"I'm going ashore!" Harelia yelled back, throwing her vine-engraved staff over her shoulder and a parting wave of her hand to whoever was watching her walk down the gangplank. A few crewmen and women hollered distant goodbyes as they sealed up the ship and prepared to disembark themselves. Their magnanimous captain had bought them all tickets to a theater performance on the fancy Silkflair Lane but Harelia, ever the wanderer, sought to explore the town on her own before the night-time show.
As she exited the docks, she spied the dejected figures of her crewmates Bruno and Jessibel returning from their abridged shore leave. Though she greeted them cheerfully they had little cheer to return.
"Can't you speak to the captain for us?" they asked mournfully. Harelia frowned sympathetically.
"I already have, but she wouldn't hear of it. And frankly, I agree with her."
The pair were flabbergasted and made scoffing noises but Harelia waved their protests aside.
"Come on. If your lovers' quarrels keep interrupting crew dinner then this is what you have to expect."
"It wasn't so bad, was it?" Jessibel sighed. Harelia frowned.
"Do you know how long it took to get the prune stains out of my white pants? You threw our table at him Jessibel!"
"I did?" she looked stricken by what she'd done. It was even more impressive when you remembered that the tables were bolted to the floor. Bruno shook his head.
"But I caught it!" he said, omitting that he had then broken the table in half in fury. The two of them had been born in barbarian tribes, stolen, and raised in a traveling circus before serving on the Prosperina. Their fury was as useful in battle as it was inconvenient at dinner. Now it was Hariela's turn to shake her head.
"Not good enough, Bruno. It's better that you stay on the ship. Imagine what would happen if you had one of your rows at the theater? In front of all the captain's noble friends? Think of how ashamed she would be! Are you even thinking of her, or just of yourselves?"
Harelia didn't like scolding the crew, least of all innocent Bruno and Jessibel. They hadn't gotten the chance to grow up like normal people, and they were forever childlike because of it. When she thought of how two sweet people could be so mistreated, she felt like breaking a table herself.
"No!" they both shouted at once. The thought of betraying the trust of their captain was painful to their pure souls, as Harelia knew it would be. At once she could see they understood, and she smiled at them. They soon parted, with Bruno and Jessibel headed for their dull night guarding the Prosperina, and Harelia entering Cal Eternis.
The sheer magnitude of the city always astounded her. It was the sort of city that made you believe you were living in a golden age. The streets were clean, the people good and cheerful with pockets full of coins, and there was food everywhere. She liked to walk through the streets and smell all the cooking meat until she couldn't take it anymore and bought some. Today she bought spiced ribs and got her hands shamelessly greasy eating them. She tried to find a fountain, but the streets were so crowded she could barely see five feet from herself.
With a start, she dodged a column of soldiers, whose first rank officer tipped his hat at her in apology and smiled. She smiled back, but he wasn't allowed to slow his march and she turned with a laugh into the crowd of shoppers pouring in and out of the market. The market was somehow even more colorful and lively than the rest of the city, with bright banners flapping in the warm mid-day wind and everybody talking all at once, all the time. Once in the market Harelia did what she usually did: she spent all her money. She bought:
-Two pairs of white pants
-Four apple tarts (two for her, two for the captain)
-Six boxes of Vanoran tea (not nearly enough, just all the guy had)
-Ten apples (for her pet, Apollon)
-Three adventure books (to read to Bruno and Jessibel)
-A fancy customized scimitar (to hang on her wall)
After arranging the delivery of all these items her last purchase was a colorful foreign bird, who she released at once and, with her magic, convinced to sit on the end of her staff so she could chat with him as she continued to sight-see. She learned about his homeland and taught him about human cities. The bird found that he liked statues, though Harelia wasn't quite sure he'd understood what they were for. Nonetheless, he was a good companion. Though glad to be free, the bird confessed that he had fallen in love with another of the birds in the market, and so as the afternoon waned Harelia bought the foreign bird's lover, and freed them both. The female bird flew away at once without a chirp in the male's direction.
"Go get her!" Harelia encouraged, as the male bird squawked in dismay. She stood in the market, watching and laughing as the birds darted away.