Result 10 – Part 2

You wander in the opposite direction to last night until you end up in an area that is clear and bright in stark contrast to the cluttered and narrow town centre. The buildings here are not as bad as the ones you saw yesterday, looking a little less jumbled and more uniform, though they still use the same dark-coloured bricks, giving them a slightly imposing feel anyway. There is more traffic in this area, with carriages and even the odd steam wagon passing you by.

You eventually discover a park beyond a tall wrought iron fence and spotting the entrance nearby, you decide to take a stroll through it. The trees, flowers, paved paths, and neat grass are a breath of fresh air, and the stroll is quite pleasant. You discover a large boating lake and take a seat, watching the birds in the air and on the water, and several other people also taking a morning walk; a well-to-do couple, a young businessman, an elderly lady, and two men in uniform who appear to be local law enforcers. Looking at them, you don’t immediately get the impression that they’re corrupt, but some of the most corrupt look the least corrupt. They pass you by without incident. You continue on your way after a while, coming to an exit on the opposite side of the park. A lingering beggar approaches you and asks you for some change. You give him one Cog as you leave.

Continuing your exploration, you see several expensive-looking boutiques and a large, fancy building with a decorative courtyard which you think is the town hall. Beyond this, is a series of streets lined with important-looking buildings and many more business-y people. Some kind of financial district you imagine. Casting your mind back to your map, you adjust your course to find a new area. You discover an art gallery and museum, another bank, another post office, and a line of shops and eateries with an open market at the end. You casually browse the windows of the shops and eye the eateries, noting that they tend to be a different variety from the ones from the high street. You consider trying one of these later, bearing in mind that the prices are higher. You make a note of them as head into the market instead.

This open market is in full swing, with dozens of people bustling back and forth, and a variety of merchants yelling and advertising their wares. The market contains a whole range of items from clothes, furniture, jewellery, toys, prepared food and much, much more. Off to one side, the market shifts into an animal market, selling meat and fish, as well as live animals both for food and as pets; exotic and mundane.

While you resist the calls from the merchants to buy now, you do spend a while looking at most of the stalls, keeping an eye out for anything you might find useful on your journey, as well as anything you might like to buy as a souvenir of this place. You come across an apothecary and buy some more bandages as well as some simple antiseptic salve. You also make note of any merchants selling travelling gear; good walking boots, a new cloak or coat, hats and gloves… You find a few, but do not commit to buying anything yet; if there are any sellers offering better quality or better prices elsewhere in town, you’d like to discover them first before you commit to any purchases. Also, you haven’t decided where you’re planning to go after this, so it will definitely be a good idea to discover what terrains lie ahead in advance and buy based on that.

Seeing as you’re in the area, you decide to get some snacks to take back to the hotel, including the staples of bread, cheese, and fruit, just in case you have to endure another meal disaster. Then, it’s time to go back to the hotel, albeit via a different route. Along this route, you end up discovering a busy canal system, and following the towpath, you pass many factories, warehouses and docks, as well as more of the familiar ramshackle buildings near the water’s edge. A signpost on a bridge covering the canal points you to your exit point, and before long, you find yourself back on the main road and approaching Slaryn House.

You pay for another night’s stay, then head upstairs to drop off your food, rest, and have a bite to eat, seeing as it’s lunchtime now.

After your meal, whilst lying on your bed, you remember that the first showing of Bloodlines was scheduled to start sometime in the early afternoon. You grab the leaflet and check; 2 pm.

Let the show begin.

Just after 2 PM, in a cosy, overly elaborate theatre amidst a modest crowd, you sit back and wait for the show to begin. While the leaflet didn’t give any indication as to what the story is about, it promised nothing but intrigue, action, romance, and drama…and something about a spellbinding tale. You’re not entirely surprised when the “Bloodlines” story turns out to be about a clan of vampires, and are unsurprised when it turns out their clan is in a power struggle against werewolves and humans. You’re even less surprised when the first main character is introduced as “Raven”, because of course there’s a “Raven” in a story about a vampire or werewolf. You are surprised to discover that Raven, for some unexplained reason, can control fire with her mind. Similarly, humans can control ice. You’re somewhat baffled by this and they don’t explain it, but hey; it puts a new spin on things. The next packet of information revolves around “Jack”, a member of a secret society of human warriors whose goal is to stop Raven’s vampire clan from obtaining the “Chalice of Chaos”, which is said to control time.

From this point, the play focuses on the power struggle and interactions between the humans and vampires, with Jack and Raven initially coming into conflict, then being forced into an uneasy alliance when a wise old shape-shifting werewolf warns them that the balance of power is in danger and that they cannot allow the Chalice to fall into the wrong hands. He claims that he has been tasked with keeping balance between the different factions but doesn’t actually do anything useful, then evaporates from the story for the most part (he does reappear once or twice to offer some cryptic guidance but does nothing to really help).

The human warriors, the vampire clan, a splinter group of particularly evil vampires trapped in a mutated bat form and hellbent on killing everyone, and a group of human pirates, who may or may not be undead, all become involved in a scramble for the chalice while simultaneously causing problems for Jack and Raven as they inevitably start to fall for one another, despite their opposing clans.

There is certainly a lot of drama and action, as many of the conflict scenes involve over-the-top fights and the use of props and special effects. It becomes even more difficult to take it seriously when a particularly bad actor ends up stealing the scene with his dramatic and clunky acting. The rest of the audience does seem to be quite enjoying the spectacle though, and throughout the whole performance, they cheer and laugh, and encourage and jeer at the actors. More than one of the actors deliberately ramp up their actions in direct response to this.

As the play reaches its dramatic climax, Raven and Jack end up in a dream world where they have to face their inner demons, and a series of surreal challenges, in order to get access to the Chalice. Having learned that no good can come from giving the Chalice to any of the warring factions, the two decide to use the power of the Chalice to send it forward in time so that no one can access it. Despite this minor hiccup to their plans for world domination, the humans and the vampires are remarkably OK with this, and come together in a renewed state of peace, presumably because of Raven and Jack’s feelings for one another. You’ve no idea where the evil bat vampires are at this point.

And so the play draws to a close with a happy ending as the two clans look forward to a peaceful future together. But! As the characters walk offstage, the scene changes to that of a remote forest location, where some kind of environmental disturbance gives way to a bright light from which a shadowy figure begins to emerge, accompanied by a dramatic, suspenseful sting from the orchestra before the curtain drops. Can it be? Some unknown entity from the future gained access to the chalice and has come back to disrupt the newfound peace and come between the young couple?! One thing is certain; this tale is not over.

The play, however, is, and the audience erupts into cheers and applause as the actors make their way onstage, thanking the audience for coming and enjoying their wonderful production.

Slowly ambling out of the theatre amongst the rest of the departing audience, your mind is left slightly foggy as you attempt to make sense of what you just witnessed. You have many questions. And no answers. Most of the people talking in the theatre and lobby seemed to have positive reviews of the play though, recalling their favourite parts, but you can’t quite say your feelings match theirs. You might need to sit down and think about this…

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