Book II Chapter 16: Courting Day is Here!
The Regent Square
As dusk falls on the city of Jetersborough, an eager hush falls over the thousands of people congregating in the square, all eyes fixed on the stage before them. The month of courting has begun once more, and as tradition dictates, Courting Day looks set to open the celebrations with a bang.
The street dancers stop twirling, the vendors cease calling... even the birds seem to cease their evening song as a solitary beam of light casts the stage in a silvery glow. A moment, and a lone masked figure steps out into it.
Her voice carries easily in the warm sea breeze, lilting pleasantly as she speaks.
"Welcome, friends, to the start of another joyous celebration - an evening of entertainment, of cultural discovery, of unity between the Court, and the gracious peoples that have welcomed us into their homes. Without them, without you, and the stories and experiences you've shared with us, surely such a day could not be possible."
The figure offers a bow to the crowd, which instantly erupts into enthusiastic applause, stomping their feet and chanting excitably. When the commotion finally dies down, the figure speaks again.
"Without further ado, I'd like to introduce this year's presentation - I believe some of you here tonight may well be familiar with the tale. With music from none other than the Court's finest musicians, and dance from our finest performers, and the acting talents of.... well, quite frankly the terrible Ecleco--"
Another roar from the crowd, this time of laughter, and a shaking fist pops momentarily from the curtains behind the speaker, clearly outraged at such an unjust sentiment. Unconcerned, the speaker goes on.
"I present a story of love transcending borders, of stength in the face of adversity... of a brave young ochy, and the man who sees beyond the price of her skin."
With this, the woman bows again, and gracefully leaves the stage, as the curtains come up, the show begins.
The aftershow is as vibrant and colourful as always, with people filling the streets to dance along with the musicians, or enjoy the entertainment, or sample the array of exotic foods on offer.
On one corner, another masked Courtesan, his form that of a handsomely jewelled chimaera, conjures fire from the air and performs daring stunts with a grace that belies his size; across the street, a pair of Courtesan viadantes (a truly unusual sight!) paint the faces of children and spirited adults with colourful symbols and tiny jewels.
Back towards the square, music plays to the dancing crowd, with aeneski and human dancers scattered throughout, twirling gracefully with long sashes and conjured explosions of seasonal flowers. In the night sky above, an entire squadron of erosion drakes, most likely Courtesans in training, wheel and circle and dive like courting birds, with sashes of their own to toss back and forth and dodge in and out of. Now and again, one flies low with various goodies for the revellers below - candies, blossoms, even tiny Court-themed trinkets are on offer for those quick enough to catch them.
To anyone on the street below, the party has only just begun.
Next Chapter: Book II Chapter XVII
Category: Book II | Story