A picture says a thousand words. Write them.
Mission: Write a story, a description, a poem, a metaphor, a commentary, or a critique about this picture. Write something about this picture.
Be sure to tag writeworld in your block!
they called it ‘the desert’s wound’—or at least about as close as their tongue got to it. it was a loose translation, asmodeus admitted. more closely it was something like ‘splintered gore-hole surrounded by sand’ but that was a mouthful and most people didn’t use the full name anyways.
most people didn’t even travel here to begin with, really.
allegra and kadar had wanted to come—she was egged on by him, and he was egged further by the stories he’d heard from the warriors while in camp with them.
"settled in the chasm like it is, from the plateaus around it the roofs look like teeth," said mirri, and she’d chomped at kadar for emphasis. but donala had piped up beside her and shook her head, her more rasping tone making her statement more dramatic,
"no, covered with sand like they get, it looks like a wound in the ground. a festering wound, the skin all ragged around it."
standing above the strange city below, kadar felt more inclined to agree with donala. there was something sickly about the city, something that just looked rotten when looking at it. allegra adjusted her hood some next to him, motioning to some loose planks of a rooftop that were rattling some as a gust of wind swept through.
"look, loose teeth." and he laughed, but both of them looked a little awed and it seemed, from their faces, that they had not expected a sight quite so grim. asmodeus came up between them and motioned ahead, to where the steep plateau seemed to sag some.
"come on, the entrance is over there." he glanced up and around at the sky before extending his wings around the two younger travelers on either side of him, dark feathers ruffling a little when a particularly strong gust hit them from the rear. "let’s get a move on, there’s a storm rolling in." kadar and allegra tried to glance about to see what he meant, but asmodeus just nudged them forward, grumbling some and sighing before casting a somewhat glum look at kadar. "your mother is going to kill me if we have to stay overnight."
the ‘entrance’ asmodeus had been talking about was literally a strange sort of elevator—once one reached the indent in the rocky ground, there was a round-ish hole carved into one side of the swell of rocks around the sunken in spot, and once someone stepped through the makeshift entryway, there was a very small landing abreast of a deep, plummeting chasm in the ground. allegra gasped some when she almost stepped off, and asmodeus reached instinctively to pull her back. kadar scooted closer to one of the walls to give her a little more breathing room and she shook her head, eyes wide.
"lucky i’ve got wings—i’m sure there have been others that…haven’t been…quite so lucky." letting go of her arm again finally, her father nodded a little grimly.
"but, as i said before, this is not exactly a ‘prime’ travel destination." and both his companions nodded silently. asmodeus looked around until he spied a rough stone jutting out of the cavern wall some, and nodded to allegra and kadar to stay back a bit, and with some amount of force and a rough scraping noise, pushed the protruding stone into the wall. there was a very loud groaning noise suddenly, followed by a very abrupt shriek of metal of some kind that made allegra and kadar both jump a bit, and then for a long few minutes they stood there listening to slow, out-of-sync clicking sounds that made allegra suddenly a little nervous. she turned to asmodeus, making a face.
"….you said a ‘lift’, is this….is this like an elevator?"
"…..dad it sounds really, really old, is this safe? i mean can’t we just fly down—i’m all for adventure and thrills; i’ve ridden the tower of terror you know, i told you about that, and it’s like an eleva—" asmodeus snorted and kadar had a quizzical look on his face listening to her.
" ‘tower of terror’?" asmodeus shook his head.
"ellie, it’s fine. it’s just old. this thing’s been working for centuries, i promise you. and we can’t fly down because we don’t want to attract that kind of attention." allegra did not look convinced but kadar was still hung up on the ‘tower of terror’ bit, both because what in the world was this place and how could he get there, and because he figured conversation might distract her from the rickety platform of stone and wood that had just settled for them to step onto. the three of them stepped on as allegra told kadar about theme parks and disney world (his mother had taken him there years ago, she reminded him, since she’d gone with them) and once things were quiet again and they were descending through the cavern (with a good bit of shuddering from the lift and asmodeus reminding them here and there to stay towards the center of the platform), asmodeus turned to the two of them again.
"we’ll try to wait out the sandstorm and then head back home. while we’re here—wings away, no one use any magic, no one draw any weapons, just stay with me." kadar raised an eyebrow at him.
