She stands on rooftops. She watches her city. She waits. Armed to the teeth, scimitars at her sides, she swings from the balconies of the terraced houses, till finally she begins to run along the rusty pipes of the built up slums.
Absylla is not like other cities. Absylla is a cage.
She climbs the buildings, higher and higher she runs. Her thinly padded boots finding the smallest cracks through the concentric rings of concrete. She climbs.
A labyrinth, a maze, a trap.
She drops low. A voice approaches slowly from the street below. She shimmies across the roof to peek over the edge, a small boy runs in the darkness below, slipping and sliding in the mud and grime which slicks down the entire fifth ring.
No time to waste, she somersaults off the roof and ducks low into a darker alley. Keeping cautious, she runs, soundlessly, completely encased in the shadows. The shadows which kept her safe.
Another voice. No, two voices, coming toward her. She swings herself up, hanging like a spider, suspending herself over the dark alley, waiting.
She draws the twin blades, still suspended. And when she feels the moment is right, she drops. The skin splits easily under the sharpened steel. The blood pools, and she turns away. Sheathing her scimitars, she keeps running.
Deep in the shadows next to her, she knows he is running too.
Absylla has its own secrets, buried deep within the mudbrick and concrete of the walls. In places only the shadows can see.
She slows down in the final stretch to the wall. The fifth wall stood taller than the others, more intimidating than the others. Fifty feet of rendered concrete. An impossible climb for those wishing to get out, and a deathly drop for those trying to get in. Impenetrable.
She walks to the wall, scarf still pulled tightly over her nose and mouth, hood hung low over her eyes. She is darkness incarnate, walking along the dim lit perimeter, tracing the tip of her dagger along the small grooves of the rendering.
And she turns to the mark in the smooth wall that has caught her blade. She looks up the wall to recognise the line of small marks that climb the wall. She tucks her dagger into her belt.
Lethe. That is the character carved a thousand times around this wall. Lethe. Hope.
She takes a few steps back, then runs full force, through the wall.
Abyslla has lots of secrets, some buried deep withing the mudbrick and concrete walls, where only shadows can see. Others barely hidden under the surface, secrets which the shadows are only too eager to reveal.
The sixth ring holds sorrow. Three years to the day has it been since hope thrived in the barren landscapes of the Sixth.
She walks along the wide streets, dwarfed by the giant metal obelisks surrounding her. They used to call it art. The tall silver pinnacles raising the city to new heights. Now the abandoned columns of wrought metal were only thought of as bars. Caging them into a city of darkness.
She finds his tower and climbs it. The patterns along it making easy grips for her to ascend into the sky. She climbs higher. Breathing in the cold air and coughing out the soot and grime of the city centre, the pit. She climbs higher. Pulling away her scarf as the wind freezes her to the cold metal. She stops.
She pulls herself onto the small platform, circling the top of the smooth silver menhir, and she waits for her shadow to join her.
He sits next to her quietly, invisible still in the darkness.
“Not long now.”
She looks at him as the sky turns pink and the sun starts to rise on the horizon. And he is luminous.
“I miss you.” She says through tears.
“I know.” His form is smoke in the light. But he is no longer darkness.
“Come back to me?”
He smiles a sweet smile at her, his eyes smiling too. Then he holds her close, staring into the sunrise.
Absylla, the city of darkness.
Absylla, the city where the dead walk next to the living, hidden in the shadows.
Absylla, where the living are tortured by their presence, only visible in the sunlight.