6: Assassins From Shanaar - Part Three
Seated on the throne was a man wrapped in a dark cloak covering his body and head and out of which his face peered, but in the dim light, no distinct features could be made out. The torches occasionally flickered brightly and a hint of the face would momentarily come into view and then grow dark again. In those moments of illumination, a glint from his eyes could be seen, but not much else. The man could have been a statue, he sat so motionless on the throne. The only sounds in the room were the scratching of the crow’s feet on the window ledge and the crackling of the torches.
Then, deep from within the bowels of the castle, a faint sound was heard, possibly the slamming of a massive door from far below. Then silence again. Soon a faint sound of footsteps on the stairs was heard, slowly growing in volume. The rhythm was constant because no landings disturbed the climbers, just step after step after step in one long uninterrupted climb. Occasionally the sounds stopped, as if the climbers were catching their breath, until the sound began again, always growing louder. Soon the shuffling of feet on stone was heard and the climbing sounds grew louder still. At the entranceway, they stopped. Then the great throne room door shuddered open with a great creaking sound.
Light spilled in from outside the throne room as guards with torches entered. Dressed in uniforms adorned with a stylized dragon breathing fire and crushing a foe underfoot, they had dull metal helmets on their heads and carried long wooden spears with metal tips. They bowed low before the throne.