Mountain 2: Tthayet

The great city of the Zuqùndhoth, Tthayet-in-my-dreams, is older than anyone remembers. It sprawls across a chain of islands, some great, some small, all cobwebbed with canals and crowned with flowering terraces. There is no ground in Tthayet, only road and bridge and cultivated roof.

Long ago the celestial sculptor, Satàrah, danced across the oceans with her lover Raztat.

Tonight, Blackbird Lantern dances across the blue-tiled roofs of Red Cliff, telling stories to the storms. Signalling banners are in his hands and his ankles are heavy with bells. In the shelter of a darkened pavilion, musicians play: a violin, a beating drum, and a voice raised in song set the rhythm for the dancer to follow.

Dust fell from Satàrah's feet and made the clouds; Raztat's spear cut the waters and made wave and tide. Men watched them from the shores, and so they learned an art of battle.

The Lantern's banners tell the sky how Red Cliff was raised, brick by brick, against the edge of the sea. He tells it of the temple's age, of its beauty, how it was here that the language of stone defeated the language of man, with its scale and dignity and excellence. His torches are the only source of light; every window of the great temple is dark.

The dancer's fingers gripping empty air made the sun turn away his face in shame while dragon and phoenix watched her eyes in embarrassed fascination, for so subtle and expressive was Satàrah's abhinaya that it laid her desire naked for all to see. Women watched them from the ships, and so they learned the art of cutting stone.

The drummer's rhythm falters in the darkness, and the violin misses a note; the sun is rising and the musicians are exhausted. Blackbird Lantern still moves across the roofs like a dry leaf carried on the wind, because the clouds have not cleared, and the air is still thick with the smell of meat.

Fingers on his throat buckled Raztat's knees. Meeting her eyes made him drop the beat. They could dance no longer; other things were on their minds. So it was that the sculptor and the warrior sank to the water and the heat of their passion boiled the sea, leaving cracked hills of salt and sand, the foundations of Tthayet-in-my-dreams.

Thousands of years later, in the first theophany in recorded history, Vakhriyya Dawndrinker took up Satàrah's dusty white mantle, and danced on those white salt hills; at every spot she placed her foot, a flat-topped tower sprang up, and when she waved her hands, bridges twined through them like vines or hungry snakes, looking for vermin on which to feed.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

What does |tth| represent in Xsampa?

Also, I must say you are one of the best writers I've ever encountered.

8:23 pm  
Blogger Shreyas said...

Anon. (oh names! I pine for them):

Thank you; I am a sucker for flattery. I recommend that you go encounter Ms. Rebecca Borgstrom over at hitherby dragons; I think you'll find that I've got my superiors. (But really, I appreciate the compliment immensely.)

|tth| is /t_dT/; unlike Seinundjé's sort of opaque spelling, Nrit is spelled very similarly to English.

1:03 am  

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