Chapter IV: Silver Cravings
Before entering the Millenial Fairgrounds, I continued walking around town to calm my nerves. One of my neighbours told me that Lucco had been boasting in the square about having made 'the discovery of a lifetime'.
In case I were to run out of energy at the fair, I decided to buy some potions at the market. However, when I entered the shop where such things were sold, there was nobody at the desk.
Instead, there was a rotund little stuffed animal, white fur, with brown patches on its ears, face and feet. A poyozo doll. As was customary, I squeezed it. But instead of playing music, like most, it played a recording of someone's voice: "Visit our stall in Leene Square!"
Okay, so my shopping was going to have to wait until the fair. Unless I wanted to walk all the way to Porre, the town to the south. But I'd rather not. I don't like walking through the desert. Also, I knew the route would be busy, and hard enough crossing the Zenan Bridge with the throngs of people passing by on their way to the fair. Almost all of the Kingdom of Guardia would be here, in Truce, for the fair.
The Kingdom has stood for a thousand years, encompassing all human territories. Our King is the thirty-third in his line, ruling over almost the entire world. However, there was one known continent, Medina, inhabited by fiends rather than humans. We manage to get along adequately, and haven't been at war in hundreds of years.
I was getting bored with walking around town now. Everyone who wasn't talking about the fair was either at the fair, or talking about yesterday's earthquake.
Uh-huh, we had an earthquake yesterday. These things just happen, I guess, right? Hmm... right at New Year's Eve, too.
I suppose I could get to Porre pretty quickly if I went on the ferry. But I didn't really want to spend twenty gold coins, ten there and ten back. With the potential held by the fair, that wouldn't be the best way to spend my allowance.
A woman named Elaine was in the ferry house, unconcerned with the Millenial Fair. She was worried about her dear Fritz, who had left on a journey and still not returned. But she didn't say what kind of journey.
There was a man waiting for the ferry, and I had no idea why he was heading to Porre at a time like this. He said something about a whirlpool appearing nearby.
Okay, so, perhaps there was some interesting gossip. On the streets, once I had walked down the docks, I heard people muttering about how the King cannot seem to control his son, Prince Alexei, who was presumably throwing a tantrum right now about not being able to visit the fair until the parade in the evening.
I gave up. I decided that nothing would calm me more than actually going to the fair and getting all the excitement over with.
There were three people running, and a cat too, in strange costumes. One was dressed as a knight of old, while another wore the most pretentious armour of modern day. The third runner was masked in green, and resembled some sort of lizardlike fiend I'd never seen before. He wore animal skins on his green, painted skin, and looked downright prehistoric.
I waited for them to pass before crossing the promenade. Then, I sat down on the fountain's edge next to an older girl, Claire, that my mother had homeschooled along with me.
"Crona, I hear Lucco and her father have put together another crazy invention," she told me. "I just hope it doesn't blow up like all the others..."
My mother hadn't taught us everything. Taban, Lucco's father, had taught us math and science. We were used to being shown up by Lucco, and seeing Taban's chemicals over-react.
"Excuse me, Claire," I said as I got up and eyed a display of swords. I recognized the metal, thanks to Taban. A silver sword.
She stood behind me, amused. "Look at the price tag, Crona."
"By the years, that's expensive!" I exclaimed. Four thousand gold. The bronze swords seemed infinitely cheaper by comparison, but I could easily buy a similar one in Porre, any day of the week.
"They say that swordsmith is a hermit from just south of Medina," Claire informed me.
"Medina, eh?" I was baffled. "Does his shopping amongst fiends?"
"I suppose so. And I bet they don't charge him the running price. Racist scum," she spat. "The King invited them, by courtesy, and not a single fiend had the decency to show up. The closest thing we've got is that lizard-man in the running. That Green Ambler, they call him, he's almost as fast as Catalack."
"Well, they're probably busy celebrating four hundred years since the end of the war," I suggested.
She shrugged, "Perhaps."
"Catalack is... the cat in the race?" I asked.
"Yup. I saw them training the cat, here, months in advance."
"It's an odd name," I observed. "I'm gonna go look around. Maybe even see if Lucco's demonstration is ready."
"They'll going to call everyone for that when it's time," Claire told me. "Just win yourself some silver points, and trade them in for cash if you want. You might be able to buy that silver sword."
"Yeah, Crona. You can win them from Gato, betting on the racers, hitting the bell on the kicker, the drinking contest... and whatever else they've got set up."
"Well, I certainly won't be winning a drinking contest. I can't hold me grog."
Claire laughed as I walked off. Then, she yelled after me, "Spend your points in the Tent of Horrors!"
Eager for silver points and maybe even a silver sword, I walked up the stairs to the higher plateau, where Leene's Bell was. There were colourful stalls and canopies, balloons, painted faces and children running every which way. I ran too, trying to find a calm amongst the clamour. And then, I bumped into someone by accident, and we both fell to the ground. The guy grunted, and all I saw was something shiny and blue soaring by in the air...