Result 13 – Part 2

The cab trundles through the luxurious Eastmere, following the main road that cuts through the district. The place is quite busy but immaculate, and there is a noticeable law enforcer presence; you see three pairs of enforcers travelling along this street alone.

Ameronis figures that, with so many wealthy people about, their security is no doubt a high priority. She doubts if the thefts that’ve been plaguing Stardust would be able to happen here.

As you contemplate this, looking idly at the magnificence on display, you realise that the area is steadily getting busier, and eventually see some kind of disturbance up ahead. Kludd slows the cab, carefully navigating around several other carriages, larger with private cabins and two or more horses. You even pass a few steam carriages, shiny and new, which also slowly creep forward.

Ameronis cranes her neck, looking down the way and trying to see what’s happening. According to Kludd, there’s some sort of fancy event happening on a lot nearby, a fair or exhibition of some kind, and access to the main road is restricted for vehicles and pedestrians. Ameronis asks for more info, but he isn’t able to reveal much. It’s not open to the public. At least, not the general rabble anyway. It’s invitation, or heavy coin-purses, only. That and it has a name, though what it is, he can’t say with certainty.

“What’d they call it..? “The treasures of…Someplace”… Jight? Or was it Intis?” He attempts to remember for a few more moments before shrugging. “Some other country, anyhow. Pretty sure it’s one of those two.”

The carriage continues to edge forward, avoiding the others and the numerous people coming and going. They are all dressed to the nines, looking fancy or official, or both. Eventually, you reach the front of the stack and Kludd can turn the cab onto the side street where the law enforcers have diverted traffic. This route is twice as long, but still scenic.

Quieter and calmer here, you follow the road around the perimeter of the lot, surrounded by high hedges and trees, and situated on a street lined with neat manors. Periodically, there is a break in the wall of green and you can see into the space beyond; a large, park space, with wide footpaths made of pale gravel that create intricate lines through the manicured grass, small trees, fruiting and flowering varieties, with long, trailing branches that sway in the breeze, and many white stone plinths at regular intervals, each topped with a large vase, and each home to a different type of plant. Throughout, visitors can be seen strolling around, admiring the grounds. However, the large building at the centre of the lot is the real centrepiece, an enormous structure made of polished silver beams, with walls made almost entirely out of clear or black glass.

It falls out of view as the hedgerow returns at height. Ameronis, busy looking at the manors on the opposite side of the street, did not seem to see it at all. When you catch sight of it again, you nudge Ameronis so she can marvel at it. Closer to the backside of the building now, you notice the large tower on one side and soon spot a large wheel on the side of the building, which slowly rotates.

On closer inspection, this part of the building resembles a water mill, though there is no waterway in sight. You ask Kludd if he knows anything about the structure; he tells you it’s Alorecott Mill, and the wheel is purely decorative and periodically powered internally by a steam engine. Built a long time ago as a vanity project by one Bedwin Alorecott, a powerful manufacturer and engineer who rose to prominence during Derna’s industrial boom, it now stands as a museum and historical marker, as well as, currently, the host of the mystery event.

You see many more people near the back of the buildings, along with several temporary structures. It’s not until you move further around to the back of the building and find another break in the green that you’re able to see more.

There people wander around and admire a series of displays of flora and fauna, all of which appear to be quite exotic; pots of plants and cages of animals. Small shrubs that come in vibrant blue, green and amber varieties, trees with black bark with white speckles, a whole array of flowers, a large gilded aviary filled with flittering specks of every colour, and several large, sturdy cages with iron bars, each containing a beast.

A caged beast

(Ai-generated image produced using Dall-E 3)

You can recognise a few from your vantage point, a leopard, a bear, and a very tall stork-like bird, but another cage contains a creature the likes of which you’ve never seen before. A large, lithe creature with a sharp, curved beak, a round head covered with long spikes, and a long crest running down its elongated neck. It has broad shoulders, long, bony legs and a strong, broad tail. Ameronis looks on in interest as well; she’s never seen such a creature, she says.

It seems to be covered in feathers, in a mottled pattern of dull blue and mahogany, and it seems to be quite agitated, pacing back and forth in its enclosure, periodically lunging at the bars, and the people beyond them. The visitors seem quite alarmed but equally fascinated, and the creature has drawn a crowd, who weigh up the risks of getting closer. You see a couple of people with long sticks approaching the ruckus, but the view is obscured again, and when it is once again clear, the nature exhibit is no longer visible. From there on, the grounds surrounding Alorecott Mill mirror the grounds on the opposite side.

