Brutus Ess tied the horses down to a tree-stump beside the walls. Trees were cut down anywhere near Italina. They might have used the lumber, but Secrat figured it was because the King thought they were eyesores.
Samuel Syi led the Flux. Secrat Copé, Lukas Lewis, Brutus Ess, and Marc Sero followed. The smell in the air was stuffy, like a deeply encumbered room of dust, a strange smell for a large-open area. They made it to the front of Italina's gate, and there was even more folk roaming about than earlier. Various fellows, different fellows, of all different age-groups and ethnicities. Tan of skin depicting Acerian residents; conversely, older ladies with pale skin and curmudgeon grimaces were most certainly from Hardan.
Samuel Syi and Lukas Lewis paired off with one another, walking forward toward the guards. Secrat and Brutus aligned as well. An effort to seem inconspicuous. Marc Sero, on the other-hand, was by himself. The way he liked it.
The guard before Samuel and Lukas was a serious man. A face that looked sour and depraved by unpleasantness. A black mustache and grey helm over his head that hid his hair. His armor; brightly colored, looked almost like pure silver. And, it might have been, knowing how wasteful Italina had a habit of being.
"What is your business here at Italina, the finest among Maharris, known profoundly for having the finest eating establishments and definitely not to forget, the impeccable Sanchi Tower which overlooks much of the Amisoic Seas and even seas all the way out to Olzaric?" The man said the words fast and without enunciation. Having clearly rehearsed his lines, the man still managed to give off a righteous and self-congratulating front. Standing proudly as he spoke, the man even twirled the long ends of his mustache while the words escaped his lips.
Lukas Lewis brushed off some dirt from his clothes; the clothing adorned by the Flux consisted of worn and tired fabric, with leggings that looked none too better. Women and Father Toucan Veras are the only ones who dressed in fine clothing.
The guard scoffed at Lukas, but it was Samuel who spoke. "And what a humble honor and privilege it is for my colleague and I to be welcomed into this beautiful city for the Aer Festival. Perhaps I'll even take a gander at the majestic Sanchi Tower with my own eyes." His voice had slight playful sarcasm in his voice Secrat doubted the Italinian Guard capable of finding.
The guard shot him a look of skepticism. His head tilted up in a way literally letting him look down his nose at Samuel. "You can see the Sanchi Tower all the way from the Wilderness from which you came. It's the tallest building in all Maharris. If what you're inferring is you'd like to get near, and/or perhaps touch our fine monument, you might as well go back from whence you came."
Secrat Copé couldn't see the facial expressions from Lewis, but they must have been unfavorable; the guard threw his eyes over at him with a look of disgust and offense. Samuel managed, however, to bring the guard's attention elsewhere, "We wouldn't even dream of touching the Sanchi Tower. Being in the same town is more than enough."
"Hmm, yes," the guard said; "both of you may enter beyond Italina's doors, but I must remind every guest they are to be on their best behavior. This isn't just some soiree for common-folk. The event is a celebration of Italina's history and the fine men and women that layer it. King Harries will even be leaving his throne to offer a celebratory speech, that of which, you must show the deepest of respects toward."
Lukas Lewis said nothing. Neither did Samuel Syi. The guard threw his right hand up into the air, his index finger erect, motioning toward the men at the parapets. They walked atop the walls behind him and called out to some others on the inside, soon came the sound of rattling chains as the large wooden doors at the center of the granite walls began to come open.
"Welcome to Italina," the guard said, enthused as if beyond him was the opened gates to heaven.
Samuel and Lukas walked beyond the gates and into the city. Several men and women walked out with them. They had already been accepted in by some of the other guards.
There were three guards; counting the one with the black mustache and pompous voice.
Secrat could see crowds and crowds of men and women walking about. That's all The Thief could see though; no buildings or items on display. It was even more crowded than anticipated. He felt the back of his shoulder shoved fourth by the commotion behind him. He fell to the side of Brutus Ess, using him as a crutch to keep stability.
"Careful there," Brutus said, and for a moment, Secrat felt the sudden déjà vu of his time in the Whispey Deserts. Secrat relented and brought himself back to a vertical stance, though, he still felt individuals shove and brush against him during his efforts to move forward.
The crowd's made him feel uneasy, but also churned out adrenaline in his veins. He no longer had eyes on Marc Sero but kept a close-watch on Brutus Ess.
The Gates Closed.
Secrat noticed Brutus veering off to the far-left, away from the Italinian Guard that ushered in Samuel Syi and Lukas Lewis. The other guards preoccupied with other civilians; Brutus appeared to deem waiting a fair compromise for not dealing with the noted man.
Secrat followed him, gently brushing against anyone in his wake. A change in his demeanor, Secrat felt the perplexity vanquish all his former grace and found his movements to resemble that of a man panicking as the walls of a cave closed in on him.
In earshot, Copé could hear the intermingling between one of the Guards and a Civilian. “The Aer Festival's loaded this year. Looks like a fine one for certain…yes ... If you'll simply step aside, we'll have the Gates opened after the threshold's reached. Thank you,” the Guard instructed. The Civilian traipsed closer to the gate and stood.
Secrat let out a sigh of relief. The exchange looked fast and easy, with no useless banter or nonsense. Brutus seemed happy to see it too. And then, like the scary stories meant to keep kids out from the Unprotected Wilderness, Secrat felt a hand creep on the back of his shoulder.
The Thief saw Brutus' eyes turn to horror at whatever was behind him, and a moment later, he heard: “What is your business here at Italina, the finest among Maharris, known profoundly for having the finest eating establishments, and definitely not to forget, the impeccable Sanchi Tower which overlooks much of the Amisoic Sea and even sees all the way out to Olzaric?”
Behind him, the Italinian Guard most likely twirled his mustache, and most certainly had the same loud and annoying voice as earlier.
Secrat cringed, and heard Brutus slur the word, “Goddammit” beneath his breath. As expected, the Guard looked at them with the same holier than thou stance as they'd seen earlier.
“My friend and I are in-search of passage beyond the walls of Italina to attend the Aer Festival.” Secrat said, before adding: “Uh, the majestic Sanchi Tower and, uh, food.”
The Guard's face had displeasure, unsatisfied with Secrat's answer.
Brutus added, “And we won't touch the tower!”
“Heavens not! None of your grubby hands would ever be welcome to feel the warm embrace of Italina's finest monument.” The Guard's voice raised with disgust to match the tonally imbalanced slurs and hollers of Ess.
“And that's what I am saying, being in this digestive town's more than enough.” Brutus commanded.
“Digestive?” The Guard couldn't stomach the comment. “In what world do you certify that a compliment?”
“Hell, if I know with words like 'majestic,' 'immaculate,' and 'soirée'. I figured digestive might mean something to you.”
The Guard glared at him, but relented: “Ah, yes, you must be referring to our fine eating establishments, such as Ollie's Abil, though, none of this will be welcome to you. This is not a soirée for common folk, and Italina's finest are far too fine to dine with the likes of you. Only those with a reservation will be allotted entry into such restaurants.”
“Fair enough,” Secrat interjected.
The Guard sighed, “Peasants,” he mumbled, but loud enough for it to clearly be heard. He waved his arm back in fourth, begrudgingly instructing them to come forward.
Secrat and Brutus Ess obliged, standing beside two women another guard had advised to do the same.
The Red Flux & the Wunderkind THief
Chapter One (1 - 2 - 3)