The Farin Apriceway
Section I: Episode 21
December 14, 2014
One of the great comforts of Ieik was its web of apriceways, corridors of tempered glass that blocked out the brutal wind and some—not often enough, but some—of the stinging cold. For a small village at the top of the world, immersed forever in inhospitable weather, it was a logical development, but a luxury, to be sure, for the glass was difficult to produce and continually being destroyed by debris flying on the wind. Only the center of the village and the densest parts of the west had significant networks, though there were smaller systems along with individual apriceways peppered throughout all of Ieik.
The Ieikili used glass for one simple reason: the sunlight. In much of the world, there was a good long season of the year for the visceral pleasure of being outdoors, but in Ieik it was always cold. Only the very warmest days of the year could be called comfortable, and only in the early afternoon. The Ieikili were an indoor people, but not by choice, and treasured any sunlight they could procure. In the summer the aprices grew positively warm, and people congregated there, lolling away their free hours.
Galavar enjoyed walking the apriceways. They were much more fun than the streets, and more sophisticated. He loved to be surrounded by the handiworks of Civilization, nestled in the accomplishments of Kindred vision. Underfoot, the ways were usually paved in smooth-cut stone, reddish beige and blond, with stone walls on either side up to about the knee. Then, usually, it was glass the rest of the way up to the ceiling on the southernmost side of the way, and sheets of fakeboard on the ceiling itself and on northernmost side, although many apriceways had glass on the ceiling too, providing a sense of openness that people adored and coveted. A few of the most heavily trafficked ways even had glass on the northern side, despite sunlight never coming in through there.
Most of the majestic glass sheets were heavily dinged; they wouldn't be replaced until terminal cracks developed, since they served their purpose just as well in a battered state, and the other concern, safety, was assuaged by the custodial work of those who oversaw the ways and replaced failing sheets before they came apart—though there was inevitably a laceration or two every once in a while. Galavar didn't mind the damage, and actually appreciated the random variety that came from the various chips and cracks. He had even created a few dings in his day, deliberately. It was the sort of unsanctioned but constructive vandalism that many Ieikili youth enjoyed, or at least that's how they saw it.
The Farin Apriceway connected the Academy with the Fateful Well, which was the destination this morning as Galavar and his friends made their way to services. Farin was a sizeable corridor, one of the biggest in the village, suited to the large convoys of children who frequently passed through it, and it had a unique feature among the apriceways: Instead of having a long, rectangular shape, the Farin Apriceway consisted of a series of archways, with glass on both sides, capped by round glass domes. It was fantastically ornate, and the individual segments of the way were large enough that many of them accommodated benches and even the occasional table. Galavar had always loved it here, and often walked through it just for fun.
But there were a few points along the way that were particularly spectacular. First were the three Crystal Atria. These special segments had the same domed structure as the rest, but were significantly larger, and served as gathering points as well as junctions with other major apriceways. Moreover, as the name told, the Crystal Atria were made of a special glass, lead crystal glass, thousands upon thousands of segments of it, fitted into delicately slender metal frames painted pure white. In the sunlight, each atrium gave off spectacular color. The delicate crystal was protected from the winds by tents of cwaymesh, which, while ordinarily invisible, sometimes shimmered like a shower of gold glitter when the light was just right; on the inside the crystal was protected from reckless bodies by brass stanchions. The crystal mostly had no dings—not least because it didn't hold up as well as the tempered glass when it took a blow—but nevertheless the thousands of individual segments of crystal looked like the water's skin as seen from below.
And then there was the greatest marvel, the Tal Tie Escalader Bridge, which connected two of the village's fingers by descaling the side of a palisade on moving platforms, nestled inside a cocoon of glass sculpture hammered into the cliff. There were several escalades in the village, none so exquisite as the Grand Escalade, but Tal Tie was a close second in Galavar's spark. He loved to ride it; sometimes he had spent hours going up and down, standing and watching the world scroll before him. It was like riding a horse in that a mate could move without exerting their own limbs, but a horse ride was an exertion; the Tal Tie Escalader was smooth. Everything about it filled him with awe and jubilation. Not once did he pass through it without a thrill; he suspected that he couldn't, that his eyes could never close to such a wonder.
O day and night, but this is wondrous strange!