Prologue in E L A Q I T A N | World Anvil


Dresden, mid 18. century

The snowflakes danced quietly over the night-blackened roofs of the city of Augustus the Strong and wrapped them in an icy white dress. The whole town was already asleep. In the distance the whinnying of horses could be heard, along with the pounding of hooves and the rumble of a carriage bouncing along the cobbled streets. Some nobleman had probably forgotten the curfew and now, drunk, he was drawn back to the cozy double bed in the warm room. The alleys were dark. Only here and there could one see the swaying glow of a small lantern held by a stocky night watchman, who roamed the streets alone and freezing, checking on things and announcing the hours that had struck. Even the rats preferred to stay in their cozy nests.

It wasn't long until Christmas. The first stands for the Striezelmarkt, which is known far beyond the gates of Dresden, had already been set up and were waiting for the traders, who came not only from the neighboring towns to offer their goods for sale. In the middle of the square surrounded by wooden booths stood a fir tree as a Christmas tree, which had been hung with apples from the region. Because of the snow, the apples looked as if they had on white caps made of powdered sugar.

It didn't give the impression that anything could disturb the stillness of the sleeping city. But suddenly a blazing ray of light penetrated the darkness of the square where the Christmas market was to take place. A second, third and fourth followed. Slowly, the four rays merged into a swirl of rainbow colors, the heat from which melted all the snow swirling around it. The night watchman, seeing the blazing light in the pitch black night, ran as fast as he could in the direction it was coming from. He thought of fire and at the same time he shouted loudly into the night: "You people wake up, fire, fire, fire. Come and help!“. One by one, some lights were lit in the houses. People in long nightgowns and with nightcaps on their heads ran in the direction of the Striezelmarkt with buckets full of water. If it really was a fire, it had to be prevented from spreading throughout the city.

The night watchman came out of breath, followed by the first helpers to the Striezelmarkt. Everyone stopped dead in their tracks and stared at the vortex of light. It seemed as if the startled residents had been paralyzed by the spinning motion of the beams. None could move, say anything, or otherwise react to the event.

Loud voices could be heard through the swirl, saying, "Hurry up. You have to find them, without them we are all lost.“, shouted and before the light gate was closed again, something hastily jumped through the vortex. The creature was unrecognizable, but it seemed as if it had never walked on two legs before. It swayed back and forth, as if it had yet to find its balance, like a baby beginning to walk. The creature stumbled panting across the Christmas market square into the nearest side street and disappeared. What remained was icy snowfall, pitch black night and a group of people standing still.

After a while, the rigidity of the citizens relaxed. They looked at each other in amazement and wondered what they were doing here. Everyone said they saw a bright light and came here to put out a fire. But since there was no fire to be seen, they emptied their buckets and all made their way home before they suffered frostbite. The night watchman, who was probably most surprised by what had happened, scratched his head questioningly, turned in the direction of the castle church and stomped away with the lantern swaying.

The next morning the city appeared as if nothing had happened. There was nothing to indicate anything unusual had happened that night. It is true that at the Strietzelmarkt people whispered about an inexplicably bright light in the darkness, but since it did not repeat itself, nothing terrible happened or other strange events occurred, everyone went back to their usual work and the phenomenon was soon forgotten.

Cover image: Dresden 18. Jahrhundert by Blue Fairy 74 - Midjourney-Collage


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