Cythera Chronicles: Rogan's chronicles, part one

  • Part one, chapter one: Cademia - an introduction

    I will never forget these past couple of days.
    It took us about a day more than I expected to travel to Cademia. As we reached the bridge only a few hours walk from the Mother City, we decided to take a long pause, resting our sore feet before we continued... or really, I should say "before I continued", because the time had come for me and Drognan to walk separate ways; he was on his way to Land King Hall, and had a very long walk ahead of him, unless he was able to locate a transport of some kind.

    I put my sack, which felt like it weighed a thousand stone, on the ground and dumped my weary body down next to it. Drops of sweat decorated my forehead, the heat... almost unbearable.
    Drognan laughed, looking at the scruffy figure that was me; eyes closed, mouth half-way open, breathing heavily.
    "Get yourself something to drink," he said, "before you get a stroke!"
    He strolled down to the edge of the stream, sat down on his knees and splashed some water in his face. He got up with a grunt, walked up to and sat down next to me on the ground, chewing on a straw.
    I could barely speak, trying to relax. He was still looking at me with a smile, "shovelling inside an iron mine is one thing," he said, "but walking from Pnyx to Cademia is another." Still chewing on the straw he leant back, enjoying the sun, high up there on the blue sky. "Don't worry; you'll get used to it."
    "I'll never do anything like that again" I remember thinking at that moment. I opened my sack and fetched a bottle of water I was carrying; almost empty, the last one. I put it to my mouth and emptied it, savouring every precious drop.
    A few minutes later, I pulled myself together, got up and filled the bottle with fresh water from the stream. Then I just laid down on the ground, all I wanted was to get a good, long rest. I didn't even bother to put my sword aside.

    My eyes opened slowly. A blurred Drognan was standing next to me on the ground. I rubbed my eyes and blinked a few times, my head dropping slowly to the ground again.
    "It's time for me to depart now, my friend," he said to me, "and you should probably get on your way to Cademia now."
    I got up, extremely slowly. I looked into his eyes. Over the past few years, he had become more to me than just a teacher; he was also one of my best friends, a friend I would hate to leave behind.
    At first we kind of tried to say goodbye like gentlemen, shaking each others hands. He looked at me and laughed again. I gave him a friendly hug as I said, "so long, my friend, until the next time our paths cross."
    "Yes," he replied, "until next time." With those words he turned around, grabbed his sack and started walking. I just stood there, looking after him. He began singing a happy traveller's tune - one I've heard many a time in the Attis iron mines, but unfortunately unable to remember its name - as he reached the end of the bridge and turned to the northeast. I put my sack back on - it still felt like a huge anvil - and started walking down the path, on my way to Cademia. In an attempt to lighten my spirit, I started humming on the same melody.

    About fifteen minutes later I stopped to get a drink. Unfortunately, it seemed I had forgot to put the bottle of water back into the sack, down by the stream. Even though I found myself in the middle of a plain site with no shade whatsoever, the thought of going back for it was repelled by both feet and will. I quickly continued along the path, hoping for some tall trees or a cloud to appear soon to block out the sun - if only for just a little while.
    My wish was granted a moment later when a cloud came, seemingly out of nowhere, in front of the sun. I continued walking, and eventually reached a point where the path split up, the other way leading to the north-west. An old wooden sign fastened to a pole carelessly shoved into the ground, about to fall, read "Cademia". An arrow pointed out the leftmost path as the one leading to my destination. Ahead was nothing but some trees and shrubbery. A vulture feasting at some dead animal, hissed at me as I walked by.

    Another five minutes passed until I could finally see the outskirts of Cademia. The path lead me past an old, dilapidated shack, probably once used for storing something. I could see a large brick wall ahead. Built by the Tyrant's slaves many years ago, it would most certainly withstand a powerful attack back then. Now, it had been reduced to a rather ugly sighting, almost as badly bruised by father time as that shack I had passed.

    It was around mid-afternoon when I arrived. As I walked up to the wall I became aware of a man walking back and forth by what seemed to be some sort of entrance.
    He addressed me as I approached, "hello, sir, haven't seen you around here before."
    Judging by his military-looking armor and clothing, he was a town guard. A helmet was placed on a rock next to the entrance - he had probably taken it off because it was so damn hot outside.
    "It's a splendid afternoon we're having," I answered, "this is my first visit to Cademia."
    The man nodded, "Indeed." He wiped sweat off his forehead, "wish it was a little cooler, though, I have to work overtime today."
    "You work as a guard?" I asked, "may I enter?"
    He nodded, "I am one of the Cademian guards, that's right. Please, go right in, enjoy yourself. As long as you follow the law, of course."
    "Do not worry, I abide the law anywhere I go," I said, assuring him that my ruffian-like appearance was only the result of three days of walking, without much of what one would call "splendid personal hygiene".
    "First visit to Cademia, eh?" he said, "are you here for business or pleasure? If you don't mind me asking."
    I told him how I planned on finding a place to stay after just finishing my studies of the magical art in Pnyx, as well as trying to locate and old friend of mine, that being Sisyphus.
    "A young, would-be mage, eh? Good luck in finding your friend" he said, stepping aside, allowing me to pass.
    "If you are looking for a job," he said as I walked past him, "try the employment office, next to the marketplace."
    I said "thank you" with a smile before I left.

    I spent the next half hour just strolling around, trying to familiarize myself with the city. As I roamed around, i noticed people had a tendency of staring at me; of course, most people are a little suspicious to newcomers, especially when one looked like I did. Certainly, during the time of the Tyrant, I would have been apprehended by local security. I desperately needed a place to freshen up, and a sign reading "public bath", I welcomed with great enthusiasm.

