I know this isn’t a lot to update with, but I am writing more, and trying to post it as it comes out. I really hope there aren’t too many errors, but I suppose not much can be expected from drafts. I also gave the city a name. Yay?
His heart began to slow from it careening rhythm, and his vision faded from the brilliant luminosity of before. Whatever process had taken place within him, was now slowing down and returning to its previous state. Muscles tingled as their fluid supply returned to baseline. Refocusing, Erys scanned the dirtied paper containing the hastily scribbled information which had lead him to this place. It didn’t answer many questions, and had cost a years worth of high-quality oil, but it had proved correct so far, and that was good enough. Information about the secretive inner workings of the city were hard to come by, as most were simply too frightened of the Gearmen and their brown cells to offer anything of use, the prospect of vanishing during the night buying silence more effectively than money ever could. Others plainly didn’t know anything at all, and didn’t care. They worked their allotted jobs, plied by cheap ethanol and empty-headed joy of the numerous entertainment complexes, and didn’t question the workings of the world that surrounded them. Erys couldn’t really blame them. If he could have forgotten all of this, the mechanical eyes, the piercing metal spikes, he would have done so, and lived out his life searching the bottom of ethanol botles, blearily accomplishing what little he could. But the thought of Alisia would remain. The irreplaceable loss bound to the hollow in his chest, the absence of that most precious, could not be forgotten.
He smoothed the paper against his coat, eyes straining through the muted light. ‘REACH COMPARTMENT 762 AT CYCLE CHANGE. AVOID PATROLS. LOOK FOR ENTRY. ONE CHANCE.’ Messy and borderline illegible, the information had come from someone who moved between the six cities, managing to survive in the harsh wastelands that surrounded Vaporveil. Denied entry by all cities, and hunted mercilessly whenever sighted, their harrowed existence granted them a dogged determination to survive, and a resourcefulness that could not be underestimated, which was highly valued by people such as Erys. They infiltrated into the depths of the cities, gathering information and resources, sabotaging where they could, but were hopelessly outmatched in power and numbers, and the grim sight of their lifeless bodies strung up along the walls of Vaporveil was an often repeated tale from the rare few granted access into the city from the outside. Officially, they were called Strangers. This particular stranger, Erys recalled, had just returned from Ashen, the sprawling city of fire and monstrous furnaces to the north. Backed by the Soot Mountains, grown through centuries of accumulated particle buildup from the constant firing of the cities furnaces, it stood glowing brilliant vermilion amongst a sea of dusty black, its burning light reaching for miles around. Erys had not spoken to anyone who had actually seen it, until he met the curious stranger deep within Vaporveils industrial sector, where he bought the information needed to access the cities protected interior.
He looked for instructions on the next step. ‘FOLLOW THE PIPES’ it read, written hurriedly and understated, as all of it was. Eyrs glanced upwards, and saw solid bronze pipes, bound by steel in bunches of three, snaking along the ceiling. All heading in the same singular direction. He stuffed the paper in his coat pocket, and wiped the condensation from his eyes. ‘One more step’ he thought. ‘One more step is all it ever takes.’ He set off into the gloom.