When I first arrived in southern Rewson in 1329 it seemed like the ancient part of all cities of the fourth age, old and tall with winding streets sprouting in ever direction with random beginnings and ends. It was all too easy to get lost between the vagabonds, painted whores, and strays begging for a crust of bread among the many doorways. Hoards of people filled the streets of dark stone breathing in dust and soot kicked up by their shoes and garments. Only seldom beams of light were able to filter down through the canopy of laundry floating above their heads, but the call of the market seemed to guide them to wherever they were heading. Hoofs on stone, the fomping of grain bags, and a continuous humming of voices filled the air like a breeze in sails. Despite the transuding chaotic haze, a certain harbored grace loomed in their smiles and exchanges.
At this time, having left my parents’ home from the province of East Phost, I moved into a one room flat in the HentleCo Quarter, in a tall narrow red brick building that housed Dintow’s Emporium on the ground floor. Though the city as a whole was the smallest of the remaining four cities erected during the height of the Edwardian Empire, southern Rewson alone was larger then anything I had ever known and managed to leave me speechless. After bringing up my one moth-ridden black traveling bag, before I even closed the door behind me, my nose seemed to drag me to the balcony behind the two-fogged glass windows. There I was, a sparrow amongst the laundry my eyes glazed in awe with the thick-aired hustle below. Through the damp air the many people flowed in and out, yelling about better prices on honey bread found two blocks over, or inquires about gillerd trout. I just perched there for hours my head darting up and down the street, hopelessly attempting to absorb all that past below me, completely forgetting that my front door still lay wide open.
Soon the sky grew dark as the haze disappeared and two boys in tattered blue and gold uniforms adorned with Rewsonian crest made their way to light the lamps, using each other as a ladder. With the chime of some church bells calling out five, sellers begin to pack as buyers made themselves scarce along the now dimly lit and lonely street in HentleCo Quarter. I decided to close the front door.
The next morning, I found myself awake in my small but soft bed looking up at my patched ceiling before sun’s first light listening to wind rustle through the street below as those same heavenly bells faintly chimed out the hour. Without thinking my legs moved about and managed to kick off the summer sheet and I felt the crisp un-heated air flow over me feet to face. I rose from my bed and decided to head back to the balcony and watch the day unfold. Night still hung in the sky on a few fading stars of grey soon to blend into the mustard of the dawn.
With stars now gone I turned my head away from the heavens and found a girl draped in tattered green uncovering her purple and white flowers as those same two boys in the blue and gold began to blow out the lamps to start a new day. People began to filter down into the street as the hum of clattering wheels and foot traffic grew louder. Three people bought the girl’s flowers as the faces of shiner boys lingered over them from their boxes and barrels with their hawk eyes skimming the crowd for a topper with enough money for a shoeshine. The sultry air grew thicker despite the many hours till midday but no one seemed to notice the drops of sweat trickling down their faces and palms. That was it. I could not be the observant sparrow on his perch any longer. With that I went back inside and changed my clothes and headed down the claustrophobic stairway of granite and crumbling stone.
Syrupy beads of sweat burned off my brow as I shoved against traffic heading south, guided by a faint wind. I had managed to find my way behind a small cart transporting cloth pushing the flock out of my path allowing my shoulders to breath in the muggy fog. Through the masses pushing along either side of me I managed to see a small sign above a door that read “cool inside”. I jumped in front of traffic giving up my place behind the linen cart and after a few glares I made it to the small rotting door and turned the rusted doorknob. It was not as I expected.
Perhaps my hopes were simply too high, but whatever it was, one thing was certain; it was not cool inside by any means. The sweat continued to radiate off me fusing with the already sultry air, twirling around by a single lotus fan with several bolts missing. The clamor from outside beating up against the door while the chaos from within reaps havoc against the clamor of the street. My ears twitch with the buzz and eyes flash around the room quickly, sharply, and madly. A sparrow thrust into the snake pit frozen except for screws rolling around in sockets. Sweat and rotting meat sizzling on the chalk menu board above the bar, blurring the prices into one faded white drip. Men hovering in the far left corner-a woman dropping bottles in the kitchen-hearty laughs from nowhere, faces grinning like clowns on unicycles all while I, the sparrow, stand alone in a bar, open-jawed in a puddle of self induced wonder.