Before Lin, rising majestically was the most skilled and beautiful architecture she had ever seen. On her way through the Empire, she had passed through other cities, even the great Thisha, but nothing had prepared her for what stands before her. Perched elegantly upon a low cliff hangs Lissia, shining in the noonday sun. The city was bustled with activity, surly she would be able to find some means of earning some coins to tide her over the duration of her stay. However, she had no idea where to start. With her elegant mare following faithfully behind, she made her way down the street. People buffeted her from all sides, deluging her with a variety of scents and sights. Barely able to see, she forced her way to the side until she was able to better take stock of her surroundings.
"Such a crowd." she wondered as she made her way towards the side of the street. "I do wonder what is going on."
Before her stood a great blacksmith's shop. Wares of metal of all sorts filled the store. The smell of burnt metal and soot clearly filled the air.
"Dear sir, is this city always as busy as it is?"
The merchant, busy dealing with customers pushed her aside until they had cleared. "Of course. The Heart of the Empire must forever keep pumping, dear child. You shouldn't be here without your parents." He turned away from her as new customers approached his store.
Smiling at being considered a child, she continued her queries. "May I inquire, sir, if you would know of any means by which a healer may earn a few coins and perhaps lounging for the night?"
"A healer? You?" He laughed boorishly, then catching himself. "Oh, yes, well--" fingering his chin for a moment. "The Tournament is surely in need. Their standards are fairly low for the medics who tend to the poorer folks. Perhaps you could try out there." He chuckled a bit more.
"How wondrous. How may I get more information about this tournament?" she inquired further on, choosing to ignore the merchant's scorns.
"Try a little closer to the entertainment district. Watch out though, it's not the friendliest place for a child to loiter about. Stay within crowds after dark if you know what is healthy for you."
Lin nodded her thanks at the merchant with a smile. Childishly bidding the merchant a fair day, she made her way towards the entertainment district. "Not a friendly place.... I do hate that. Oh eternal one, please watch over me." she prayed within her heart as she continued on.
If the entrance to Lissia was buzzing, the Entertainment Distance was ten folded. Being a petite little thing as she was, getting caught up in a veritable whirlwind of people, dressed as birds in their mating plumage was inevitable. The colors bombarded her eyes. However, she gained her composure enough to get a look around. All manner of inns, promenades, and squares litter the neighborhood with all manner of garish banners proclaiming their superiority over that of their neighbors. But above all of this, dominating the area, was a massive circular structure, a coliseum of sorts, as it would appear.
"Oh my... that's a lot of people. Ouch! Hey! Watch it!" she exclaimed as a big buffoon of a man nearly trampled her. Making her way towards the side of the street once more, she continued towards the coliseum. "This must be the place where the tournament will be held." she wondered out loud as she stood before the massive structure.
"Why yes it is..." A voice whispered from the side of the suddenly bare street. It was indeterminate, neither male nor female, and extremely unnerving. "And what interest is that of yours, little one?" It said, sliding forward gracefully.
Lin jumped a foot or two into the air, turning towards the voice, startled. For a moment, she was unable to find her voice. Before her stood a figure shrouded by shadows. The shadows seemed having a life of their own, shifted and swirled, constantly changing the figure's features, making it difficult for one unskilled in the arts to see the face behind them.
Coughing to clear her throat, she replied. "O-oh. I-I-I did not notice you there." Slowly her speech returned. Taking a step back as the figure approached her, hands upon the hilt of her morning star, more for comfort then for combat, she answered. "I am wondering if the tournament requires a healer whom is looking for a few coins and a bed and shelter for the night or two."
"I see..." It said, slowly pacing around her. "Perhaps I can help you out with that." Waving its hand for a moment, Lin's dyed hair bled back to its normal brilliant blond. As it lowered its hand, her hair reverted back. "I know your secret, and, for a favor I could keep it hidden and perhaps give you some coin."
Backing against the wall, Lin's eyes widened with terror. "What do you want of me? I can't do much. I am just a child!" she wailed and shivered at the figure.
"Easy now. I have no desire to harm you." As frightened as she was, Lin saw how unnatural the shadows surrounding the figure were and how it stayed back, so unnerving that it frightened her even more. "I apologize, I did not mean to frighten you." It said, seemingly a touch more natural, into that of a kindly sounding man. "We are much alike, you and I. We both must hide our true appearances, else we be hunted."
Relaxing a little although her body remains tense, "Well then. What is it that you want of me?" her eyes glittered as she spoke with her shaken voice.
"Change is in the winds, dear child." He replied. "The royal court is in uproar about our new 'friends' from the South. I myself was caught in the middle of this, my caution being my downfall." glancing around, he continued, "Perhaps we should continue this elsewhere?"
Lin nodded reluctantly, sensing that the man seemed troubled and sincere. "Alright. I will follow as you request."
The Shadowy Figure led her through the alleys to a small cafe, where high hedges obscure the two from the public. Once inside, he dropped his hand and the shadows dissipate. A young man, dressed in tattered finery, with heavy bags under his eyes. "I am sorry for the ruse, but I am in danger, yet I cannot leave the city." He glanced back, and whispered. "I am Arra Nadia."
