Violence was ever present in the city , it oozed through the streets below railings like a rolling fog — it carried the weight of the blood like a black boil in the gut , and accompanied many a night with or without a companion in the cold and dark. Blood dripped from a nose shattered on a high railing.
Anulio staggered from the rough wooden balcony. “Our guest is having trouble better not stay here” said the young dark skinned girl dressed as a boy who made sure the lotus pipes and resin were collected and sent through a small copper hatch set in a stone door that none of the patrons ever saw. Anulio slumped outside against the portico and translucent glowing appendages moved in the blue brown darkness behind his eyelids. When he opened them the world swam into his eyes.
The mechanical streets traveled ceaselessly in their traces. People toiled at the whipping wheels and fiendish pulleys that led to staircases and further galleries looking on rows of wheels and cranked pulleys, with more cracked and bleeding hands to toil at them. Asterion nimbly capered over the stairs and peered down from the impossible galleries, shrieking obscene laughter that wrenched his youthful face into a distant copy of the young King Calce in his palace gardens with their chained royal jaguars*.
Anulio beheld the god Asterion’s pantomime and took him for one in whom the well of madness ran deep and relentless. He was the mad cosmic explorer given to his upriver jaunts and capers where he took delight in upending and leading to an equal insanity whomever he could convince to follow in his wake. “More wine”, he said, gesturing to the empty street of crushed bottles. The guards who roughly shook him awake almost didn’t recognize him as the man who’d risked death to defend the city he’d been sent to conquer many years in the past.
- In his rage and jealousy King Calce had named one of the cats “Ruler of the Royal Gardens” and allowed it the privilege of serving as his footstool in meetings with subordinate counsels. He advised visitants to the throne to bring propitiatory meat for “his only loyal servant”, to demonstrate that they valued their limbs intact, though he could not guarantee that the tribute would be sufficient for their “newly appointed prince” .
- His advisers managed to convince him that loosing the animals on the Grove King would necessitate freeing them in the streets outside, and to reach the entrance that was the only access to the temple and its meadows an onrush of such animals would either perish over the sharp cliffs nearby or run riot on the populace. “And miss the flesh from my counselors who advise me to ruin? Send the guards then. Bring me the Grove King’s crown with any part of him attached and I’ll double the reward ” . The woodland monarch was reported to have responded with a shrug, and the words “Will my successor master the frenzied hordes of beasts freed from coliseum and corral as I have?”