From the ground, the city was like nothing Jason had seen before. Or at least, nothing he had experienced at this scale.
The shining spires he had seen from the prison window were visible only as glimpses through the foliage overhead, every avenue a boulevard. A pair of tracks ran through the centre of the street, the train cars traversing them chuffing steam. Jason had yet to see a car, here, or in fact any vehicle other than the trains. The elves walked or rode everywhere, seemingly content with the comparatively slow pace of the city.
And it was a city, as much as the tree-cover tried to mimic a forest. The towers of course had bases, bright cafes, storefronts, and lobbies walled in with glass and stone. It was an entirely alien concept to Jason, seeing this world Yulevi described as elven possessed by such familiar human modernity. The two things just didn’t fit, weren’t ever supposed to fit.
Nothing has fit right since I woke up here, really, Jason pondered. Why can’t I just wake up to normal again?
Yulevi had led them out of the prison complex, weaving through empty stone corridors that reeked of stale air and mildew. They had avoided several guards, and had only needed to subdue a single pair. Yulevi had taken care of that work with a pistol and dagger, while Jason had waited around the corner with his own dagger quivering in nervous hands.
“So, where are we now?” he asked of the elven woman.
The pair had left the shadows between trees and towers, finding themselves suddenly in a sunlit square.
“The peddlers’ market,” Yulevi answered curtly.
Jason looked around at the broad, vendor-filled square. Multicoloured tents and awnings rippled in the slight breeze, making the sharp forms of the surrounding buildings look like shining cliffs rising from rainbow waves. It wasn’t much different from the street markets back home, really, but he couldn’t help but notice a significant difference.
“Why are people staring at me? Do I really look that different from you people?”
Indeed, every individual the pair passed gave pause to look at Jason, unashamed of their behaviour.
“In appearance you could pass as mixed-race. No, it’s your clothes,” Yulevi said.
“But I thought the whole point of stealing” - Jason almost hissed this word - “that dead man’s clothes was so I’d fit in!”
Yulevi didn’t even pause to consider before answering, “You’re dressed as a prison guard, Jason.”
“Oh,” he sighed. “Right.
They passed between stalls selling all manner of goods and trinkets, fruits and spices, bolts of cloth and finished clothes, and a host of other things Jason couldn’t hope to identify. New and vivacious sights, sounds, and smells assaulted his senses, sending his thoughts into cartwheels. An idea sprung to his spinning mind, although it was so simple he imagined Yulevi had already planned it. He gave voice to the thought, anyway.
“If my clothes are the problem, we should buy me new ones.”
Yulevi slowed her gait, as if caught suddenly in a cascade of her own thoughts and ideas. Turning to Jason, she said in hushed tones, “With what, Jason? We only just escaped.”
“Right,” he sighed a second time. Apparently Yulevi caught on to his disappointment, and was quick to offer a second suggestion.”
“I know someone here, sympathetic to our cause,” Yulevi said.
“Wait, I have a cause now?” Jason asked, bewildered. “Are there - No! Are there other people here!?”
Jason’s excited tones drew more looks from the people passing, though upon seeing his prison garb most shuffled away quickly. One of the vendors, a flame-haired woman feathers and jewellery, eyed him with cautious curiosity. Jason was ignorant in his excitement, his mind jumping to thoughts of returning home.
Yulevi shook her head. “I assume you mean other men. Although you are certainly not the first of your kind to visit Domain, I believe you are alone here presently.”
“So there have been others,” Jason stated, still set on a quick escape from Domain.
With a wave of her hand Yulevi dismissed the unspoken questions. “That is not for me to discuss with you, Jason.”
“Patience,” Yulevi interrupted. “And focus on the task at hand.”
“Which is?” Jason grunted.
“Following me,” Yulevi smiled. “And not drawing too much attention.”