State of Decay

This month’s fragment from my fantasy novel Rise of the Homrihan features the arrival of our heroes in the town of Becklingberg. It’s a squalid affair…

“I sometimes wonder what the world was like when it was new,” said Siskin.

“It wasn’t any better,” Valderan replied.

“You remember it, do you?”

“I was in Becklingberg twenty years ago. It was just the same then.”

“The place pongs worse than a privy,” said Siskin.

“All your human cities do,” muttered Jackanapes.

“Gentlemen, please. Stop squabbling. Show some decorum. You’re supposed to be my servants,” Delydd said.

“That,” said Valderan “is one thing that we are unlikely to forget.”

They had just disembarked. Already crowds were gathering. Delydd had been brought a horse and she was patting it on the neck. She stood very upright, ignoring the people who cried out her name. Laghan held the bridle. Even with his whitened face, he could not hide the fact that there was something different about him, otherworldly and strange.

Delydd mounted and then led the companions onwards. Behind the horse, keeping their distance, walked Siskin and Valderan. Jackanapes had gone back to Valderan’s shoulder and tried to look as stupid as the people gawping back at him. All three were so sullen that they could easily pass for Delydd’s servants. Their mood was not helped by the state of the city.

Becklingberg was vile. The gutters ran with effluence and filth. Refuse and cast offs from the market stalls were everywhere: cabbage leaves, fish skeletons, and marrowbone. The streets were rutted and full of holes where the cobblestones had been taken away. Puddles waited at every corner. The buildings round the port had once been grand, three-story merchant’s houses, all of which faced the Watergate, the prime view for the city merchants. But even these were falling apart. Their chimneys had disappeared. What terraces remained were visibly crumbling away. Shutters hung with broken panels, their wood soft with mould. The merchants had gone, and everything good about the city had left with them.

(c) Alastair Savage

You can see all the fragments from my books so far here.

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