Chapter 2 of the novel I'm working on, check out Chapter 1 in my portfolio first.
The man successfully navigated the middle city and arrived at the upper district Town Square. He limped over to a gleaming stultisite bench and sat down, sighing in relief as the pressure on his knee was reduced. He glanced around and made sure no one was looking at him then reached into his bag and pulled out his illegal copy of Voltaire’s Candide, he had hidden the cover with the cover from one of the Leeches’ pamphlet s, How To Be Successful In The Modern World. He read for a short while but he hadn’t brought his reading glasses with him and his eyes quickly became tired, he paused to give them a break and look around.
Everything was made of stultisite, the leeches loved to show off their new discovery. Stultisite isn’t new to the world, it’s a naturally occurring compound and studies have shown that it was actually discovered by the Church of Fatuus in 1095. They wanted to conceal their discovery from the rest of the world and they succeeded for a time. They incorporated it into many of their rituals and the priests always carried small pieces with them and, eventually, the world as a whole was exposed to stultisite by the Church. Stultisite isn’t so costly because it’s rare, far from that, many huge deposits have been found around the world, especially in North America, Germany, Japan, and Italy. Stultisite isn’t expensive to buy, aside from the mining costs, it’s expensive to work with. It only came into popularity recently, and still only with the rich, because it’s nigh indestructible, the process of heating it to a point of malleability is extremely costly and the technology required fairly modern. They must have spent an ungodly amount of money on the square between mining the raw material and crafting the stultisite intricacies. Everything gleamed in its beautiful silvery color, it’s the most lustrous of the known metals and it is truly breathtaking to behold. In fact, it’s so lustrous that denizens of the upper district are forced to wear protective eyewear to prevent blindness via the reflection of the sun from the stultisite covered ground. The costliness of stultisite goes beyond the immediate. At first the awful smell of stultisite made people leave the upper districts or, if they were too elitist to live among the lowly peoples of the middle district, they stayed and went insane. After a few years most people in the upper districts underwent surgery to confuse the chemoreceptors in their noses into believing it has a good smell, now it’s standard procedure for the surgery to be done at birth, people always wondered why the medieval priests smelled so bad. Everything in the square was made of stultisite, its exquisiteness was marred only by the six stultisite cages resting in the center.
Well, two of the cages were resting. The other four held political prisoners, undoubtedly malcontents from the middle or lower districts who had drawn too much attention to themselves. They couldn’t have been there long; they were all conscious and attempting to use their clothes to filter the smell of the stultisite. The observer cringed in knowing pain as he thought of their suffering. When he first came to the Upper District Square, before he’d had the surgery, his then new business associates had played a prank on him by telling him to hold his breath then sprint to the middle of the square. People of the middle and lower districts are rarely allowed into the upper district, certainly not into the Square, and stultisite workings are too costly to waste on the lower districts; he didn’t know what he was running in to. The observer’s nose twinged in ghostly pain and he once again planned the murders of those business associates, it was a daily ritual.
Guards with guns drawn surrounded the prisoners; their weapons were the newest models. If the leeches are on the cutting edge of anything, it’s in fire power. The prisoners, one of them a woman and the other three men, were scared to the point of insanity. The observer noted with dark humor that the leeches had accidentally made their cages most effective against the people of the lower districts; with their un-tampered sense of smell any lower or middle class prisoner forced into the cage would suffer the undiluted, horrible smell of the stultisite. The prisoners handled their fear in different ways; one of the men lay curled into the fetal position in the middle of his cell, sobbing quietly. His neighbor sat in the middle of the cage with his head between his knees and hands covering his ears. The woman was close to the bars of her cage, she pleaded with her guards to let her go home to her children. The last man was truly mad with fear and probably the stench of the stultisite; he screamed and, as the observer watched, tried to reach through the bars to the guards on the other side. His guards jumped back and took aim at the prisoner, yelling at him to be quiet and step back from the bars. He continued to scream and reach for them and the guards gave him a final warning. He kept yelling, adding words to his screams, his speech was incoherent but the observer managed to understand that he was begging to be allowed to see his wife again. The guards braced their weapons, preparing to shoot. The observer stood up and began yelling at the prisoner.
“Get away from the bars, they’ll kill you!” he screamed. The man didn’t stop. The observer walked closer, just outside of the ring of guards, and said in the calmest voice he could manage, “You’ll never see your wife if you’re dead, they’ll kill you if you don’t step away.” The man continued to scream and the observer threw his book at his head in a frustrated attempt to make him back away. The man flinched away from the book and it struck the stultisite bars, emitting a clear, resonating peal of sound. The sound continued to reverberate until the bars of the cage shattered. The fragments of the cage fell to the ground and burst into a cloud of stultisite dust, the wind caught it and blew it west until it accumulated against the wall of the District Hall. As the people in the square watched the dust fly, dumbstruck by the destruction of the stultisite, the dust lost its luster and became an ugly, rust-like red.
The guards snapped out of their stupor before the rest of the crowd; two of them trained their guns on the freed prisoner. The rest of the guards turned their guns on the observer, commanding that he put his hands up.