Eventually, the diversion around the grounds leads you back onto the main road, and you continue without incident, back to the Minor Aveseran. You have to pay another toll to cross, which Ameronis is displeased about, but you each pay your dues and set foot on the Eastern shore once more.

By now, you’re famished, so you ask to be dropped off at the end of Bane’s Way. You and Ameronis thank Kludd and Nulda for your pleasant trip, paying for the ride alongside a generous tip from Ameronis, and with a few goodbye pets for Nulda, the two of you once again prowl along Bane’s Way, with Hooper’s as your target. This place is quite refined, with a heavy focus on vegetable-based meals.

Your meal, a portion of bulb vegetables decorated with a colourful array of edible flower petals, combined with a thick fruit sauce with chunky fruit pieces, all served on an obscenely large portion of rice is exquisite, setting Hooper’s alongside its companions in the heights of divine cuisine.

On the other hand, Ameronis seems to be having a less than stellar time with her meal and seems to have a lot to complain about, although she doesn’t. Unlike you, she does not finish her meal.

You rest a little while, letting your meal settle, and thinking about food, you remember that your little stash of snacks at Slaryn house is running a little low, so you should probably top up.  It’s almost 8 o’clock now and the market will be closing shortly.

Many others had the same idea as you, as the area is still very busy, filled with last-minute shoppers. You grab your food and see a tray of buns, the last ones from today’s batch and marked down, you decide to grab them; Finnegan and his friends would surely appreciate them.

Back at Slaryn House, you dump your clean laundry and extra stuff in your room, swap into your evening wear, and are back out the door with Ameronis only a short while later. Tonight, you’ll revisit Josey’s and see what’s happening at Stardust later this evening.

Josey is present again and greets you kindly, glad to have you back here. The bar is busier this evening, but nowhere near as busy as the Rusty Bell was.

He takes your orders and asks how you’ve been getting on. You ask him for the first of the two drinks that you had on your previous visit. “Sunset Essence” he calls it. He pours a glass for you, and a glass of violet fruit juice for Ameronis, and you proceed to give him a rundown of your experiences since your last visit.

Josey remarks that you’ve had quite a busy time, and you agree. It has been a somewhat eventful 48 hours. You tell him that you’re still trying to get a feel for certain people and places and ask for his opinion on some of the things you’ve encountered so far.

He starts by again trying to dissuade you from buying drinks from The Rusty Bell, which he claims are watered-down and also sometimes not what they’re supposed to be. He doesn’t visit The Pit himself, so has no idea what the deal is with Assari The Tainted, and he’s not heard of anything bad about Stardust or the people running it, though he has heard about the current troubles that Lomax spoke of.

He says that the homeless and the beggars are now a part of the fabric of Derna and there is little that can be done to help them, but he commends you for your interest and desire to help, and having visited the grand jamboree himself. He confirms that it is a worthwhile attraction.

He has visited The Warrior’s Edge, joining their evening social a handful of times on his nights off; they’re not a bad bunch he thinks. He quite likes Gideon. And, unlike Kludd, he isn’t missing huge chunks of important information relating to the exhibition in Eastmere. He confirms that it is called “The Treasures of Jight” and it’s a trade fair set up to both celebrate the increasing relationship between Derna and Jight, a country somewhere across Gontal sea, to the North and to display some of the more recent technological advancements that are being used in the city. In this regard, Alorecott Mill is actually referred to as “The Tempered Atrium”, a much more grandiose name befitting it, and much more impressive to the many foreign visitors. He has no idea what the creature you saw was, but suggests it might be something called Histica; a terrible creature from Jight that produces an array of horrible scents. He can’t imagine why anyone would want to display one though; Ameronis delights in the idea of the chaos that would cause if it decided to do so amongst the well-to-do folk.

You chat for a while longer, enjoying the pleasant atmosphere. You finish your Sunset Essence; it has such a great, full flavour. When Josey offers you a top-up, you are happy accept one. Ameronis’ drink is quite sour, but also very sweet; she quite likes this one two, much better than her previous selection.

Eventually, you decide to go to Stardust. You finish and pay for your drinks and bid Josey good night. Ameronis declares that she has her plans for this evening, but might come find you later at Stardust. The two of you part ways, and you make your way to the dance hall, ready to see what the VIP experience has to offer.

These random numbers will determine something in future… What will the outcome be?

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