I made my way back to Presentation Square and settled on a bench near the Crystal obelisk that hid the alcove, and my way in. I heard the Imperator’s Chime announcing He’d just sat to dinner and the sun was just below the rim, leaving the city in a warm twilight. It made my pretense of reading more obviously a pretense so I stashed my book in the bag with the others.
The evening guards... not all of them visible... begin coming out to their posts. During the night they patrolled a bigger perimeter. The guards at the edges of the roof were the most visible. A pair of Sereniteers on the plaza patrol strolled by, their tall black and white staffs clicking on the pavement. They let their eyes pass over me, as I dug into my bag pretending I needed to find something in the bottom of it.
It was difficult... the falling darkness that would let me sneak back in, was making my waiting harder as the crowds went away. I was more and more obvious, alone in the square, so I walked back down to the boardwalk. I knew I had a very narrow window to get back in before Binshala dared ‘disturb’ my rest.
I walked along the lakes’s edge... not as far as the Gryphon statue but about half-way. There was a new woven sculpture there, suspended over the water, waving in the breeze and I wasn’t sure what it was called. I couldn’t stay to look at it but just turned around and headed back.
The tree I paused under was the same one where the Mezem guard had left me the night I’d snuck out and I almost expected him to be there behind me, swinging away back down to the arena. I shook myself. That was silly. The buttresses under my library balcony were in full dark by now.
The book bag I pushed around to my back and watched the guards on the Marble Palace roof. They were more visible because they were still in the light as the sun set. I timed my dart right between them. Perfectly, I thought.
I made it to the shadow under the wall and put my hands to the wall, just as I heard a shout from the roof... oh, shen, someone must have seen me... or something.
Oh shen, oh shen. I scrambled to thrust my hands in the right hole and missed the right one. Oh shen. Oh shen! The shout came again. They couldn’t see me but the alarm spread. I hit the right spot and the stone slid... slow... slow... Come on... come on..!
I knew they couldn’t see me but I could hear the sound of men coming down the Steel Gate steps. I’d not hear the Mahid at all. Oh... I squeezed in behind the stone door and stamped hard on the trigger... Close, close close... oh Gods...