Lin gave the man a slight curtsey. "Greetings Arra." whispering back. "You frightened me back there. I am not certain if I am able to help you much at all." She seemed more relax at the sight of the man rather then one of shadows.
"I do not need much, but what I require is seriously needed. I have been looking for an outsider for several days now, one who has no interests in the politics of the Empire. You are the first I've seen, and I would not have chosen you but I am desperate."
Lin gave Arra a look of wonder. What will drive a man to such a state of desperation? "You do sound as if you are in some sort of trouble. Well maybe if I know more before I agree?" She fingered the hilt of her morning star once more. A look of concern for the man before her showed apparent upon her fragile face.
"Of course." He said, pulling a tattered piece of paper from a pocket deep in his coat. "You see, the court is seriously divided over the Zath issue. I'm sure you must have heard of them by now but little is known that can be proven." He slides the paper across the table. "I discovered this note while going through one of Tabis's offices. It is an arrest warrant for me." He said as he waited for her to verify what he had said.
Lin took the paper and quickly browsed through its contents. Nodding, she slides the paper back across the table. "That does not explain what you require of me." A slight frown formed between her brows. Oddly, it made her look even sweeter, like a child that's puzzled over a small problem.
"Despite my better judgment, I refused to take sides, at least until a point when something more could be verified. This put me in grave danger, as you can well see." He motioned to his tattered clothing and haggard appearance. "I need you to somehow contact your people and advise them of what is to come. If history serves as any sort of reminder, a great deal of blood will be shed very soon, and unless we have outside help, things my not repair themselves. Doctors will be made to choose sides; magicians will get caught up in the politics. I do not want to see my people die when we have gained so much." He glanced downward. "Will you help me?"
Arra Nadia 's eyes, which had been gaining pace the whole time Lin had been speaking, glanced around nervously. "Please, I have worked with the Tal before and know them to be honorable. I can trust no Sadiri with what you know. I need to know if you will help me, otherwise I must continue to look for someone who will."
"I was cast out by my people. I don't think I will be able to help you much as a messenger of any sort. No longer am i allowed to even step close to Tal's borders" she sighed deeply as painful memories filled her mind.
Disheartened by this news, Arra continued. "Surely there must be something you can do?"
Lin pondered deeply. A frown formed between her brows once more "Well what kind of help other then being a messenger do you need?"
"Perhaps you could gather information, from an outsider's perspective. I can no longer be seen anywhere in the city, which limits my ability to find out anything on my own."
Lin 's eyes shone at Arra. "Information is what you need? Well perhaps I maybe able to help in that aspect."
"Good. I cannot leave you a place to contact me, as I have none. But I will find you when you need. I am often in this district, or the Amari slums."
"That will do. Just contact me when you need the information. As for now, I need to get myself in the payroll of the tournament."
"Perhaps I can help you with that." He said as he pulled a piece of paper from his ragged coat. Arra Nadia stared intently at the paper and waved his hand over it a bit, moving so quickly his hands blur. When he finished, it appeared to be a formal recommendation from the Doctors' Association with her name upon it as well as a high praise for her abilities.
"Well that does makes things a lot easier for me. I thank thee with my gratitude and perhaps I may truly be able to get you some help even if I am not able to be a messenger for you." Taking the recommendation, she placed it into a pocket within her cloak.
"It was the least I could do. I have one last word of advice, be careful whom you trust. With the Empire divided, factions are greatly afraid of one another. You would cause uproar were you to be found out. And you do not have the political back up to protect yourself." Glancing around, Arra appeared fearful. "I must leave, it is to invite disaster should I stay in one place too long. It was a pleasure meeting you Lin, and I wish you luck."
"Good luck to you as well Arra." giving him a curtsey, she started to leave. Arra's warnings left a deep impression upon her mind. "I do hope I have not made a mistake helping him."
As Lin turned around with more questions upon her mind, Arra Nadia once more appeared as shadows and he flitted away. Once again, Lin was alone. Still Feeling a little more grounded then when she first entered the city, with what little comfort of knowing what she should do, she weaved through the crowd for sometime and make it to the gates of the coliseum, unprepared for just how very large it was. Looking around for the entrance of the coliseum, she decided, "Perhaps someone within may help me out."
After being buffeted a bit more by the crowd, she finally found the medics' entrance. A table spawned with forms stood in the center of the room. Sitting behind was a high-nosed official, busy scratching his signature into forms after forms.
Shyly, Lin approached the table. "Excuse me. I would like to apply as a medic. Here's my recommendation." Hoping that the official would not discover any fraud within the documents, Lin's heartbeat sped up. A thin film of perspiration covered her forehead as her fingers tied knots behind her back.
Without losing his frenetic rhythm, however, the man took her form, glanced it over it for a moment, signed it, and handed it back. Along with a scraggly signature, Lin could make out the word 'Approved' in scratchy cursive.
Lin gladly took the form, her worries unfound "Where shall I proceed?" she softly asked.
The man raised his arm briefly to point at a lime line in the soil and went back to his papers as if undisturbed.
Lin did as he pointed and proceeded to the lime line.