Afterimage of a Blinded Eye

A thick sheet of rain sets the background on our canvas. After weeks of raging and thundering, the storm clouds have relented, settling down into a steady, melancholy downpour that gives the image its monochrome. The wind traces the masterful strokes of the brush that painted the great city before us. It is the wind that we shall follow.


On the flood-plains of the windswept valley where four great kingdoms converge, a small town was born, many centuries ago. It served as a respite for travelers between the kingdoms, for it was located at the crossing of many roads. Those were times of conflict and travelers were many, and owing to this, the town grew expeditiously. Eventually, it became the center of trade, culture, diplomacy, and technology. The greatest minds of the time came to reside there.


Kingdoms rose and fell around it, but it remained unaffected. It was the unwavering light that shone unfaltering through wind and storm. It was the pinnacle of civilization itself- sought by many, held by none. It was the lone firefly amid a swarm of moths. All along, the wind watched the masterful artist that painted it.


The twin metal doors do little to impede the wind. In the many years that the wind had rushed across the plains, the doors had remained shut but once. Within the gates, the wind has many streets to follow. It knows them all, having watched them grow over the years. But it always passes the baker first, carrying the scent of freshly baked bread across the city. Just beyond the baker is the market square, eternally busy and filled with cheerful sounds. The wind rushes through the square, occasionally playing a prank on someone, blowing their hat off. It then passes the two colleges of the city, locked in an eternal rivalry, each claiming to house the world’s best minds. Their skirmishes have always been a source of amusement, more so to the wind.


It then spits around the tall watchtower of the city’s Keep. Many Jarls come and go in many Keeps, but not so in this one. In the three hundred year history of the city, only eleven Jarls had reigned, each taking the city across new thresholds. There were no conflicts that led to revolutions or coup d’etat. The state was as steady as a rock. It was indeed the pinnacle of human civilization.


Once past the Keep, there was little else left to the valley, and up the sides, it blows. As it passes us, it brings the scent of the city. The scent of bread, wine, books, and machine oil and, even petrichor is almost overwhelming. But beneath it all, there is something else, beneath the smell of prosperity, the smell of knowledge, the smell of industry. A putrid smell; the smell of rot. The smell of prices paid. The smell of human civilization.


And as the wind rushes away, it whispers:

“It’s all a lie… the afterimage of a blinded eye.”

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