13 July, 2014

Ruins of Maratore

Another old one.

I travelled valleys high and to valleys low, until I tripped upon it. At first glance, it was just a half buried stone hidden amongst long windswept grass within a wide rolling valley, with groves of ancient, vined trees tucked far from any known trade routes.

Shaking out my throbbing foot, I was about to continue on my long journey to rediscover the lost ruins of Maratore, when something about the stone's uniform shape caught my eye. Unearthing it, I discovered it was of a similar blue hue that the city had been known to be made of. You know, the deep sort of indigo blue that reminds you of warm blankets and soft comforters, but in a stone.

Hope beat in my chest and I cast my gaze out over the rest of the valley. Tilting my head this way and that, I was struck by the way the rolling valley floor contained straight and perpendicular lines. Were they streets? The remains of building foundations? Had I really found the ancient city that had once been famed for their wisdom and love of all things blue or indigo?

I was so excited that I couldn't decide what to do or where to start. I could only stand in awe, my imagination replacing the old walls and streets, until before me, I could see a vision of what the city had once been.

I saw people bustling about, calling to one another and trying to escape the crush of the streets. Children ran after animals which rooted within smelly heaps of garbage at various street corners. Street vendors cried their wares in high pitched undulating voices, whilst merchants waded through the press, forcing a path using their large,deep chested horses.

Something fluttered past my ear, just brushing my skin like a drape of velvet brushing by, breaking my reverie.

The butterfly was brilliant blue, veined with deep purples and blacks. I had never seen such a specimen before and couldn't think what it might even be called. It looked somewhat like a blue emporer and yet it was larger and more majestic than that. It flew with purpose toward one of the great groves of trees with canopies that stretched out great shadows.

Without really thinking, I followed the butterfly into the grove and into the cool shadow. Walls of vines rose about me, intertwining with the trees, leaving a tunnel through which I could travel.

The light beneath the thick vegetation was very dim, yet the butterfly continued onward, its wings capturing the struggling light and reflecting it in bright flashes of sapphire blue.

The sound of running water reached my ears and the smell of moist earth seemed to make my mouth salivate. I hadn't realised it before, but I was thirsty and couldn't wait to reach the water to which I felt sure the butterfly was leading me.

A black hole opened in the ground at my feet, causing me to stumble and nearly twist my ankle. There were steps. Leaning toward the hole, I could hear the water below. The butterfly had disappeared. Dust and dry vegetation littered the ground at my feet, but the air within the hole smelt sweet.

Taking a step of faith, I descended the cobblestone steps into the dark. For a brief moment, panic struggled against curiosity, but failed to stop my feet moving forward as if of their own accord.

Then I saw it. Soft light at the end of the tunnel of stairs, highlighting the browns and tans of the dust and fading vegetation against the indigo stone. Bright greens peeked out at me from their moment in the sunlight, looking as if they were cheering with uplifted hands.

From the dark, I emerged into what must have once been an elaborately decorated cavern, its walls lined with images of flora and fauna I had never seen before, now worn with water and time.

At my feet a pool of turquoise water swirled with fine white bubbles caused by the small cascade of water that emerged from the mouth of some fish-like creature on the opposite wall. Bright light streamed in through a jagged hole in the roof of the cavern where there must have once been a rockfall long ago. Ferns and mosses dominated the space beneath the hole at the pool's edges along with some fine bladed flowering grasses.

It was above the tiny flowers that myriads of those brilliant sapphire butterflies danced. Fragrant wafts of fresh grass and flowers filled the air, mingling with the wet smell of the dirt within this place.

Taking a seat on a cushion of moss, I closed my eyes and smiled. I turned my face up toward the light and contemplated the peace and beauty of this place, still not quite able to believe how blessed I was to be here.

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