So, today I decided to continue yesterday’s writing exercise, and it didn’t really go so well. I spent a lot of time staring at the screen, trying to think of what to write next. Guess I didn’t put enough thought into it before hand or something. Dunno.
Anyway, this is what I have. Tomorrow I’ll move on to something else. Not long now before I begin phase 3 of my challenge, so stay tuned for that.
By E W Morrow
Word Count: 670
As Albert walked through the streets over the next few days, he did indeed see signs that the town was preparing for something. There seemed to be more people about, splashes of color were added to the usual drab earth tones the townsfolk usually wore, and there was a general festive air about the place. The change was most obvious in the center of the town. The broad, cobbled square was the site of much activity. Vendors spread around it’s edges, selling everything from sausage links to shiny baubles and talismans. In the center a low wooden stage was being erected by a group of local craftsmen. The men worked without speaking, only the bang of hammers and the chewing of saws breaking the silence. Again, Albert was bemused at the foreigner’s ability to cooperate without any apparent means of communication. Were those the same men from his office, he wondered? Hard to tell. They all looked the same to Albert. Each man nodded at Albert as he passed.
Despite his misgivings, Albert found himself infected by the festive air. He had a little extra bounce to his step as he walked to and from his office. The town was still a drab, ugly mess of a place, but at least now something new was happening. When the day of the festival finally arrived, Albert had made the decision to go all out. He rose and dressed in his best formal dress, clothes usually reserved for official ceremonies and other matters of state. The vest, a blue, double breasted affair with large brass buttons, was a little tight these days. It pinched under his shoulders and caused his shirt to bunch up uncomfortably. The jacket, gold with blue trim, fit no better, but at least it hid the unsightly puckering of cloth beneath it.
At his hip he wore a sword, a finely crafted rapier with a silver pommel inset with ivory. More than anything, this item was ceremonial. He hadn’t wielded a sword since his boarding school days, and he’d been pretty near the bottom of the class even then. The only time he’d even drawn this one’s blade from it’s sheath was on the day it had been presented to him. All in all, he felt confident that he could just about take on a training dummy. Provided there was only one.
The construction in the town square had continued right up until sunset on the day of the festival. Now there was not only a stage, but tiered benches lining two of it’s sides. A small band played off to a third side, a collection of strings and a few primitive drums. A woman in a flowing yellow dress banged a tambourine and danced through and around the lines of torches surrounding the stage. Men and women milled about, children laughed and chased one another through the crowd. Meat sizzled on tiny portable stoves and peddlers barked out offers.
Through all the commotion, a small man made his way towards Albert. It was Gregori. He had a stein of ale in each hand and he offered one to Albert as he approached. Albert took it and drank. The one good thing about this place, Albert thought, was the beer.
“Welcome, my friend,” Gregori said over the din. “I’m so pleased you accepted my invitation.”
“Wouldn’t miss it for the world,” Albert said, finishing his beer in another long swig.
“Come, we have a special seat of honor reserved just for you.” Gregori pushed his way through the crowd. A young woman in immodest clothing drifted past, filling up Albert’s cup with more ale before disappearing behind them.
The seat of honor turned out to be an actual chair that had been placed on the lowest tier of seats in middle of one side of the square. It even had a cushioned seat that, while not quite up to the standard of luxury Albert was used to, was still better than any of the other revelers would have.