There are walls here. High walls. Built with strong things, like stone and metal and blood. Erected to keep the outside out or the inside in. The King’s Men walk the walls, spears and shields in hand. Their eyes—like the eyes for the King—are hidden.
They are another sort of wall.
Houses are packed tight, made of wood and stone, stretching upward because there is no room to stretch outward. The streets are filled with peasants and animals—creatures of filth, spending their limited days scraping together just enough to get through to another day. Town Criers shout the King’s news from every street corner, propagated from the King’s own advisors. “Famine touches the lands outside the King’s city!” “War and poverty!” “Depravity and ritualistic sacrifices of infant children upon ancient altars of the dead gods!”
Dark things. Outside the high walls of the King’s city, the world is lost.
But inside the King’s city, it is safe. Rations are good for the Cause. Work camps are good for the People. Curfew is good for Morality. Hope isn’t a necessity because it only works in tandem with despair, and sadness can’t touch a place with all of its needs met.
The King says so.
Even so, a hunchbacked man sits upon the great wall. A place meant for the King’s Men. He has his hands raised above his head, his voice high and reaching, shouting out to the people of the King’s city. His words are questioning. They probe at the writs of the King and pull them apart. Inquiries upon inquiries suggesting the world is not so bleak outside the walls. He seeks to start the fire within the bellies of creatures of filth, and to get them to question the King’s decrees. His argument boils down to a singular point: there must be more than this.
Halfway through a sentence, one of the faceless guards puts a boot to the Hunchback and pushes. The hunchback falls from the high wall to the ground and breaks in several places, but does not die. He is not so lucky. The King’s men fall upon him, their words and threats punctuated by the tips of their spears. They tie his hands and ankles to their horses and pull him in each direction. They say they’ll put him back in order, and they tell him to take back what he said. At first, he wouldn’t. By the time he would, he couldn’t.
They tried, but all the King’s horses and all the King’s Men couldn’t put him together again.