The Fifth Day - Haggistan

From the L-shaped patio at the Brasserie d’Escertaine you could view Ebos across the bay, its modest port frosted with the sails of luxury yachts. In the opposite direction lay Masarde, the highest point in the province and the rumored home of the exiled Abbeline monks. Through the city square with its rows of salted fish vendors and their peculiar tasseled hats, you could see the base of the mountain and the railway station. From its far end the funicular tracks meandered leisurely up the gentle slope, gradually becoming more and more angular and severe. About halfway up, the tracks stopped as if the work crews had gone on siesta and, dozing under the oppresive sun, had restlessly rolled off their mats and down the side of the mountain. The funicular cable disappeared into the ground there, just to the right of the railstop and no one could tell me the nature of its counterbalance. Nothing descended in opposition to the garish crimson and turquoise three-car train. A roasted nut vendor had whispered to me that the rare Abbeline liquor, curiously heavy, was shipped down the mountain, one bottle at a time, in a glass box on the other end of the cable. A priest has claimed that an identical train brought up gold from the core of the mountain and that years ago the end of the rails had been the home of the greatest restaurants in the city, perched upon the severe slopes like crows upon a ship’s rigging. Tourists were collected and transported like cattle up the slope. They disembarked and were systematically bloated with foodstuffs, plied with sweetmeats until the train cars groaned upon descent, all to facilitate the mining. Had it ever even been the case, the drought had ended that. Tourists were rare now and the locals were parchment-thin and lethargic.  Where the funicular ended was only a group of flat rocks, some shrubbery and what appeared from the distance to be a family of squatting marmots.