I woke up to light blinding me. I turned my head to the left; hiding under the shade of the steeple that blocked a fraction of the light out my window. At first I thought it was the sun, but I hadn’t seen the sun in several years.
I rolled over, away from the light. I never woke up being blinded. Usually the cries of the sellers below me pulled me from my light street. The night previous I had been woken by the screams of some poor thing freshly awake, being pulled apart by Tock’s officer’s in the street outside my window. Not something I’ve ever wanted to wake up to, but it got me sharp in a hurry. I was on my feet, locking down my room before the covers had fallen off me.
My clock chimed as the dark hour neared its end. I pulled my coat across the floor, not bothering to rise from my sprawl. Fishing out the pack of cigarettes from the inside pocket, I lit up for the first time since I’d been to the market, several weeks past. I rolled onto my back and exhaled a dark sparking plume of smoke curling in the air above me. I watched it flicker, opaque and full of slivers of light. I wondered what was casting such a light from outside my window.
In the four and a half years I’d been in the city, I’d never seen a sliver of sunlight. It was against the purpose of this place, I guess. I breathed in deep and felt my chest heat up with the swirl of memories that came with each drag.
Pulling myself to a sitting position, I curled around myself as the sheets under which I slept bunched around me, long since abandoning the edges of the bare mattress where I had spent the last week holed up. Outside my window was an orb of light, high above the rooftops. Through the maze of pipes and chimneys I could see it hanging above, casting its light down onto the city.
It wasn’t the sun. I stared at it without blinking for some time, my eyes never feeling the near-forgotten scorch that the true sun would have brought. It certainly was a new, entrancing any of the city’s denizens who happened to look up. It looked like a ball of fire, frozen in place. There were cresses in the flame, what looked to be hollow spots of dark smoke. Tilting my head I could make out a demented face, half on its side, made from ash, smoke and flame.
I heard the clocks chime as the dark hour ended, signalling the beginning of a new day. I had got maybe an hour of sleep, far too much to be safe. I flexed my arms and legs as I finished off the cigarette. My body was thin, skin stretched tight over my slim frame. What little chest I had was covered by the tattoos which covered my body. The dragon that rested on my stomach stretched and yawned wordlessly as it flew across my skin, finding its place on my shoulder.
Pulling myself from my bed, I started cleaning the room. Striping anything that I may have touched. I folded the sheet I had slept under and pushed it into my bag. I pulled on my coat before stripping the bare room. I dropped the stub of cigarette into a tin that was buried in one of the pockets of my tattered brown coat. Leaving something like a stub behind was a sure way to lead people after you. All it would take was a single needle nose bloodhound to catch a scent and then I’d be done for.
Finishing the room, I closed the door behind me. The darkness of sleep had done me some good. My body stretched as it shook off the pains that had plagued me the night before. I got into the alleys behind the townhouse I was in, slipping past the silent figures that flowed along the street in the early morning.
The sky was dark as always. Morning was gauged by the clocks that grew like flowers throughout the city, and the fires in the lamps that shed light on the maze like streets. Morning meant that the flames were low in their lanterns, barely giving any light as I passed underneath them. The occasional street lamp gave off its weak cone of light, recovering from the intense light it had spewed forth before the dark hour had hit.
I turned a corner of the alley and found myself on a street lined with dying grass. I was nearer to the outskirts of the city than I would have liked. The warrens, the area outside of the city, were a useful place to know, but it was too confusing to me. The tall, pale grass scared me. The staircases that wound their way up into the mists that blanketed the ceiling unnerved me. I looked down the street to my right and saw that a few blocks away, the city died off with stunning abruptness, a Cliffside canyon spilling forth into the fields of the warrens. I turned my back to the empty sky and walked along the road, back into the heart of the city.
//seems that the Mad City from DRYH seems to be blending into the Nonaverse's Undermaze, tainted by heavy Echo Bazaar use. it makes for on interesting setting under the misty ceilings of teh Undermaze. - A