Historical documents - Diary of Katrina Marie Stone (ni’Tamra), submitted by the Lishaya upon her mother's death
January 12, 19–
The ferris wheel's gears clank as they ratchet us up, and I cling to the swaying gondola, white knuckles against the peeling red paint. "I'm not so sure about this," I confess to my lover.
He (Alan, his name is Alan ni'Bartomn) gives a reassuring smile and pats my hand. "Trust me, Ann. It's perfectly safe."
"I'll believe it when we get down!"
The wheel shudders to a halt, jolting the gondola, and I release an undignified squeak. Alan pries my hand from the edge and kisses it. "Look," he says. Simply, calmly.
And so I do. And my heart leaps into my throat at the sheer beauty of it.
We have stopped at the very top, and I can see the whole city spread out before me, from the Carnival District to the castle and, just barely, the massive iron gates in the distance. I have never been this high up before, higher even than the great stone wall that encircles our city. I drink in the sight - marble-columned manors, Victorian homes, Gothic, medieval, even a tower in the new Art Deco style... infinite variety, accreted over time. Bright-lit pubs and coffeehouses, the vast swath of park. The shield shimmering barely visible just outside the walls.
The sun slips below the horizon, below the waves; purple and blue lash up, filling the sky with night, and I watch the fog begin to rise off the ocean. My hand tightens on Alan's as the fog rises, writhes, tumbles down over the wall to pool and swirl in the cobblestoned streets. I have never seen it like this. As a child I danced in the fog at the park, but I never saw it arrive. Not like this. The lights of the Carnival District dye it in muted pastels, like clouds of candy floss, but the streetlamps in the distance light it a purer color, a soft silver. The castle rises above all, silver in silver.
My city. My home.
Alan raises my hand to his lips, and I only reluctantly turn back to look at my beloved. "Thank you," I whisper.
His smile widens. "Ann... will you marry me?"
And then I woke up. Another night under another bridge, head pillowed on my pack.
Another night I've dreamed as Ann. Another night in that city, the city I've been dreaming in for almost a year. And I swear... I swear the dreams are almost more real than this life, this shabby sorry life. I swear I can almost remember being Ann, back when Art Deco was new...
New term in this dream - "ni'Bartomn". I'm "Ann ni'Tamra" in the dreams. What does the "ni" mean?
Remembering more each time. Figuring it out. And every dream is clearer, stronger.
The city's name is Shayara, and it's pulling me home.
I think I'm getting closer.
Time to get back on the road...