Stars shine down on stone. Though the sun is gone, the air still crackles with summer, a scorching breeze ruffling the grasses. A faint, sweet scent of blossom rides the wind, carried from the sea of tala bells that dance among the brambles, luminously blue in the moonlight. It is as all of the plains, but for the stones and the man.
The stones are everywhere, large and small. Some are taller than a man, and curiously squared, some no more than pebbles. The grass and the brambles and the flowers engulf them. The centuries passed since the city fell and was left to decay have long since blown away the mortar and the bones.
A single figure appears, picking his way among the stones. From a certain angle, he shimmers curiously in the moonlight, the sort of trick that makes men rub their eyes and shake their heads. A careful observer might notice that where he has passed, the grass remains unbent, unbroken, but there is no one, and so the oddity goes unremarked.
His gaze is inquisitive but oddly unmoved, his face clear and still as he walks through this graveyard. He touches a stone here, another there. At length, he comes to the center of the ruin, and looks around him. The devastation is complete, but there is life still, hidden among the rocks. He turns and looks to the northeast, where the conquerors hide from the summer heat. He looks to the east, where their god sleeps until dawn. Finally, he looks to the north, where a new city has grown. For a moment, his eyes, iris purple, seem to glow.
And then — and then he begins to laugh. His laughter rings off the stones and whirls out into the night in a ribbon of light. He bends and touches the center stone, a benison. Still laughing, he gives a mocking salute toward the east before he vanishes, leaving nothing but a glow and a curious sense of hope.
Welcome to this week’s Trifecta Writing Challenge! This week asked for 33 to 333 words on the third definition of DECAY (intransitive verb):
1: to decline from a sound or prosperous condition
2: to decrease usually gradually in size, quantity, activity, or force
3: to fall into ruin
I’d like to pretend that it’s 333 words exactly because I’m just that good, but really it’s because I cut words until it got there. This is something of a sequel to The Fall. Thanks for reading!