Eschia led him to a vast room filled with spiral staircases. Each one was a different design and made out of different materials: Minimalist wire and steel. Variegated wood. Marble. Art Deco. Cement. Stone. Rock. River pebbles. Pure crystal. Stained glass. Plaster walled. Gold and gray. Midnight blue with silver lights embedded in it. Wrought iron in scrolls and flowers. A webbing of string lights and wood slats.
“Where do these all go to? They can’t all be for show.”
“They all lead to different locations inside the house. Except for the ones that lead to outside lands. There are one or two that lead to wherever they wish to lead you.”
Ambrose stroked the side of the crystal staircase as they passed it by. He smiled. So pleasant to touch. “Which one is it?”
She glanced back at him.
“Which one leads to Mark Caten?”
She smiled and her smile told him nothing. “Follow me.”
And so he did – all the way over to a blank spot at the back of the room.
“The staircase you need is right here.”
He frowned. “Where?”
“Right here in front of you.”
“Where? I don’t see it.”
“Because you aren’t looking right.” She took his hand.
He flinched and tried to pull away from her.
“Don’t be afraid, Ambrose Smith.”
“I am not afraid. I just don’t trust you.”
Her smile remained the same and she held his hand tight. “You’re right to suspect the worst. I am fey. But just in this moment…trust me.” She tugged him forward. “You need to look with your hands.” She set his hand on the empty air and it felt like nothing.
“Do you feel it?”
“I don’t feel…”
Then, under his hand, it was there. A railing. It was wet like water. But it was red like blood.
She released him.
He reached and felt with his other hand.
And there it was. The opposite railing.
He looked up as the staircase, a staircase made entirely of a red moon’s glow, appeared.
Eschia backed away from him.
“This will take me to Mark Caten?”
“Is that the truth?”
She opened and closed her wings in a lazy gesture. “That’s for you to find out. So. Go, Ambrose Smith. Find out if I’m a liar or a truth speaker.”
He hesitated for only a moment before walking up the airy stairs.
She watched him leave.
She stood silent.
Her wings opened and closed repeatedly, but she stayed firm on the ground.
And her smile remained as uncommunicative as before.