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And The World Falls Down

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The one thing that could be said for having followed Attolis around for so long was that it gave Costis a certain advantage where agility was concerned. His cover as a naturalist and newfound love of scrambling after plants just kept on leading him to the sort of cliff-face where it would have been very easy to slip and break himself. Somehow though he did, not just well enough to survive, but well enough to become locally known for his ability not to break his fool neck. Somehow every time he lost his footing he could always find a handhold in time, some scrubby clump of grass just within reach.

People muttered about luck and blessings of the gods. Even Kamet looked at him sideways after a ten foot drop was narrowly avoided when a branch snagged on his trousers. Costis laughed uncomfortably, and changed the subject and knew that anyone who had followed his king out onto a roof once or thrice would have learnt similar confidence with heights.

Or so he told himself.

They were having a picnic when he saw the tiny purple iris he had so far only seen in the oldest papers perched intriguingly out of reach. Kamet said nothing as Costis went to investigate, although sometimes it seemed to him that he had seen that exasperated look in a mirror on occasion. It was an easy climb anyway, the cliff-face so rocky that it was shaped almost into steps.

He was halfway up when he heard the warning shout from Kamet. Costis was just twisting to call back that it was fine when the rock crumbled under his feet.

For all his certainty that this was going to be plain sailing, when it went wrong it really went wrong. As though in slow motion Costis felt the ground give way, felt the same sickening lurch as he had when falling once into a well and knew with painful certainty that landing this time was really going to hurt. There was no solution other than closing his eyes and trying to at least fall well.

There was no branch that could have taken his weight this time, nothing close enough to grab to save himself. There was nothing all to explain the way that something caught on his shirt and, rather than just catching him, physically lifted him to the next ledge along.

It was a good three feet away. Costis was certain he couldn’t have jumped it, and more certain that he couldn’t have jumped it and then forgotten. Down below he could see Kamet quietly throwing up into a bush. He might have called down some words of reassurance had he not felt like doing the same.

Come out knowing that you’ll never die in a fall unless the god himself drops you.

Slowly and carefully he slid to a sitting position. Way down below people were shouting and pointing. Costis suspected that at some point when he wasn’t looking he had segued magically from being known as the poor guard who had to follow the idiot who kept trying to get himself killed to being that idiot.

When he came down he was going to need to talk to Kamet about going back to Attolia. It just might take a while to reach that point. Even - maybe especially - if they were taking a personal interest in your life, it did not do to offend the gods by taking them for granted.