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Durantem: A Prologue by Micah McQueary
SUMMARY: This is a changed version of the Prologue of a book called Durantem.
Northward of the great, rolling green Plains in the region of Lacerta, there was a small town sitting next to a great array of forest. As any old town was in these days, it was built by hand. And like any old town was in these days, it was built of rock, stone and bricks. The laborious people that lived inside it had built it themselves, like any laborious people would do in these days.
It was an ancient place, and the only people that lived there were the people old enough not to be able to detach themselves from it and the young folk that weren't prepared to leave it at the time. Once the old ones die, it would be likely that all of the younger would move out, leaving the town rotting. There was nothing particularly special about this place.
It was mostly a market town, and its handmade stone walls were falling apart and several animals were living inside them; little squirrels and a few other types rodents. The village's stone paved streets were coming apart as well, and small patches of grass were coming through the tiny cracks in the round and flat stones that lined the road. Despite all this, there was a surprising population of around a hundred or so people. One of these individuals lived a few yards away from the city, his home nuzzling close to the forest nearby.
He sat in his hay-built hovel, drinking water from a hand-made clay mug and resting gently on his aged and twisted wooden rocking chair. A happy expression was cast about his face, despite the arch in his back that signified an old man's. The hands that gripped the cup were bent and deformed like the roots of an aging willow tree. His hair, what was left of it, was strewn and matted about his head like the veins that seemed to show through his skin, similar to a wet piece of paper being held up to the sunlight. A decrepit old man, as so it seemed, was all that he was. But it wasn't what counted.
Though his frame was bent and almost broken, his stories were what intrigued the townspeople the most. Similar feelings were shared with three children, two boys of age six and one girl of about age eight, who sat about him, their legs crossed on the wooden floor, waiting for the man to begin talking. They wore dark clothing that looked similar to rags and they had dirty little faces, and despite this they had their child-like smoothness about their cheeks, their presence there changing the mood of the home to a more cheery scene. The old man was used to telling stories to the children, and most of the time he told them about historical legends, sometimes fictitious but otherwise somewhat believable and fun.
He was a common storyteller frequently wandering in the town; finding as many people as he could to tell stories to and ending up with, at the end of the day, enough to support his life, as scarce as it was, for he had no other job. He would gather large crowds in the streets of the city and the three children would leave their homes with their mothers consent and scurry nearby the crowds gather to see this man, slipping past the larger people that hovered around him.