The courtyard

Rootbagger swept dead leaves off a paving slab and blew the dust off with a series of sharp breaths which left him coughing and spluttering, then struck a flint against his steel bracelet, sending sparks into the wad of oakum he’d laid on the bare stone.  Before long, a tiny glowing ember was born amidst the nest of fibres, and wisp of smoke curled into the gloom.

Taking up the smouldering clump of jute in cupped hands, he blew gently, breathing life into the ember so that it crackled and sparked, spat siblings into existence; another breath, and the group of embers released a small flame from within the kindling.

Carefully, Rootbagger applied the flame to the wick of the oil lamp then laid the burning fibres he’d used upon the firewood we’d gathered earlier.  While he set the glass over the oil lamp, I breathed life into the fire, and it was only then that we took the time to look about us to examine the building we had chosen to take shelter in while the storm raged outside in this crumbling skeleton of a city.

The building was in fact a large hall, its high ceiling supported by a number of broad pillars.  Two doorways on either side of the entrance, large enough to accommodate a pair of tall double doors each, yawned into darkness beyond.

A third such doorway, opposite the entrance, yielded the only light we had outside of our own fabricated illumination, the dim blue twilight of approaching evening.  As we approached this doorway, lamp in Rootbagger’s gnarled hands, we saw that it led to a high-walled courtyard with covered pathways which led around the edges.  The wind was weaker between these walls, and so we stepped outside to examine the charcoal grey statues in the centre of the enclosure.

The statues were of men, women and children in an array of unusual positions.  Some were standing, some laid on the ground, some of them missing limbs or heads.  Glancing at the countenances of a few I noticed that some of them looked startled, others terrified, others with frozen tears on their cheeks.

“What do you make of this?  Is it art?” asked Rootbagger, peering into the eyes of a frightened child.

“I’m not sure…” I said, as searched my mind for answers.  All of a sudden, I felt a chill, and pulled my cloak closer about me.

Something wasn’t right about this place.

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About TheImaginator

35 year old sciolist living in Tokyo. I like swing dancing, Twitter word games, writing, using Stumbleupon.com, reading, and watching movies. I write stuff on my blog occasionally.
This entry was posted in Creative writing, Shrouded City and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

13 Responses to The courtyard

  1. Don’t blink. ; )

    I like how you give us just enough setup to get us interested. Something’s not right here – I have an inkling this is where it all began (whatever “it” is).

    I also love the name Rootbagger. It’s a great way to build your world, like the name was rummaged together from their lifestyle. Kind of Borrower-ish.

    Nice! Welcome to InMon!

  2. Pingback: Inspiration Monday: a word is worth a thousand pictures | bekindrewrite

  3. elmowrites says:

    I agree with Steph about the name – there’s something immediately “fantasy” about a name like that. I loved the creepiness; this place is like an even darker version of the Snow Queen’s castle in the Narnia tales.
    If there’s one thing I’d question, it’s the number of adjectives in the detailed description. If you’re aiming for Tolkein, you’re probably spot on, but in modern readability terms, it felt a bit heavy to me. I enjoyed the piece though, and loved the careful kindling of the fire, so I wouldn’t want you to cut much.

  4. KP says:

    The statues made me think of the forms left after Pompeii was consumed by lava – scary, living shapes – trapped.
    Perhaps a little heavy on the detail, but a gripping tale. Well done.

  5. writingsprint says:

    This reminds me of a bad encounter that a friend of mine had with a medusa… once. I love how the feel shifted from a camping story to something far, far stranger.

  6. I just read a few to get back into the story, so interesting with many story lines seemingly all building up to what? Nice.

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