The thief fell from the tower’s upper window. She had lost her precarious grip on the pitted brick. She remembered that she should roll herself up into a loose ball to protect her head and neck. But by the time she remembered, she had already struck the first branch of the tree in the orchard below. Then she struck another and another. Scratched and thrashed and bounced about, she finally reached the ground, thankful that the soil was soft. She lay there for far too long a moment. The breath had been knocked out of her. And she feared moving for fear she might discover that she could not.
When the young woman appeared, garbed in robes of green and a wide belt of scarlet, the two treasure-seekers understood at once that she was the temple guardian. And they did not hesitate to approach her.
“Greetings, travelers,” the temple guardian said. “Give me your names.”
The two treasure-seekers gave her their names freely.
She did not return their offer of names, nor did she return their smiles.
“Turn back, travelers,” the temple guardian said, her voice calm and measured. “Go no further than the spot where I now stand.”