“There have to be other ways to get in and out of the Palace than the gates. Wherever there’s politics, there’s spies. And they need to pass unseen.”
Wen Ning nodded, recalling the realities of trying to skirt the eyes of the powerful in the Nightless City. He and his sister hadn’t been able to escape Wen Ruohan, but sometimes they’d managed to be specifically elsewhere when Wen Chao went looking for another soul to torment. He still remembered secret doors and Qishan’s twisting alleys like the back of his hand.
“So there has to be a way out the guards don’t know about. Or that they know they’re supposed to ignore. And any way out, is a way in.” Wei Wuxian smiled, as he picked up his tools again. “I just need to find the right ghost who knows about it.”
Sounded like a plan. Relieved, Wen Ning found his gaze wandering over Haven again, watching the firefly glow of ever more lanterns against the night. “…I wonder what happened here.”
Carving another line, Wei Wuxian paused. “What happened?”
Wen Ning lifted a hand, waving at the maze of the city around them. “It would have been a long time ago, but… look. We can see how Haven started? All the circle-streets, so no ground force can charge straight in; all the walls… they were almost as worried as Qinghe Nie. And then the next wall is old, and crumbling, and the next wall’s not much better, and now the city just spills out along the roads….”
“And the roads closest to this city – the ones that are hard and won’t wear – would be the old roads. When this kingdom had magic.” Wei Wuxian almost whistled, looking over the city with renewed interest. “It’s not just the streets. They must have had rules about how tall buildings could be, and where. Some of the buildings in the outer rings are taller than the rest, but here, up the hill where all the noble mansions are….”
“These s-should be the tallest,” Wen Ning realized. Except for the Palace, of course. Sect leaders were jealous that way.
“Only they’re not.” Wei Wuxian gripped iron more firmly, eyes alight. “You can’t get a good look over the Palace walls from here. You couldn’t see over them from any of these mansions.”
A/N: Yes, I may be indulging in “what does Haven look like to people who’ve had war not just on their doorsteps, but burning down every place they hold dear?”
And it looks weird.
Then there’s all the aspects of “Haven was built with a lot of working magic, hence the roads – magic that no longer was available later,” adding to the weird.