Session 08.9 Prologue: Entering Nestora

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A glowing map posted at the city’s edge shows how it’s divided into eight boroughs. The sage’s shop is deep in a multi-building bazaar called the Market Bank in the borough of Allfeld, which is overseen by the Vintner’s Guild. The city must have once housed many more people than it does now—there are abandoned areas that are home to weedy squares and plazas where footpaths haven’t kept the way clear, or spots where gravelly, ancient pavement has been chewed up by weeds and heavy traffic where footpaths have worn through to the ground below. Sunlight beams through the empty windows of derelict buildings amidst the crowded apartments and shops. Empty buildings have long-since been looted of their valuables, so many of them seem to be home to planned gardens or miniature, accidental jungles.

Dozens of cracked screens and monitors, many of them blank and dead, hang from tall kiosks and posts throughout the city, like clusters of strange coconuts around the stalks of palm trees. They’re a mismatched collection of tech, from bulky monitors to flat ones, presumably assembled at one time by the guilds, but no longer maintained. Many of them display newspeople clearly discussing the day’s news, but there’s no sound, instead their words are spelled out in subtitles below them. Nobody on the streets below seems to care or watch.

Still, the city feels lively. People seem more involved in their lives than the news. Rugs and garments hang outside the windows of vine-choked high-rises, making  it clear that even the taller buildings remain safe to live in—or are inhabited anyway. People lean on their windowsills, taking in the sunlight and the view of the activity in the streets below.

They’re not the only watchers. In every neighborhood, on most corners, it’s easy to spot little hemispheres of black glass, each about the size of a human head or a street-ball, mounted on the walls and posts and rooftops of buildings. If every one of them contains a camera; the city is well surveilled. If those are the cameras that are noticeable, perhaps more are hidden around.

While the decaying stone and weathered metal of the city blends into an earthy monotone, green leaves combine with colorful banners and posters to give the place wondrous color. Some of these posters notify of performances by the Artist’s uild, others advertise local restaurants and taverns, and many announce the Exaltation of the Fallen—a day-long festival celebrating all who died in the Chaos Wars against the land’s great enemy. The holiday is tomorrow.

Beneath a wide, bright banner for the festivities, is a poster depicting a gigantic human with arms outstretched, smiling over a stylized depiction of Nestora. It reads, “The Guilds watch out for you.”

Graffiti inked on the stones beneath that poster spell out in simple block letters “Free us from tyranny!” and “Let us vote!” Fresher paint, sprayed through a stencil, reads “Vote with blasters.”

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