Result 10 – Part 4


You finish up your drinks and thank Josey for his hospitality before taking your leave. The eateries that you saw earlier are a fair way away from here, so rather than walk all that way, the two of you decide to get a carriage. A short walk to the end of the high street takes you to the edge of the pedestrian area, where wheeled traffic is allowed, and in a nearby bay, a small handful of horse-drawn carriages wait for those in need of a ride. These three, with their horses idly flicking their tails and munching from their feedbags, and their drivers standing around chatting beside them, stand in stark contrast to the single steam-powered carriage which waits a short distance away. A faster option for sure, but far more expensive; not necessary considering the short distance you’re planning to cover.

The two of you walk up to the carriage at the front of the stack and one of the three men says something to his mates before heading over and opening the door for you. He asks you where you want to go, hops onto the driver’s seat, and then you’re on your way as he gently flicks the reins against his grey draft horse, who nickers softly before he trots along.

You look out the window as you travel, taking in a few new sites; following along the road takes you along a slightly different route to the one you followed earlier. At one point, you recognise the far end of the marketplace you saw during the morning, now lit with a series of lanterns and strings of light. The driver follows the road around and you lose sight of the marketplace for the time being, but eventually circle around to be dropped off at another carriage stop at the head of the commercial stretch; you notice a street sign: “Banes Way”.

You hop out and thank the driver, as does Ameronis who pays the fee, and then you lead the way down the stretch to where you saw the eateries. There are three in particular that caught your eye; “Hooper’s”, “Kisicat Spring”, and “The Red Amulet”.

After a short deliberation, the two of you decide to go to Kisicat Spring; a light and cosy place with an impressive array of leafy and trailing plants inside. Here they offer a variety of large and small meals, and desserts and drinks, both to go and to eat in their cosy booths.

With the contents of the menus being unknown to both of you, you pick mostly at random based on the look and sound of the names and the odd image on the menu, then take a seat to wait for your meals. Before long, you have placed in front of you broiled poultry tenderloin, succulent and heavily seasoned, two thick slices of crusty bread with a generous helping of butter, and a side of steamed vegetables, salted and peppered.

You take a bite and are relieved to finally experience a meal that does not instil in you intense feelings of anger and hatred. Quite the opposite in fact; the poultry is perfectly done, the vegetables are not soggy nor too crisp, and the bread is soft and fresh. You dig in, finishing every last bite, and Ameronis smiles at your empty plate, still with a little left to finish on hers.

Perhaps it’s the feeling of fullness or sense of relief or both, but you feel so much more at peace now. You lean back in your chair for a moment, watching the light refracting on the walls from a series of colourful glass orbs that dangle from the ceiling beside a nearby sconce. You think that you might try something else from the menu here, and a drink as well, though, you wish you had another glass of that first drink from Josey’s.

You order another small meal, a dessert, and a hot drink, and all of them are delightful. Full, warm, and happy, you rescind your earlier comment about Derna not being able to cook, deciding instead that Er Clee can’t cook until further evidence proves otherwise. Now, with a new burst of energy and resolve, you’re ready to head back out there and resume your exploration of Derna.

You pay for your meal and gather up your things. Having not seen it yet, Ameronis suggests a nice post-dinner walk through the marketplace rather than driving back. You agree; it might be different during the night compared to during the day.

You step out of Kisicat Spring and immediately collide with a dark figure who was, up until that point, striding past with speed and determination. You stumble and catch yourself, apologising as you do, but are interrupted by him yelling over you.

“Watch where you’re going, fool! What’s wrong with you?!”

You blink for a moment, surprised at his hostility. He glowers at you with deep-set green eyes.

“Are you blind or stupid?!” he roars, bearing down on you.

He is tall and slender, with ochre skin and long, black hair that flows down past his shoulders. He is wearing a long, fitted coat made of heavy black fabric, and a waistcoat, elaborately embroidered with golden patterns. Beneath the waistcoat, he wears a white shirt, and below them both, brown trousers tucked into black, knee-length boots with small, brass buckles. You notice he wears silver rings on his right hand, which is currently reaching for a sword sheathed at his hip. You stiffen a little, instinctively readying yourself to grab your battleaxe if needs be.

