My last "tour" of this city for a while - yet another exercise, a desc of the cityscape at day and one at night ...
During the day, Pelindar navigated through the world like its citizens mobbed the streets; impatient, impulsive, swirling silks and exotic perfumes elbow to elbow with the unwashed and everyone too busy to protest the cattle-crush of the herd. The scent of the ocean seemed to take on physical form, a subtle spirit winding over terracotta roofs and insinuating itself on the sidelines of families.
Market Row was a jumble of dueling shops, their banners thrust forth like blades, a wreckage of carts and stalls fighting to find place where they could – and all of it at the top of the city’s salt-starched lungs. It was a place blind higher than the canopies, oblivious to the sprawling mansions of the High Quarter and the towers of the sorcerer-wardens. Even when the church bells sounded, they stared dumbly – and deafly – at the same garish displays, drawn into the flatness of frenetic trade.
One line of darkness cut through the Row, where three story buildings butted into each other and fell across any possible angle of light. Some people said Midnight Avenue was more than that, that even if you demolished every warehouse and multi-tiered salon of sundries, the endless night would endure, its own supernatural shroud over the businesses there. It was understood, in these enlightened times, that there was nothing inherently peculiar about the street itself, but there was no denying that the people who had chosen to put out their moodily-lit shingles there were more than a little … odd.
Pelindar, night – subtle, shadowy, all the colors blurred together into an indistinct shelter of grey. Sometimes the damp in the air stung, but it always seemed to hang heavier after sunset, dank and leisurely. Shadows strung out over homes; homes strung out over streets, gangly and sprawling; and streets strung out underneath people, wandering with drunken unpredictability wherever fancy took them.
Market Row lay like the treacherous rocks of a reef, dotted with bad bargains and tiny, painful points of light, places that did their best business after-hours or simply believed that never sleeping was preferrable to missing a customer. There were surprisingly few taverns – it wasn’t a business of trade. The sky opened above the Row in an errant cascade of brooding silhouette, its fine buildings reduced to dark lines and massive elephants perched over their private watering holes.
Midnight Avenue remained unchanged, not a whisper darker or even lighter than it had been. Sunset did not even register among the gnarled lanes. People moved through its timeless streets with more ease now as the rest of the world matched up with the interior – able to forget, if only briefly, the strangeness that usually permeated here. Yet the shops were the same, the proprietors of the same inclinations they had been before; perception merely changed it half the time, leaving a place made ordinary by acclaim.
Down to the sea, where the waters ran green and black, the hulking ships a quiescent blur as they waited for their next destination. Out across the waves, a moon larger than imagination, captured in fog.