Extract from ‘The Winter Follows’ – in progress.
Greery rolled his eyes. Don’t worry they said, everything’ll be back to normal they said. His captain had reassured him that his job would return to its previous, glorious monotony, so had his wife. Apparently they were both wrong. At least this lot were heading in the right direction he thought, as he cranked open the gate and let the gaggle of green-skins amble out of the city. He had no idea what they were playing at but this lot were the sixth, or possibly the seventh, group to leave the city through this gate in the last two days. The Tartars and pilgrims had been bad enough, but green-skins were something else. Not only were the bad-mannered and broke they also smelt unbelievable – particularly as they were over-excited. Another man would have been diverted by the sight of near on a hundred green-skins leaving the city – each one a unique harbinger of chaos and lunacy. Little ones with massive noses poking out from beneath massive helmets some of which, on closer inspection, were made from a range of cooking utensils including pans, kettles and colanders. There were big ones with crooked teeth and dozens of knives, alchemical grenades and other weapons criss-crossing their torsos in bandoleers. Orcs with back banners, front banners, side banners, strange leather masks, hand-bells, knee-bells and multicoloured top hats. Trolls with wheelbarrows or armed with tiny trebuchets and a goblin waving a feathered tricorn from a sedan chair being carried by two bewildered children. One entire batch were lavishly adorned with all sorts of spoons and singing. Greery didn’t care, he just counted the heads and opened the gate.
Grumpily, he watched as this latest crowd moved off, the smell of lamp oil and sweat lingering as they passed. Then he cranked the gate shut and went back to the office. He had just finished scribbling the words ‘another dozen or so green skins in the ledger when his attention was caught by a movement. A pack of tiny, squeaky-type goblins that were hopping from foot to foot and pointing at the gate had materialised from somewhere. He cursed loudly, gazed longingly at his cold stewed tea and he went out to see to this next lot.