Friday, April 24, 2015

Day Eight-Fifty-One: Quiet in the storm

Arabella was not chastised for looking at the top of the tower. Her masters did not express even the slightest bit of discontent over her act of rebellion, which, to her, made sense. They’d never told anyone not to look at the top of the tower. The counsellor was nevertheless imprisoned for her indiscretion, and when she woke up - still blind, of course, always blind - she was inside the tower. Arabella didn’t know how she knew, she just… knew.

You will remain here until the execution, the voice of her masters, once again harmonized, commanded inside Arabella’s head. Use the time to learn more about the sentenced. You will quickly discover what kind of scum they truly are.

The voice did not speak again, though Arabella gave it a respectful amount of time to contemplate continued discussion before she dared to move. Still unaccustomed to life as a blind person, she groped uselessly at her surroundings on her hands and knees, trying to get some sense of where she was. All she discerned was the texture of the tower: smooth, glassy, and… pointy. Many sharp edges.

That seems appropriate, Arabella thought, wincing at her subtle critique of her masters. She knew such thoughts could be punished. Especially here, in the centre of -


The quacking gurgle caught Arabella by surprise, and she fell back onto her butt with a small shriek. Then, remembering her masters’ words - Use the time to learn more about the sentenced - she realized where she must be.

Forcing composure, Arabella folded her legs and sat properly. “I… hello. I believe I recognize that voice. Plato the Platypus, is it?”

Plato coughed. It was a dry, almost dusty sound, as though he were a thousand-year-old mummy. Arabella wondered, based on her knowledge of history, if that count might actually be accurate.

“You… aren’t looking at me,” Plato muttered. “Could you look… look at me, please? At us?”

Cheeks flushing, Arabella turned towards Plato’s voice. it took three fidgets until she was satisfied with her positioning. “Apologies. I, ah, I’m blind, you see. Heh, what an odd thing to say.”

“I can see, though,” Plato admitted. He still sounded unaccustomed to standard speech, and every word emerged from his bill as an inelegant croak. “Your eyes… no, your pupils… they’re… um… faded. White, but… not… rat… white.”

Something beside Plato squeaked. Plato clapped his bill in apparently irritation. “I can so call… ach… call that a colour. You shush.”

Settling down, Arabella thought back to her arrival at the tower. She’d seen Plato’s face emerge from the base of the tower, and he’d always been the obvious victim of her masters’ planned execution… but, yes, there was someone else, as well. A rat had appeared along with Plato’s face, a rat as plainly vilified as the platypus himself.

I suppose we’re in a dungeon, then. Well, it wouldn’t be my first time. “How long have, erm, you two been here?”

A rustle of fabric hinted at a shake of the head. “I… don’t know. I’ve been… in and out of it… for a while, now. He keeps… knocking me out… torturing… it’s difficult…”

The rat squeaked, and its chittering silenced Plato. Arabella listened, fascinated, though she obviously had no idea what the rat was saying. Unlike the rest of her masters, it apparently could not speak directly into her mind.

“Three months?” Plato tutted. “N… no, that can’t be right. I’m positive… we started out in some, some, some castle thing, and, um… that was maybe a few weeks… well, I suppose - “

The rat chittered again. It sounded pained, yet oddly indignant.

“Yes, I know you haven’t been out as long, but… no… no! Will you… stop talking…” Plato drooped. Arabella thought he drooped, anyway. He sounded droopy. “I’m… ah, I’m sorry, I guess… he thinks we’ve been here a while.”

Arabella waved the apology away. Something else had caught her interest anyway, and she wanted to pursue it. “You two seem to be on friendly terms. I am addressing the rat who is to be terminated, correct?”

The rat squeaked an affirmative. 

“Yes,” Plato provided unnecessarily. “He, um… well, come now, stop talking a second… he says that, if you’re going to have him… killed… oh, no, I can’t say that, don’t talk like - “

“Please translate for him,” Arabella prompted, smiling. “I don’t mind.”

“ - he says you can just go to hell,” Plato finished. Arabella imagined a deep blush on his tar-black face, assuming the platypus still couldn’t hold his normal shape properly. “Uh. Sorry. He’s rather rude to people when he’s mad. I… erm… I put up with a lot… travelling with this guy.”

“Really,” Arabella said. “So you’ve known one another for a while?”

The rat squeaked another affirmative, this one rather dry. Plato didn’t bother to interpret.

“I would love to hear,” Arabella confessed, “how two mortal enemies became such good friends. If you don’t mind talking to me for a little while.”

“We’re not that good of friends,” Plato insisted.

“I doubt that.” Arabella leaned back on the palms of her hands. “Please. We don’t have much else to do.”

That much was true, and, after some prompting, Plato began to tell a long, silly story that Arabella enjoyed very much. Had she known that a dragon was merging with the tentacular ball of regulator light at the top of the tower as the platypus spoke, however, she might have considered changing the subject.

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