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[Kuramen] Chapter I: City of Steam

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Jolly took in the new and fantastic sights of the city as the caravans slowly wound their way to the market.  He'd never seen so many people in such a small place before and it made him both edgy and excited.  The leader of this place must be strong indeed so it would be a little way off before he could think about that sort of challenge.  He still needed to garner support from the others and had little time to do it before they all disappeared on their separate ways.

Wanting to make the best impression by showing ALL his teeth, Jolly flashed his biggest smile at the captain as he came to shake his hand then, as the captain was busy with the others, quickly went to pack up his belongings and anything else nearby that might be useful in the immediate future.  With the sights, smells and ridiculous amounts of unsecured sparkly things in the market begging for his attention he loudly announced his intention to go shopping and that he certainly wasn't adverse to company (after all, having helpful people nearby was a great way to get out of trouble when it inevitably happened).

"I will join you there in a while, perchance in the Prancing Basilisk tavern I see over there, but first things first, dwarves need to settle and fortify!" Merrily, he strolled off, to the pension of one Missis Rabensteiner, an upstanding widow running a serene boarding house for single gentlemen, in a silent and peaceful corner of the city; the lady thought him a traveling craftsman, and he made sure to bring her a tiny present every time he came by.
On his way back to the market, he'd hit up his contacts and let them know he was in the city, to let the data flow.

Siren no Orakio:
His hand shaken, the stout orc Rages-Inward can do little but smile faintly, even toothily as the offer is made. "There is every chance, sir, that the Gods themselves will want me out of town in a ten-day. Perhaps I shall be willing to sign on as a guard, perhaps as cargo." He'd been told before, after all, that he hid well in a pile of beets, despite his complex, ritual scarring.

Turning away, his meager possessions already pouched and packed around his body, he draws a deep breath, daring to let his eyes turn a silvery color as he does so. "Prancing Basilisk. Hope they have a drink worthy of the name."

The Orc hated these places. Choking with the great numbers until the spirits themselves screamed and went mad from the lack of space. Still, there must be an enclave of his kind to take refuge among, at least for the few days he would be stuck in this pool. The market, he supposed, would be a good place to start, even if it meant following the steps of the accursed halfling for a moment longer.

---Jolly and Rages-Inward---

The marketplace is quite busy, once one leaves the shelter of the caravan's wagon ring. Every sense is assaulted heavily - a thick layer of damp air redolent with spices, the scent of cooking, countless unwashed bodies, and the creeping stink of decay. Garish colors flash from every angle, front painted stalls, colorful cloths serving as clothing and makeshift roofing, and a bewildering array of personal adornment, from the garish hues of the clothing on a cluster of froglike humanoids hawking their pottery and jewelry to the vivid paint slashes adorning the kobolds roaming amid the stalls. The air is likewise full of the babble of countless voices, snippets of numerous conversations woven into a cacophony, interlaced with a dozen competing strains of music as minstrels and other entertainers strive to make a profit from the crowds.

To the halfling, all of these sensory assaults are half-maddening and half-exciting, to the point that it is difficult to focus to any great degree for more than a moment. Here is a shop belonging to a dwarven smith, a compact forge fed with alchemical fuels sending a wash of searing heat out into the open row as he hammers a wickedly-serrated blade into shape for the Braun sweating profusely in front of the counter. There is what passes for a deli, cuts of exotic meat dangling in the other air and a kobold painted in bloody hues extols the virtues of the flesh of such strange creatures as the kraken, the landsquid, and the dream moth. Further still is a froglike humanoid, his skin more brilliantly colored than anything else in sight, offering curious lanterns - some which glow without fire, and others which seem to have a curious shadow clinging about them.

To Rages-Inward, the city is much more... Vibrant, in a way. As the orc's eyes shimmer silver, his eyesight slipping into the spirit realm, the entire world becomes a swirling chaos for several seconds, until his mind begins to filter what he is seeing. So dense is the concentration of spiritual energy in the city, between the inhabitants themselves, the thaumic miasma of runes and arcane technology, and the presence of countless lesser spirits - nascent and fully born alike. Over it all lies the unmistakable presence of the Gods of the city - billowing plumes of raw spiritual energy rising above the city, a sense of profound awareness radiating from them. To the orc's eyes, he can clearly identify each of the six - from the graceful twists of the Artisan Steamgod to the disturbingly organic plume of the Lord of Biocraft. Here and there shimmer other sparks of energy, and through the miasma his eyes can make out the kind of cluster that often results from an orcish sanctuary in such cities, where lesser gods go to feed on the willing worship of any orc in sight.

Both can make out the Prancing Basilisk, a low building artisically carven with images of the serpentine creatures cavorting on the walls. Jolly's keen nose can detect a most pleasant aroma from it - raw meat heavily infused with burning-hot spices - while Rages-Inward's curious eyes can see several small, distinct motes of spirit-life skittering within the walls.


The dwarf, meanwhile, moves with a steady stride through the streets , easily pushing through the market crowds and out into the city's streets - much less crowded, but also much more open. Here and there, those who recognize the dwarf, often unwillingly, grudgingly giving up what they know of his marks; one of the targets, in particular, seemed to have developed a strong case of piety toward Ssessil, the Lord of Biocraft, often attending worship services three or four times a week. The other marks, much less is known, although all of his contacts promise to find out what they can for him within a few days.

Missis Rabensteiner, for her part, is delighted to see the 'craftsman' once again, bestowing a beaming smile upon him - a proper Lady, she doesn't descend to physical contact, but instead coos in delight over the trinket he bears. "By the cogs, it's been simply /ages/ since you were here last, my dear! Do tell me, how do you do these days? Any lovely young dwarf girls catch your fancy since you were here last?" For all that she's an upstanding widow, she can't help but latch onto any kind of social gossip - so bland is her life that such trivial details are the height of excitement. "Any apprentices yet? I do so appreciate these trinkets, and I'd hate to see your craft and skill lost, as much as you travel out there in the beastly wilderness."

Siren no Orakio:
As the purple orc pushes through the crowd, his eyes slide back to their merciful natural color, Rages-Inward blinking several times as he does so. There are Greater Powers here, here where this many men can feed them well, and this disturbed him. With a glance towards the Prancing Basilisk, he parts with Jolly, swarming into the crowd. 

As he moves through the crowd, Rages-Inwards swirls past the stalls in the rough direction of the orcish enclave. There are supplies to purchase, herbs to buy and sell, people to meet. But still, he ends his path at the edge of his cousin's territory. The initial pleasantries he exchanges with the tribesmen, to learn their name and where he might find the local spirit speaker and chieftans, before heading in that general direction. There would certainly be tasks to be done among them, but there were, after all, proprieties to honor, the rituals of arrival. 


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