Her color is red, which is both a royal color and a warning of danger. She is much loved, much hated; they call her whore, queen, god in her mask of death. She is famous for her art, her trade, and her corruption. In her storied gardens, bureaucrats walk like spies. Everything here is for sale, everything save loyalty. In their own mercurial way her people love her.

She has never been truly conquered. Her cunning soft tongue fills every rude mouth, cuckoos out bolder speech; her ravishers become her sons, grow tightly curled beards, and only dimly remember the stink of horses and the blood-flicker of firelight. Her topless towers are burning, her astrologers are all cast down! No matter. She and the stars are both eternal. These plagues draw her dry and fill her markets with snakeskins and pelicans.

She is the opposite of empire. Like the waters she exists as constant flux, and it is said that no one visits the same city twice. Each of her fourteen gates opens on a different city; walk in one side of a room and walk out centuries away. She is forces in suspension, not this shifting form; a system of weather, not one moment of rain or sun.

Those who remember her best speak the speech of Babel: Funes the Memorious draws his own conclusions, forever incommunicable.