Liidhaga is a city of centuries, generations, of stone on drained swamp on stone on sand. Canals run beneath, but the wave has cast rubble into most: the rest lie forgotten, lines traced on maps now archived by punctilious scholars. Now, eastwards of the plaster-lined scabs of a new settlement, of a dwindling population still rife with scholars and scoundrels, Old Liidhaga lists.

Green shadows. Green tendrils. Green tangles in the shadows and sunlight, there. Where there were mansions, now they have become nests for snakes, for crocodiles, for carnivorous plants. Reliefs, distorted by brown, brackish waters, waver; apsara dance beneath the influx and reclamation of the marshlands. The flood has reclaimed the processional way, the shrines, the small graveyards, the crockery that held plants from one hundred farflung ports (themselves devoured by the great waves that have shaken the world). It has reclaimed the place where the skinpainters once stood, it has devoured the hoarded libraries of selfish merchanters.

Scraps float on the deep, soaked in salt. Flowers float on the surface, feasting on the rituals and legends of dead aeons. Skeletons embrace in the deep under the watchful eyes of dancing, sari-clad women; silks have long since gone to the mud, their colors faded. The henna stores that decorated brides and buskers alike have cracked open; the amphorae lay shattered alongside.

Metal rusts, casting bloody pools in the muck. Columns lean sideways.

Weep for Old Liidhaga! But above, the birds cry out, flying bright and free from cages between the buildings. Music eddies from the deeper places, the canals broken open to the sea: the livathi, the massive serpent artisans of the ocean depths haunt the edges, driven mad by their fall, by magic unleashed and twisted. Berry brambles carry fruit that might still make wine. Spiraling ferns unfold atop the tiered garden towers; beneath, vanilla blossoms grow and their pods rattle together.

And at the edges, pirates live, and slums spread under the eaves of broken residences. The scent of incense and roasting snake kebab infiltrates the fallen city, and bit by bit, the city, as in centuries past, is reclaimed.



Freewriting from the world of Lament.

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