Gaius - Vult 997 YK - New Cyre

Vult, 997 YK (early winter)

It was nearly 4 years later, and the memories of the Day of Mourning still haunted Gaius’ sleep. He knew he was lucky. If he had been a few hundred yards to the east he would have died like so many others did – his family, friends, comrades and enemies in the war, much of his House, his city, and the country in which he lived and grew up.

Burned into his brain were words that suggested he may have been spared for some purpose:

Five at the brink of desolation stand as one against the tempest’s roar.”

Around the time of the winter solstice, couriers from the new post station of House Orien sought out Gaius and Mika to deliver an invitation from Lord Major Bren ir’Gadden. The Lord Major had invited them as his special guests to a ceremony of remembrance on the Day of Mourning. Gaius, Mika and Rune travelled on foot to Sharn, arriving the day before the ceremony.

19 Olarune, 998 YK, Sharn, Breland

They entered Sharn from the Orien trade road, which passed through a massive arch opening into an enormous tower. Beside it stood a number of other towers which, at ground level, appeared to merge into a single structure.

Above the arch stood a titanic statue of a crowned woman, holding a sceptre in one hand and raising a sword above her head with the other. The tower it entered was a long rhomboid structure, and it was only when he was inside it that he was struck with the true size of the building.

The tower proper was really a shell, four walls within which people had built other structures. The ground floor could have been an ordinary enough town square if not for the fact that it was built inside a building. But looking up Gaius could see a spiderweb of balconies and bridges in layer after layer as far up as the eye could see. And attached to those balconies, and bridges, and the interior walls of the tower were more buildings and smaller towers in a dizzying array of architectural styles.

There was a great deal of empty space, so much so that soarsleds and skycoaches could be seen flying inside the tower, along with winged mounts and smaller flying creatures, presumably couriers of some sort. There were ramps and stairs rising along the interior walls of the tower, but there was also at least one interior lift carrying people and freight.

The interior was humid, more humid than outside, and although it was sunny outside it is cooler inside and the condensation in the upper reaches of the tower was causing a fine drizzle within the structure.

The impression is one of bulk, not beauty. Although the architecture was attractive in a utilitarian way, it lacked the artistic beauty of Cyran structures. Cyre had been on the artistic and cultural cutting edge of Galifar, with new trends constantly starting and spreading out of the nation. Cyrans knew how to enjoy life and the fruits of their labors. Art, music, fashion—there was no constant in Cyre, other than constant experimentation and change. The Cyrans valued an outlook on life that became known as the Cyran appreciation. This described a philosophy and lifestyle that appreciated beauty and magic, and promoted avant-garde and unconventional behavior in art and life in general. Brelish architecture showed a very different aesthetic.

Inside the tower, Gaius found his eyes were naturally drawn up, but when he brought them to earth he was struck with the diversity of the place. He grew up in a small city, and he have been to Metrol, the capital of Cyre and a metropolis in its own right, but he have never been anywhere that displayed such sheer diversity of people – not just the presence non-humans, but non-humans making up a significant portion of the faces he saw, along with creatures he had always thought of as monsters.

Only about a third of the faces were human, which was very different from what he was used to. Dwarves, elves, halflings, gnomes, khoravar and even goblins he expected, if not in such numbers; but hobgoblins, bugbears, shifters and orcs were startling, and seeing what he though must be an ogre acting as a labourer was stunning. There were hordes of people of every variety streaming through the gate, and a continuous flood of traffic and noise filled the streets at ground level and the walkways higher up.

The humans were mostly Brelish, boisterous and easygoing, in contrast with the Cyran poise and elegance, and they lacked the homogeneous looks of the people of Cyre, who tend to be slender and long-limbed, with a casual, willowy grace, and dark, medium length, wavy hair.

Brelish fashions were simple and comfortable, using light fabrics and open, airy designs, usually with a splash of blue somewhere about them, and jewelry tending towards armbands and anklets. Cyran garments, by contrast, had long, flowing elements that rippled in the slightest breeze, and Cyrans often wore gloves, both for work and as fashion. Cyrans rarely exposed their hands: an ungloved handshake was a sign of special trust. Cyrans also wear lots of jewelry of all types, particularly loose hanging necklaces, earrings and bracelets worked with brightly coloured feathers or small bells.

Rune spotted a skycoach parked at ground level, and for six silver sovereigns they chartered it to take then to an area where they could find lodging. It rose up inside the tower, dodging bridges, balconies, and other skycoaches until its found an opening in the tower wall large enough to pass through. Then it swiftly ascended to take them high above the city.
The pilot guessed that they were new to Sharn and took them the scenic route, first heading toward the centre of the city to show them the Kundarak Bank, perched atop Kundarak Tower in the heights of the central plateau of the city, and the nearby Cannith Tower, at which point Mika got a bemused look on her face.

“We should probably stop there at some point for supplies. It’ll be cheaper at the House enclave than anything we can get in New Cyre.”

She paused before going on. “I doubt we will run into Merrix there. I hear he spends most of his time elsewhere at a secret workshop. Very hush-hush.”

They swung south to pass by the campus at Morgrave University, then skirt the western edge of the city to look at the Skydocks of Precarious.

“This is almost as far west as I can go,” the pilot said. “Any further and I risk falling from the sky. Sharn is built on a manifest zone with Syriana. The soarsleds, the skycoaches, even the towers depend on the influence of Syriana to stay up. Move out of the zone and we’d drop like a stone.”

From the skydocks they turned east and the skycoach pulled up to a balcony in a neighborhood on the north end of the city. “This is Clifftop,” the pilot says. “A lot of adventurers and treasure hunters stay here. Lots of places to stay, you shouldn’t have any trouble finding an inn.”

And they did not. They readily found lodging that was shabby but relatively clean, going for five sovereigns for a single room.

In stark contrast to the drab gray granite that dominated Clifftop’s architecture, its people were even more diverse than they were at the entrance to the city, not just in race but in appearance. Wroann’s Gate (the entrance to Sharn) was filled with farmers, Brelish lords on horseback, merchant caravans and travellers of various types, but Gaius now had the impression that, diverse as it had appeared, the traffic had been mostly local.

Clifftop, by contrast, was mostly composed of people who are passing through, or who had not been in Sharn for very long. The array of fashions was truly staggering, as was the array of weapons; most people in Wroann’s Gate were armed simply if they were armed at all. Sword or wand, most people in Clifftop were armed, and many bristled with weapons of various sorts, not to mention a hodgepodge of robes, armor, jewelry and headgear so mismatched they were clearly chosen for magical properties rather than as fashion. The district was so filled with armsmen and spellcasters that it hardly seemed like anyone in the district actually worked for a living.

Exploring the district would have to wait, though. Feeling tired, and a bit poor, the party turned in for the night.

Next: Gaius – 20 Olarune, 998 YK

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Gaius - Vult 997 YK - New Cyre

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