She knew the City like the back of her hand. It had many names, but to her it was just the City. She lived in the poor section, the “Outer Ring.” The buildings were actually newer than in the wealthier sections, yet they looked older, black and scarred and in disrepair. Their dark windows yawned like the eyes of skulls. She knew their long faces like the faces of old friends.
She sat atop one now, gazing down from the edge of the roof at the men and women walking below. She knew many of their faces too, though only a few knew her. Seldom did she walk among them, for she preferred to live above. There sat the homeless men on the street corners, begging for a pittance. There marched the pair of watchmen – just two men to cover so many streets. They would never notice her.
At length she spotted a mark: a traveling merchant, obviously new in town. From the furtive way he glanced at every alley, she doubted h
For the next several weeks, Whisper lived in the great stone box. That was what Whisper called it in her mind: the Box. She still had never seen a window or a door to the outside world. One room contained stairs leading down several floors, but there were none leading up. There was only a trap door on the roof far above, and none of the instructors ever opened it.
Her first task had been in the room below, which contained a labyrinth full of obstacles and traps. The children were sent into the maze to find a golden key. Whisper had immediately observed that the walls of the labyrinth did not reach all the way to the ceiling. Several others noticed this as well, but none of them could even hope to jump high enough to reach the edge, at least ten feet above.
Whisper did it almost without thinking. She found the widest corridor in the maze, ran toward the wall, took a few steps up the side