As Orin and Christa arrived at the heart of Cineris, the sun had already risen high in the sky, casting its warm light upon the bustling marketplace. It was a sight to behold, with vendors showing off their wares and street performers vying for the attention of passersby. The scent of roasted meat and fresh bread wafted through the air, filling the senses of all who wandered through the market's winding alleys. Orin couldn’t remember the last time he had a proper meal, so he stared on lustfully at the different foods as he walked by. He had half a mind to ask Christa to steal some food for him, but this was not a time to be taking unnecessary risks. He had lasted five years on a near empty stomach, just a little longer wouldn’t hurt.
Despite the changes that had taken place since Orin's last visit to Cineris, there was one thing that remained unchanged in those five years: the great fountain of Motriar. It stood tall in the centre of the marketplace, its marble gleaming white in the sun's rays.
The statue atop the fountain, depicting the arrogant god of fire with his arms outstretched, incited a deep anger within Orin. To him, the statue was nothing more than a symbol of the gods' tyranny, demanding the worship of mortals who were, in truth, no better than them.
The statue's eyes seemed to bore into him, daring him to challenge its supposed superiority. Water cascaded down from its outstretched hands, a constant reminder of the god's power. Carvings etched into the marble surrounding the fountain depicted the god's supposed victories over other gods, a display of vanity that sickened Orin to his core.
Despite his loathing for the statue and all it represented; the fountain's basin offered a respite for weary travellers. Made of the same pure marble as the rest of the fountain, it was a place where people could rest and refresh themselves in the cool water.
Orin looked up at the fountain, his face contorted with disgust.
“At least you can smell it too, you still smell like shit," Christa remarked nonchalantly, unaware of how her words stung.
"You could have said it kindlier!” Orin snapped back.
During their journey to Cineris, Orin had managed to wash himself in the river while Christa had stolen a change of clothes from a nearby cottage. Perhaps the stench of his own filth had become ingrained in his skin. A smell he had gotten used to during his three years in the prison. It will probably take a few more washes to get rid of the smell entirely he thought. Regardless, he lifted his arm to check for himself and just as he thought, nothing.
Christa was silent for a moment, as if considering her response. “Sorry,” she replied eventually. "On the bright side, you'll blend right in with where we're headed next."
Orin raised an eyebrow. "And what's there?"
“The lower district, smells like shit there too.” Christa laughed.
Orin was glad to see that Christa was at least still able to make jokes considering what had happened. So he though he’d at least humour her. “Ah, looks like we’ll both fit in then, they make the houses small over there.” Orin quipped in return.
Christa shot a deadly stare back at him, her laugh fading. “Let’s go.” she said finally, deciding to ignore him. “Let’s see what’s happening over there.”
She can dish it out, but she can’t take it. Typical. Orin followed her, still laughing and pleased with his joke.
Adjacent to the marketplace was the main square of Cineris, which was encircled by impressive buildings fashioned of white stone. The most notable of these was the city hall, a grand structure with a towering clock tower that overlooked the entire square. There seemed to be a crowd forming along the road that separated the main square from the marketplace. Orin couldn’t help but feel a little excited. Maybe it was a performer, it had been a while since Orin had been allowed to enjoy the small pleasures in life. The four walls of the prison did very little in the way of entertainment, and the other inmates even less.
The crowd grew louder and more frenzied and eventually when they reached the front, Christa stopped in her tracks, her body shaking.
Orin felt a knot form in his stomach as he also realised what was going on, it was the Tressa family cavalcade passing through in the direction of the Estate. Obviously here to just show off, the route through the marketplace wasn’t even the fastest to the estate from the main city gates.
The Tressa family's carriage was ornately decorated with red accents that represented fire, and gold that represented the family's wealth. The carriage was being guided through the streets by expert riders, while three soldiers on horseback led the way.
Inside the carriage, the members of the Tressa family sat in quiet splendor, their clothing exuding arrogance. Magnus Tressa, the head of the family, was a tall and imposing figure with hair as bright as a flame. He sat at the head of the carriage, his piercing gaze surveying the people of Cineris with a sense of superiority. His wife, Rowena Tressa, too looked on at the crowd with her hand on her face, seemingly bored and unappreciative of the praises from the citizens. The children also sat in the carriage towards the rear, the youngest son, Alis, with black hair, like his mother and the daughter, Ruby, with red hair like her father.
Orin looked down at Christa and seen her fists were clenched tightly, her nails digging into her palms as she too seethed with anger. That’s when Orin realised that this pure and unadulterated hatred he had for the Tressa family, was something Christa shared with him. But, right now as they are, there is very little they can do about it. Afraid she would do something in this moment, putting herself in danger, Orin placed his hand on her shoulder.
“Let’s go.” he said, finally.