So that was it, the decision made. No relaxing for me, straight to the city instead. Paralelo’s capital city. Presumably MY capital city, if all went well the next 12 days. Next to all the strange customs I had to adjust to, there was also my first sight of the city. It looked a bit strange. Luckily Melia was there to explain it all, and while doing that, I finally realised where I recognised her from. We stopped at the gate *wood creaking from cart stopping, people talking*
[Music in background]
This is Nadec, my adventure. Written down in a better way than I can tell it.
[Music louder and solo]
Episode 29: Hexago
‘Burning grounds,’ Patat said after Kridec left the room to help Stetem calm their servants down—bribe them—and discuss the idea she had to get Blackie and Patat in the city.
‘I could’ve grounding told you much of that. I’m burning sorry, kid.’
Surprise lit up Nadec’s face. He apologised?
‘Don’t burning look at me like that. Gorwaks were supposed to burning be the ones who told humans everything. Not really, but multiplying isn’t the only thing I’m burning bad at.’
If anyone would say such a thing, it would sound self-deprecating and a poor attempt at vying for compassion. Coming from Patat, it was a statement of truth.
‘I grounding forgot a lot of it either way, hearing it being said revived my burning memories. Going into the city feels like the best burning idea, I’ve got to agree with burning Kridec on that. Yes, I can burning curse on her name, we go back a long dripping time. I’ll need to dripping tell you the complete, fuller version of my story some day.’
‘You better be holding Kitty when telling that story,’ she muttered, not knowing what else to say. There were too many questions, but this wasn’t the time to look for answers, not from Kridec nor Patat.
A servant entered. The tall woman lifted the hem of her dark, wide skirts in a slight curtsy. The movement emphasised her slim figure. Although her face was covered partially by the blonde hair, Nadec thought she saw an expression on her face which didn’t quite match the subservient look Nadec hated. She always felt uncomfortable when people lowered their own value compared to hers. Her own outside confidence only served as a mask. Still, she kept pretending. Nadec squinted at the woman. She looked familiar.
‘Mistress Ichau, my name is Melia. Madame Ichau has told me I’m to get you ready to go into the city. She said I would be going with you. She also said it was preferable to leave as soon as possible, so we should get ready. It is still late sunrise so we should be able to get there and find an inn before late noon.’ She kept her eyes down the entire time. Her hands rubbed her skirts in a constant movement. ‘Madame Ichau also said to tell you they’d certainly have a solution for the dragon,’ her voice faltered a bit at that, ‘and the gorwak.’ She sounded as if she didn’t belief she said those words.
That accent, Nadec thought. She wasn’t sure about anything concerning languages anymore—she wanted to believe Kridec had been joking when she said Ichaus know all of them. That’s why she didn’t know if Melia was speaking her own language—with Nadec naturally understanding it—or if she spoke Nadec’s language, but with an accent. Whichever it was, it sounded too familiar. Nadec almost had it, the reason on the tip of her tongue, when Patat flew up, startling the servant.
‘Aah, I might as well burning see if I can help them with something. Blackie, you grounding coming too? You dripping broke the building, so it makes sense to give them a burning paw. Not literally of course, no need to also start a burning fire.’
Blackie looked abashed before lifting her head and falling into a deep yawn, tongue rolling out. She laid her head back on the table to wait until Kitty climbed off. He chose the long route, along the snout and taking his precious time, with stretches in between.
‘Come on Kitty, let’s see which clothes they have.’
Several hours later, Nadec tried to tug at her corset. Again. She was getting annoyed with it, and couldn’t even touch or move it through the deep maroon fabric of the dress. It shimmered in the late afternoon sun. She was the first to admit the dress was gorgeous, but preferably on someone else. Seeing the few stray cat hairs on it already made her regret the decision to leave Kitty behind. Hopefully tonight everything would go well.
A bump on the road jolted the rickshaw, and she cursed. Melia flushed. She was walking along beside Nadec. The cart was pulled by one of Kridec’s strongmen. Although Nadec called it a rickshaw in her head, the local people did not. They had named these types of carts quins. It had two large wheels and two handles at the front, in between which the person who pulled it—preferably a strongman—would position themselves to tug the cart along. There was also a wide strap of sturdy fabric which made for some kind of halter fitting around the chest.
Nadec had wanted to walk, and let the strongman pull the chest. But Kridec and Stetem insisted she didn’t. Something to do with rank and standing.
‘Mistress, we should see the city walls soon. If you would want to see the city, perhaps you would like to lean out a little?’ Melia glanced at her and said more quietly: ‘it would be proper enough to do so. For many first-time visitors the first view of the city is a spectacle. It has become some sort of ritual. So in fact, it would be more proper to lean out and watch.’
‘It would be proper.’ Nadec’s voice was flat. Her natural instinct wanted to stay seated as she was and not go along with what was proper. But, she had a new reputation to make and it wouldn’t do to mess it up from the first minute of being out in public. She sighed, scooted closer to the edge of the seat, and stuck her head out.
‘That’s different,’ she muttered.
