Rob Does Words
Treating fiction poorly since 2019


There is a place.

For the most part its an uninhabitable waste land between two converging mountain ranges. It had been that way for as long as anyone could remember. Longer.

This was where the four statues stood, carved from the rocks of the mountains they stood guard over. Large, hooded figures, several hundred feet tall; if they had faces carved underneath the hoods, the shadows kept them out of sight. One of them reached perpetually towards the ground with an arm carved from the long twisted branches of an ancient tree that once grew in the forest on the other side of the mountains.

On the far side of these statues, stood the city, nestled in the valley formed by the dual ranges. It had the entire opposite feel to the wasteland. It was white and gold and shining in the sun. It was a forest of spires and towers, reaching toward the red sun in the distance.

The city covered a little over 90,000 square kilometers but was home to only a few hundred thousand people. No one questioned this in public, but a small group of people, behind closed doors, concerned themselves with this line of thinking on an almost daily basis.

“There are still unexplored parts of the city.”

“Exactly. This isn’t right.”

“Which parts? I want to make a detailed list.”

“Apparently some work party broke through into a new underground tunnel system last week.”

“Damn. What was in there?”

“Some sort of rail system. The Council is attempting to commission it so we can use it as public transport.”

“Oh good, at least there’s good news in all this.”

The Philosophers, as they called themselves, continued talking about how the city wasn’t theirs and how no one else seemed to acknowledge it.

One of the taller spires in the city housed the Secondary Council. A sort of lower level administration which kept the larger, more public, Primary Council in check and liaised between them and the public.

The tower also, separately from the council, housed a number of museums and ancient churches. The museums were full of artifacts found during city exploration or from the few people who were brave enough to venture into the wastes, among the statues. They were a frequent meeting place of The Philosophers.

The churches, like the rest of the city, also predated the current inhabitants and were also used as meeting places, albeit by a different group of people to The Philosophers. These people, The Faithful as they liked to be known, acted as a self-styled temperance group within the city. They didn’t really worship any gods as such, just the idea of some powerful prior civilization which was able to build huge statues out of the mountains themselves. The members of this group considered themselves on the same level, socially, as the Primary Council, much to the distaste of the Secondary.

The leadership of this church gathered in secret, apart from the bulk of its congregation, every so often to discuss their long term plans. But sometimes, the discussion turned to something more direct.

“Welcome all,” the leader of the church said from his place at the head of the long table. “Today’s meeting is a special one. We’re to continue our plans to build a temple among the statues.”

“Do we have the materials needed yet?”

“No, however, our shortsightedness has been pointed out to us and to remedy this, we’ve decided to use the quarries in the mountains.”

“The statue ones?”

“Yes, exactly.”

“That requires more people than are available.”

“We could use the congregation.”

“Many of them would be willing to do whatever we asked if it was for the church.”

The leadership exchanged looks among themselves and while there was no spoken consensus on how to build the temple, most agreed that the congregation was the best choice for miners.

He had left the city some months ago. Everything that the inhabitants stood for, all the politics and pseudo-intellectual debating over inconsequential matters, not to mention the constant pettiness displayed by even the lowest of the other rungs of society had driven him into the mountains to live alone, the way he preferred.

He was sitting at the door of his tent, on the edge of the wasteland. The sun casting a dull orange glow from the other side of the mountains, putting the four immense statues in shadow. Nearby, maybe a hundred meters or so away, was the rock hook which butted up from the ground and held one end of the large not-metal chain which coiled up and eventually ran up to the large also not-metal collar around the statues neck.

He was staring at the rock hook, his brow furrowed. He walked over and kicked it. A small puff of dust sprung up in response and the not-metal chain rattled slightly but nothing else changed. He followed the chain with his eyes and found the neck of the statue. He couldn’t put his finger on it, but something was different this morning, almost like the chain was tighter, or being pulled on somehow. He walked up to the base of the statue. It sat heavy in the sand and the carved cloak seemed to swish out at its feet. He kicked the sand around it and watched as the clouds swum around the statue and settled again. He shrugged and returned to his tent. Must have been a trick of his vision.

The city didn't survive for long. A few hundred years. The inhabitants turned on each other when politics and religion took precedence over survival. The spires crumbled to the ground and the small oasis it was built on was returned to the waste from which it had come from. Even the mountains fell prey to nature and crumbled into the wastes.

Thousands of years later, when someone finally arrived to explore the planet, a ship landed. Coincidentally on the same patch of land the spired city stood. The only things that greeted them when they disembarked were the immense, imposing statues that had always been there.