“I ought to teach you a lesson..!” he says. He partially extracts the sword, the silver blade glinting in the light of a streetlamp nearby.

You reiterate that you are sorry for accidentally bumping into him, and behind you, Ameronis chimes in.

“A simple mistake. No harm done!”

He sneers at her.

“Stay quiet, cur. No one crosses me without paying the price.”

He draws his sword and shifts into a fighting stance. The blade is in good condition and very sharp, and he carries it quite confidently. A few passers-by slow down to watch, while others hurry on. You don’t want to fight him, but if he seriously plans to attack you over this…

Ameronis moves to your side looking grim. You’ve no idea why she’s putting herself in that position; she doesn’t have her scythe with her and there’s not much she could do unarmed against a swordsman. Unless she, like you, has a hidden weapon..?

Either way, 2-v-1; it probably won’t end well for him. You warn him slowly to back off, but he looks at you closely, as if deciding when and where to strike.

He seems to spot something in the distance behind you, then shoves the sword back down into the scabbard, standing up normally before marching forward; he would have simply barged through you had you not dodged him. Hey!

“You’ll regret crossing me, mark my words…” he says with a growl, striding off at his rapid pace in the direction of the marketplace.

You follow him with your gaze, and as you watch him disappear, you notice a pair of patrolling officers walking in your direction. They don’t seem to be aware of the altercation that almost happened and walk past the man without incident, continuing on their route. You watch the man for a moment longer, then turn to Ameronis, who looks back at you and shrugs.

“Some people… You OK?”

Hmph

You shake your head and scoff. You’re fine. It’s just so silly how some people are willing to risk their lives over the smallest slights. Though, clearly, he’s a coward if he decided to run at the first sight of the authorities, despite his big threats. You hope you don’t run into him again though; he went towards the market and that’s the way you’re heading.

Those passers-by that had slowed to watch move on, and everyone acts naturally as the officers continue past you. You exhale and gather yourself, then head with Ameronis towards the marketplace.

What’s with this guy..?

Later, the two of you make your way into Stardust; the dance hall promising great entertainment and legendary artists. It’s still a little early, but the hall is open and active, with a not-insignificant amount of visitors already inside.

Looking about, the venue is large and flashy and very well decorated, with eye-catching designs and features. There’s a stage at the back with a group of performers already on it, a large dance floor before it, a bar off to the right, a series of seating areas dotted around downstairs, and an upper floor with more seating and balconies overlooking the dance floor below. Both upstairs and down, in corners and behind partitions there are a series of doors that lead off to private rooms. You imagine that later in the night, this place must really come alive.

After casually ambling about for a little bit, you and Ameronis find some comfy seats in which to watch and listen to the current performers. Unlike the headliners promised later in the night and early hours of the morning, the artists currently playing are relatively unheard of. Asking for more info about them from a passing waitress, she tells you that Stardust allows relatively new and unknown people a chance to perform for a few hours, to slowly get the crowd in the mood, and give the performers a chance to shine and attract new audiences and possibly catch a break. Apparently, several now-famous individuals and groups had started off here, giving Stardust plenty to boast about. It always brings in big crowds whenever a performer “comes home”.

In theory, the later the night gets, the better the acts get, but so far, these guys are doing pretty well, singing a bunch of catchy, upbeat songs. You listen to this group until they finish their set, replaced by another group, singing soulful ballads. A lady comes out later, dancing energetically to a mesmerising tune, followed by a man with a guitar, pouring out his heart.

Sunken into your comfortable chair, you idly enjoy the show, soaking in the sounds and environment as more and more people steadily enter the hall. This place is alright.

Eventually, after checking the time, Ameronis leans in, to speak over the sound of the current performers.

“Josey said that those guys who hang out at the other bar should be there by this time. I’m gonna go check that place out; you wanna come?”

You think about it for a moment. It’s still a while to go before the headliners are supposed to perform, and it can’t hurt to check out another new venue. Or at least, it better not hurt.

You agree to tag along, and the two of you make your way out of the hall, and back into the side streets to find your way to Josey’s rivals.

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