Life in the Big City

Strange sometimes are the things that can change one’s world. The little things, the things you might never consider beyond a simple passing eyeshot. But that’s what happened when Erosoi and Uathach watched the glassblowers. They’d paused at the blacksmith’s, hurried past the stench from the leatherworkers, rambled past the stone cutters and wood workers. But he’d stopped at the glassblowers.

It all started when he saw an apprentice blow a simple glass cup and his master elongate, twist, and turn his own shapeless piece. Then he’d walked into the shop where they sold their goods. That’s when everything changed. Dogs curled in sleep and standing at point did they capture in glass. Cats with arched backs. Deer in full sprint. Bears, wolves, birds of every kind. Clear. Colored. Colored with brilliants swirls and gemmy with the tiniest flecks of precious stone.

Strange be the things that can change one’s world. Something so simple as glass. Glass: nothing but sand and water and heat and air. But something, at the same time, much, much more. Take this open world, did those glass blowers, and fill it with wonder and intricacy. Take the most basic elements and make it what you want. Make your own world from the world around you.

And there Erosoi, that one who just never really fit, knew that instead of seeking to find a place to fit, would reshape the world itself. And the wheels were set in motion, for with Bladud’s acceptance and in his opening the city to his now “honored guest,” Erosoi had the makings of an army.

Uathach said something.

“Huh?”

“See you the building at the north say you?”

“Oh, yeah.”

Uathach took hold of his hand and tugged him forward. Bladud opened the city to him and he opened himself to it. He smiled, that Erosoi, that man of the people, to everyone he passed. Everyone, everyone, everyone. Just frooncing about. Tattooed men, men who had taken to painting various body parts in blue and red. Forked beards, square cut beards, curled and braided beards and moustaches curling upward. He took in the sights and the smells and the sounds. Delighted in them, relished in life in the big city until, that is, at an intersection along the western thoroughfare, he saw, in dirty woolen clothes sitting at a corner, hand extended, yet another pitiable barefooted mumblecrust.

He didn’t understand it the first time he saw it, but before long, he fathomed what he later concluded despicable. Those who dressed similar to Bladud’s nobles kept their nails clean and obviously took their daily baths. The women of such standing crimsoned their nails, reddened their lips and cheeks with ruam and darkened their eyebrows with berry juice. Gold-bespangled headdresses, silver tinged gloves up to the elbow, some keeping upwards of three, four ornamented gold buckles at their shoulders. Shoes of white bronze, sandals of silver.

Then there were those with dirty faces, moustaches, but no beards, in their tattered woolen clothes, leading pigs and sheep up and down the streets. Still others in wooden shoes shoveled shit into animal-less carts. Another ruckle of a man, old and blind, tattered woolen clothes, hair unkempt, a scrawny dog at his side, extended his hand when two wilting snollygosters, balls of gold dangling from their long plaited hair, wearing the finest purple and green linen, bejeweled with earrings, their arms covered with silver and gold bracelets, threw their noses up and laughed. One man tossed him a more than half-eaten leg bone at his feet and the man, feeling the bone short on meat, gave it to his dog.

Like glass the world twists and turns.

This is life in the city? Where people have to put their hands out to eat? Erosoi shook his head, dug a fistful of silver coins from his pouch and set them in the man’s open hand. He took two more steps and, hearing more coins jingle, unbuckled his belt, removed the pouch, and told him to “get what you need to take care of yourself.”

“The wrine in your face why?”

Erosoi shrugged. “It’s different here. Not what I first thought. I’ve never seen anyone like that before.” His eyes followed to more pissing snollygosters, smelling all of primrose in their natty, natty gold embroidered dresses, laughing and rolling their eyes at a raddled old shit-shoveler. “I don’t like it. Not one bit. Depending on someone else to eat? The gods graced this place with bounty…You saw the farms…there is more than enough food here. In Cymbeglis we all shared. In Herne they share.”

“Do be you at the city, Erosoi or never?”

“I have not.”

“So do be life at the city. Do be the nobles, the freemen, the servants, and the slaves.”

“Yeah I know, but I don’t like it.”

“Matter not you do be liking and not-liking. Two different things do be what think you will and what do be.”

“Yeah, well…It doesn’t mean it can’t be different…doesn’t mean it can’t change. There is no reason, no reason at all that man should not have food, let alone his dog. And no reason what-so-ever those drassocks should laugh at the man shoveling shite. If it weren’t for him, those fine daggle-tails would be embroidered with it and they’d walk around slubbered in its stench.”


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