Damin cannot be dead. I would know if it was so. As I swallow my anger, I begin to wonder if I would know. Perhaps he changed so much here, the connection we once had no longer exists.
“If he is dead, I need to confirm it,” I say to the boy, and even my ears can pick up on how hard it is for me to say those words.
Attis grimaces, but he nods and turns to take to the path again. Over his bony shoulder he throws, “I’ll take you to the deadhouse first. They keep records there. If his name isn’t on a list …” He shrugs then and swipes at his shock of tawny hair as if embarrassed.
It causes me to smile. He is just a boy and does not deserve my anger. “The records are accurate?”
I see him nod decisively.
We negotiate more winding ways until the ground levels into a series of wooden walks crossing the wet of the lowlands. This is marshland. In past days, many were lost to the marshes, and thus our habitable territory was decreed as ended where the plateau stops. It seems, though, when too many seek their fortune in the same place, the laws of the land and of logic no longer apply.
I place my feet carefully on rotting boards, and wonder what happens during the wet season. Surely the lower city floods then? The islands popping from the festering wet are crowded with buildings … and each seems spectacularly unsafe. I note they are crowded with people too. How do they eat? There is a sense of desperation about this place.
Attis turns sharply left to follow another path through the marsh. Ahead I see a stone building, the only one amid a morass of wood.