[From The Seventh Colour, by Will Davidson – coming soon!]
If, as would sometimes happen, a gull were to fly inland from the coast at Tryachan in search of alternative food sources, it would find itself at the end of a day’s flying close to the precinct of Rivertop. What it would see, illuminated by the rays of the setting sun, was a compact walled township, clustered tightly on the edge of a curved promontory, rising up out of the plains below. The river which gave the precinct its name emerged from a gorge which ran back from the escarpment deep into the highlands behind. Rivertop overlooked the point at which it broke free from its rocky confinement, and set off on its long meandering course through the lowland plains to the distant sea.
Behind the precinct, more grassy plains gave way rapidly to darker woodland which stretched almost to the distant mountains. The main road from the precinct ran away from that inhospitable land, though, bridging the gorge at its neck on a viaduct assembled from the same great grey stone blocks as the precinct’s walls. From there it forked south, to the capital Car Peronel, and west, following the sweeping curves of the river.
Swooping closer, the gull would have passed along the route of the viaduct and over the shanty town that existed around all precincts, made up of tents and other impromptu structures that clung to the walls. Passing over those walls without impediment the bird would have found the buildings within, uniform in their whitewashed walls and black roof-tiles. As the gull moved along the curving streets, the curfew bell might have started to ring, and caused almost all activity to subside into stillness. Even so, snatches of music might still be heard in amongst the ringing bells, drifting up from the substantial opera house building located on one of the precinct’s central squares.
Although every precinct enjoyed some sort of building at which music could be performed and enjoyed, very few had a dedicated opera house. Rivertop’s was a source of considerable pride to the small precinct’s citizenry, even though the building was slight in stature compared to either of the two such buildings in Car Peronel…