Jeb had wandered up ahead again, and it pissed Rory off. Jeb knew that Rory wanted them to explore the ruins together. Hell, Rory was the one who had suggested they hike out this far from the village in the first place. He had been the one to pack up their bags with the dried fruit and jerky- enough to last them five days. He had even been the one to tell their parents that they were going up to the lake to fish.  Jeb was a horrible liar, as any kid back at the village would tell you.  Their parents would have found a million chores to occupy their time until they gave up on getting into the ruins if Jeb had been in charge of the expedition.

Of course, now that they were only a couple of hours out from the ruins, Jeb was wandering ahead. He might not have the mental acuity that Rory had, but he was taller, stronger, and faster. Something that he was now taking advantage of to get the first sight at the wonders that the old troubadour had shared with their town around the campfire the night he came through. Tales of massive stone pathways leading all the way up to the clouds. Buildings made entirely of mirrors. Fanciful stuff that everyone knew was impossible. The highest a sturdy structure was ever built was the townhall back home. And that topped out at three floors. Anything taller than that was prone to collapsing.

The troubadour had noticed all the children scoffing at his tales. He had sagely claimed to have passed by such ruins as his tales depicted in all their splendor not two days Northeast from their village. Now, a month after the troubadour had gone, Rory and Jeb were traipsing through the woods to the northeast on their way to see the mythical ruins.

“Will you slow down,” he called ahead.

No response. Typical Jeb. Rory grumbled to himself has he stepped over a fallen log and stepped right into Jeb’s stationary back.

“What are you standing in the middle of the…” he trailed off looking up. Before them stood a stone structure that easily dwarfed the townhall back home. It curled up toward the sky where at it’s crumbling apex metal bars jutted out as if grasping to touch the clouds. Beyond the structure were half collapsed towers reflecting the glare of the mid-morning sun. These towers easily dwarfed the enormous stone structure looming in front of them. Rory felt his jaw drop in awe. The old troubadour had been telling the truth.

“We’ve got to find a way up on the stone pathway, Jeb,” he said, breaking the silence.

With that he started forward, not caring if Jeb followed.  The ground next to the stone path had been claimed by tall grass without any herds to graze and keep it in control. In addition to the grass he kept stumbling on what seemed to be rocks that shifted under his feet as he tread on them. It was a good hour of stumbling over through the grass and weeds until the structure was noticeably declining, and another twenty minutes until they came up to the place where it was level with the ground. All across gthe stone pathway were metal carriages without the hitches to connect a team of horses or oxen. Rust was eating away at most of them, but you could still see the variety of colors they had been painted.  Rory looked at his traveling companion.

“Jeb, I think we’re gonna need more than a day to explore all this.”

Apropos of: This Prompt


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