She was alone as the light of day began to stream through the single tiny, barred window that was her only contact with the outside world. A locked door bound her to the room that was her world. With her locked away, they thought themselves safe from the things she saw.
There was no succor in sleep. If she slept, the dreams would come. And no one would come to rescue her here. She was alone. So she sat on the edge of her bed, watching the long shadows as they played over her walls.
Before her, upon the lace doily covering a low table rested a row of seven Sorte cards, each one of the Arcana. She moved her fingers over each card in turn, feeling the strands of Fate coiling about them, solidifying their weave. An eighth rested above the seven, but that one she would not touch. There was no life in it, nothing she could feel, and the strands of Fate refused to touch it. And the name writ upon it was Death.
They were out there, alive, each one of them. Their strands burned so very brightly in the dim room. But they would never come here, they would never find her. That which she would not touch ensured so.
She stood, moved to her window, and pulled a box beneath it so that she could stand and watch the world outside.
From her vantage point, she could make out the bustle of life in the city below. Traders and merchants were exchanging goods and gold, entertainers were practicing their trade for nightfall’s inevitable deluge of those who wished to forget, inns burst with travelers moving to and from, swordsmen practiced their drills and perfected their skills.
As she turned her head slightly, she could just make out the students and professors creeping along the precarious rope bridges leading to an impossibly tall tower stretching high above all of the city’s others. Life in this city was precarious, like the rope bridges that connected the many towers. One misstep, and you fell.
When you fell, you joined the multitude of bodies that the sunken foundations of the city were built upon beneath the waters. Or they fished your bloated body out from the canals. Or you were never seen or heard from again.
But if you were of use to someone, you could live quite high indeed. And this tower was so very tall. The shadows it cast might someday envelope more than this city that housed it.
She turned her head from the window and stepped down from the box, lest the vertigo this place inspired left her sickened again. A knock came at the door, and her eyes moved to the magnificent clock upon the mantle. It was time; he was here.
She knelt beside her bed, head bowed and hands folded as the door’s lock clacked and it swung open.
“Are you ready to pray, girl?” she heard him say as he entered her world once more, boot heels clicking across the marble floor as he approached.
She squeezed her eyes shut tightly.
“Benedici, o Padre, perché ho peccato,” she said softly, her voice quivering.
He walked past her, drew the shades over the window, and all was deep, dark shadow again.