The Wall, as it was known, stretched above so far its peak scraped the stars. It’d been cobbled together countless generations ago for some long forgotten purpose. Now, it stood, as resolutely as ever, trapping Jacob within the wasteland of the city.
Time had cracked its face a(more)nd sent forth ivy to conquer its surface. Jacob placed his hand within a hole. With a breath of noxious air and a burst of strength, he pulled himself up. Placing one hand in front of the other, he climbed, he climbed as far and as fast as he dared. Behind him the parched earth receded, and the toxic fumes faded. For the first time in his life, Jacob could breathe.
That night he rested nestled secure in a great crack. He gazed upon the city, its million flashing lights more numerous than the clouded stars above. The earth for miles was brown and dead, and the city, for all its wonder and grandeur, bled black in a lake as if struck by some mortal wound.
In the morning Jacob climbed again, and by the afternoon his hand crested the top of The Wall. He pulled himself up and straddled the world.
To his left lay the dying city, but to his right stretched a great forest as far as his eyes could see. A rainbow of birds flew from the tops of trees and the wind brought the scent of fresh rain.
Jacob smiled and climbed down towards the great forest.
It'd been there for centuries now, the wall. Built in 2056, after the Great War, it stands firm and strong, unbeaten by the ages of time. None have passed through its gates since the last iron column was sealed; no one ever really desired to. The horror stories passed(more) down from the very first Council kept the inhabitants of the Wall curiosity well sated.
I, on the otherhand, wish to see life beyond the iron prison. Surely there are ruins to explore, and flora and fauna to discover, perhaps there are even humans that reside somewhere far outside the Wall.
I've been planning to leave for awhile now. Myself and five others have gathered enough supplies to last us a few weeks. All that's left for us is to find someway over the wall, or perhaps even under it. The Keep of the Gate will never allow any one to pass through it. So, we must find passage else where.
I tell myself constantly that my family will be okay even after I've left. Honestly, I'm unsure if I'm trying to convince myself that they'll be fine or if I'm doubting myself and my decision to leave. There are so many things that can go wrong in the explorartion.
For one, the Council will find out. No doubt they will. The six of us have always been aware they'd discover our absences. However, the uncertainty of what they'll do to our families terrifies us.
If I don't leave, I won't have to worry about harm coming to them.
But, if I don't go, I'll never know the world outside of the Wall.
I must go. I will go. I have to.
The Wall has been here for centuries and I and six others will finally scale over to the unknown. (less)
Even if you stand on your tip-toes, you'll never be able to look over that wall. It's lived too long, known too many other nosy children to topple down just for you. On the other side you can hear voices: the clinking of glasses, a woman's laughter, the lilting(more) tune of a clarinet. You can just imagine the fun they're having.
It takes a long while to find an opening. It was hidden behind a set of bushes that had grown together so much that they looked like one enormous bird's nest. You're small though and you slip through their gnarled branches with ease.
The light blinds you. This side of the wall looks very different from the other. There are no trees here, and the concrete patio is as white as a river bed. You hear the woman's laughter again and spot her walking up to you in a vibrant crimson dress and wide brimmed hat.
"Well, it's about time," she says.
You turn around, suddenly anxious to return to your woods, but just as you're about to reach the gap, a net ensnares you. Up you go into the air, your struggles fruitless. The woman holds her hat in the wind and scrutinizes you.
"She's a scrawny one."
The spidery man, who holds you so high up, grunts an agreement, then pulls you out by your foot. You're held upside-down while the woman continues to poke and prod you, a frown on her lips.
"It's early yet," he says. "I'm sure others will come."
She shakes her head. "Children used to be easy to catch. What in the world will we feed our guests if they're all so skinny?"
"We should try another town," he says and drops you into a satchel. "This one's about dried up."(less)
In the streets were chaos and calm. Kaneta's men roared with each charge, each clash of katanas; the commander's, discipline embodied, stood in solid, silent lines blocking the way.
Or so they thought. As Kaneta's men pushed them slowly back, they didn't notice me, creeping over the rooftops.(more) I glanced along the deserted alleyway behind the commander's house before dropping down, catching my grappling hook on his wall spikes, and pulling myself over.
Over the wall, all was calm. A stream came up beside me, and flowed through a pond before winding down towards the house. Next to the pond was a gazebo. Stands of bamboo formed screens between different scenes in the garden.
In the pond, my informant assured me, were carp that lords would kill for. In the house a few dozen yards away, he said, was much silver. But I was not there for the house or the pond. The cook had also told me that when important decisions were to be made, the commander would retreat to the gazebo by the pond. I was there for his memories.
People spoke of them in whispers. The Anichi's memories were their greatest heirloom, stretching back centuries, through both the wars to the time when the land was new. The cook was sure the commander kept them here.
I slipped inside. It was a simple place. A bench overlooked the pond, with a mural on the wall behind. A book lay on the bench. I sat and opened it, flicking through pages of paintings, of plants, cranes, women. Beautiful, absorbing, but memories?
I was absorbed, and didn't notice the scrunching gravel.
"You did not come to read books." Commander Anichi stood, feet apart, blocking the doorway. His sword rested against my neck. "What do you want to know?"