I toiled in the sultry heat of the afternoon, my arms sore and my hands armoured in callouses. The cracked masonry on the wall was always in need of repair, always requiring utmost attention, lest we all come crumbling down. I brought my hammer down with conviction on the thin fingers of cracks, spidering across the troughs and peaks of the battlements. A dull vibration emanated down the haft of my hammer, and was blunted by the fabric I had wrapped around the handle. My efforts were matched by my fellows at my side, hammer heads arcing down in a uniform sequence. I wiped my brow with the back on my hand. It was always hot on the wall. I peered over the straining bodies of sinew and muscle to my brother. He worked tirelessly at the side of my father. Despite my father's age, he never faltered nor did he complain. "It is our lot in life." he had said with finality when I had asked why I was not free to choose my profession, as my older brother nodded mutely in agreement in the corner. I had never bothered to ask why, as I knew it would be replied to with similar severe certitude, but I knew, from reading the annals in the only library that Cael was the last bastion of humanity. We were the only remaining civilisation; after the Calamity.
I had never asked for this, but robustness ran in our family, and as such, members of our family were more often than not relegated to the builders on the wall. I would have far preferred any other job in the world than this, for striving in the sun was not easy nor enjoyable work.
I peered into the distance, the sun reflecting off the barren land and into my unprotected eyes. I could make out a small spot in the distance. Sometimes a pack of coyotes would wander through the land. But this was far too large to be a coyote, or any animal for that matter. I craned my neck forward, straining my eyes to get a clearer view. The spot was more distinct now, as if it were approaching the walls of Cael.
I could spot walls,...