Thursday 2 June 2016

The Prince of Exiles, 11

The walls of the city, shockingly white against the dun green of the land, the grey of the sky, rise now, the road a blue-steel blade cutting the plain in two.

We stop for a moment. "I've never been to Caiphul," Makara says, as if it's an omission, a thing she should somehow have done in her life up to now. And I realise that perhaps it is. I have been to Caiphul, and I was not welcome, and I will be far less welcome now.

I become aware of something circling above, a cry, sad, high, lone. Something falls out of the sky, lands on the stone with a wet thud. 

A human hand, half-eaten. We stare at it dumbly for a moment, as if seeing an alien thing, something hostile, shocking. Its provenance is obvious, its careless or clumsy or sated carrier a black cursive v already in the distance. 

Makara unslings her gun, unleashes a single bolt of light and fire, the brief smell of burning meat The echo of the blast fades from our retinas. 

Svaathe is pressing her thumb and forefinger into her eyes. "You could have warned us." 

"Let me do something respectful, at least." She slings the gun over her shoulder again and begins to walk on. We follow, leaving a shadow of greasy ash behind us, to be obliterated by the steadily falling rain.

[Collected Writings Index