I wanted to write to you as soon as I arrived in Viducia, but I couldn't be sure I was out of danger. It's been quiet for so long now I have to I imagine they've lost track of me. I hope you'll forgive my silence...
Anyway, I wrote this letter to catch you up on my life, not to dwell on the past. I think you knew I was well, as my capture would have been big news in Owvry.
I spent a couple years in Garrabrae, with a family of Romantics. They’re such wonderful people. I hope you get to meet them all someday. I learned to dance and cook and whittle and repair a carriage… well, the normal kind anyway. They have mechanical ones here, that move on their own power, but I don't understand how they work even after years of my friend Wrench trying to force it into my head.
But eventually, I needed to move on. Even though Wrench and her family wouldn't have cared about my eyes, I couldn't risk them finding out. It would put them in too much danger.
I was originally going to come back to Mardok, since I've been learning a lot about defending myself and could probably pass myself off as a Cynic anyway, but I wasn't sure if, even then, people would still be looking for me there. So when Wrench suggested I go to Genethan with her when she left home for school—since I could probably hear news of home from there—I thought it was a great idea.
And it really was! Genethan is so huge, you wouldn't believe it! You could fit Owvry Village into it a hundred hundred times! There is so much to see and do here you wouldn't be able to experience it all in your entire lifetime. And there are wonderful machines everywhere, like nothing you've ever seen. You should really visit one day.
I got so caught up in everything and loved it here so much I didn’t want to leave. But when I talked to a traveller who had come from Mardok and she said that the 'two eyed monster' had vanished without a trace and that most of them thought it hadn't really existed, I had to at least send you a letter so you’d know how I've been.
I’m going to stay here for another year so Wrench isn't alone while she finishes school, but then I will come back home, I promise. Whether it's dangerous or not.
I hope this letter finds you well, and you can always write me back at the Rusty Cog boarding house in the Engineering district of Genethan. I love you, and I miss you!
× × ×
"I hope yer almost done, Ori. We've got ta get ta da post quick if we're goin' ta have time ta do some sigh'seein'."
"Coming!" Oriana jerked the letter back and forth in front of her, drying the ink. She folded it and stamped the wax closed using the seal she'd bought in Owvry village years ago. The seal and register, once hated reminders of the worst of Cynic society, had become sentimental purely because they were some of the very few things she had left from her old life.
The door of their room nearly closed on the jacket trailing behind her as she rushed into the hall to find Wrench waiting for her. Wrench laughed.
"No need ta panic! We got a few minutes 'til she slips her moorin's."
"I know, but I *really* don't want to miss it again," Oriana panted, already heading down the hall. "Last time it left early."
Wrench followed Oriana down the hall, chuckling. "She do disappear in a real hurry sometimes, don't she? Used ta be ya could see her in da dock for days before she left, but I guess summa dem hoity toity types complained about da sun and now dey hide her away 'til she's ready ta go."
They waved to the proprietor of the boarding house on their way out the front door, Wrench with a hearty motion and a smile, Oriana without so much as a sideways glance or a cursory twinkle of fingers. The street outside was crowded with midday goings-on—citizens shopping and rushing around for work or errands—and Oriana found herself unable to maintain a satisfactory pace.
"We're not going to make it..." Oriana pouted, after trying unsuccessfully to squeeze between two burly men carrying barrels. "We're still so far away."
"We don't need ta get too close..." Wrench scanned the buildings to her right, standing on tiptoes to see over the crowd. When she spotted what she was looking for, she grabbed Oriana by the arm and guided her over to an alleyway.
"We just gotta find da right spot!"
They came out behind the buildings onto a terrace. The road they had been taking curled back in the opposite direction below them, and once more on a level below that, forming a descending 'S' shape until they could no longer see it behind the buildings sprawled out before them.
But there was much more to the view than that. Although they weren't quite at the highest tier of the city, which the engineering district behind them occupied, most of it—dipping from its zenith at the outer walls to a valley in the centre—was visible before them.
The area immediately in front of them, the market district, was chaotic and haphazard, any planning based solely on convenience and availability. The bustling crowds and bright colours gave it a vibrancy that was almost difficult to look beyond.
Doing so, however, would bring into view a much more serene setting. Uniformity and practicality were the theme here as the public buildings and parks of the municipal district took over. The area had its own quiet beauty, though, accentuated by the Lake of Roses in the centre of the city (not much more than a glittering white oval at this distance).
To the right and left of the municipal district were the lower and upper residential districts, respectively. The lower was for the most part utterly ignorable in contrast with the rest of the city, but even the upper was nothing compared to the last section of the city, furthest from the engineering district.
This last district was the Crown district, the royal family's land. From where Oriana and Wrench were standing it was a bright blur, but up close it was a marvel of grand architecture, painted marble the primary building material. Monuments and opulent living quarters abound, the crown district was an aptly named symbol of prosperity sitting at the head of the city.
Altogether, it was a vista that made Oriana's breath catch even now, a year after she'd arrived in Genethan. But the real treat was yet to come.
Wrench had turned from the view to the back of the building beside them, where a pleasant looking couple were sitting at a table and drinking something hot. They too were taking in the view, presumably waiting for the same spectacle to begin.
"Hey dere," Wrench beamed. "Mind if we stay here ta watch? She's never seen it before."
The couple nodded their assent, so Oriana and Wrench settled in against the railing of the terrace. Oriana was no longer surprised by the trusting hospitality of the Romantics, but she was still pleased by it every time. It was so much easier than dealing with Cynics and their contracts.
However, she had seen the downside of it too. Being trusting did not necessarily mean being honest. Petty crime was a big problem in Genethan, and she was always seeing people get scammed and tricked. For a long while she had tried to help in these situations, but it had been a losing battle that had worn her down and now she stepped in only in the most egregious circumstances.
Wrench touched Oriana's shoulder and pointed into the distance, interrupting her reverie.
From the municipal district in the heart of the city, a shape was rising like a swell in water. It floated up above the rooftops, seeming to grow in size as more and more of it came into view, eventually towering above the large municipal buildings in both size and height.
At a distance it was rather hard to see it well, but Oriana had heard enough about it that it was all she needed. It was the Cardinal, a gigantic flying ship commissioned by the royal family and used to transport goods—and those rich enough to afford the high price of a ride—across Viducia.
It was made mostly of wood, but she knew there was a large amount of zephrite inside it as well, the floating stone for which Genethan was famous. Wrench had explained how heat would cause zephrite to stop rising and that by controlling the temperature of the furnaces in the Cardinal they could make it go higher or lower.
The clinical explanation hadn't done justice to the majesty with which the enormous ship moved, as far as Oriana was concerned. She stood transfixed as it slid across the sky and above the lower residential district, and watched it well past when the couple nearby lost interest and left. She only turned away to stare at Wrench with wide eyes when it was so far along the east horizon it was no more than a dark speck.
"So? What'd ya t'ink?" Wrench asked, stifling a laugh.
"It was incredible! It's so much bigger than all the other ships!"
"Well I'm glad ya liked it. And I'm glad ya got ta see it dis time."
"Next time we have to leave earlier and get even closer," Oriana decreed. "I want to have to strain my neck looking up at it."
Wrench's chuckle came freely this time. "Sounds good ta me. But let's get goin' now, we been standin' here so long everyt'in'll be closed by da time we get dere."
"Alright," Oriana agreed, casting one last glance in the direction of the ship. "Let's go."