Climbing The Mountain-Town

“Not a lot of people walking around, are there, Tick?” Asked Lucius, after the pair had climbed in silence, past the first and second rung of housing. They had crossed no inhabitants, and the murmur of the pre-dawn craftsmen starting their work was all but absent.

Tick kept to himself. Lucius looked up and ahead, at the cobbled street that led up the mountain at a steep incline. He could not see very far ahead into the path, as the street was not set up as a straight line, but instead snaked around sets of one and two-story buildings, crafted with their backs against the slope most looked like they had been squeezed in, had to be built between two existing buildings after the people had run out of free, workable mountain. What he could see – all the way to the keep at the top – where the stacks upon stacks of buildings, the first and second floors of the ones built on the upper tiers peeking over those of the ones built on the lower.

As they turned the corner, Lucius noticed that parts of the cobbled street where flanked by long drains, those being covered by metal grates. A faint waft of putridness came from within, as the water sloshed down the mountain and into a wall. 

“How strange it is,” Lucius thought to himself “how quickly we get used to the good things in life, that a mere echo of unpleasantness can disgust us.” Indeed, the priest now recalled the northern city-states where he had lived his youth, places were public sanitation was a tale told by travelers from distant lands. Such stench had been a daily part of life, then. But Lucius has been on the road for so long, that even this whiff of civilization made him shudder.

“There.” Said Tick. The city guard pointed to the next bend on the street, which forked to the side along one of the tiers right at its inflection. As they drew closer, Lucius noted that the side-path was not cobbled. The pair stepped on a mix of raw stone and dirt, flanked on one side by the walls and rooftops of the buildings on the lower tier, and by the rougher, older-looking buildings to their left.

The pair soon arrived at the edge of that particular tier. It ended in a sharp cliff, and Lucius was immediately drawn to the view stretching out to the east. The morning Sun bathed mountain range after mountain range, all peppered with green and white and gray. On the closest, still far beyond the forest and the snowy ranges, the priest thought he could make out buildings. The cities of Garm were built reaching for the heavens.

“What a splendid place for a temple.” He thought, turning to face the larger-than-average building that hugged the mountain wall, a building that was sharply distinguishable from all others by a simple, single feature: it was wholly made out of pine. 

“Dis’ temple.” Said Tick, extending its palm toward the building. “We here.”

Lucius took his palm on both hands, and shook it, smiling while he thanked the guard for his service.

This text is an excerpt from my next book. This is still the first draft; no revisions have been made for spelling, formatting or even basic Q&A.

This scene was envisioned after falling in love with the Italian town of Castelvecchio Calvisio, as seen in the movie “The American.”