Windows were snapping closed all over Palmer Ellis. A cold rain had come unexpectedly from the
distant sea, casting its heavy splashing drops into the winding creeks surrounding the town and violently filling the upturned
barrels at the edge of the marketplace. Rivelets of water ran along the grain of the wooden storefronts and seeped through
the carelessly shaped awnings, pelting the few people huddled below them with icy droplets. Some left the shops and taverns,
eager to be safe and warm in their homes when the storm came, but a few remained on the walk below the awnings, cursing the
sudden cold but doing nothing about it.
Cian Norse, the wealthy store-owner, emerged from one of his shops, pulling his heavy wool coat
around his broad form and ducking his head against the rain. He had been spending the morning overseeing the order of this
particular grain and flowerseed shop, the Bittersweet Crossing, which had been put to complete disarray the night before by
a rebellious former employee. Intent on seeing everything in working order again, Cian had done a rare thing and actually
approached his workers, offering his take on the situation, and sticking around to see it carried out. Generally, the carrying-out
process was one completed by his many devoted lackeys.
Rather than heading home, where every person would be heading were their homes anything like his,
he turned and walked down the center of the path toward the Banker's Quarters. Normally clean-shaven and pale with the comfort
of easy living, Cian was out of character on this day. The few people in the street noticed this as he passed, but were be
sure to keep their eyes downcast if his were ever to rise for meeting. He looked as if he had had a sleepless night, and an
More doors were opening around the square, spilling out their visitors and loitering masses onto
the shining stone of the walkway. People were gone just as quickly as they appeared, splitting up and heading into the many
paths between buildings- likely feeling they would be more sheltered from the rain in the narrow alleyways. Those who had
been standing in the street felt the cold finally soaking through their thin clothing, and moved along their own way.
Soon the sound of the pilling water hitting the various upper surfaces of the town became the
only chorus. Those who remained in the street did so only out of a lack of other options, and those kind didn't usually make
much noise anyway. Lorey, the youngest- a curly-haired doll of a little girl in rags and cloth shoes- whispersang into the
dark wood of the Crossing as she leaned her forehead against it.
"I think we should pray," suggested the woman in burlap that sometimes sat next to her.
"This rain comes from Ecli," confirmed another- a thin, bony man seated several feet away, carving
a piece of damp wood cut from a loose plank. His eyes darted nervously about as he heard the thunking footsteps of someone
approaching around the corner- someone with heavy, expensive footwear. "It seems he has been disappointed."
"Nonsense," the burlap woman replied sharply, her own ears perking up to the footfalls. "He is
merely reminding us to pray. We are not to take that privilege for granted."
Lorey didn't know what to think, and said a prayer in her mind just to be safe. She had been told
that little girls were immoral, and often the first to forget about Ecli. She wanted his protection. She didn't want to feel
the fear she felt at times like this, when she saw the Bad Doctor rounding the corner to their little awning shelter, casting
his terrible black eyes and toothy smile down to look at the carving skeleton-man. She squeezed closed her eyes and turned
back to the sweet-smelling wood of the storefront, singing her whispery song and hoping that Ecli might hear it and keep the
Bad Doctor from looking at her.
Detrich the Healer did not so much as notice Lorey. In her rags, curled up the way she was, she
appeared to be only a pile of grain sacks. The woman by the door had been lucky to find the cloth sacks laying about, he thought
to himself, especially if the storm was going to get worse.
He stepped past the Crossing, musing to himself the stir it would cause were he intent on going
inside. He loved this rain and it's ability to clear the marketplace of human life- save for those few decorating the storefronts-
and grant him unbothered passage into the better-looking parts of the town. He valued his few opportunities to walk through
the gardens surrounding the Sun House, smelling the perfume of the rare flowers there. In this rain they would be shining
and their colors bright... he might spend the afternoon enjoying such pleasantries. Of course, it would not hurt to combine
a little business with his pleasure. If he ran across a Shora, he would pick it and take it with him, being sure to leave
his small sack of coins in the message box near the gate. One Shora was hardly worth the money he would give them, but it
would seduce their easily triggered tempers into serenity. That was worth endless funds to him in his current situation.
Detrich really did think Palmer Ellis was a nice town, once you removed all the people. The type
that usualy milled around the square were mostly empty-headed, but for some reason they had enough in their head to know how
to judge. The edge of town was a little easier to deal with, but venture out far enough into the countryside and you encountered
a whole new set of hard heads.
His smile cut short, Detrich's instinct told him to move out of the street. He adjusted his path,
taking him into a grove of shrubs lining a short stone wall, out of sight for the most part. Someone was walking by in the
other direction, into the empty marketplace, and whomever it was, they looked plenty tired of walking. The passerby held an
empty grain sack in one tanned hand and a planting bag slung over the opposite shoulder, pulling down with its apparent weight.
He appeared to not be interested in Detrich's possible presence, and instead continued on with a weary raking of his fingers
through his sun-lightened hair. Detrich smiled again, amused by his own flightiness, and moved quickly toward the back gate
of the Sun House garden across the widening street.