I caught a tiny flash of motion in the last crack as the door closed and I turned and scrambled up the ladder. If I was lucky whoever that was... most likely a Mahid... hadn’t seen the last of the door close.
My breath was caught tight in my throat and I opened my mouth as I climbed, the book bag scraping the back of the shaft. My gloves caught and slipped and I nearly ended up on the bottom of the slide all over again.
The top rung hung in my sight as I slipped and rapped my chin on the edge of the stone rung biting the inside of my lip. The bitter taste of blood was familiar and steadied me down, let me climb more steadily rather than flailing.
I paused two breaths, long enough to wrench off the gloves and wig and stuff them into the hollow in the secret passage behind the ladder, wrenching at the servant's belt frantically. I was nearly weeping with frustration before I ripped it loose enough to step out of, leaving me with my plain practice cottons, before I clambered up the last stretch of ladder. Hurry hurry hurry. Distant tapping echoed behind me as someone tried to find if there were a secret door. Have they seen anything? Is the stone thick enough to hide a hollow ring?
My hand landed on the inner latch and I made myself stop. I made myself hold my panting, wild breath. I was the Spark of the Sun’s Ray... I belonged here. Not an assassin trying to break in. I lived here.
I pulled the latch and the door dropped down smoothly. I popped up next to the fountain and jerked my feet out of the way of the snapping-shut door. I ended up sitting next to my fountain, my chin on my raised knees, arms wrapped around them. Outside I could hear the alarm raised and I rose to standing, pulled off my book bag and cottons.
There was only a little time. The shouts were echoing an difficult to track. I ran over to my closet and dropped everything and unwrapped my loin-wrappings and dropped them on top of them.
“Spark? Spark of the Sun’s Ray!” I scrubbed the cloth in my hands over my face, smearing off the cosmetics. They were all over my face like a ring-tail’s eyes. I clamped the cloth over my face and cracked open the door.
It was 14th Joras Mahid, only a little older than I. “What?” I said as nastily as I could, “I didn’t want to be disturbed... what IS this?” I re-buried my face in the cloth and pushed past him toward the Lesser Baths. He followed after me.
“Spark of the Sun’s Ray... have you heard anything? Seen anything unusual?”
“I’ve been in bed with a headache... what’s going on?” I dropped the cloth in the laundry and sank my whole body into the hot pool before he could answer me.
“... something seen outside the Heir’s quarters.”
“What was that? You think someone tried to sneak into my rooms and kill me?”
I shook the water out of my ears and sat down on the bench in the pool, put my elbows on the edge. “Hmmm?”
“We are required to check for an intruder, Spark of the Sun’s Ray. There was a motion, a sighting of a person under the Spark's library balcony.”
“Go ahead. Search my rooms for a mystery assassin. Please. And let me know when you find him.”
“Of a certainty, Spark of the Sun’s Ray. My commander insists that the Spark vacate the possibly dangerous area.” He spun on his heel and joined the group beating through my quarters for the un-known intruder.
“Meras. Of course. I shall place myself under his protective hand.” I hauled myself out of the tub, dragged a robe over my wet body and went out to sit with Meras standing beside me as they tore my rooms apart.