Saturday, August 1, 2015

The King's Challenge #4


The streets wind downward from the road I entered Normur from. Where we as civilisation live is a plateau, and Normur perches at the end of high ground. The larger part of this city sits safe from the lowlands, and then the sprawl of time and people takes over. It begins to descend into the marsh.

My view of the lights revealed to me only the upper city. Now the true size is uncovered as we go downhill via winding paths. Also, there is a curious lack of organisation about it, as if the city grew according to need, not planning. No doubt this was the way of it.

“Who you looking for?” Attis asks.

He is agile and jumps the sudden curves in the paths to land on lower sections, therefore I find myself almost running to keep up. Breathless, I respond, “Damin.”

“Never heard of him,” the boy shrugs dismissively. “Why is he here? Normur is the end of the road. Nowhere else to go from here.”

“Unless you go back,” I mutter, but he does not hear me. Louder, I say, “He sought to learn a trade.”

“Here?” Attis is clearly astonished. “You don’t learn stuff here. You come here knowing stuff and hope to make a fortune.”

His statement fills me with anxiety. Surely Damin would have realised such a state of affairs quickly; why did he stay if there is nothing here for him? He promised to return when qualified. That was five years ago.

Attis is looking at me and has come to halt on the path. “Maybe he is dead,” he says.

He tries to prepare me, I understand, for death must be familiar to a city dweller, particularly of Normur, but his words, offered quietly and with compassion, fill me with rage.

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