hand, wanting to knock on the shell. She imagined it would be cold and very hard, petrified from years of sitting in an open room.
But it wasn’t cold. It was hot, almost too hot to touch comfortably.
Celie snatched her hand back and ran for the door. She hurried through the archway and down the shallow steps. In the corridor leading to the staircase there were several enormous tapestries, but she didn’t stop to look at the details. She went back down the spiral steps and lurched to a confused halt on the next landing down.
Directly across from her was the schoolroom, just as it always was. But for as long as she could remember, the schoolroom had been at the top of the spiral stairs, not halfway down. Hadn’t it?
“Princess Cecelia!” Master Humphries came to the door of the schoolroom, looking impatient. “Where have you been? You are a quarter of an hour late!”
“I went up the stairs, but there’s a new corridor there,” Celie said. She pointed upwards.
“I don’t know what you’re talking about,” Master Humphries said, frowning. “Please come in, Your Highness. It is better that we begin late than not at all.”
“But I think I should tell my brother,” Celie said. “There’s an egg –”
“An egg?” Master Humphries raised his eyebrows. “I am sure that Prince Bran can find eggs in the kitchen, if he is so inclined, for breakfast,” her tutor said curtly.
“No, up there,” Celie said, pointing again.
“There is nothing up there, Your Highness,” Master Humphries said. He sighed. “Please do not use the Castle as an excuse. You of all people should be able to find your way around the Castle’s vagaries in a timely fashion.”
“But look!” Celie pointed more emphatically, looking up herself.
There was nothing above her but a smooth, grey stone ceiling. She felt a moment of dizziness as she discovered that she was now standing on the top step of the spiral staircase. The rest of the steps she had just come down, and the corridor above where she had found the tower and the egg, were gone.
“There was a new corridor,” Celie said faintly. “And a tower with no ceiling. A nest. And an egg.”
“But, Your Highness,” Master Humphries said, taking her by the arm to lead