Varsania, a fantasy world currently under construction…
The College of Mithria’s red stone walls rose above the squat stone terraced villas and shopfronts of the city. Its bloody façade standing out in contrast with the emerald and topaz haze of the sprawling Muthril Delta.
It drew Kogur like a rag-winged moth to a quivering flame. The steeples, domes and jutting finger of the clock tower shimmering in the ponderous humidity. Hawkers spat at her feet when she passed, as if her grubby, shuffling presence was enough to drive away their custom. You think it’s easy being a slave? she imagined challenging them in her frail voice. I’ll wait until enemy hordes come and drag you from your home… See how you like the kiss of the lash.
The skeletal alleyways of Mithria held no secrets from her. She threaded her way between rag-and-bone beggars, slaves with hollow skin sagging from their cheeks and the blundering girth of gluttonous citizens; the clock tower was a constant compass point guiding her bare feet in their weary pursuit.
Sanctuary, the word was a beacon drawing her on. What if the gates are locked? she thought, steeling her heart against the anguish which accompanied doubt. I can’t walk forever. I won’t be free much longer. The master will come for me… His guards, his snapping hounds, the dreaded lash.
Somehow, the college seemed to hear her voiceless words. It wavered into existence through a pall of dust kicked up by feet tramping down the main street, petitioners making their way to the imperial palace under a weight of injustice and expectation.
There were thousands of them; their bodies formed a swift-flowing moat standing between her and the promise of sanctuary. Hope turned to despair as hobnailed boots clattered down the alleyway behind her. The coarse yelps of the master’s hounds as they caught her scent chilling her blood. Kogur ran and abandoned herself to the marching throng.