Guard Tali Adilrein crept through the warehouse, searching. Would a child who'd snuck in climb the towering bales of wool to look out through the high iron lattice? A normal human wouldn't detect the rancid scent of ancient enchantments in the metal, not with the reek of camphor. Would they notice the dead moths around the bars? If the child touched the lattice, could they be too hurt to call for help?
Gulls cried from the harbor in the distance. Faint scuffs tapped the bale above where a cat prowled along the edge of a spider web. A cat could sound like a young child, too young to be the one Tali'd heard. She crept onwards. The measured tread of the duty guard paced the floor. Thuds punctuated the voices of laborers stacking bales onto carts. A child whimpered with fear, beyond the outer wall? Roughly northeast.
Tali jogged back to the guardroom. She ducked through the curtain over the entrance.
Mirran said, "Find someone?" He looked up from wiping the table.
"They're outside," said Tali, striding to the door.
Tali hated this time of year. Children, always children, sneaking in, climbing in. She'd find them later, torn apart by the guardians or trapped in the gargoyle pens. Why did they insist on breaking into Santa's warehouse to see if they'd been naughty or nice?
Opening: Anonymous.....Continuation: khazar-khum