[Story] Story a Week 48

[[ Prompt: A story set in a strange small town. ]]

Leinath held his breath as he approached the town, the painted spires peeking into view over the hills. Even from this distance he could see that the paint was faded and chipped in places, that the formerly regal spires now looked crumbled and tired. It had been so long since he’d walked along these paths, and coming home felt strange and uncomfortable. It wasn’t his home any longer. Maybe some parts of it looked the same, but it wasn’t.

Nearly all of the buildings were in similar disrepair — cracks snaked up through the walls, scraggly vines clinging to the dirty surfaces. Leinath could remember them all. That one had been the bakery, the big clear glass window was long ago broken and gone. The display now held various bottles and jars, poisons, Leinath supposed. The hooded figure behind the counter was gaunt and skeletal, either one of the dead or an elf who might as well be. That was the library, where all of the city’s book collection had been held. A few lay trampled and forgotten on the floor, but where were the rest? Had someone stolen them? What use would the dead have for books? It hurt to see his town like this, broken down and stolen by the dead. Worse, they didn’t even care enough to fix the things that needed repair. Maybe they saw it as pointless, Leinath couldn’t be sure. There was the mayor’s hall, and the hawkstrider stable. None of the faces there were ones that he recognized. The old chapel still stood, and while it was dusty and had pieces of the stained glass missing, it looked at least as if it had been cared for. The grounds out front were free of weeds, and the door had been recently painted. Leinath couldn’t remember the Confessor’s name, but he could picture his face, and his long white hair. Was he here still, or was he one of the dead? Leinath couldn’t see how anyone could have escaped the onslaught of the scourge.

Not far away, he noticed a new building. He stood and blinked at it for a moment, trying to remember what had stood there before. Had it been the potter? No, now he remembered: the old man who made furniture. Someone must have torn the whole thing down to put up this new building. The idea bothered him, though the building looked clean and well-kept, there was even a fountain out in front, water bubbling through it. Why couldn’t they just fix up the old building? Now it was gone forever, and perhaps there was no one else who even remembered it had once been there.

Leinath walked to where the leatherworker’s shop had been. He could remember the shop well, its warm and comfortable smell, the harnesses and armor displayed on the wall. He remembered being fitted for his armor and choosing a pair of boots to go with them, how pleased he had been and how excited to wear them home. There was no one here now. The shop was dark, cobwebs and a thick layer of dust coated the work tables and counters now. It didn’t look as if anyone, alive or dead, had been in here for many years. He knew this would probably be the case, but he hoped that he might be wrong. He’d hoped to see a few  familiar faces, someone who might remember him and say hello. He wasn’t entirely sure if he was ready to give up on his home yet, but it seemed to have gone ahead without him.

Frowning, he walked up the road toward the dragonhawk handler. He at least knew there was one, he’d seen their bright feathers from the road. He would have to get his new armor in the city.

 

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