Rularra, in its heyday, was regarded as one of the wonders of the world. A beautiful jewel of a city, set between the cliffs and the desert. It was most famed for its fountains – the source of its vitality, for no rivers reached the edge of the desert where Rularra stood.

They were built of white marble, brought from many miles away, and gilded around the edges. Beside each fountain there were placed three golden cups, for any and all to use whenever they thirsted.

Travellers would come from far away to visit Rularra and its fountains, because it was said that one draught of that sweet water would grant many additional years of vitality.

That was, as they say, once upon a time.

While the subjects of Rularra, and most of its pilgrims, were honest and generous – the cups needed no chains to ensure they were kept by the fountains – others looked upon the city with envious eyes.

It was the men of Marshesse who came with swords drawn; they believed that the magic was not in the water but in the cups, and they meant to take them by force.

The blood that was shed in Rularra that day stained the fountains; the marble turned black and the fountains turned red. The men of Marshesse carried the cups away, but when they drank from them they did not gain the vitality they desired; their skin turned grey and rotted from their bones. Their eyes became sensitive to the light, and their minds became slow.

They lived but were yet dead, because they turned the fountains of Rularra red.

© Kari Fay