The sky train sped above the seemingly endless city. Several times it stopped at stations, but we remained aboard. I continued to watch in fascination, the buildings passing by. Abruptly the color, style, and size of the structures changed. We were now crossing a region of huge, dark buildings, many of which were larger than the giant warehouses and sports stadiums that I had seen before. These were far less ornate and far more utilitarian than the other buildings as well.
“This is one of the industrial regions. It is a circle one hundred kentads (about fifty miles) in diameter containing nothing but factories and warehouses. This is where the majority of our manufactured goods come from— this or one of the nine other regions just like it.”
I acknowledged Vena Remontar’s commentary, and then turned away from the window. Several food servers in the traditional white bodysuits were delivering tall glasses of ice water and trays of small appetizer cakes. The young knight, and I as her companion, were served first.
“There certainly seems to be a great deal of respect and privilege associated with being a knight,” I observed.
“That is very true,” Vena Remontar replied, with a slight smile, “but it is more than that in my case. The Remontar family name is well known, as are all who carry that name. In addition, my cousins are the heirs of the Sun Overlord. Norar Remontar and his sister are beloved of the entire city.”
We busied ourselves eating the delicious cakes, which were filled with ground meat and a variety of vegetables. In certain parts of the land of my birth, they might have been called pasties, though they were seasoned unlike anything found on Earth. The water was delicious. It seemed that water was the beverage of choice among the Amatharians, and they went to great lengths to see that any water found within the city was not only crystal clear and healthful, but tasty as well. With the exception of mirrah, and a few other fermented drinks, water was all that was available to drink in most city places.
We had just finished eating when the sky train made one more stop in the industrial center. After it began on its way again, we crossed out of the region of factories and complexes and began crossing a vast open cultivated land. I watched out the window as we continued on, and the buildings of the city grew distant behind us. Roaming the ground like huge grazing animals, were monstrous machines, planting, thinning, and harvesting a tremendous variety of vegetables and fruits.
“Have we left the city?” I asked.
“This is one of the five cultivation areas within the city,” explained the knight. “Each is a circle two hundred fifty kentads (about two hundred miles) in diameter. Four are in operation growing our food, while a fifth lies fallow.”
As we cruised along, our conversation did not lag. I had a thousand, no ten thousand questions for this lovely young woman from a very alien culture. She explained much about the hopes and aspirations of the Amatharian people, the day-to-day functioning of the clans and family businesses, and the many obligations and requirements. Even though I know that I learned much during the course of that lengthy ride, it is hard to remember the exact order of the conversation now.
We passed the far edge of the cultivation area and once again entered into the urban mass. This portion of the city was obviously of far greater age than the majority of the buildings I had seen until now, though these old edifices maintained the same style and ornamentation as the newer ones. I had come to think of Amathar as one would think of a city one Earth, a great urban realm, but this city was on an entirely different scale. Within the walls of the Amatharians’ home were not only vast areas of cultivated fields, but mountains, lakes, and rivers as well. This older portion of the city, though still urban, was built upon a low mountain range.
The train stopped at a station upon a platform high in the air, and this time we stood up and stepped off the sky train. Vena Remontar led me down a great escalator so steep that it seemed I was walking straight down. Once at the bottom I looked around at a plaza some two miles across. Great statues of stone, some as high as forty feet were interspersed with surging fountains, tall green hedgerows, and monstrous tile pictures. Two sides of the plaza were lined with large buildings resembling hotels. The third side faced a large park or wilderness area. Facing the fourth side was a fantastic stepped pyramid, more than a mile wide and more than two thousand feet high.
“That is the Temple of Amath,” my blue-skinned companion said. “At the other end is the Garden of Souls.”