This is an extract from my latest Work In Progress - a fantasy story called Mordhiemicus.
The town of Mondoria was in full colour as the Feast of Tallier started. Banners hung from the flagpoles and windows. The inns took on extras staff to be open for the three-day festival. The town thrived with people coming from all over Madior province for the festival. With the growth of population in the area, Mondoria had become the major sea port. The other sea port in the area was Kerranmore, but with Mondoria being easier to travel to, the trade routes changed. Kerranmore soon became a deserted ghost town populated by thieves and outcasts.
Jesters danced along the streets, and children followed as laughter filled the air. From the inns could be heard the sound of games, and men who were making deals. The women folk wandered around taking in the vast array of foods brought from afar for the festival. Now was the time to treat the family to wholesome meals, rather than the usual watery stews that the poor were forced to exist on. Money was not easy to come by, but the town always made a great show for these three days.
Decked in their Harlequinesque costumes, the jugglers and acrobats thrilled the crowds that gathered around. Their antics both daring and entrancing, held their audiences enthralled. The children became dazzled by their daring acts of devilment. To the innocent, they looked dangerous, but the performers know their art and accidents were few are far between, and rarely severe.
The festival is a busy time for Thomas Kelp. The town baker needed to bring help in to keep up with the increased demand for his loaves. It was during a short break in the processes that he noticed a stranger enter the town. The stranger appeared to be a man of small stature. The man’s movements intrigued Tom, as much as the man himself. The stranger kept to the sides of the streets and in the shadows. Tom thought, “On such a day as this, why would a man wish to hide from people?”
The man’s clothing appeared torn and tattered as if he had travelled a long distance. He glanced around as if trying to find somebody or something. He never looked back. Was he so afraid of what lay behind him to chance a glance of his pursuers?
Moving from shadowed area to darkness, the stranger avoided the many eyes on the streets as he passed out of sight of Tom. The bakers’ day was too busy to pay heed to a stranger, besides the festival brought many travellers to the town. Some passed through, and others stayed. The inns and bakery would be working through the night, not until the morning of the fourth day would they rest. To many travellers, they would provide a last meal for the travellers as they left Mondoria to go home.
The festival had started many years ago when a man called Tallier left the town. Some of the people said he had been a seer who wanted to find peace. Other people said he had been a soldier; who tired of fighting and became a hermit in the hills to the North. No matter what you believe, he left a prophecy.
“I, the one known to the town of Mondoria as Tallier, send you this warning. If you do not change your ways, and desist from worshipping the lures of flesh and coin. There shall come a day when a storm from the skies shall burn the town to the ground. Only the house of the believers shall remain untouched.”
Not long after Talliers’ disappearance; a large amount of money was found at the foot of the rock face around which the town had grown. The Church of ‘The Sisters of Tallier’ took this to be a sign from Tallier. With the money, they moved from their old run-down church on the edge of the town. The Sisters got help from the city and moved the church to the top of the cliff overlooking the town. The Sisters thought of it as a way to watch the town’s growth as the main seaport. Moving the church to a safer location was the Sisters' interpretation of Talliers’ wishes.
With growth and wealth came many problems. Some were man-made such as the ladies who walked the streets, and the increase in hostelries. More insidious was an enemy that skulked in the underworld. With shipping came the rats, a horrible plague. These beasts evolved, as species do. Before long the creatures could walk on their back legs. The town’s people called them Thrugmen. These creatures were a cross between man and rat. Thrugmen have huge protruding front teeth and deadly claws capable of tearing meat from the bone. Filth became the home of the Thrugmen The more the town spread; the greater their numbers thrived and grew. No matter how many they numbered, they stayed out of sight, coming out at dark to feast on waste.
All through the town’s growth, the church stood on the cliff overlooking Mondoria. Among the townspeople were a group known as Flagellants. These people saw what was happening to their once lovely town, and took it upon themselves to get punished; their punishment was to whip themselves until they bled. The flagellants numbers never grew; now and then new members would join as the older members died. The town was so busy; the people never noticed what was happening.
The stranger passed through the town without causing a stir, as he wandered to the door of the Mondoria Arms, the largest hostelry in the town, he paused to look back for the first time, and smiled. Gently, he pushed the large door open, to be greeted by the sight of a throng of men, women, and children. The stranger glanced at the barkeeper and nodded, without hesitation the barman began to pour a drink for the stranger. The stranger gratefully accepted the offered drink and went to sit by the roaring fire. It wasn't long before his presence roused the interest of the younger patrons.
The crowd began to amass around the stranger as though waiting for vital news. He finished his drink, wiped his sweating brow with the dirty sleeve of his tattered cloak and began, “I have come with word from the Sisters, and the seers into the hills to the north, this year Talliers’ prophecy will come true!”
The children looked around, everybody in Mondoria had heard about the prophecy, and knew one day it would happen, but nobody knew when the storm would arrive? Each year, the traveller came, and each year he told his tale of doom. The older patrons had heard the story so often, they disregarded it, and treated him as a welcome guest.