The sun hung between High Central's towers like one more ornament to decorate the skyline of the City's most important district. The high-rising apartments and sky-scraping edifices seemed to reach at the clouds, like a many-fingered hand attempting to claw itself above the ground.
"Wow," Angela said, from the seat across from Samuel, as they watched the train pass another high-set causeway and run across a bridge towards a tunnel built into the building. "I can't believe I never saw it before."
"You've been to High Central," Samuel said, eyeing his partner quizzically. He hadn't realized it for some time after, but the first time he met her was in High Central.
On a dark and terrible night of Valkyries and Dragon fire, during the first night of the Sixth Invasion.
"Yeah, but I never could believe why they made High Central so high," Angela said.
"Thought it was to lift the upper echelons of society out of the smoke and ash of the City," Samuel replied.
Samuel didn't notice for a moment that his partner was staring at him. Surprised, he was unprepared for her wide-eyed, disbelieving glare.
"Are you really so cynical?" Angela asked him earnestly.
"Cynical?" Samuel asked, pointing at the tower the train was passing through. "There's more glass on the top suite of that tower than there is in my entire building. What am I being cynical about?"
"You really do see it that way," Angela said, shaking her head in disbelief.
Samuel found the anger begin to seethe through his thoughts, and they tainted his words when he spoke next. "I try to keep my eyes open."
"But you don't see it," Angela said. She gestured towards one of the nearby towers; a massive structure of angled stone encased in a swirling mass of concrete tendrils that looked like the vines of a tree wrapped around a boulder.
"High Central is built to fall," Angela said. "The buildings are pointlessly top-heavy, they're weighted more like a club or an axe. Look at that, there's no point in all that reinforcement if that mass of stone were just hollow."
"You're saying that isn't some Bureau Chief's private party lounge?" Samuel asked, but the bitterness was beginning to leave his voice.
Every building in the skyline had a similar design; with elaborately contrived domes or spheres near the top, and heavily reinforced structures surrounding them.
"I'm not denying that. But those buildings are designed to fall, and they're designed to fall hard," Angela said. "On Golems."
Samuel's mind immediately recalled his graduation ceremony in the Agora, when he and hundreds of others were inducted into the orderlies. The ceremony was held in the massive auditorium that housed the City's Parliament, and the Tapestries.
There were five that hung from the domed ceiling. Five tapestries depicting moments of heroism and horror, the best and most terrible moments of the battles that pushed the creatures of the Gloam out of the City. And on four of them, all except the tapestry commemorating the First Invasion, depicted the Golems.
Over a hundred feet tall and nearly as wide, the Golems were monsters of stone that came from the grey mists beyond the Last Wall. Capable of pounding through any fortification, and incredibly difficult to stop. Even with the Songbird and the Fury, the City's first two airships, the Golems had made it through four layers of walls before they had eventually fled.
"Are you sure?" Samuel asked. But something about the idea of it, weighed against the memory of the first nights of the Sixth Invasion, had already convinced Samuel.
YOU ARE READING
Bitter Cold Truth: A Tale of the Everburning CityFantasy
There is no night in the Everburning City. There can never be. Fourteen people lie dead on the platform of Billows Station, killed by fire and rage. And as the perpetrator hides within the millions of people who inhabit the City, the task of findi...