Result 11 – Part 3

The readers voted for the following option

You shake your head. No. It seems like a good opportunity, and you’re tempted to think about it a little more, but, you don’t know these guys and have no reason to trust them, or get so deeply involved. You’re still not sure how long you’re going to be staying here yet, so no point in getting tied down right now. You will take the reward money though. And might as well make use of the VIP pass. Maybe you’ll swing by again later tonight; you had a good time yesterday after all.

As for now, you decide you’d like to meet some new people and get to know the locals. Where to start though?

You mosey back to the main road where you amble along, considering your options. Busy gathering spots would be a good place to start, so that narrows it down. It’s much too early to go into a bar or tavern, which is a shame; Josey would surely be able to suggest some places you could visit to find new faces. Oh well; you’ll have to swing by later and ask him then. Maybe grab another one of those drinks while you’re at it. In the meantime, you’re on your own, unless you find someone else to ask.

You glance about, taking stock of where you’ve wandered to now. You’re further along the main road, heading in the direction of the marketplace. That’s another option; there were dozens of people there, not including the market vendors themselves. And that stretch of shops leading to it, what was it called? Banes Way? Perhaps you could stop in one of the food shops for lunch and see who comes and goes. Maybe strike up a conversation with someone over a bite to eat. Hopefully not run into that Asaari guy again.

At the junction between the high street and the adjacent road, you see a young boy standing beside a small trolley full of newspapers; he’s currently yelling and waving one around as he steadily makes his way down the road. You decide to get one and see what’s going on in the news. Might as well continue to familiarise yourself with the place; you’ve not felt any need to move on yet, and the city is, according to your map, very large. You’ve barely scratched the surface. You head on over and buy a paper.

After a brief exchange, where the boy baffles you by asking you for “95 fin”, you realise that the coins here are not also referred to as cogs and that they each have a different name. The smallest denomination is the “fin”.

A little wiser, slightly more exposed as a tourist, and with your newspaper in hand, you start heading back towards Slaryn house before you change your mind and head towards the park instead. It’s a lovely day so far, so why not make the most of it and find a nice place to sit and read?

A short while later, you enter the park, and after enjoying a stroll along scenic pathways, you find a bench overlooking a wide inlet that empties out into the larger boating lake a few meters away. You take a seat and rest for a moment before unfolding your paper; a copy of The Royal Herald.

A bench next to a lake in a beautiful park
A scenic spot

(Ai-generated image produced using Stable Diffusion)

You read today’s news; the main story talks about a suspicious break-in of a laboratory in a different part of the city, with the authorities launching an investigation to learn more.
There is a health scare in another area, with officials taking swift measures to contain it; some locals are claiming it’s the plague, but the officials deny this.
There is also a story talking about the continued success of “The Airborne Dispatch System”, and plans to extend it to further reaches of the city. Apparently, mail delivery is thriving as a result.

In other news, you see concerning stories about some mysterious disappearances that have baffled the law enforcers with an operation underway to find the missing individuals, and, the threat of a nearby river bursting its banks and flooding the area, thanks to exceptionally wet weather further upstream. Action is underway to set up sandbags along the banks, just in case.

In less serious news, you’re informed about an ongoing event happening somewhere in the city; “Revelry and Merriment at the Grand Jamboree”. Apparently, it’s a week-long event, already on its 4th day, promising revelry, food, music, and games, drawing merriment from both locals and visitors. You make a note to go and visit it before it’s over.

You keep reading and soon learn of Intheo Klunes; a “legendary storyteller” who is currently in town and captivating listeners with enthralling tales of heroes, mythical creatures, and legendary quests. However, rather than doing set performances at specific venues, he seems to be moving around town somewhat randomly, appearing in clubs, bars, taverns, halls, etc, and spontaneously entertaining whoever happens to be there. As it’s not known where he’ll show up next; locals are encouraged to keep an eye out for him and consider themselves lucky if they encounter him and hear one of his tales.

On the next page, a sketch of a falcon flying at you catches your eye. You read the associated story title:

“Master Falconers Showcase Aerial Artistry. Falconry experts present awe-inspiring displays of aerial artistry as their trained birds of prey soar gracefully across the skies.”

That would be interesting to watch. Even more interesting if something went wrong. Your thoughts drift for a moment as you imagine a flock of falcons flying loose around a crowd. So many talons…

You snap back to reality and continue. There’s a section where the locals have posted messages and ads. Among the messages, you see a couple responding to messages from a previous edition:

“Re: Seeking a Skilled Blacksmith: Lady Elara, I recommend visiting Master Smith Gideon’s Forge in the South Market. He’s renowned for his craftsmanship and can mend your family sword with great precision. – H. C.”

“Re: Lost Locket with Sentimental Value: A. P., I found a silver locket near the market square yesterday. Please identify any unique markings, and we can arrange for its safe return. – Good Samaritan”

As well as new issues being raised:

“Water Woes in West District: We need to address the water leakage issue. Our streets are turning into puddles! When will this be resolved? – Concerned Citizen”

“Missing Cat, Answers to Sage: Our beloved Sage has been missing for days. If anyone spots a ginger cat around the East Quarter, please let us know. – J. R.”

“Property Damage: To the person or persons who continuously knock over my fence, please realise that it’s not a playground structure. Cease this behaviour at once or I’ll have no choice but to report this to the authorities. – Mrs Hendry, annoyed Resident”

“Nuisance of Pigeons: The pigeons at the town square are multiplying rapidly. Can we find a way to reduce their numbers? Am I the only one who thinks they’re getting out of hand? I, for one, am in full favour of starting a hunt. – Jayn”

Visiting the town square is another option. That building you saw not too far from here was likely the town hall, so the square can’t be too far from there. You mentally add it as a stop on your journey.

The locals’ messages are broken up by a message from the Cliffton Peacekeepers:

“Beware of Pickpockets: Beware of pickpockets skulking around the marketplace. Keep your valuables secure and report any suspicious activities to the Peacekeepers.”

At the mention of pickpockets, you instinctively glance around you, making sure no one is near your pockets or bag. The coast is clear; there’s no one within several meters. You relax a little but stay on guard. You keep reading, continuing with more messages from locals.

“Volunteers Needed for Orphanage: Borlane Hall seeks kind-hearted individuals to support our heartwarming charity event for deserving children. No experience required; all are welcome. Help us create cherished memories filled with love and support. Contact Miss Turner at Borlane Hall, 84 Harmony Lane in Westwedge. Join us in making a meaningful difference!”

“Looking for buyer: For Sale: Sturdy Wooden Writing Desk, perfect for scholars or aspiring writers. Classic design, ample storage. Price: 20 Cogs. Contact Mrs Beaumont, 16 Oakhurst Place, Greenbrook.”

Attention All Gardeners: Seeking gardening enthusiasts to join a community gardening project in the Magnolia Court Gardens. Let’s beautify our city together! – Green Thumb Society”

Magnolia Court Gardens… You vaguely remember seeing that name cast above the ornate gate at the entrance of the park. Apparently, the Green Thumb Society is lurking around here somewhere.

“Pray, madam, spare a coin for a poor soul?”

Your reading is interrupted by the arrival of a beggar, scruffy and ragged and entirely out of place amongst the beautiful surroundings. After a moment, you realise he’s the same one from before, whom you previously gave 1 cog to. He manages to look quite pathetic, as he holds a tattered cap in both hands in front of him, as if he’s a small, frightened child. Is he really that destitute, or is he just a very good actor?

A scruffy beggar wandering through the public gardens.
A beggar in the gardens

(Ai-generated image produced using Stable Diffusion)

You decide to:

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