6: Assassins From Shanaar - Part Seven
The guard backed up a half step, the glint in his eye gone. Perhaps he realized the truth of the words that no one had ever escaped the dungeon. At any rate, his little attempt at providing some sport for his men was too dangerous to continue, so he gave the motion to open the gate and stepped away.
“Off you go, then. Be gone with you!” The gates creaked slowly opened, and the horsemen rode on. Behind them, as the gates closed again, the guards made rude gestures in their direction and began laughing among themselves. The gates closed with a clang, which reverberated into the night, slowly dying away until the only sound was the clip-clop of the horse’s hoofs.
The city lay further down the mountain, but the horsemen took a mountain path that wound around to the west. They were traveling the mountain path toward the coastal city of Issk. Shanaar was a large island that lay across the Straits of Arenar north of the land of Arenar. The island had a frozen wasteland in its north, and forests and swamps in its south. The Black Mountains lay in the center of the island. In the center of the mountain range lay the city and castle of Shaabak. The horsemen rode down these mountains via paths toward the coast, their destination.
On through the night they made their way through the passes, and by mid-morning they had reached the city of Issk on the coast. Not quite as dreary a city as Shaabak, Issk had the advantage of being by the sea. The engines of production here produced the smoke that the prevailing winds carried into the mountains. Despite this, Issk was not an attractive place. No attempt was made to maintain the houses and buildings, and the people of the city had that same downward glance as they shuffled along their way.