The sun beat down the crumbling, moss-covered stone against which the two men leaned, looking off into a great recess. They stared idly from the outskirts of the docile, decaying hamlet of Kraevn at the misted distance of the declining wilds, and as they did, a chill wind swept in from the south, jostling their tattered, patchy clothes and carrying with it a fulsome insectal drone, which swallowed up the village’s juvenescent melody, as if appetent of joy’s consumption.
“What’s beyond The Spine?” The young man inquired, gesturing to the great stone bulwark which jutted from the horizon like a monstrous, antediluvian carcass.
“Ain’t nothing there.” The old man declared firmly, his raspy voice half-lost to the zephyr’s rising hum.
“There must be something.”
“How’d you know? You aint never been beyond The Spine. No one has. Ain’t nothing there.”
“No such thing as nothing.”
“Nothing is something we don’t have other words for.”
The old man turned and spat and looked towards his younger companion with sympathy and disapproval mingling in the frosted gray of his fading eyes.
“Fool notions rattling round that head a’yours, Harrow.”
“Maybe. But consider this: You can’t make a fool of a plant.”
The old man shook his hoary head and shambled haggard back to town. Harrow remained; gazing out across the skyline’s sanguine sprawl. His gestures pregnant with rising ambition.
Rain began to fall and somewhere the deathrattle of an animal sounded as dead thickets thrummed into the chasm beyond the low stone fence; as smokestack clouds roiled and cracked above the scene of slow calamity. The abyssal castanets tore the man from his obdurate perch and sent him trudging back toward the bluff-born borough’s paltry warmth.
To Harrow, the ether’s fomentations were as a malediction.
A black mark upon his soul.