Friday, July 06, 2012


Having only arrived in Rikanta two nights ago, I wasn't ready to leave just yet, so I spent today wandering around the town. It's a beautiful place. The old stone gives it a solid, peaceful feel that is hard to find outside of old ruins. It's a town that has settled comfortably into its place. I walked through the streets, following the shade, watching carts roll by and children play elaborately drawn jumping games in the dust, admiring the way the creeping hieroglyphs twined their way around the architecture - though I was careful not to lean too long against any inscripted walls. I didn't want them rubbing off.

Rikanta is a small town. Walk three blocks east, and you reach the river; it's too shallow here for boat travel, but there is the occasional tumbledown dock where people sit to fish during the long, drowsy afternoons. Walk three blocks west, and you come out into farmland, shady orchards and drought-wheat fields where trained shrews scour the crops for particularly succulent insects.

Perhaps "blocks" is the wrong word, though. The town's layout has nothing so regular as that. Inside this narrow patch of land is a maze of twisty little streets that seems far too complex to fit within such a small space. I wandered all day, and I'm fairly sure I was never on the same street twice. Fortunately, there's a tall clock tower in the center of the town, so I could never get entirely lost.

The clock tower is made of the same pilfered castle stones as the rest of the town. It has no clock. When I asked the group of elderly men playing board games in the town square,* they said that the town will get a clock someday. Eventually. When they find one they like. One of the men - who seemed to be winning his game of Hens and Comets, if his opponent's expression was any indication - said that his great-grandfather used to say the same thing.

People in the Golden Desert are rarely in a hurry about anything.

* There is always a group of elderly men playing board games in the town square. This is a universal constant. If it's not the town square, then it's the general store, or perhaps one of the more neatly-kept parks. No matter how far you travel, they are always there. The only things that change are the language and the board games.

If I ever settle down in one place, I hope to be one of them someday.

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