Thursday, August 6, 2015

The King's Challenge #9


Further in, firm ground increases. In some areas the wooden walkways surrender to gravelled paths. There are more homes as well, ramshackle wooden affairs of up to three levels. They teeter alarmingly and I hasten past those.

People are simply everywhere. The noise is astonishing. Everyone needs to shout, whether in greeting to someone, summoning a child or sharing a juicy piece of gossip. By the stars. Yet no one seems to listen or hear, and therefore the level of sound climbs even more.

Slop is tossed into the marsh. The smells are mind altering. I am thankful for my hood; no one can see the disgust on my face.

The greatest press of people is upon a rocky outcrop, apparently. Situated quite a way in, it is also the only part of the lower city that survives the annual flooding. As we approach, the walkway becomes a series of steps.

The moment we step onto level ground a man nabs Attis and another grips me from behind. Attis kicks and flails, but the large man lifts him and strides away with him. I shout, but a hand clamps over my mouth and I am frogmarched forward.

Screams of abuse come at us from either side of the rocky path. We are definitely unwelcome here.

After an eternity of uncontrolled movement, I am shoved into a two storey building; a mixture of wood and mud and broken panes. Attis is tossed through the doorway after me. We collapse together on a foul floor. I see dried blood under my hands. Is this where they torture and kill people?

“Remove her hood,” a voice commands from further back in the gloom.

My face is yanked clear of its concealment and my tormentor holds my head up by my hair.

A hiss sounds. “Lyra?”

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