"….what, are you serious? you’re acting like we’re kids—"
"you are, both of you. compared to me, that is.” allegra rolled her eyes.
"dad, i’m his dad’s age,” she jutted a thumb at kadar, who made a face at her, “besides you know i can handle myself.” asmodeus just frowned at her.
"i do, but i also know that after everything that’s happened in the past few decades, we want to be careful here. you may be damian’s age, but we are here with his son—moreover, we’re here with schera’s son, and we all know who really runs this world half the time—all respect to your darling uncle, of course—but if anything happens to stir up trouble or graces forbid, her son, then she’s going to be wearing my skin as a cloak.” allegra snorted and kadar shrugged, nodding concedingly.
the city was, once they were standing inside it, almost exactly as one might imagine looking down from above. the cliffs they had been standing on before seemed infinitely from the streets, and the city itself was built into the walls of the canyon. ramshackle buildings jutted out from the rock, deceptively small and rickety, their insides carved into the stone. lanterns hung everywhere to help provide some kind of illumination, but after years of replacing them and the general dinginess of the city itself, even the light was dim and in some spots nonexistent. people passed them without second looks, however, which seemed ideal—most of the pedestrians seemed rushed or else looked rather ominous, hoods were a staple here, and cloaks seemed ragged and worn and dirty. children begged under the awnings of buildings, steam and smoke coughed out into the air from ventilation pipes here and there, and the place smelled old, molded, filthy. asmodeus looked entirely too prim, holding his arms in a bit for fear of touching anything—the general aura was that you’d come away covered in grime if you touched anything at all.
allegra and kadar looked around in hushed awe—filthy as this place was, it was new, it was exciting. the air was heavy with pollution and dust but the place felt…thrilling. allegra thought it reminded her of those gritty human action movies, kadar thought it looked perfect to run into some tough characters, neither of them spoke as they walked. asmodeus led them along until they reached an entryway covered by a heavy cloth—it looked like a repurposed rug, covering most of the doorway. however—kadar was the one to notice it first; the rug was old, dingy, just like everything else, but he could make out a design in the center that he’d seen on tapestries in the palace. he turned to asmodeus curiously,
"i know this symbol, i’ve seen it near the throne room." asmodeus nodded, pulling back the makeshift ‘door’ and ushering them inside.
"you have—" and nodded for them to follow, "because that’s where that rug came from, the palace." kadar and allegra exchanged glances and raised eyebrows, but said nothing, following along.
this new place was brighter inside; a restaurant, from the looks of it; golden light everywhere and seemed worlds away from the dilapidated city outside. the tables were wooden and clean, the cups clean, the air was steamy, but smelled savory and appetizing. there were a few other customers aside from them, but they were clearly travelers as well (allegra later noted the state of their clothing was certainly from cleaner places than this) and were keeping to themselves. the three of them had a round of wine—kadar identified it as being from the capitol, too, and was correct—and asmodeus explained a few things.
"this is a sort of outpost—if anyone comes here anymore, it’s for black market trading and…" kadar snorted,
" ‘backalley business’?" allegra chimed in with a grin,
"dealing on the down-low?" (kadar had long since gotten used to her human-world slang and laughed) but asmodeus nodded a little more seriously.
"exactly. so this place was established for travelers who needed a place to stop and rest—mostly people from the capitol and the noble cities—and the location is typically passed around via the richer merchants." allegra nodded, swirling the wine around her cup.
"i get it. this is like some rich people’s speakeasy." asmodeus had to grin.
"something sort of like that. nothing’s illegal about this, though."
a moment or so later a few other travelers came in, lowering their hoods and brushing off a bit of sand. the trio watched them quietly and listened to their conversation (not that it required much eavesdropping, they weren’t being terribly quiet).
"that storm’s going to keep us here all night. ridiculous!"
"at least we got here, though. making it to the next town over would have been impossible in that wind."
asmodeus groaned and let his head fall to the table. kadar snorted and allegra sighed, patting his hair some.
"i’m sure auntie schera will be understanding, dad. just, you know, get us back in one piece." kadar shrugged when asmodeus made another grumbling noise.
"i mean i’m sure i can convince her the raging sandstorm wasn’t your fault, somehow…"