There was very little room around the base of the spire, and none of it was horizontal. The trapdoor had been constructed into the slanted roof. Gypsum needed to anchor himself from sliding down the roof and off while working to open the door.
Before he risked a descent through the trapdoor, Gypsum surveyed the ground at the base of the building. It did not look good. He could see at least six citizens of Old City silently staring up at him.
There was not a friendly face in sight. Gypsum comforted himself a little by reflecting that Riotori faces did not tend to look friendly even among friends.
He shrugged and eased himself down through the door feet first.
Feldspar and the other watchers on the hill were almost shocked to see him simply vanish from the rooftop. Topaz gave a brief cry of despair as Gypsum literally dropped from sight.
That was the last they would see of him that day or night.
He found what he had hoped for, and expected. A metal ladder descended from the trapdoor. He did not for a second trust the rungs. He clutched the vertical stringers firmly with both hands at all times.
He was delightfully surprised when the rungs proved reliable all the way to the bottom. He was glad he'd kept the door open. There was no other source of light, and that source was fading with the coming of evening.
Fortune smiled on him again, and more than once. At hand at the bottom of the metal ladder was a torch in a sconce. Next to the sconce was a tinder box and flints.
Two minutes after his feet settled on the floor of the building, he had a lighted torch in his hand.
The room was sparsely furnished with chairs and a table and additional torches along the wall. And to his right as he looked into the room there was a doorway. It was not the door to the outside he'd seen when he circled the building.
He strode across the room and gripped the latch handle with his left hand. His right hand drew his sword, and he opened the door...