Chapter One -|| Let The Show Begin!
The streets of Isis were crowded with people in outlandishly fancy outfits. Music rang clearly through the evening air, over the hustle and bustle of the ocean of beings. At the far end of the city the calls of the Slave Auction lured many curious visitors to see what beasts were for sale. The taverns were twice as busy as normal, and alcohol was easily the most popular demand.
It was early October, and time for the King's Feast, a celebration that filled the city of Isis with travelers from every part of the land. The lavish celebration lasted four days total, and food and wine were easy to come by. As was entertainment and slaves.
The King's Feast was thrown every four years, and was intended to bring new people into Isis. The inhabitants of the city treated people who came to the celebration like royalty. For four days the citizens of Isis would put on shows and act as servants to their guests. Of course, with so many people flowing through, taverns, inns, and local merchants made quite the profit from the very happy and generous visitors. The end goal was to not only make a considerable profit, but to also convince people to live in Isis.
Isis didn't look all that lavish itself. The buildings were all made from a blue gray stone, and the doors and windows were simply holes in the structures. This was explained by the simple fact that in the summer it becomes extremely hot in the city. Rising well above what felt comfortable, people had to keep the air moving through their homes or risk dying of heat stroke in the middle of the night. In fact, very few stayed in their homes during the summer and instead chose to sleep outside in the cooler air.
As the sites, sounds and smells of the city combined into a tantalizing experience for the senses, the only person who didn't seem to be enjoying themselves was a poorly dressed Half-Elf. A fading blue sleeveless top, loose fitting brown pants held up by a length of rope around the waste, well worn walking boots, and black gloves that only covered the palm and not the fingers, she looked more like a beggar then a guest of the city. Her dirty blond hair was just long enough to be a nuisance and fall annoyingly into her face at the worst times. She leaned her weight against a staff that looked like an old, gnarled tree branch, and stared blankly at a man who stood upon the auction block.
In his hands was a length of chains leading to some iron cuffs, much to heavy for the being who wore them. "She'll make a good servant girl to any Mistress who needs an extra set of hands around the house!" Called the auctioneer to the tentative crowd, none of which paid any attention to little girl who strained to pull from the chains that confined her. No one heard her sobs as she called for her mother, no doubt being held within the sea of cages. No one cared about the innocent who had done nothing to deserve what fate was now dealing her. No one except the Half-Elf that was now struggling with deep feelings of sadness and anger. Sadness for the child who only wanted to be back with her mother, and anger towered those who just didn't care.
"Sold for fifty teres!" The auctioneer gave a final shout, and a few moments later the chains that held the child were traded to a man for a small pouch full of coins. The child screamed, cried, and finally just sat down where she was, trying with all her might not to be taken away. The man who had bought her began to yell at her, and when that only brought out more tears from the child, a hand struck her hard across her cheek.
The Half-Elf continued to stare blankly ahead, as the man yanked the now subdued child behind him passed her. "Out of the way!" He pushed her aside like another of the crowd, and glanced at her for only an instant, but in that instant he saw something that caught his eye. He turned his head and looked back at the woman and, after catching site of her eyes, quickly turned his gaze away again and continued.
Katrin had been told it was very unsettling to stare into the eyes of the blind, that it could make even the most honorable person feel guilty for the smallest things. This was the only thing that comforted the Half-Elf, as she stopped leaning upon her staff turned away from the auction. Almost rhythmically tapping it upon the ground, her staff led her away from the noise of the Slave Auction and to a little less depressing part of the celebration.
"Lords and Ladies," An almost musical voice called over the crowd from a stage set in the middle of the Town Square. "'Tiz time for the grandest show of all those preformed during the King's Feast!" Those passing by turned their attention to the strangely dressed man on the stage. "I am Witty, an illusionist the likes of which you will only see here in this lovely city!"
The crowd began to murmur and gather around the stage. Witty had been entertaining at the King's Feast since it had begun. He was known far and wide in the southern kingdom as an entertainer whose skills couldn't be matched. He seemed to resemble an Elf; his ears came to a point similar to those of one. Aside from the fact that his skin was almost orange in color, his hair changed color as the clouds passed in front of the setting sun. His hair was shoulder length, and seemed to be the most yellow blonde ever to exist, yet when the clouds passed over the sun, casting a shadow over the area his hair turned snow white. That, in its self, was enough to make people stop and watch him as he spoke.
Witty loved attention; it was almost safe to say he couldn't live with out it. It didn't matter whether it was positive or negative either. In fact, he often preferred the negative, but today, he was an entertainer. As such, he really couldn't afford negative attention if he wished to make some cash, of course that didn't mean he couldn't be tastefully cruel to a volunteer for the sake of his performance.
"For the first part of the show I shall need two volunteers! Anyone wish to join me on stage?" He said scanning the crowd. He spotted a very enthusiastic young man with blond hair, and chose him first of all.