Massive towers formed the corners of the—what she assumed—hexagon-shaped wall surrounding the city. She was close enough to see brass bells in the tops of the closest of the six round towers. The terrain inside of the walls sloped up to end in a large pyramid shape. At least, that’s what she thought it was. From her vantage, it appeared as if there were multiple walls inside the outer walls, dividing the city in several sections. She couldn’t call them rings, because they had definite corners. They seemed random. Each corner had a tower, which turned smaller closer to the centre.
‘Mistress, your face. I apologize, but people are watching. You don’t look truly impressed.’
Nadec scowled at Melia, who ducked her head but made sure Nadec could still see her roll her eyes. It wasn’t an annoyed eye-roll. Instead, it served as a way of pointing around without pointing.
She softened her scowl when she saw the truth of Melia’s words. There were more people around them than Nadec had expected, and everyone who wasn’t staring at the city was shooting glances her way.
‘I got caught up in trying to figure out the layout of the city,’ Nadec said. ‘Perhaps you can tell me some of it. Maybe that way I can express proper amazement.’
She flinched at the tone of her voice. She should keep her frustration to herself, not work them out on this poor servant. Melia didn’t give any sign of being bothered by it. She nodded. Her eyes lit up.
‘Yes, I can do that. It’s utterly marvelous, a true mathematical wonder. Everything is man-made, nothing about the shape is natural. Of course, there are always the linists, who insist that it is all natural. They claim early Hexagoers—citizens of Hexago—built the walls and buildings following the natural shapes and slopes. Nonsense of course. Nature can be smart, but when it comes down to mathematics, nothing beats humans, right? Right.
‘Yes, that’s a proper bewildered face, keep that up. The outer wall is a hexagon shape, all sides have the same length. The moat surrounding it is a perfect circle. It has an equal width all around, and only touches the corner towers with its water. Against the sides of the wall, quarter-moon shaped areas ensure the equal moat width. If you’d see the city from above, it would look like a hexagon in a circle, corners touching. Not that anyone has ever seen the city from above except for birds. But how wonderful must it be, to be able to see it from above, see the perfectly aligned shapes and—’
‘The city, Melia, how is the city divided? I still can’t wrap my head around it. Would you prefer I call you by your real name though? Fluetza? Or was that also a fake name? Don’t look so shocked. Do you really think I wouldn’t remember someone whom I’ve rescued only a few months ago? My carpets were a mess when I came home from that one.’
Nadec hadn’t remembered until Melia began the passionate talk about maths.
‘It’s fine, we’ll talk about how you got here later if you want. Keep talking about the city, we’re getting closer really quickly now’.
And they were, the downward road in between the bend they’d come from and the city gates, was only a small stretch. At this pace, it was a matter of minutes to join the line-up into the city.
‘I was covered in mud so, no, I didn’t think you’d recognize me.’ Nadec almost snorted at the truth of that. There had been so much mud. ‘But you are right, we’ll discuss it later. In brief, the first inner wall is a pentagon, the second one is square-shaped, and the third is triangle-shaped. The ground slopes up, following the outer shape. So in between the hexagon and pentagon, the ground slopes up following the sides of the hexagon. In between the square and the triangle, the ground slopes up following the square. It sounds like that should make for some awkward angles and streets, but you’ll see once inside, it’s hardly noticeable. The triangle wall surrounds the castle’s gardens and the castle.’
‘Yeah, I thought I saw some green at the top, but I wasn’t sure.’
‘You were right. The gardens are on an extra steep slope. In fact, the castle itself has many levels completely and half buried underground. It is a circular, tiered tower in the centre—the precise centre of the moat circle actually—and has three extensions pointing towards the triangle wall’s corners. These three points also have towers, and the tops of those—’
They halted, having reached the line into the city, to Nadec’s relief. Without any map or ground plan in front of her, the description of it all spun in her head. What an info dump again.
Nadec leaned back in her seat and closed the curtain. It went all around the front and sides of the rikshaw—the quin—to enable the passengers complete privacy if they wished it. She’d had it open at the side so she could talk to Melia. Apparently the front section was seldom left open, although it would’ve been easier for looking at the city instead of leaning out from the side. Perhaps they didn’t think it proper to have to look at the strongman’s backside. From what Nadec had seen before, it wouldn’t have been a bad thing to look at.
The line moved swiftly. Soon she heard a male voice ask to ‘state your purpose’. Nadec’s skirt rustled as she shifted, annoyed at not being allowed to face the guard herself. Letting the servants do much of the talking was another strange custom here.
Before Melia could answer, the guard spoke again, this time to apologize for listening to someone mumbling to him.
‘All right,’ he shouted, ‘everyone can go in freely. Let it be known! The gates are open to everyone. Festivities for the coronation are to start tomorrow! The royal highness Pagewyn has decided to add an extra day to the traditional ten days. Come on, move along!
Coronation festivities? Her aunt hadn’t said anything about those. She hadn’t thought it possible, but she looked even more forward to opening the box her parents left her.
What secrets would it reveal?
You have been listening to Nadec, chapter 29: Hexago
Narrated, adventured and lived through by myself, Nadec. Written in a better way than I can tell it, by Astrid Jef.
Don’t go just yet, we’ve got bloopers coming up. [music on background] Find us on Twitter @astridjef and @nadecandkitty.
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