Excerpt from Dark Ember
Adjusting his pack slung over one shoulder, Rhama presented his papers to the guard behind the bars of Heversuch gate. He offered a small smile to the bored-looking elf before glancing to the next kiosk, where the hunter presented her own papers. He could only see her profile, that dark skin luminous in the afternoon light. People pressed against her back, as they did himself, trying to enter the grand city belonging to the Elves and Fae of Atlea and the Aerie. It was, as he recalled from his many geo-social lessons his mother insisted on, the only joint-realm city in all of Peralt. Rumor said it was a city of dreams. “Is this your first visit?” The elf asked. “Yes.” “Welcome to Heversuch, sir.” The elf said, his tone wooden. “Please adhere to the city rules in the pamphlet, the inns are on the northern end of the Great Concourse. Restaurants are on the north-eastern end. Please, see the welcome center kiosk inside if you need more. NEXT!” Rhama carefully folded his papers and the map provided, slipping it into the coat pocket opposite where Helio slept. He stepped away from the kiosk, joined a moment later by the hunter leading their group into the city. She stood beside Rhama, her head only reaching his shoulder. He hadn’t been paying much attention when she approached the armory in the Zone. Lost in his work and the song of his colleagues, Rhama continued to sew the thin metal plates into the supple leather he’d let cure. When she paused to admire the imbued armor, he finally looked up. The armor was a point of pride for him, the first full set he managed to imbue. Once on, the wearer would find themselves able to sneak more effectively, have their sight improved, and be able to blend into their surroundings more fully. Appreciation had reflected in her eyes, in the awe written on her beautiful face. Unable to help himself, Rhama gave her a nod in acknowledgment. Part of him wanted to offer her the armor, spotting a hunter by the well-fitted armor she already wore. It was aging, he could tell. She would need a new set soon. Shaking himself back to the present, Rhama watched the humans for a moment as they tried to calmly answer the guards’ questions. They seemed to be alright, so Rhama turned toward the Great Concourse beyond the teeming gates. The concourse was massive, even against Orc standards. White stone soared over twin rivers that sparkled in the morning sun, butting up against the green mountain range just beyond the city proper. Boats glided past, heavy white sails reaching for the clouds. Horse-drawn carriages both elegant and slap-dash moved among the throng of people. All manner of races and social caste moved like water over the clean cobblestone beneath the glittering buildings. Shopkeepers called out their wares, whistles sounded to give pedestrians warning as to the direction of carriage or horse. The city rose up toward the mountains, revealing long, winding roads and houses built like small cities leaving indentations in the tree-line. He stared at the living mass of people, at the glistening stone of buildings, the carriages moving stately by. Never had he laid eyes on so grand a thing. No city in all his travels had been so filled with life and light and hope. “Welcome to Heversuch,” the low voice of the hunter broke into his thoughts. “The City of Air and Water.”
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