In Troy

In a bygone age, had Troy seven walls raised higher and thicker than the hills by hands surely greater than human, seven great stone gates, and seven tall towers. Now they lie a ruin, shattered by a forgotten enemy and eaten away by time and neglect. The gateways gape empty, the great doors long since gone. The towers are toppled, cracked, and hollow, the walls, though too strong to vanish even under the weight of millennia, dismantled in places, swallowed by dirt, vegetation, or buildings in others. No guards walk the walls nor stand watch at the towers, and only a few of the great four-bodied guardian cherubs that once flanked the spiralling road that, turning seven times on itself, makes its way between the walls and through the seven gates, still stand.

The enemy razed its buildings, slaughtered its people, and salted its fields; yet even then was Troy too old to truly die, and so, at length, did life and people return to it.

Troy now has no need for walls nor gates nor guards nor cherubs; for a seventh tower still stands, in the centre of the city, tall as a mountain and sheer as a spear. When the sun is high, the tower's smooth sides glow bright white; as it sets, they grow red like blood; in moonlight, they glimmer like silver; and on moonless, dark nights, its shape cuts an even darker silhouette against the lightless sky.

No-one born in Troy can see the tower. They never speak of it nor mention it. They make maps of the city without it. They walk around it and swear they went in a straight line. Their eyes glide right over it, their gaze never resting on it. Visitors will ask: “What of the tower?” “What tower?”, residents will say. “There is no tower.”

Troy has no need for guards or gates, for it can't be conquered. Thrice the great King of Kings sent his myriads to take it, and thrice did his soldiers sink their own ships, burn down their siege engines, and lay down their arms; and even when the King of Kings ordered them decapitated, they could not explain why they did so. Three times the King of Kings tried to take Troy; three times his generals failed without a single drop of blood being shed, and even when the King of Kings ordered them flayed for their insolence, they could not tell the reason. After the third time, the King of Kings was smothered by his own councillors, who wanted no more of this waste. So has Troy remained unassailable for centuries with not a single spear raised in its defence.

No crime is ever committed in Troy. It is rich beyond imagining — merchants come sailing or walking from all corners of the world, bringing wonders — and silver, gold, and precious stones lie heaped in its vaults, which are open an unguarded, yet noöne ever takes anything, even as the poor huddle on back alleys. The rich walk without guards, and no door is locked nor gate barred. Not even bread is stolen and not a drop of blood shed. Asked why, and the inhabitants will first laugh, then glance at the tower, though deny having done so, grow serious, and shake their heads. “It is not done”, they say. “Not in Troy.”

Troy has no walls, no gates, no guards, no prisons. It needs none.

This vignette has previously appeared in Earthly Delights Ogdo issue 2.