The sounds of wagon wheels in the muck of a well-worn road after a particularly heavy rain has always made me a bit queasy. There is just something about the sound that is all too reminiscent of pulling a blade from someone’s breast, that certain combination of gushing and hissing like a dying man’s sucking chest wound lying in gasping silence. Really though, it’s the repetition of it all that does me in. I imagine what the demons must think after they’ve put the thousandth sinner on the breaking wheel, that repetition of screams must get dull and mundane after a while, let alone doing it for eternity. The real tragedy in this world isn’t that bad things happen it’s just how fucking easy it is for bad things to become mundane, brutality becomes a lifestyle that one forcibly adopts. I’ve seen men do terrible things, women to don’t think us exempt, in the efforts of making a life in this world. Most do it for as long as their souls will and just sort of expiring mentally. They’ll walk, eat, and fuck but their light is gone, doing the motions of what is expected of them. I swear I’ve seen rats capable of more creativity finding a meal than one of those living zombies has in a year.
You’ve been my closest companion since the old Lord died all those years back. Back in the days of warm meals and the closest thing to struggle was finding a chunk of bread that the little ones didn’t already take a bit of. I think it was back then when the Lord had taken that final turn for the worse that I first heard you speak up, you’ve always been there but when the news came is when I first heard your voice. The only reason I was able to save up enough for this trip was you, you helped me do what I needed instead of wasting away in an empty keep hoping one day to hear from some distant heir. You talked me into plying my trade when I needed, offering a blade here or some poaching there. You never let me be satisfied dying in a gutter, drowning in some noble’s piss and shit. So here we are on the final leg, the last quarter mile until we get to the last dock this side of the world. It’s funny how they tell you that no-one has ever returned from Anuel and yet people talk of the wonders there and how beggars are kings and kings are beggars. Seems all a bit contradictory to me, how do the people know if you can never come back? Doesn’t matter really, I have no real need to come back, not anymore, you saw to that. You’ll stay with me, right? I’d hate to lose you now that we are about to be free from this past, these old rites and archaic lands.
I want to know who was the person who named everything after we started pill… resettlement of Anuel, who was the person who with a few strokes of pen scribed such grand possibilities into the minds of any kid who was fortunate enough to learn to read or hear stories of the great adventures and riches from the Port of New Beginnings, Phoenix’s Rest.
Phoenix’s Rest, who names a fucking city Phoenix’s Rest? Like anyone would buy into the idea of crossing a deadly sea to be reborn as some sort of spiritual resurrection. The people who are doing this aren’t saints or angels, I know I’m not, you know I’m not. None of us are born anew, we are just burying our past after firmly planting a spear in its gut. It does elicit an idea of hope, and for that, I can’t fault it too much. It’s why I’m going and I’m sure why half the people in this wagon are going as well. For some reason or another, we are all here from all stretches of the old world climbing aboard a Skervolk ship set up for a one way trip to the Anuel. No want, hope, or desire to come back and by doing this we are all branding ourselves as traitors to whatever kingdoms or empires we hail from. In that, there is hope, maybe even some camaraderie. Maybe, and just maybe it’s all true and we are all reborn from this, reforged if you will. Taken broken, shattered, dismantled and lit a flame so that the slag my drip off. Us who are left will be remade, new, and free. Maybe that is something to hope for…