Read the first part here
. Icon by djinni
Grante is beautiful when seen from a ship. There are tall white cliffs to either side. They shine in the sun. Grante's harbor lies between them, like an open door. The tops of the cliffs and the land beyond the city is green.
The city itself is loud and ugly, though. I can't understand how so many people can live packed together like this.
Mores was right about one thing. Tempor would never forget the smell of the sea or the sound of the waves.
Elves never get seasick. While there were those who would have expected Tempor to be the exception, he found that the sea air agreed with him. The ship he traveled on was an elven ship, and he found he enjoyed the taste of freshly caught fish. Even the rice and dried kelp staples were intriguingly tasty with the right amount of salt.
Tempor loved to stand near the stern of the ship, enjoying the breeze as he watched the creatures that would play in the wake. He made some attempts to catch fish alongside the crewmen assigned to the task, but soon left off as his efforts were a waste of bait. They only had certain windows of opportunity for fishing, and it was best to let the experts take advantage.
Tempor resolved to try it again when he got the chance.
The crew was informal with him and each other. They called him Oyster at first, because he hadn't wanted to come out much. Then it was Mouse. None of it was harsh, though. Even when some difficult weather blew through, the elves of the crew savored every moment.
Tempor wasn't sure they were all sane, but they loved their work fiercely, and it made them good at what they did. For his part, Tempor stayed below during the storm. The ship sailed through as if it was charmed. Which it was, of course.
Still, he was glad when it was safe to walk on deck without mountains of water dropping on it. He liked the sea, but he didn't love it the way the crew did.
Tempor's first glimpse of Lond had caught his breath. From that distance, the sharp, bright colors dazzled in the sunlight. He watched the other ships pulling in to the same port, but his eyes would steal away to the sheer white cliffs as if of their own accord. He wondered what it would be like, to live in a building made from that stone. You could catch the moonlight in a window, spill it across the floor, and it would gleam, alive.
The port city of Grante, on the other hand, was many colors, most of them some shade of grey or very dirty red. The houses were made of primarily brick or weathered wood. The buildings were squat and square.
Tempor hated the thought of leaving the clean ship and the wide open sea. He could not bring himself to leave the pier and enter the noisy, busy city. Everybody seemed to be going somewhere, doing something.
How would he fit in, here? Where could he?
"Don't just stand there like a chick without a hen." One of the crew, an elf named Iovial, picked up Tempor's modest trunk. "Come on, let's find you a nest."
Tempor followed Iovial into the crowded streets. The smell of the sea gave way to fish and humans as they passed the fish market. Then, even the smell of fish was overwhelmed by the stink of people going about their business. A few stalls in the street sold flowers, and Tempor would have liked to linger, but Iovial seemed to have a destination in mind.
The clerk stuck close to the sailor, and they finally pulled free of the narrow alleys near the markets. The streets seemed to fall away into a grand plaza that was packed with horses and coaches. They paused for a time in front of tall, stone buildings, dropping off passengers or taking them on. The people here carried fewer things but seemed in no less of a hurry.
The stone was not the bright, clean white of the cliffs to either side of town. Instead, it was a dingy gray, streaked with dark stripes that matched the taste of soot in the air.
Practically everybody wore hats. Iovial and Tempor's bare heads with bright hair seemed entirely out of place.
"Here we are," Iovial proclaimed, setting down the trunk. "Formerly the First Bank of Green Downs, now the Grante branch of the Folkhoarding Bank." He flashed a grin at Tempor, not at all disturbed by how little he matched his surroundings. "The captain said to thank you; you were a model passenger on the trip."
Tempor tried to reconcile this somber, dirty building with the Folkhoarding Bank he knew. "Er, thank you," he told the sailor. "I don't think I would have found this on my own."
"Glad to help," Iovial proclaimed, and then he headed back towards the pier and the sea, a bright smudge amid the brown and grey.
Tempor watched him go, then looked up at the bank. He told himself that this was his bank, even here, that it belonged to Mores and was not all that different from the bank back in elven lands.
He was not very convincing.