"What is your name sir?" Witty asked the young man with a broad smile.
Meanwhile, Katrin had found her way into the crowd around the stage, but she was hardly interested in the show. She listened closely, to the moving bodies around her. Through the talking, applause, and general noise she heard a very distinct sound which was picked up perfectly by her Elven ears.
"Oh! I am so sorry." She said apologetically as she bumped into an older gentleman, who was dressed in some very fine silk. The man turned to face her, with a very angry look, but stopped before saying anything.
"Er.. It is alright." He stuttered slightly, and turned away, muttering something to himself.
Katrin simply smiled as she continued on. Her pockets where now a little heavier then they had been a few moments before. Katrin's blindness hardly hindered her abilities as a pickpocket. In fact it was known to help, for very few people weren't caught off guard by the blind.
"Tran, quit watching that foolishness!" A stern female voice made Katrin cringe involuntarily.
"Yes Mistress.. Sorry Mistress.." A soft male voice replied.
Katrin felt someone brush passed her in a hurry and noticed the crowd around her quiet down a little as the creature pushed his way through.
Tran, a Zhara, was an unusual site to most. His skin was a deep pink color, almost like that of raw flesh. He had a mess of shaggy violet colored hair and violet eyes that shone with a mixture of childish curiosity and animal like awareness. On his forehead there was a black cross-tattooed, and on the back of each of his hands there was another to match. He wore a vest that matched his hair over his otherwise bare chest, and dark violet pants. His feet were bare, though it didn't seem to bother him at all.
Zhara were used to the heat of the south. The race lived deep within the southern jungles where fairly peaceful. Though, a little less then a century had passed since they had been turned into a purely slave race. Lacking an organized language and living in a nearly animal like state, they were soon being captured and used as religious and domestic slaves.
"Get to the cages or you will join the rest of them on the auction block." The woman ordered, the heat and noise of the crowd seemed to be getting to her.
"Yes Mistress." Tran replied and quickly dashed away from the area, towered the slave auction.
Katrin recognized the woman's voice. She was a very well known slave trader, and a profitable bounty hunter. Her name was Rein, and Katrin and her had a rather unpleasant passed. Within a moment of hearing her voice, Katrin had turned and begun walking the other way.
All the while Witty continued with his show. After stunning the crowd by making one of the volunteers turn into a menacing dragon and back again, he proceeded to cut another one in half - a very messy stunt indeed, and definitely not one the volunteer had been to excited about - and put him back together. Aside from looking very pale afterward, the man seemed all right.
He, like Katrin, had also noticed Rein, though his reaction was far different then that of the Half-Elf. The crowd 'oohed' as Witty vanished, almost instantaneously, into the shadows of the stage. Many of them yelled in fright as a ring of fire appeared behind them, though, the one who was most shocked, was Rein.
"What the.." She said as the circle up flaming light sprung up around her.
"Have no fear M'lady, 'tiz really nothing to worry about." Witty said as he stepped from the shadows and into the ring with her.
"You!" Rein hissed and looked at the man in front of her with what a look that would have scared a lesser- or smarter- man witless.
"Yes Madam, 'tiz I." Witty grinned broadly, and bowed low to her. "How do you fair on this wonderful eve?"
"You and your foolish tricks! Leave me be or I swear this time I will make certain you do not live to see the light of the next moon!" She threatened and took a step closer to him. Almost immediately fire sprung up in front of her, blocking her path.
"Now, now.." He shook a finger at her playfully. "The flames shall flare with your temper.. If Madam is not careful, she will burn herself to ash."
The crowd had now gathered around the ring, and watched with great interest. Questioning whispers wondered if this was a planned part of the show or not. Witty just continued to smile, as the flames rose higher around Rein who was growing more and more furious with him by the moment.
"Have I not told you before that your anger will get you into trouble, M'lady?" He stepped backwards through the flames and out of the ring, leaving Rein alone in the center. "I dare say that you should have heeded my ad-" Just before he could finish, something nailed his side with an extreme force. Before he new what was happening, there was a very angry looking Zhara sitting on top of him growling dangerously.
"Get rid of the flames.." Tran growled to Witty.
Witty recomposed himself a little, and his grin once again returned. "The only thing she needed to do 'twas ask." With that the flames were gone.. though Rein still looked very heated.
Tran sprang off Witty with the grace of a cat and to her side. "Is Mistress alright?" He asked urgently, but Rein simply pushed him aside as she headed in the Illusionist's direction. Her face was set with an icy look, one that made a person wonder if the flames would of frozen had she used it on them.
"Time for me to go," Witty said in a very light tone from his spot on the ground. "I hope you all enjoyed the show!" He finished with a rhyme and vanished once more into the evening, leaving Rein to do nothing but curse.