Z’shi (Foundation)

A world of endless towers, this.

Towers of purest precious ice, delicate and ethereal, a colourless beauty to steal one’s breath.

A realm of shining latticework minarets, of smoothly bulbous spires and clockwork obelisks, of ever-shifting, ever-growing, ever-branching towers upon towers that build themselves upwards — ever upwards — and onwards, forever towards the glittering white-crystal dome of the heavens above which may be, in turn, yet more growing, splitting, duplicating, fusing, elaborating towers.

As they climb ever higher these fragile structures change, the ice of their structures now glassy, now frosted, now whirled and patched with dead-white milky zones; now a touch of silver, now deepest azure or most royal teal, forms precious and rare; now sharp as razors, now smooth and bulbous.

A new sub-tower branches free; a lacy bridge reaches delicate fringes to cross — to maybe cross — the frigid span of emptiness as countless spans have crisscrossed, above and below. Sometimes a plaza slowly spreads, a dizzying plate of ice, hanging over the endless heights below.

Sometimes there are great curving balconies and balustrades, thick with intricate ornamentation; sometimes the ice grows strange pistons and levers and gears delicate as snowflakes.

Sometimes there are delicate gardens, growing from grains of ice instead of soil, trailing luxuriant vines of a million shining leaves and tiny blossoms over slender rails and down curving tower walls.

And sometimes towers fall.

Oh yes, they fall.

They shatter — losing entire sections, whole spires — under their own weight, under a flawed growth-angle, under the onslaught of would-be conquerors not satisfied with the ephemeral beauty they already possess.

They fall, losing part of themselves, until the ice begins to flow and grow once more towards the glittering silver-white perfection far above.

* ice * fragility * pathways * rejuvenation * patterns * beauty * ephemerality *

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