We were given the starter paragraph (in bold) for this one - and we had to do the research to make it authentic in historical detail. As a fantasy writer, I actively avoid research, so this was a challenge and a half... The end result is set circa 1290AD, and relates to Stuttgart.
After four days of rain, when the Neckar River was at its angriest – swollen higher than anyone had ever seen it before – Wilhelm’s life was changed forever. The river was at bursting point with the unstoppable effluence cascading down from the Swabian Alps. Even the infinite, thirsty root system of the vast Black Forest did little to assuage the onslaught.
On that black foreboding day, Wilhelm did not envy the men who, even in these atrocious conditions, continued to raft the best timber the Black Forest could offer on the back of the ‘wild fellow’.
The rain had stopped by the time he set off for his rather less dangerous appointment, and Wilhelm was glad of it. He had not wanted the new woollen mantle to be ruined on its first wearing; he would not regret spending a single pfennig on it, if Count Wurttemberg approved. And at least it hid the worst of the ink-spots that continually stained his tunic. There was, unfortunately, absolutely nothing he could do to hide the ink stains on his fingers...
As he wove between the half-timbered houses, the smoke from their chimneys stinging his eyes, Wilhelm felt a sudden surge of pride for his home. The pasture which had once been home to Duke Luitolf von Schwaben’s stud horses had witnessed the growth of a settlement, a settlement raised to the status of town a little under sixty years ago. And now – now, it was on the verge of transforming into a city. Stuortengarten needed only one more thing before it could be granted that elevated status…and Wilhelm hoped he would be the one to supply it.
The moat around the simple fortified castle had widened by half again, thanks to the four-day long deluge. Pausing at the bridge to gather his thoughts, Wilhelm tried to wipe away the worst of the mud which had splattered his longbraies and shoes, but only succeeded in making things worse.
With a sigh, and hoping the mantle alone would be enough to create a professional appearance, he gave it up. Instead, Wilhelm checked that the parchment was still tucked into his belt. It was.
On it was a simple sketch, but one Wilhelm hoped would grace the new city’s arms for centuries to come. Two black stallions, surrounded by branches and leaves. Stuorten and garten – mare and pasture - a canting coat of arms to pay tribute to the city’s humble origins. He took a deep breath, and marched over the bridge.