Monday, April 13, 2015

Story Seed - Courier Arrival

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The market was alive with sound. The cries of hawkers selling their wares, the haggling of peddlers and merchants, both trying to strike a deal, the sound of beggars and urchins, of people calling to friends, of conversation, of pack animals, farm animals, and pets. The din was such that it filtered down through streets wide and narrow, spilling out into the home of merchants, and the shops of artisans. And everywhere there was noise there were people.

They crammed shoulder to shoulder through the market stalls and the narrow alleys between the stucco coated homes and businesses. They grasped at goods, and inspected livestock. They traded in coins, in jewels, and in raw gold, silver, and ivory. The market goers and the merchants seemed to fill every available space. Every space but the Court of the Winds.

A great expanse of paving stones and dust, the Court of the Winds lay at the heart of the city. The markets spread from its northern half like a great corona.  To the south were the richest of the merchants homes. They stood on either side of a broad avenue paved in great slabs of kiln baked clay that led to the castle of the king. Despite its proximity to the markets the Court stood nearly empty. Clear but for a small handful of liveried stableman and royal pages.

A great shadow passed over the market, and where it fell the din became and noise, and the noise settled into murmur. Great gusts of hot wind blew down from above as the shadow passed over. The merchants and artisans and common folk all looked up, blinking away dust, or shielding their eyes with their hands. The shadow slowed as it approached the Court of the Winds and the hot gusts became a raging gale as great wings stirred the air.

The beast settled in near silence its wings swimming through the air with grace where a birds would beat at it like an enemy. Fifteen feet long and several hundreds of pounds the courier moth alighted on the square with the touch of a feather, the hot air gusting away from it in great billows of dust. Finally it settled, its wings folding up like two great sails, twitching and fluttering. The courier leaped down from his mount just forward of the moth's wings, and began to loosen straps on the bags that were belted to the creature's side. Without realizing he was doing as much he made cooing noises to his mount, calming it while he waited for a handler to come.

On the other side of the creature the market began to stir, the murmur rising to a noise which grew once more into a great din as the market returned to its business. A few merchants sent runners to carry small parcels or letters of order to the Court of the Winds, others sent runners with empty hands, hands expecting to return bearing letters of commerce, or legal papers, or correspondence from friends and family.

Business as usual.

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