Finley: The Tower

He was reading by candlelight in his dormitory room. It was not allowed, due to the fire hazard, but he was breaking the rules to prepare for a difficult lecture he would be attending on the morrow. The lecture was on the density of soil and oil as they intersected with both nutrition and ninety-degree angles. He was confident in his grasp of the intersecting parts, but the density of soil was a weak point for him. He had been studying for six hours and skipped dinner in the process. He was tired and nodding off when he heard a quite knock. He blew out his candle and waved away the smoke before opening the door. It was his Uncle’s secretary. “I have come to summon,” he said in a raspy voice, his gray hair splayed out in all directions. “Now?” Alfred’s secretary blinked, but did not answer. “Lead the way.” The Secretary turned and began walking down the Tower’s long corridors and up the wide staircases. The Tower had been built at the turn of the ninth century by Ebenezer Wrangle, the fabled architect of pure delight. He was famous for designing his buildings after women he loved, but could never have. The Tower, he claimed, was his life’s work, his magnum opus. After christening its towers and opening its doors, Wrangle drowned himself in the Balarian River, which wrapped its way through the capital of Elaea. His suicide note, elegant and simple, said, “To build. To die. No more.” He was a strange man, an estranged man, but a genius of design. The Tower itself utilized space and angles similar to that of the post-gothic Elaean era. Wrangle had mimicked key structures throughout the Old Kingdom to attain this effect. As he later claimed, “It was as if nature coalesced and kissed me.” It was universally acknowledged that Wrangle was cracked. Finley encountered the full history of the Tower when he walked through it at night. The stone floors, wooden stairs, and granite gargoyles were as living things when cast in shadow. It wasn’t frightening or intimidating. It was awe inspiring. He was part of a long tradition, a history of wise men and women. He worked hard, and at times hated the rigorous of the Tower, but at other times he had a poignant sense that he was living, breathing history. He cherished it, if not totally loving it. The pair arrived at the Guildmaster’s door sometime after midnight. Alfred rarely, if ever, slept. It was rumored that he stalked the halls at night, collecting his thoughts for the morning’s lectures. Alfred’s secretary stopped at the door, his back facing Finley, “This way.” He sidestepped to the right, his nose touching the wall next to the door. The Secretary was still holding a torch. He refused to turn towards Finley whom moved forward and knocked. “Come in,” a voice said.

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