It would not be erroneous to name the city; it would be erroneous to name the city once. No single nomenclature could easily be stretched to encapsulate somewhere so spanning in size, so shifting in temperament. Its gardens and ghettos, monuments and markets were seemingly immune; each bore one title universally consented-to but, alas, the overall city itself, the firmament onto which each neighborhood sparkled like so many stars, eluded any such singularity. Its millions of denizens each referred to it independently and thus, the continent-sized urbanity acquired the closest approximation to a name it would ever hold; Thousand-Name Town.
Manari was numbered among those thousand names, as was Konya Fej, Tarsocas and Colbelle. To the savages of the Hunkini savannah, it was Hsss'ok, Adjar-Moon to the nomads of the Outer Sands and Kramlahn to the Brethren of the Broken Crescent. In the extraplanar tongue of the Vasporeen, only the name Aamr was applicable, while all the native guttersnipes so honored their homeland and birthplace with five hallowed syllables; Wagwagwagwagwag. For each proper name proffered the city, two more nicknames did it acquire: Urbania, the Canker, the Allstreet, the Cobbled Country; City of Sights, City of Sounds, City of Smells.
Not overnight does a city accrue a thousand names. At one point in her history, Mother Metropolis was three distinct cities and bore three distinct names, each sundered by hundreds of miles and cultural divides twice as deep. To the west lay decadent Auhoboz, brightest jewel of the Oxelite Empire, erected more by slave than tusk or trunk. To the east lay stout Greysardin, last bastion against the ravages of the untameable Outer Sands beyond. Between both, built upon the banks of a nameless sea, lay mysterious Ibress, to whom the First Flood has swept clean all but their name.
Such prosperity blessed each sister city that soon, league upon league of the intervening countryside was progressively paved, mortared and architected, until the outer burroughs of Greysardin and Ibress collided, clashed and eventually entwined, until tendrils of Auhoboz snaked surreptitiously into Ibress' westernmost suburbs. Auhoboz, Ibress and Greysardin became Auhoboz-Ibress-Greysardin, a cumbersome denomination that drove each new immigrant to term the city differently. From the tongues of all its migrants did this metropolitan malignancy, this gluttonous juggernaut that devours wilderness, uproots forests, diverts rivers, flattens mountains and leaves behind nothing save a municipal wake, amass its thousand-fold hoard of names.
Here was the Vagabond Flame, a roaming housefire puissant enough to survive thirty-one years worth of futile fire brigades and half an ocean of sprayed water. Here was the Market of No Taboos, where any product may be purchased, any itch may be scratched, any customer may be satisfied – all perfectly within the bounds of law. Here was Betweenplaces, a slumland slowly drowning, a sodden home for beggar, thief and waterfolk alike. Here were the temples of God Street, the coinhouses of Brass Circle, the theatres of Point Poverty, the tenements, manses and palaces of Batblind, Gillgred and Stainglass.
Here dwelt the sweet-toothed whores of Bagnio Square, each prepared to swallow any indignity with a smile at the cost of a lollipop or a handful of toffees or a spool of candyfloss. Here dwelt the fungiculturists of Saftplau Shaft, who lovingly shepherded mushroom herds up and down the length of their bottomless sinkhole. Here dwelt streetweed, that most virulent plant that reigned, with unchallenged supremacy, over the city's entire botanical kingdom. Here dwelt fanatics, cutpurses, students, bravos, politicos, inventors, magicians, virtuosos and panhandlers and here also dwelt ten thousand nameless reptilian beasts of burden to cart them all about.
Ever onward marches the city called Kuzfrey and Roofocean and Jbasahak. To the east, it splashes against the mountainous Jaggs. To the west, it tramples across Hunkini savannah. To the north, it pollenates island upon island in the Surrounded Sea. Only to the south does it abut against an immovable terrain; the imperious Outer Sands. Urbanologists speculate that, given time, the Density is doomed to turn the tables and surround fully the Surrounded Sea, like a snake hungry for its own tail. In so doing, Thousand-Name Town will blanket the earth's every inch and make a citizen of everyone alive.
Come back tomorrow for the first hundred words of an ongoing narrative, set in Thousand-Name Town!