    I immediately went over to the building. There was no line, so I walked right in. Inside, I had to pay an attendant five oboloi to gain access to the bath and wardrobe; that being five of my total savings of some 8000 oboloi. I wasn't carrying 8000 pieces of oboloi, of course, I put most of it in the bank of Odemia a year ago. I think I was carrying about five hundred.
    "Fresh from the battlefield or what?" the attendant chuckled. I didn't blame him at all, I really looked like something the rat-lizards had dragged in.
    I locked my equipment into a chest in the dressing room and got into a pair of shorts lying there. Looking around, I realised that this establishment probably was one of the sleaziest ones in Cademia; it might very well be a front for a brothel or something down that lane. Come to think about it, the attendant back there didn't look like a model citizen either.
    But as long as I was able to take a bath, whatever. I grabbed a bottle of liquid soap from a counter and opened the door to the bathroom.
    To my great surprise, the water was clean, and quite hot too! At that time, I would have jumped into the first and best puddle of water and it'd still feel refreshing. I was sitting alone in a fairly large tub, the place looked deserted. It wasn't that comfortable, so I quickly cleaned up, spending most of the time trying to wash the dirt out of my hair, got out and into some new clothes I was carrying in my sack.
    I looked like a whole other person! A poor beggar transformed into a nobleman in a matter of minutes! Believe me, I'm not exaggerating; The only mirror hanging on the wall was half-way smashed, but served its purpose to at least some extent. I put my belt, sheath and sack back on. My boots could really need a... forget it, they could need to be replaced. Old and worn-out as they were, I decided I had to go shopping for new ones a bit later. I hung the towel I had used over a chair standing in a corner and went out. The attendant looked at me with wide-opened eyes as I left. "I don't remember you coming in" he chuckled again, "see you around, soldier-boy."

    "What now?" I thought. The best would probably be to find a place where I could stash my things and rest. Looking for a place to buy, or anything else for that matter, had to wait. Now, I needed a good, long rest.
    I walked up to a man standing next to a trashcan and asked him to tell me the directions to the nearest inn. "Right over there, second turn to the left... if you're not of the picky sort, that is." he pointed out the direction before he threw the newspaper he was reading into the trashcan and hurried along, down the road.
    As I walked to the inn, I was astonished by the rich blend of people living in Cademia. Mostly humans strolling around, minding their daily business, but there was also many other sorts of people around; a gnome strolled down the street followed by his two brutish half-ogre bodyguards. Two halflings sat on a bench smoking weed while an elven man was engaged in a loud argument with a dwarf. What the argument was about I was unable to hear, because they kept yelling simultaneously. It had to be important though, because the elf was quite angry, which is a rare sight to see. But then again, the constant picking on each other between elves and dwarves is not really a secret.
    I almost bumped into another dwarf while staring at the two "friends". I apologised, but he was in a hurry and didn't hear me.

    "Poone's flophouse" the rusty plaque next to the door read. Still finding myself in a sleazy corner of town, I reluctantly stepped inside. As I opened the door, a man looked up at me from his seat in a corner, behind a desk. Presumably Mr. Poone.
    "Yeah?" he said.
    "I'm looking for a place to spend the night" I answered, still standing in the doorway.
    "Come on in then," he waved me in with his hand, "prices are low, 20 oboloi a night." He got up from his chair. A small pouch tied with a leather strap around his waist obviously contained a handful oboloi. A box of snuff lay on the desk and Mr. Poone smelled like he was using a lot of it.
    When I gave him the money, he handed me a key and pointed at one of the four doors leading into adjoining rooms.
    "That one. It's not the best you'll get in this here town, but it's by far the cheapest" he said, sitting down again.
    "Thank you, sir" I unlocked the door and went inside: A bed, a chest and a window with (to my surprise) curtains.
    I opened my sack and threw the dirty clothes in a pile in one corner. My grimoire, a pouch containing about 500 oboloi, a loaf of bread, some cheese, this journal and a small dagger was all I was carrying. I also had a little coffer containing some letters from friends and family and a plain silver ring, being a family heirloom. Oh, and of course my credit card; a small note issued to me by the bank of Odemia. Certainly an important piece of paper, as I needed it as a confirmation of my identity in order to withdraw money from the bank.
    The handwriting was all pretty curves, I remember the lady behind the counter as it was yesterday.
    Rogan Edwards
    Oboloi: 8050

    In the top left corner was the red mark that read "first Bank of Odemia".
    I stashed everything in the chest and locked it with the key Poone gave me, placed my sword in a corner and let myself fall onto the bed. I think I fell asleep the moment my head touched the pillow... what a pleasant feeling that was to finally rest my weary body.

    (This message has been edited by moderator (edited 01-07-2003).)

  • Good work Rogan, I look forward to reading the next installment.

    "There is a time and a place for everything."

  • I also look forward to the next chapter.

    Slayer's guide to Cythera:

  • Wow, three concurrent, ongoing series! How do you do it?

    I really like this piece, it has a depth of setting and characterisation we've seldom seen here. What you described seemed so real and natural, that I hardly had to put any effort at all into visualising it. Excellent work! :)

    "The e-mail of the specious is more dangerous than their mail" - Tom Holt, 'Snow White and the Seven Samurai'

  • Quote

    Originally posted by cache22:
    **How do you do it?


    I don't :p actually, I'm having a slight problem with creativity right now... and school's started again, so I don't know what to do now!

    All I ever wanted was everything and then some,
    all I ever wanted was to love someone.
    All I ever wanted was the joy they sell,
    all I ever wanted was a heaven in my hell.

  • Hey, good job, Rogan; that was pretty good. I like the way you portrayed the low-class side of the city. As cache said, the description had a lot of depth. It's always interesting to view the other half of Cythera's society.

    Insignificantly Unforgettable
    "The real world can wait, I'm not done with the virtual one yet." - idiotSavant

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