On the other side of the valley, the church bells began to ring. In the market, vendors and patrons alike ignored the sound, but the children brought there by their parents stopped playing and ran to the wall. There was nothing to see, of course, for the valley was wide and the source of the bells, if it was as they said, was too far away. All the same, they shaded their eyes against the sun, peered across the great distance, and tried to see through the fog to the other side.
“They’ll keep ringing until Inishmek is burned to the ground,” one of the children said.
Wanni rolled his eyes, but he couldn’t dispute the claim. That was, of course, the problem with legends and rumours. There was nothing to prove anything in either direction, and the bells might just as well have been wrung by the vengeful spirits of those long dead as they might be by whoever had moved into the ruins of the city afterwards.
No one had crossed the valley since the army marched on Unnovac, since those of Inishmek took the war between neighbours to the only conclusion they could see, and levelled the city across the way. Since the church and the tower where the bells hung were toppled, sent crashing to the ground with a clang loud enough to be heard by those who had remained behind.
The bells had rung as their army marched on the city, had continued to do so until they were sent to the ground, and then began wringing at the time of the march for every day after. Or so the elders said. It was hard to believe such a claim, really. After all, you’d have to believe in ghosts to think the sound started before anyone could possibly have repaired the tower, but Wanni had not be alive to hear it and even his own grandmother swore it was true.
They all did, right before cautioning the children not to cross the valley and that was the problem. It might be there were ghosts there, just waiting for their turn at revenge. But it might just as well be a convenient way to keep the children from playing in the valley and facing it’s more mundane dangers. Wanni was no stranger to the way adults bent the truth when they wanted to make certain children did as they were told, after all.
He didn’t blame them, not really. He had enough younger siblings to know it was almost impossible to get them to do anything you wanted, but all the same, it left the problem of the bells. It left the children standing at the wall, peering across the valley they could not enter, and wondering at the source of the sound.
It left Wanni wanting to go to Unnovac, or whatever now existed in its place, and to see for himself.