn’t be able to get back in that way, but out was no problem. I hoofed it through town to the building where I had done the pick-up.

Whew! It wore me out. Why walk when you can fly? Am I right? I got there though. I took the elevator to the twentieth floor. It was odd that the elevator didn’t go all the way to the top of the building. I mean with one more floor and a nice garden up there, why would the elevator stop at the twentieth floor?

When the doors opened, it wasn’t right. This didn’t look at all like the hall I had seen. That hall had two main apartment doors. The walls were a dark shade of green with wood panels along the bottom of the walls. The doors were a cherry wood color with brass numbers. There were windows at each end of the hall. This hallway was a modern shade of gray, with white doors, gold numbers, and a window only at one end. There were four apartments. Surely they wouldn’t have another floor with a completely different look and feel, would they?

I looked for the stairs. I opened the doorway to the stairwell and there was no higher floor. The stairwell had one of those pull-down ladders that was locked with a padlock. There was no way up to the roof. My knees folded and I nearly sat on my wings. I’m not sure how long I sat there with my mind reeling, but eventually, I stood myself back up and went back out into the hall.

Okay, so obviously the old man was a seriously powerful mage. Either he fooled me into thinking that this building looked completely different, or…and my mind could barely grasp this…he had ‘made’ two new floors on this building; a living floor and the roof garden. I would say it was the former because that seemed so much more likely, but I don’t see how I could have landed on that roof, and climbed down that ladder as an illusion. No matter what had happened, it was big magic. Counsel big.

I took the elevator down. The building across the street had a sign indicating that it was flier friendly so I headed there and made it to the roof. Luckily the roof was empty. I deactivated the cloak and took to the air. Not really knowing how things stand for me with the city powers, I did my best to avoid attention and kept to the speed limits and airways. I made it back to the Rookery safely, but I had to land at the front entrance and walk-in hoping to avoid Sals’ notice.

“Hey Courier. The boss wants to see you.” Tony Vinzenni, the front desk guard, told me almost before I was through the door.

“Thanks, Tony. I’ll head that way.”

“Better be now. I was told to report it if I saw you enter or leave.”

I heaved a huge sigh, making Tony chuckle, and lifted my way into the core and up to the office. Sals shot me a look and glanced at the chairs against the wall. I sat. And waited. After about two hours she looked up at me again.

“I know, Sals, I’m sorry. I had to do something. Sals, I’m scared.” I said. Her brow went up, so I continued, “I went to see the sender, or I tried to. Not only was he not there, but neither was the whole floor and even the roof access.” She stayed focused and silent as I told her my story.

When I finally wound down, she said, “Yeah. This ain’t good. Not good for you, but also not good for business. According to the delivery laws, none of this comes back on us. I’m just not sure the Counsel will see it that way. You sit right there while I report this up the food chain.”

She turned to her desk mirror and I sat. A few times I had to get up and walk around her desk to share my story with the higher-ups. Names and faces started to blur as I got tired. What had started as such a great day had bottomed out fast. Finally, Sals closed down the call and turned to me.

“Claire, you got yourself into quite the mess and we surely didn’t help. This will be a game-changer. Try not to worry too much though kid, we’ve got your back. Now, can I trust you to stay in the Rookery now, or do I need to have you guarded?”

“Thanks, Sals. I promise I will stay put until this gets sorted.”

“I believe you, Claire. Leave this to the higher-ups. Check on Kee then get some rest.”

“Will do,” I replied. I headed to the public mirrors and activated it to search for Kee. No response. I sure hoped all was okay with him. I needed some rest though. Tomorrow I would try again and maybe call in a favor or three.

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