0033 – Bull & Hope: The Tower, Part 2

It was nearing sunset, if that was even the right word. The sun technically never set in Agartha. It just sort of turned its back to the city.

Bull was on his fifth cup of coffee. Fortunately, his sheer bulk made him immune to caffeine.

“Sis, I’m so bored.” He complained.

“Don’t call me that.” She admonished him. She was still looking out of the window, staring absently at the unassuming wooden door to the tall tower. She was sticking to water, as always.

“We might as well just go in.” Bull pointed out. “We’ve got no idea what’s in there. We haven’t seen anyone go in or out. Who’s to say there’s any advantage in waiting ‘til nightfall?”

“True.” Hope conceded. She took a tiny forkful of the cake they were sharing, and Bull noticeably winced. Limiting himself to matching her agonisingly slow rate of consumption was almost physically painful for him. “The constables know what we’re doing, too.”

“You reckon?” He asked her, scratching his thick beard with a huge finger. “Could be like one of those super espionage type jobbies where only the higher ups know about it and can’t’ tell the rank and file.”

She tutted. They were both getting impatient, but there was no way to be sure. She went back to absently staring out of the window.

Bull went back to absently staring at the cake.

Minutes ticked by.

“PLEASE.” The volume of his speech, and the resultant fist thump on the table, attracted brief attention from other tables. “Please just. Just eat it.”

“No.” She answered plainly.

“But it’s just sitting there. It’s begging. Please.”

“I’m not hungry.”

“Well I AM!” He bellowed.

“Then eat the rest of your half.”

Bull had been avoiding doing this for the simple reason that it would have meant sitting there, staring at the rest of her half, uneaten, with no more cake to look forward to himself. Finally, he gave in, cutting the rest of his carefully scored half (which was far more than a half, since he had the thick end of the wedge) haphazardly with his fork and stuffing the whole thing into his cavernous maw in one go.

“Is that better?” Hope asked him. She hadn’t moved her head, but had turned her eyes to watch him.

“Mfyes.” He answered, with a blissful expression.

When her companion was finally finished with his mouthful, and had given a hearty swallow and a satisfied sigh, Hope broached the subject of their entry.

“I don’t think there’s much point in picking the lock.” She told him. “Assuming it’s locked.”

He nodded, wiping chocolate cake crumbs from his mouth, and smearing a couple into his beard. “Yeah. We might avoid alerting people in the street, but it’s the only entrance. It’s got to be guarded on the inside. If we faf about picking locks, all it’ll do is give them a few seconds’ warning.”

She fiddled with her fork slightly, making no movement to actually skewer the tiny square of her cake that remained. “Agreed. Looks like this is one for you.”

A grin crossed Bull’s face. Finally. “There’s really no point in waiting for night then, if I’m just going to kick the damn thing down.”

It was twilight outside. Close enough, Hope reckoned. She was eager to get going, anyway. They had been brought together by their love of their work, and this meant that they both felt restless when they hadn’t roughed anyone up or stolen anything important for a while.

“Yeah. Let’s just go.” She said, with traces of enthusiasm in her characteristic monotone. She stood up, leaving the little square of cake sitting, alone, in the middle of its plate.

Bull was staring at it.

“Come on.” Hope tapped his shoulder.

He stayed stationary for a moment, before letting out a roar of frustration. With genuine anger, he picked up the tiny morsel with the cake fork, almost comically small in his giant hands, and devoured it in a single bite.

For just a moment, Hope smiled at him.

————————-

It had been a long shift for Smee and Maimen. The two unfortunate, disposable guardsmen were immigrants to Agartha and didn’t even speak the local language. This somewhat limited their employment opportunities, and they had initially felt delighted at being offered a job that basically consisted of sitting at a table in an empty room and playing cards all day.

Delighted, that is, until they realised that you can’t play poker very well with only two people.

There were only so many card games you could exhaust with two players. They’d tried to get two of the others from a few floors up to join them, but all the veteran guards – and everyone had been here longer than Smee and Maimen – seemed to take their duties a little more seriously.

They couldn’t fathom why. The tower was full of tricks and traps. Adding a couple of mooks into the mix wasn’t going to make it much more secure. And besides, nobody had ever been interested in breaking in. The door didn’t even lock.

Unfortunately, this didn’t stop Bull from kicking it in with considerable force, sending splintered timbers all over the nauseatingly yellow brickwork of the floor.

Smee and Maimen jumped to their feet, but it was no use. Their weapons were lazily propped up against the far wall, next to the door. The door that was now filled with nearly thirty stone of grinning maniac.

Fifteen seconds later, both of the unfortunate guardsmen lay, unconscious, slumped against the wall where their weapons had been. Their spears lay at their feet, snapped clean in half by Bull’s brutish hands.

Hope was inspecting the doorframe disapprovingly. “There wasn’t even a lock.” She commented.

“Oh well.” Bull chirped. This was more like it.

He was considerably less chipper when he noticed the first, glaringly obvious obstacle to their progress up the ancient structure.

“… There’s no stairs.” He remarked, taken aback.

There weren’t even any other doors.

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