Book of Days: June 3, Watch the Walls

Once, when I was a new guard, we saw the things that live beyond the wall. Now, now, I know, you’ll tell me I’m making this up, but I swear to you they were there, moving at the edges of the safe zone, testing the limits.

The stories, they’ve drifted over the years, presented these things as animals, beasts, but without granting them even the wit we know our horses and dogs can have, not to mention the disdain of the cats. What we saw out there were not mindless creatures, though their shape was nothing I could call human.

The safe zone has wards, but wards can weaken and wards can fail. It’s why we have to draw lots to repair them, though the times between are long and if any of us are lucky, we’ll not be here when the next draw occurs. The things I saw in the distance, they knew where those wards were, and they knew where they met. They tested each at its point of strength, then redoubled their efforts at the meeting places, where the barrier is always weakest.

If that day had been one where the wards needed replacing, if those weaknesses had been enough for the barrier to fail, then those things I saw would have flooded through and the safe zone would be safe no more. It’s an illusion, that boundary, for all we trust the magic that maintains it. If we become too complacent, if we begin to think we guard only against children’s stories and fail to do our duties, then everything the wall protects will fall when we do.

It’s hard to say this job is important, when they come to test the barrier so rarely, but important we are. Something needs to stand between us and them, and while the wards can weaken, we can be strong. We can be here to meet them if the next time they come when we’ve not yet prepared. We are the only thing that can.

Do not trust the magic to hold forever. Do not trust they will never find a way to defeat it. There is always, though it may not yet be known, a counter-spell. Those who set up the barriers, even sometimes those who refresh the wards, think there is nothing beyond the walls capable of learning what needs be done to take them down.

I do not believe that. I think when they were testing, they were seeing if the counter-spell had worked. I think they tried the weakest points only when they had discovered the wards remained as strong as ever. After all, they were here, they might as well.

If we do not give our job the proper respect, one of these days, they won’t even need to find the working spell. They’ll try the weak points, just in case. And luck will be on their side.

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by | Jun 3, 2021

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