Foxcastle had been a rather splendid town once. It had been my home at least, and that gave it some gravitas in my mind. Smallish and filled with outlaws, some who wielded their weapons at whomever dared to come our way, Foxcastle had not relied on anyone else; it simply hadn’t needed to. And we didn’t want the help of any or every stranger. It would have stayed that way if not for that one stranger. As they come, he was unassuming and asked only for bread and water, just as every other traveller had before him had. We didn’t to think of the fury inside him, fury that had probably been there for centuries. Foxcastle wasn’t without its enemies indeed.

And when the fellow had set alight his chain of miserable events, we were all tucked up in our beds, under the impression that all was well, his smoke-screen cast too tight. It had never occurred to us that within forty-eight hours of his arrival our town would be dead, its citizens pleading for their lives.

Foxcastle’s residents hadn’t bargained on treachery. Not one bit. Especially not then, despite the fact that our ancestors had been traitors- and we were all born traitors, and had been for centuries, having once been there at the fall of the vengeful kings. We were descended, so it was said, from Lucifer, seeds sown in an evening of imprisonments like those of Io and Danae.

In a way, we were gods. In other ways, we were the most evil.

However, before my home had been destroyed, Foxcastle had been, at worst, a home for those who had needed refuge over the many years, the unwanted and their families if they chose to bring them. Some people came alone, some came to start completely afresh. It did, eventually, complete the circle of Foxcastle life. One by one, the elders would move onto other towns, after they had fashioned enough of a new life for themselves to replace that which they could not have had before.

But they never died. And neither did I, Meytra Rebeckah, or the majority of Foxcastle’s populace. It was the ‘God-complex’ and the Devil’s immortality. So, despite years of living, I was still classed as being ‘of teenaged mind’ compared to many of the others I lived amongst. That age mattered too much when it came to livelihood in Foxcastle.

However, with age- false or not- comes the brilliance of learning and intellect, and we citizens, omnipresent, had seen the change of scenery around Foxcastle, from the time when the land had been fertile and green, to the most recent drought, cause by another asteroid storm, which had burnt the foliage to nothing, and the plain had only just settled into an orange shrub-land in which Foxcastle had sat. We had been the only town for miles around, and so we had become accustomed to travellers, as few as there were passing our way, asking upon our ‘gratitude’.

Of course, they were scared. If I had not grown up with swords hanging on the hut wall and brawls every Sunday at the ‘mud arena’, I would have reacted in the same way too. Conversely, it was strange to see their expressions: eyes wide in fear at the stone hammers our protectors had wielded, and at the small daggers that were tucked into the belts of all our residents. We all thought that we had been prepared for anything. Our instruments were old-fashioned and we might have seemed barbarous, in our simple way of protecting our land, but we could also be witty and subliminal in our attack; so, visitors knew not to stay. In typical cases, the traveller would stumble upon our town, hungry and thirsty from their miles of pilgrimage across the deserts, we would ‘greet’ them with guttural cries and threats, but then accept them into the town to stay a few nights and whatever they needed.

True, sometimes I’d disagree with the actions of our town, but Foxcastle was just that: a cross between the stone-age that had long passed other towns and a medieval age of enlightenment. We were not slobs, even if we appeared that way, and it was a façade that we had thought would keep us forever safe. In no way were we slobs or idiots: I had my degree in Meteorology, and my housemate had his in Cosmology.

The End

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