Meliko felt his young son’s hand twitch with excitement as they approached the old citadel. The long walk from the town always tired the boy, but he grew stronger – and a little taller – with each trip, and the anticipation of speaking with his family never failed to reinvigorate him by the time the their feet fell upon carved stone.
The citadel had been long since abandoned. It’s impressive towers, grand archways, and seemingly impossible dome had long since fallen into disrepair. Windows that once sparkled with light were now dark reminders of lives once lived, and its cavernous halls echoed with songs no longer sung. But there was still some life left in the old ruin, if it could truly be called life; Meliko’s ancestors still haunted those halls, preserved forever – or so Meliko hoped – by machines no longer understood, not even by the old ghosts themselves.
Meliko had petitioned the council several times to allocate resources to the restoration of the citadel, or to its upkeep at the very least. Each time his proposal had been rejected. It was not that elder knowledge was not respected, in fact it would continue to be a necessity if they were to rebuild and restore their civilization to its former glory, it was just that there were always more pressing concerns. Manpower simply could not be spared, they had said. So few had survived the last war.
“Father? Father?” bounced the child.
“Yes, Melisosha?” Meliko replied.
“Do you think Greatfather Habidan will want to tell him about Nezdy and the amber-snail?”
“I’m certain he will,” said Meliko, “and Greatfather Melinzi, and Greatmother Leena. I’m sure they all will.”
Melisosha skipped a little with childish delight. He was eagar to tell his forebears everything he’d learned at school, and about the trip his class had made to the animalarium in Bycosa. The elders would listen and look down on the boy with pride, Meliko knew, and the myriad greatmothers would sing a chorus of Sweet Little Snicken Picker as they had for eachother for countless generations past.
Meliko, on the other hand, was keen to engage his second greatfather, Meltet, about the aqueduct system. The elder had designed the network of life-giving waterways over a century ago, and now the whole town was looking to Meliko to repair it.
As they approached the anteroom of the great entrance hall, Melisosha released himself from his father’s hand. He could already hear the distant groaning of Greatfather Moson and ran towards the sound of his voice.
“Careful now, Melisosha. Don’t get too far ahead.”
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