Chapter 28 - The Carnival City
One could go a lifetime without many things, but all who ever saw the capital city of Spellgate knew that it would be depressing to have gone through life without ever seeing it…
Despite the Jun presence in Fairgrifen, and even in their leadership, no city was a truer Jun city than Spellgate.
Protected by magical barriers more than by walls, they lit up like beacons which were visible at a distance, if it was nighttime. But those outer spherical hues were simply half-transparent layers over the real living light show.
The city was known as the carnival city because it was built to provide the residents a continuous state of high-class entertainment and fun. Carnival-like rides were spread all around the city, with roller coasters and giant wheels being the most visible, due to their height. The roller coasters, and other such mobile rides, even served as transportation within the city.
Also, almost every neighbourhood had their own soundtrack playing non-stop, music that was fun and cheery. Streets were scattered with performers and snack stands and small parades or dance parties, and everyone responsible for these took turns to make sure it was always going.
The houses had triangle-shaped ceilings, albeit curved, which formed curious ramps and gave them a less orthodox, and somehow more festive look. They were painted to be colorful and alive and there were a lot fewer than in other cities because the concept of one house being one building was dying out in Spellgate. Their buildings ranged from small to huge, from large to tall, but the main point was that a building housed more than one family. They towered and stretched, sporting several divisions which functioned as homes, each building housing dozens and dozens of residents and sporting just as many windows.
Still, their roofs ramped in every direction, almost touching neighbouring buildings and all. Every building was, though, soundproof, so that residents could be able to find quiet in the midst of the music playing in the streets.
The music wasn’t always loud and jolly, though. It depended on the time of day, on the state of the weather and even where in the city one was.
The city thrived on tourism alone, mostly, though it also made an economy out of providing services. In fact, all other cities were in some kind of debt with Spellgate over services provided. To deal with war, to increase protection, to hunt down criminals…Spellgate had a body of public officials which, in the name of the state, so to speak, offered their services to foreign powers, both state or private. It worked out very well because they were often much more reliable than common mercenaries or adventurers.
“I love this city!” Sanpu yelled.
“True, it’s really a good representation of our culture, isn’t it?” Fuun’na pointed out.
“What do you mean?” Pixa asked.
“Well, other cities actually, like, put a lot of effort into succeeding. They endeavor to thrive… while Spellgate just plays around.”
“And yet it thrives the most, ha ha,” Sanpu mocked.
“Humpf. The higher you are--” Kazuki tried to note.
“The higher you can reach,” Sanpu cut him off with a pleasing smile.
Kazuki glanced at him menacingly, but he just giggled and brushed Fuun’na’s hair.
“Let’s land. We won’t be able to get into the city by air,” Arata suggested.
“If we’re at all able to get into it at all,” Kazuki questioned.
“We’re about to find out. C’mon, follow me,” Jomiko pulled the reigns and directed the griffens to turn around and down, into a descent.
Meanwhile, inside the city itself, she looked on from the shadows. Or rather, from whatever remnants of shadows were left for her to use.
The night attempted to darken the ridiculously lit city of Spellgate, but it had an even harder time there than on the sky city. The Jun filled the streets with beacons of lights. With fire, magic, blinking bugs. Whether they flicked, beamed or crackled, most every corner of every street was well lit. She definetly didn’t like that city.
She didn’t like the noise. Any of it: of the machinery running, of people talking and laughing, of music singing and banging, of the dozens of steps sounding out around her at every moment of every second.
She didn’t like her company either. The Jun was too full of himself, not to mention indifferent to everything in a I’m-too-important kind of way. The Bull was like any other mean old man, impatient and easy to stress. Shinyaki and Agathon were their names and they talked mostly among themselves, ignoring her.
She didn’t mind it at all. She was never good at talking to Persephonai, let alone people she didn’t even like.
They were going to meet the fourth and last of the group that had been sent to retrieve the stones, the Fea sorceress. She had retrieved Aelleas’, a hard enough job, but she had apparently managed it without much difficulty. Agathon had retrieved FairGrifens’ and Shinyaki had already delivered BellHalls’. That meant they would be carrying three stones back to him.
Every time she remembered him, she had second doubts about her decision to work for him. It was odd for a Sen to talk about evil appearances, but the man looked as evil as one could get.
And yet, I’ve allied myself with him.
It was necessary, she told herself. No one else would give her the help she needed.
