From there, on that overlook, his journey led down and out of the mountains. It was easy going and the weather was fair. Branch managed to get a seed to sprout and grow the last night before he came into the city. In the distance, through small gaps in the forest he could make out the fire-lit silhouette of the great towers of Clarity. Spires that pierced the sky, in the night the windows glowed, illuminating them like the stars.
The next morning, after finally managing to get a good nights’ rest, he walked beneath the great arches of Clarity’s gate. A massive entrance faced south, a stone-worked piece of art, it withstood ages of wars and battles. Wear and tear did not affect it, it was always a wondering experience. To walk beneath the towering structures, it was humbling, to stand before such vast work. So much effort and focus and life was put into it!
It was early still in the day when he arrived, but crowds of people bustled about. The city was awake, it woke early. The dirt road was packed and rutted, large carts lurched down the path heedless to the folks on foot. Shouts and curses fell before the horse drawn carts, most in irritation. A steady stream of them poured in from the outskirts of the city, where farms and homesteads, mines and lumberyards, hunters and explorers, scholars were all drawn. Clarity was a hub of knowledge and innovation. It was a city of wonders.
Magic played its hand heavy in the foundations, the walkways, the decoration and structures. Many were unique pieces of warped wood or shaped stones. Movings and Shapings, the trade arts. The city was inundated with aspiring mages of either discipline, they all vied for a piece of the city to work with, to build and shape and call their own. To add their names to list of Clarity Builders. It was a high honor. One building he passed -it always stood out to him- bore the shape of a raindrop. It was pure and clean and showed a skill of patience and understanding in the trade by Clay, the mage who built it centuries before.
The sounds of a rising market filled the air, calls and shouts of various wares. Fresh bread, hot ciders, wyvern-skin hats from Crescent Bay, treats and drinks. Spices and tonics were sold at premiums, carried from all over Rangforne and from the lands beyond. He passed a peddler who carried rare plants and herbs from the Stormlands, at least he swore it to Branch as he tried to sell him on it. The Stormgrass did look authentic though. Branch turned down the hawkers and merchants that caught his eye and grabbed his attention.
The smells that filled the air! Hot cinnamon cakes and honeyed biscuits drifted through the early morning streets, the warm air hadn’t yet started to bring out the stale stuffy feel of a crowded city market, where musty scents and grime combined into a sickly smell. Some of it sweet, others repulsing. To someone who lived outside of the city, the contrast to fresh, clean forest air was stark. The cacophony of smells could through a newcomer off. But there were unique and delightful things to be found hidden amid the trove of shops and carts, traveling merchants lined the street corners, selling straight from their carts.
Branch would have loved to spend the day exploring the corners of the market, walking down the corridors of Clarity, absorbing the city and the works of art and magic. It was an ever-changing city.