125 A Street of Skewers*
When the evening came and the cargo was unloaded as needed, Jorl wrapped an arm around Rassa's shoulders and steered him off the ship, Aegin and Ebony in tow.
"Where are we going?" asked Rassa.
"Primarily to get dinner," Jorl replied, "While we're docked the ship won't provide meals for us, though we are still allowed to sleep on board. Saves some coin sleeping there rather than in an inn or tavern".
The thought hadn't occurred to Rassa about that, but thinking that Aegin and Ebony were likely to spend most of their coin on meals, Rassa decided it was best to save his own as back up for them rather than spend it on a room. Even if it meant being cooped up in the ship for longer. He could just hunt before he went back to the ship for the night, Jorl hadn't mentioned a curfew. Not that the guards would really matter, Rassa would be able to sneak by them pretty easily.
"So where are you taking us for dinner?" asked Rassa, sensing that Jorl clearly had something in mind.
"Skewer Street," Jorl replied.
Rassa frowned, unsure if that name sounded appealing or not.
Jorl seemed to sense his discomfort and chuckled, "It's named that way because the night market there specialises in foods cooked on skewers. All kinds of food of flavours from all over the world! It's quite the sight, and the smell, when you first see it".
Rassa pretended to look impressed, in all honesty, he was not looking forward to this. Aegin and Ebony on the other hand, looked intrigued.
Seeing their enthusiasm, Jorl encouraged them to get closer as he began telling them all the stories he'd heard about this skewer street. How it had begun as a competition between vendors of two different continents, but had grown to become the Port's signature food. As he talked, Rassa took in the sights of the city around him. Despite it being evening, no one seemed to be slowing down. In addition, Rassa could see all kind of different people from all over the world. Dark skin, light skin, blue eyes, green eyes, amber eyes, tall, short, thin, large, brown hair, black hair, red hair, blonde hair. The variation seemed endless, and Rassa couldn't help but give a faint smile at it. At the fact that all these different kinds of people seemed to be in harmony together, no matter their origins.
It reminded him of Victor's memories. Of Star Crash City. There had been no end to the variations their either, and not just humans, but beings of all kinds of races.
The sense of familiarity felt nice to Rassa. Despite him never seeing it with his own two eyes, this diversity united under a common goal, it felt right. It felt...normal. He didn't know any of these people, but in just a short walk, without them even knowing it, they'd somehow made him feel the most normal he'd felt in years.
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As his eyes swept it up, he caught other nuances that no doubt added to these feelings. Like the fact that the buildings themselves were quite plain, and yet something as simple as building them to feel more open, with wider doors and larger windows, it made them feel more welcoming. The various lanterns and colourful fabrics, food and other assorted prodcuts added to its vibrancy.
As Rassa caught a whiff of the skewers Jorl no doubt spoke of, he couldn't help but feel that as a people, Traders seemed without a doubt to be the richest of all, and not just from the coin they made.
"Smell that?" asked Jorl, his nose pointed in the air and eyes closed in happiness, "That's the heavenly smell of Skewer Street!"
Rassa couldn't help but smirk at Aegin who was almost drooling at the mouth. Ebony didn't seem much better, but at least hid her eagerness in order to maintain a certain image of decorum. Not that it counted much amongst sailors.
The group rounded a corner, and all of a sudden the wide open street was packed to the brim with all manner of street vendors hawking their wares. Not that they had to try hard, the smell and the atmosphere were doing 80% of their job for them.
"I've never seen this many skewered foods in my life," Aegin proclaimed.
Jorl chuckled proudly, "Aye, I dare say you won't see its like anywhere else in the world. Come on, I'll give you the tour of my favourites and see how long it takes to fill that young stomach of yours!"
Aegin and Jorl marched forward side by side, Ebony moving to follow but turning to Rassa who stood with a stoic face at the end of the street still.
"Are you coming, Rassa?" asked Ebony.
Rassa sighed, "I guess I have to, huh?"
Ebony smiled half-heartedly. It'd been amusing at first to watch his plain disgust at human food, now she just felt sorry for him. Still, better to keep up the farce now that it'd started.
She turned and headed after Aegin and Jorl before she lost them in the crowd, knowing Rassa would be able to find them with his hunting skills.
Rassa went to follow her but stopped, a scent wafting past that lay beneath the sensory overload that was Skewer Street. A scent he hadn't smelt in a very long while, and one which he didn't think he'd ever smell again. He frowned, pausing to look around, only to pause.
Whether the scent was there or not, did he really want to talk to her? That question was one of the easiest to answer. He took a step forward and into the crowd and left the scent behind him.
"Shall we stop for some Sweet and Sour Skewers, Miss?" asked Layn, turning to his superior in question as they passed by Skewer Street on their way back to the manor.
"That's sounds nice," the young woman in question replied, a light smile touching her lips, "It's been months since we last tasted them".
Layn gave a short bow and then disappeared into the crowd as the woman and her two guards waited patiently at the end of the street. The woman folded gloved hands before her, her elegant mannerisms allowed others to assume that she was a noble lady, but in reality she'd only been born a merchant's daughter. Still, that had never stopped her from being elegant and beautiful. Her honey coloured eyes swept over the crowd, smiling at the bustling atmosphere.
In her silence she couldn't help picking up snippets of conversations around her.
"The pepper skewers were so spicy..."
"...want, lamb or beef?"
"....tried the corn skewers..."
The young woman stilled at the name, a frown settling on her porcelain brow. She hadn't heard that name in years. Her eyes instinctively followed the voice that had called it, and she found two young men half hidden by the crowd. One turned and disappeared, leaving behind the taller of the two. He wasn't facing the young woman, but the hood styled jacket was all too familiar.
It wasn't possible...was it?
She stared across the crowd at the figure, not daring to believe what she could see before her. He half turned, as if looking for something, and the young woman managed to glimpse his jawline, his black hair...
The young woman stumbled at step forward, ready to call out, but in the space of a breath he turned and dived into the crowd ahead of him, disappearing from sight. The young woman craned her neck to try and see him again. To catch a glimpse of him. She'd been expecting the child she'd last seen, but that had been silly of her, he wouldn't be a child any longer. If she could only get another look, just to confirm what she thought she'd seen.
Layn's voice cut through her desperate search and her head snapped to her subordinate. Falla took in the skewers held aloft and couldn't help the initial confusion that rushed over her.
"Is everything okay, Miss Falla?"
Falla glanced back at the crowd, at where the young man had disappeared. She'd imagined it, of course she had. The last time she'd seen that boy, he'd been in a cage bound for Toulle, and no one had heard anything beyond him disappearing not long after arriving there. As she'd discovered, it was a big world beyond their little village of Cordon. Beyond ever Eldovia.
Falla turned back to Layn, slipping off one of her gloves to take one of the offered skewers, a smile adorning her face once more.
"It's nothing, I must have imagined it. Thankyou Layn," Falla said.
"Of course, Miss," Layn replied, nodding his head as Falla took the skewer to her lips and took a small bite, turning to walk back towards the manor.