In honour of my recent cessation of papers (for the moment). I have decided to treat you all to a little bit of writing I created during a study break. It’s nice and self-contained. So without further ado, I present “The Preacher’s Peril:”
‘The Inlander is a broken man.’
The words were shouted. They echoed around the tumbled ruins. The topic was old. The man who shouted the words had been shouting similar words for days.
No one, none of the inlanders, paid him much heed. This was Hill. This was their place, their town. The man was an interloper, all garbed in the drab colours of the Union. The unionman looked miserable. His moustache dripped in the perpetual rains that gripped the heights. His glasses fogged with moisture. This did not stop him from shouting.
He was not welcome, but was too ignorant to sense this. He thought the gathering crowd stopped to listen to his words.
‘The Inlander is a lie.’ He thought no one would notice the contradiction. That because these people were ‘savage’ that meant they were not smart nor clever.
He should have left. He should never have come here, to this place, far up in the rocky inlands. He should have stuck to his cities, to his factories, to others like him. Men of Reason and industry.
The inlanders had no use of the Union, nor the Union of them. It had been like this for centuries, since the fall of the old, heathen Confederacy.
The unionman’s voice was hoarse and nasal. He sounded as if he had contracted a cold. He sounded as if he was on the brink of tears.
Metal rasped at the back of the crowd. The unionman’s knees went weak.
The crowd parted. A big man stepped through, his face hidden beneath a black beard. His clothes were red and blue, the colours of the Union. They were a woven mishmash of different fabrics, of different sources. The man glowered with a smile.
He spoke, his words rough and thick with the accents of the upper inlands.
‘Hear you been talking about me,’ he said, the words all threat.
The unionman ignored him. He pointed towards the heavens and then towards a gear around his neck. ‘Blessed Reason watches over us! Even here, even in these benighted and blighted lands!’
‘That so?’ the big man asked. More metal rasped in the crowd. Knives were being brought out, sharp and wicked. The big inlander gave a nod. ‘Let her watch this,’ he growled.
The crowd surged forward, their faces impassive, but with murder in their hearts.