Big City Lanterns

Big City Lanterns: New Life – Act Two

Deri woke to the smell of breakfast as it drifted throughout the boarding house. He quickly demolished the food, even though he had no idea what it was. Although as soon as his plate was empty, Mrs. Brownstone took him to her friend, Mister Fowl, who owned a market butcher’s stall. After a long trek from West-Kanta to the market district of South Loven, she spoke to the butcher, who was looking for someone to cut the meat, weight it, and store the portions before they were sold throughout the day. The butcher examined him as he looked him up and down whilst he spoke to the landlady. However, he only hired the young lad from the country after he showed he could be of help. After a ten-minute trial, the overweight butcher who was missing his left eye had Deri promise (in writing) that he wouldn’t leave the city for at least a year.

That was almost fourteen months ago. And since then, Deri had learnt much in all that time. He’d poked his nose into the ethos of Nippa-kanta as they said the city was the centre of all culture in the Royal Kingdom. The place that everyone wanted to live in because of its art, music, and theatres, which had over the centuries been cultivated throughout the richer districts. The galleries were open twenty-five hours a cycle, thirty days a month, and five hundred ninety-nine days across the four seasons, only closing for harvest-day. Whilst all the theatres of Nippa-kanta produced plays across a spectrum of genres. Making sure that they put on something new nightly. Whereas the Royal Theatre only put on the best play of the month for the royals, the cities upper born and the rich businessmen of the modern era who could afford a ticket.

Deri had gone to look at every piece of artwork. All of it they said had been inspired by the royal society of Upper-Nippa. Before it was hung for all to see. So that the masses of the city didn’t rebel. (Again.)

He frequented taverns across the whole city. Whilst the hospitality industry made sure that brass bands played tunes to those who would pay to listen.

Along with what he’d learnt about the city, he delved into its history. A history he knew little about before leaving home. The long time ago, sort of history. And he’d ate up everything he could get his hands on about what was now known as the ‘Age of Conflict’. Something else he did that he’d never done before began to enter his daily life. As he began to read books based on the old kings of Nippa and the knights of the castle, which had been the only names on people’s lips back before the world had modernised.

Deri also quickly found out that (In the modern day.) those who were now gossiped about outside of the history books in the streets were those that some now began calling famers. After the slang for getting your picture framed by the guards. As he also began to gossip with his fellow lodgers about artists and actors.

– The dice rolled across the marble table. They bounced once and stopped. As the dice hung in the air, a card appeared in front of every player around the table. As the card settled face down for each of them, the dice bounced and showed snake eyes. –

Reaching for his tankard, Deri carried on ignoring the brass band as it played for an almost empty room as most of the locals had left to drink next door in the Foresters Arms main bar. He drank a huge glop and looked around. Unsure about what to do with himself Deri had taken to drinking after work and now as he watched the musical groups, that took to the stage butchering the work of others, he thought about returning home. What ever it was that had brought him to the city, didn’t seem to have the same hold on him. All his dreams of doing something, anything, other than cutting meat had also died. Now all that was left was a man who drank too much, but made an honest wage. His savings were also better than they were when he’d left home. So as he sat there, his brain couldn’t figure out what was keeping him in the city.

 As he drowned his tankard and went to get another, the thickset man and his group of brass players began completely killing the atmosphere. And as they were singing the same songs that every other band had been playing since the birth of brass music, more people began to leave the side room of the pub where the band stood on stage trying not to catch each other’s eyes. Deri had hoped they were going to be better than yesterday’s group of acapella singers. Although as someone began to boo, he agreed with their sentiment behind the noise.

The few who remained in the bar began to cheer the person who made the sound. After that, Deri joined in with the laughter, which caused the band to completely stop playing their brass horns. The thickset man dressed in what could only be called an old second-hand suit stared at the crowd.

“Do you know how hard it is to get up here?” He asked them almost, looking as if he was about to cry. The thick country accent that had come out of his mouth sent the crowd into a spiral of laughter though. Not one of their jokes was funny though, and it was, at this point, Deri stopped laughing at the man, who was now going red from embarrassment with tears running down his face. Although even the face of the man didn’t stop them all from laughing at him. As Deri sat at the bar and took a large sip from his fresh draft, someone from within the crowd now felt the need to shout.

“Make sure’ yose finds it harder next time.” This sent the ten or so men in the bar into a fit of drunken giggles. He suddenly began to think the room sounded like a comedy night. Although the comedians were drunk and weren’t all that good at heckling people off the stage.

As the band fled the stage, everyone left in the bar began to clap. Whilst the instrument players headed towards the door faster than a vagabond who’d found a coin purse, he kind of felt sorry for them.

Deri took another sip as he overheard the bartender telling the lead singer that they weren’t being paid. Then as the man walked away looking as if he was about to cry, the bells of the castle rang out to tell everyone that it was the twentieth hour.

“‘rink up and get out of ‘ere. Yose only get ten minutes t-a do so. Or I kick you out.” The threat from the bartender hung in the air, but Deri didn’t need to be told twice, he was like his father in that respect. The young man’s head felt like it was floating, and his legs swayed under him as the air outside hit him, but Deri managed to get back to his lodgings, still feeling intoxicated. His bed almost absorbed him as he laid down face first.

– A card was played. Someone played another card on top of that one. A female hand picked up both of them as he played her own. A laughter began to spread outwards across the multiverse, but it wasn’t anything you could hear unless you were more cosmic than biological. –