Sunday October 13th, 2013

The exercise:

Write about: the fortress.

We had our annual "Oh hey, we have lots of guests right now - to the garden with them!" fall harvest this morning. So many pumpkins surrounding Kat's parents house right now, along with ornamental, butternut, spaghetti, delicata, and festival squashes.

I shall have to get pictures before they're all sold or put away for winter.

Time for another iPhone picture. Here's Max at this weekend's market:

He got bored with being on either one of us at the stall pretty quickly, so we let him crawl around. It did not take him very long to find the mulch and leaves edging the park behind us.


Hidden away behind towering walls and thick gates, he eats well during the day and sleeps peacefully at night. Servants do his bidding on frantic feet, knowing their lives hang in the balance after every order that lands on their frail shoulders.

Enemies have muddied the fields beyond his fortress but their boots have yet to sully so much as his courtyard. Well trained and well paid guards in towers and in gatehouses have made sure of that since the day he took the throne.

He has given no man with any strength or renown to his credit even the slightest reason to betray him. His friends are few, chosen with exceptional care after a lengthy vetting process - and still their movements and company are tracked daily.

Worry is foreign to him, as is fear. For he believes that he is safe. No, I think he knows that he is safe.

We intend to prove him wrong.


Greg said...

Did Max find the stick himself or did you or Kat rush over to suggest he could poke around better with that than with his gloves? He looks just like a little explorer in that picture, posed and ready to start digging and unearthing the lost Penticton pyramids!
That sounds like a lot of squash you've got at the moment! Mmm, now I'm thinking of roasting butternut squash (well, any really) and serving it with other roasted root veg and your choice of protein. Except tofu, that's got the wrong texture.
I always enjoy how you set up a story by presenting something that someone thinks is impenetrable and then demonstrating that your narrators are more than capable of getting through the defences. This is a lovely example of that... but you need to continue one of these one day!
And... I realise that I should add to the Mejaran post as I haven't yet this month. Let's see if I cause less trouble than I did with my last post there :)

The fortress
The river flowed rapidly beneath the fortress, providing the defenders with a source of fresh water, should they need it. There were dungeon cells set on one bank of it, carved into wet, slippery rock, constantly cold and occasionally foggy. In one of those cells a man died, his consciousness slipping away like candle flame guttering out in the middle of the night. For a split second before he was dead though, there was a link between here, and there, where the dead go. And such links can be two-way.
Fog gathered over the river, and something skeletally thin slipped between iron bars that contained a dungeon cell and into the depths of the dense white cloud. It seemed to almost float in there, a mere shadow against the fog even when up close, and it ghosted past the guards and up the stairs.
The next floor up was storage, above that were the kitchens, and then the fortress had barracks for the defenders, halls for the Duke to entertain in, accomodation for the Duke and his family, planning rooms, and then the servants quarters, tucked beneath the attics. The fog flowed through the storage rooms, tendrils touching everything and shrouding it; coming up around servants putting things away and taking things out and swaddling them.
The skeletal thing reached out an impossibly long arm, jointed in four places, and a leathery hand gripped a servant's head. Before he could speak it twisted and his throat choked up with the pressure put on it; then a bone gave way and the head finished turning, the eyes going matt and lustreless.
The fog continued to spread.

morganna said...

Looming above the river
Locals call the fortress

Marc said...

Greg - reasonably certain he found the stick himself. I had nothing to do with it, at any rate :P

Yeah, I do need to continue one of these one day. I shall try to remember to give it a go soon.

Delightfully atmospheric and creepy piece today. And, just to return the favour, you should really continue one of *these* sometime :)

Morganna - hmm, if I were local to there, I'd definitely consider moving... elsewhere ;)