not sure if...
Join Date: Mar 2012
By which I mean I know it's an infodump, but does it work as one? Ie, not too heavy handed, impersonal, et cetera. (I'm not really looking for a full critique here but if you feel it's necessary, do by all means...):
Even her quiet footsteps echoed loudly in the silence, the air still and heavy, cool in the predawn. She picked her way up steps and along ledges that had crumbled away from thousands of years of winds and floods, her fingers gripping the dusty rock as tightly as she could manage. Safa had explained briefly to her the day before about the Samireans: an ancient culture that they knew hardly anything about, who worshipped the old gods fervently and built great carved temples in their honour. She crept along a crumbling stairway, her hands clammy on the walls, and swung into the doorway of one of the most ornate buildings in the valley: the Ad Azm Alla, or the Temple of All Gods.
It was very dark, and so she grabbed the matches she had brought and clambered up to the nearest brazier, stuffing it with paper and striking a light. She did the same for the next three, and the room was lit with a flickering,
The floor was one huge mosaic, chipped and broken in places and filled with images of strangely formed humans and animals depicting various acts of heroism. She walked over the tiles, kneeling down to brush the dust and silt from some, though she could not decipher who they were, or what they were doing. She recognised the red wings of phoenixes, the red-and-black mushussu, and the golden plumage of the Great Eagle: the three greatest and now vanished creatures from the dark days, along with the Qaqan sea monster that terrorised the ships and the Noreien, the spirits who lifted the winds and brought the storms. Her father had given her a book on ancient mythology when she was very young – too young to appreciate it, she supposed – its pages curled and burnt from the siege of Laurentinum. She could not remember what had happened to it now; she hoped her mother had not thrown it away.
On the furthest wall was a great grid decorated with repeating pictures, traces of their original colouring only hinted at: the Samirean calendar. It was the one they still followed to that day. A year was forty-two weeks, seven times seven Sun-days; the sacred number. A week was seven days starting on the Sun-day, followed by Chun-day, Nâ-day, Kekel-day, Je-day, Ar-day and Stelia-day. Every seventh Sun-day was Gaea-day, the day of rest and festivities, and in the old days they had observed a different festival over every Gaea-day and the two days that bookmarked it. Now the Romana only observed Bonadea, the year’s end festival, and Festa deu Melia, the middle-year feast, on the third or fourth Gaea-day of each year, depending on when the towering black clouds came from the Molten Mountains.
She touched the squares, and tried to remember what day it was. They had
left Romana before the third Sun-day of the year, but how long they had been travelling was almost impossible for her to decipher. Had it been many weeks, or only a few? She did not think middle-year had come yet, and thought perhaps they were halfway past the first Gaea-day. She did not know, though, and was just turning to leave when a shape sidled up to her out of the shadows, and she nearly screamed.