A/N: Going has been a bit slow on this as I work on some tricky edits in Count Taka. So I may end up hitting a point where I’m not posting this story for a bit ’cause it’s not all written yet! Haven’t gotten there yet, thankfully. 🙂
Morgan glanced at the sky above them one more time, storing up the sight of sunlight against the darkness she knew was down there. She might not see it, not like Aladdin and Maria could, but she thought she could almost smell the dark rukh fluttering through the air, like a ghost of memory.
Bitter. Like tears. Like blood.
The tower top was featureless, built of closely-fitted stones the same granite-gray as the tumbled walls that laced the woods here. Only a wooden trapdoor broke the surface, weathered nearly as gray as the stone.
Morgan bent low to sniff the edges of the door, searching for any trace of electronics or plastic. “Nothing.” She took a deeper breath. “I think… there’s wiring deeper in the tower. But not close. And….” She hesitated. “I smell nothing. Just stones, and a little dust.”
“What do you mean, nothing?” Aladdin frowned.
Maria was looking around the tower top, eyes wide. “No bird droppings.” She dropped onto her knees, poking in corners. “No spiders. There are always spiders.”
“Nothing alive,” Morgan nodded, ice tickling along her nerves. “Bugs should get past that door. But I don’t smell them. Just… dust. Like things died and dried out, years ago.”
“Not even rats?” Dark eyes went wider. “There are always rats, if there are even dead bugs to munch.”
“Not even them,” Morgan agreed, grim.
“That makes sense,” Aladdin said, voice uncharacteristically tight. Held his wand over the edge of the doorframe, moving it slow and steady as a slug racing for the damp grass. “It feels like Magnostadt. The 5th Authorization District.” He swallowed. “Rats couldn’t live there, either.”
Where everyone’s magoi was drained, Morgan remembered, Aladdin’s tales from another life whispering in her mind. “Will we be able to stand it?”
Aladdin nodded. “I’ll just reinforce the antivenom spell some more. Any magoi drain will yank energy off that first.” Finished tracing the edge, he frowned. “No alarm wards.”
“Makes sense,” Morgan observed.
“…How can that make sense?” Aladdin objected.
“It’s a trap,” Morgan said levelly. “The best traps don’t look like traps. Not on the outside.”