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Mistborn: The Inquisition

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Metamorphosis

Gervais Lekal's Photo Gervais Lekal 11 Feb 2011

The wooden steps of the guard tower went on and on in a tight little spiral; it was almost black within, lit only by the reddish slant of afternoon light through the arrowslits in the outer wall. Gervais felt his way up the staircase, one hand on the cool stone in the center to guide him, climbing upward and ever higher. The steps were wide enough for an eight-year-old that even his tireless energy was waning a little by the time he had made it to the top, but it came at last, a thin, dull line filtering past one edge of the heavy trapdoor at the top. He felt in the darkness for the lock, then fitted the heavy iron key into it, turning it and shoving his shoulder against the reinforced wood. It barely budged at first, but he persisted, slamming his shoulder against the door until it cracked a little further and finally swung upward.

He slipped out into the open air, leaving the trapdoor open behind him. It was hot today, hot enough for the air to ripple off the stone, with the mugginess of an ashfall waiting to happen. The haze in the air trapped the heat and almost seemed to muffle sound. Gervais was alone on this part of the walltop, with the stillness and the dancing flecks of dust in the air. Reaching up onto the crenellated parapet, he climbed up higher, to the very edge, balancing crouched at first, like a small cat, as he looked first inward, over the gardens of Keep Lekal ? empty on a day like this - and then out over the city. He rose to his feet, standing up straight on his perch.

Gervais had always liked being high up. In the grand ballroom of Keep Lekal, he liked to hide in the highest balconies of the pyramid, looking down at everyone beneath him as they swirled about at a dance. They looked so small down there, so very far down. So much smaller than him. He was no longer tiny, he was higher than anyone else, greater than them all, and none of them knew he was up there watching them.

Now he had the whole city down below him. He could see the rooftops, and people in the streets. But he looked past them, out to the skyline; to the jagged spires of Kredik Shaw, the smaller peaks and towers of the various Keeps, all the way down to the low-roofed buildings of the skaa tenements. He could see everything laid out in front of him. It was his.

The thrill in his chest rose to something that left him almost unable to breathe for the exhilaration, as if there was something huge inside his chest that was trying to break loose. Gervais knew a secret, a mystery, something no one else did, or he was on the edge of knowing it. Just on the edge. Things were not what they seemed. He only had to open a door, somewhere, he had to touch something, and then he would understand it. How to soar, like the birds.

The long fall pulled at him, drawing him towards it, a dizzying drop to the ground so very far below him. Gervais looked over the edge, fearless, challenging gravity to take him. He was secure here. He had never fallen.

He sat down, dangling his legs over the side of the parapet, and settled in to wait, watching the world go about its business down below him unaware.

Gervais did not know how much later it was, but he could see the shadows changing and getting longer, and the red globe of the sun was sinking down towards the horizon. It was taking everyone a very long time to notice that he was missing.

Surely they would be frightened when they found him up here. They would be afraid he would fall, and they would try to talk him into coming down. Don't fall, they would tell him - be careful. Someone would come to take his hand and draw him back down from the parapet. Then they would be glad to have him back safe and in one piece, and Mother would hold him. They would be angry with him afterward, but they would be afraid to lose him.

Father would not want him to fall, would he?

It was getting late.

Had Mother forgotten him again?

The time crept on by, and by now the joy of the height had faded, he was no longer a secret king. He was exhausted, thirsty, and dizzy from the heat that pulsed in the air and radiated off the stone he was sitting on. And Gervais knew that no one was coming. No one had noticed, or cared, that he was gone. He tried to swallow, but there was something in his throat choking him.

He pushed himself off from his perch, slipping down into the crenellation to climb down, and his foot slipped sideways out into space as he landed. He reached out frantically for something to stop himself, but toppled outward from the parapet.

Suddenly he was weightless, but he was not flying. Not flying at all. He was falling, and he was going to die - he was going to die -
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