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Last Flight of the Admiral Stalkforth 18

“I don’t understand.”

“Millennia ago when this planet was warm and full of life, the first humans were molded from the primal sludge and set free by the Maker. This is the last city built before the pan-exodus.“

“And then?”

He motioned broadly at the nothingness surrounding the ancient buildings. “During the aeon between our estrangement and reunion, Namurai Sun Jewel wasted away into this scoured, shriveled husk. But the ancient city was preserved with the best technologies of that primitive age, and so it remains, the last relic of our youth.”

“How is it that we can breathe?”

“The gaseous shell is actually an artificial atmosphere, built solely for the purpose of making the planet habitable again. It provides oxygen, proper physical laws, and stability.”

They walked among the broken and twisted structures until they arrived at the lip of the Trench City. A warm breeze blew up from the chasm and the Admiral breathed in deeply. It smelled wholesomely of rich food and smoldering embers. The trench's sides were pale gray and perfectly smooth, like the facet of a precious jewel. The glow at the bottom undulated in the manner of a stormy sea.

They found a small elevator nestled between two gleaming obelisks covered in metal thorns. Immediately after boarding, the machine let out a rumble and plunged down into the silvery light.

Buildings were attached to both sides of the trench, protruding out from the walls and hanging freely over the depths with no apparent reinforcement. Each was built from pale white stone that glowed ethereally in the soft light. Mosaics of many colors filled the gaps between them, and ghostly ivy woven into intricate patterns clung to all in a delicate latticework.

The elevator groaned to a halt at a slender bridge that connected to the largest structure yet. On either side of this façade, columns inlaid with blue and green stones were partially sunken into the sheer walls. They framed a triangular window—itself made of many smaller triangles—and a broad arching doorway twice the height of a man. Silver teardrops hung from filaments of ivy and obscured the entrance like bangs over a face. In front, a wide tiled platform jutted out from the trench wall. Jole and the Admiral exited the elevator, crossed over the trench on the bridge, and stepped onto the platform. They stood before two doors.