Friday 3 June 2016

The Prince of Exiles, 12

Caiphul is farther than it seems, the road on a gentle incline; what looked somehow flat, like a storybook illustration or a painted frieze of a distant fortress, becomes something textured, heavy, brutal. 

The signs of patching up, layers of whitewash over layers of whitewash, the barely hidden joins of colossal blocks and the sign of a wide breach and its repair, the tidemark between the two areas of white paint.

Closer still now, and you can see the graffiti here and there on the base of the city walls, and here the road has widened, and the gate of Caiphul yawns open; no one is on the street. You'd expect to see a flow of people in and out of the city on a morning, even a wet one — we are soaked now, water running in rivulets from the wide brim of Svaathe's hat — but the road is silent.

The city is not dead, no, it has that indefinable feeling of life, of habitation, the knowing that people are watching. But no one is present on the road. No one is outside.

[Collected Writings Index