Mara’s Wall

In the usual way of my mind, last night I started thinking about something related to my writing when I was trying to fall asleep.

Unfortunately, it was not about the girl’s secret.

No, my brain decided to work on Mara’s story.  In a way this is good; I’m supposed to be working on Mara’s story.  The inside-look writing practice was just that: practice.  Now that I’m (however briefly) back on Mara, I think I’ll run with it.

Last night I started thinking about a wall.

This is not just any wall.  This is the wall around the city where Mara lives, which happens to be the capital city.  The wall is really important to Mara’s story  and there were some details I needed to figure out before the tale can really continue.

You see, the city outgrew the wall several generations before Mara was born.  The capital is in the middle of the country, far from the borders that are shared by (relatively) peaceful neighbors.  Why is this important?  Because Mara and her group of street kids make full use of the spaces within the wall, spaces that would make something meant to be defensive basically useless were it still being relied upon for that function.

Here are the things I determined about the wall, some of which will  be revealed through Mara’s exploration of it.  The wall is used to delineate certain sections of the city; the poorer and less-desirable sections (like tanners and animal sellers, whose work tends to smell) are outside of it, while the wealthy people and the major merchant sections are inside.  The gates are still guarded, and the top of the wall patrolled to a limited extent by a unit of the army, mostly out of tradition at this point.   The wall started as two stone walls with dirt compacted in between; at the gates and several other places, there are solid sections of stone linking front and back.

There are a few tunnels that have been constructed through the wall, with actual (locked) doors on either side.  At this point they are old enough that no one is sure who built them.  In many other places, the folks outside the wall have removed sections of stone and excavated some of the dirt, creating odd rooms that are used for a multitude of purposes.  Very rarely one will have a cave-in of sorts, causing a brief uproar and forcing the guard to attempt to prevent further excavation, but it doesn’t last long.

Some of the honeycomb is connected, some is blocked off from the outside by fences or patches, and it generally makes for an interesting place that is much-used by the urchins and orphans that live in the city outside of the wall.

As I said, if the city needed it for defense it would be useless at this point, but it is in exactly the right condition for my purposes.

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