She looked up, impressed at how the buildings seemed to scrape the skies. Even to her, who had seen the sky city, it came off as pretty remarkable.
“It’s amazing, isn’t it?” Shinyaki asked.
She had to make sure it was him, though. They were costumed, wearing cloaks and big porcelain masks to hide their features, and there were a lot of people around.
Not that she needed to reply to him. No one ever needed to because Shinyaki was a one-man dialog.
“Spellgate is truly a manifestation of Jun ingenuity and culture. These buildings are beautiful and grand, just like everything else we do. You should be marvelled.”
The Sen sure didn’t build like the surfacers. They didn’t forge the ground to fit their needs but forged their needs to meet the ground. They didn’t find ways to light their world, but rather grew accustomed to the dark. They didn’t drill holes into the grounds and walls so to create housing but rather housed in what holes they could find. They didn’t build nor created coolers and vents but rather grew accustomed to the heat and muffled air.
Life was harsh underground but it made them strong and, most of all, humble. She knew better than to marvel before Jun’s architecture because she had seen caves of indescribable beauty and immensity. The view from the mountains that made up the border between the nation’s territory alone was more incredible than any skyscraper she could now see.
Not to mean it wasn’t impressive, but surfacers were always so blinded by their ego they actually thought they could out-create nature. To the point they’d actually consider a building more impressive than the giant waterfall of Ielta.
“I know. I was without words, too, the first time I walked its streets,” he continued.
She didn’t speak. She hardly ever did. Her home, underground, was inhabited by terrifying monsters which, due to being underground, had remarkable hearing. For that reason, words were spent seldom and carefully because they echoed easily. They were carefully weighted and used, and so they were a lot more important than on the surface cities.
Here on the surface, words were spent for the most trivial of uses.
“Ah, how I love the color blue,” someone passing by commented.
She bowed her head and sighed helplessly.
And then there was him. He was comfortably riding the Ferris wheel while he talked to his good company, as his carriage slowly reached for the top.
At that height, protected from most of the city’s lights, his black dress really worked its contrast. His skin was milky white, his hair long and golden, creating a pair of long split-tails behind his head outside of the two side ponytails formed by his black headband. And with all that, the hair still made a fringe large enough to cover his forehead dots.
Being a Pan meant he was small. He always wanted to be as mobile as he could, so he was slim. He always liked being unencumbered, so his dress led into a skirt instead of trousers or shorts. Against the black, which was already against the white and gold, he sported a large pink tie and two very small pink socks, mostly covered by his dark shoes, but not completely.
His company was a droll person. A mercenary he had hired to guard a transportation but who had met with difficulties.
“It’s funny how when these things happen, the people I hire to keep them from happening…never get hurt.”
The Jun gulped, intimidated, and that pleased him. He was a Pan in the city of the Jun, born and raised to be beneath them.
A path he refused to take, as it was evident by the vast amount of Spellgate businesses he had a hand in.
“It’s just me that gets hurt,” he smiled, in a way to make the threat clear.
“I-I…there was nothing I could do. There were too many of them.”
“Hum hum…too many…” he shook his own hands over his legs, innocently, “perfectly understandable. Unfortunately, I do need to keep my side of the arrangement.”
“Look, there’s no need for that, I’ll give you the money back.”
“The contract was clear,” he leaned back, “you agreed to it.”
“I’ll give you the money ba--”
“I know you will,” he nodded normally, casually, before the man’s seat suddenly pushed up and to the side, throwing the man out the opened window of the carriage.
He screamed all the way down to die.
“Oh wow, I am so surprised…” he reacted ironically, “he did not seem like the suicidal type. Not at all!” He then sighed an impatient smirk and leaned back, bored.
“Now I have to find another Keyt’s head. It is too bothersome…finding a Keyt. Pff.”
One moment he was looking out into the night of the city, as his carriage began its descent, and the other, a head had popped by his window. The head was covered in black cloth which showed only the dark grey eyes of a Jun.
“The stone’s been stolen, as you predicted.”
“Ah, finally. They took their sweet time…is anyone else aware?”
“No one that matters, sir. Also, your party guests are also in town. They just arrived.”
“Well good,” he stood up and slapped away at his skirt to un-wrinkle it.
He smiled, curiously anxious, and added, “I do believe it’s time for some fun and games,” he leaned his head in thought, “though I do hope, in turn, they do not make it that easy…”