Beyond the Veil (part 1)

[I promised I’d post some creative writing, so here’s a taster of the short story I wrote. Let me know if you like it and want more]

The body had been dead at least a day or so, that much was clear. It’s ashen colour, frigid temperature and musty aroma said as much. It had also said as much when Veil had asked it. You see, Amren Veil wasn’t like the other Militia standing over the cadaver; Veil also happened to be a necromancer.

Amren Veil received word of the body’s discovery while he was having a rather suspect meal of bread and ‘mystery stew’ over in the Drawn Sword tavern close to the Militia’s HQ on Crust Street. Veil was pulling some suspect matter from his teeth, and hoping it was gristle and not something worse, when in rushed Tamela Sprints, so called because she was the fastest message-running urchin in the city.

Skidding to a stop under the lea of the proprietor’s laden drinks tray and heaving bosom (the threat further increased by the steely stare the owner was levelling at her) Tamela whipped her gaze around the smoke-filled gloom of the tavern keen young eyes locking on to Veil’s like a portcullis dropping into place. She strode over to his table, as he spat his suspicious flesh onto the filth-covered floor.

“We’ve got a body in the Minutes. Out near the north wall” said Tamela, eyeing Veil’s repast hungrily.

The Minutes was slang title for ‘The Menutius Tabor Memorial Cemetery’. An enormous circular graveyard that ran around the edge of the city of Gyre. This strip of land, roughly fifty metres across, ran along the inside of the city walls and was enshrined in law to be reserved for the dead. But far from being a gloomy, gothic, forbidding space, the Minutes were an oasis of green space encircling the bustling metropolis.

The graveyard encircling the city offered a beautiful open space to be enjoyed by everyone in Gyre. Gyre’s streets were cramped and oppressive, but with the verdant collar ringing the city, it felt open and inviting. Families picnicked among the departed, children played stepping stones across the higgledy-piggledy arrangement of the graves, and lovers consummated their passion lying a metre or two above their ancestors. In times of peace, Gyreons felt the cemetery was a comforting scarf around their homes and families; in times of war, it became a palisade keeping the wolves from their doors.

This ‘dead zone’ gave the city some breathing space between the houses and businesses, and the lofty stone and mortar edifice that was the curtain wall.

The Minutes gave a clear view of the walls from the safety of the city. Observers could clearly see where invaders were penetrating the defences, such as when a raiding party scaled the battlements, or when more serious structural breaches occurred. Should part of the wall be compromised, the field of dead ensured the tumbling masonry fell on nothing but the already departed. No secondary damage to homes and citizens, just a pile of rubble in a necropolis.

The orbital cemetery also meant there was a clear killing ground that attackers had to travail before reaching the city proper. Graves were marked simply, with an engraved, square flagstone laid flat above the deceased (corpses were laid to rest in a foetal position), which meant there was little cover afforded to any invader sprinting across this field of death. Arrows, bolts, spears, stones and more mundane missiles such as rocks, pots and pans would swarm the air, felling the aggressors like dominoes.

If the assailants were lucky enough to make it across, the forces were ready, having just watched them zig-zag through the crossfire. Invaders rarely made it more than a few metres into the city streets.

As Veil picked his way through those streets, he didn’t hurry, but made sure to keep the impatient Tamela in sight. She was leading him northward, towards what most residents referred to as ‘uptown’. This was the oldest part of the city and housed Gyre’s great and the grandiose in some of the greatest and most grandiose houses found in any of the city states. This was the posh end of town, and no doubt why there was such a to-do surrounding this particular dead body.

Maybe it was one of them. Maybe it was killed by one of them. It didn’t really matter. What mattered, was that it was on their doorstep, and therefore needed sorting sooner rather than later. That was why Veil had had his shitty lunch interrupted (although, to be fair, the beer was pretty excellent) and why he was squinting at the late morning sunshine pulsing into his eyeballs as he passed each east-facing alleyway.

[So, what do think? Hungry for more, or had your fill?]

One thought on “Beyond the Veil (part 1)

  1. Pingback: Beyond the Veil (part 2) | InvertMouse

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