Chapter 3 Part 2
After the lot of us followed the official across a few streets we reach a building much grander than the ones that we already passed. And that’s not an easy feat. The buildings sparkle with vibrant red bricks and crystals of crimson glass. It’s definitely a whole different world compared to anything I’ve ever seen.
This building we come to has two clear red towers made of glass with spiralling staircases, in the front the building has ornate gothic carvings and reliefs done into the door, walls, and roof. It’s hard to explain when you’ve never seen anything like this in your entire life. The official speaks to two guards who are posted in front of this building and they part and open the door for us. We let our eyes adjust for a moment before we can see the grandeur that lies before us. It’s a great hall with opulently woven carpet, beautiful stained glass windows, paintings, and sculptures. We are guided to a particularly nice doorway.
“Ladies and gentlemen,” started the official. “I know we all come from different cultures and backgrounds but please do your best to be polite, dignified, and an attentive listener. Your future will depend on it.” He opens the doors and we walk in, it’s difficult to maneuver with this big skirt but I manage. I see a long dining hall with red foods lined up and down it. There are places set for each one of us and each of our names happens to be labeled where we are to sit. I walk around the table to find my name.
I eventually find my name. I’m seated by the purple hair girl, tall gossip girl, and pretty popular boy. Everything seems find until I see it. I open my mouth in horror, the chair! How am I supposed to sit in it with this huge skirt? I look around to see a few other girls confused too. After a while I spotted one of the gossip girls hiking up her skirt before sitting. I followed suit and it worked pretty well. After I am seated I start to serve myself. All the food is labeled luckily since I don’t know what any of these are! I see a pile of small round things called cherries and use tongs to grab some of those. The lobsters looked kind of weird but I grabbed on anyway. I poured out some tomato soup into a cup and I take an apple. We have apples in Popelia but of course they are grey not red. I’ve also never been able to afford them so I can’t wait to try this. After piling my plate sky high I realized that I probably would have a chance to eat these foods again sometime. After all, the Trials would take more than a day, right? I start to realize that this could be my chance to travel. I’m worried sick about my family at home but this is my dream and I’m sure they’re happy for me right now.
I reach for my red fork when someone starts talking,
“Welcome ladies and gentlemen to Ruby’s Eye’s capitol, Bludrain. I hope you have all appreciated the food we have put out especially for you. Many more arrangements will be made to make your time in the Trials easy.” I stare up at the official while taking a bit of a small cherry tomato. The tomato was sweet and tangy and like nothing I’ve ever tasted. I look around the room, the table is lined with red foods for everyone to eat. I know I have to eat in moderation so I don’t get sick but it all looks so amazing. In the corner of my eye I see the young official from Popelia. It’s hard to tell because of everyone’s drastic makeover but from his height and skin I am almost positive it’s him. “People here are from near and far but now we are all equal. We take these trials together and we will support each other no matter what.”
I sip the tomato soup. It tastes nothing like the cherry tomato and I’m not sure if I like it! I look at the lobster on my plate and I’m not sure how I’m supposed to eat it. I’ll wait until I see someone else trying it. I pick up the apple and I taste a bite. Wow. The texture reminds me of grug but the flavor is like you took a cloud and dipped it in sweets. I try the cherry and it’s even better. Wait, why is there a stone it in? No matter, it’s still amazing. It’s sweeter and has a silky texture. The official continues talking.
“The Trials are not easy but they are not complicated. Your task is simply to learn as much about each continent as possible and what better way to learn about them than to live as a citizen of one for two months. You will be expected not to reveal yourself as a foreigner and especially not to allow anyone to see your marks. We will help you for the first week. We will pay for housing, food, and your attendees will be made available to help you look the part but after that you are on your own. We advise you to find work, make friends, and learn what it’s like to be someone from each continent. If you are from that continent you are free to live in your own home but we advise you to mix it up and use the resources we provide you to learn and experience more.” I see someone has cracked their lobster into two pieces and is eating the inside. I try but I don’t quite succeed. I realized they used a cracking device and I pick one up from the table. This time I’m able to get to the inside of the lobster. It’s creamy and sweet and salty. I love it! It tastes even better with butter. Dang, I’d eat this forever. I am scared of going out on my own because I have no idea where to go. Another official stands to speak,
“If you ever find yourself in any trouble make your way back to Bludrain and find this building or find any official and we will help you the best we can.” So I guess they really aren’t helping us. That’s going to be tough but I think I can manage it. I’ve made my way through the world for a long time now.
“Once you have finished eating leave the room and you will be given your money, a map, and a few items we have decided upon. Enjoy and good luck,” the official tells us.
I eat slowly for about twenty minutes. One by one we start to get up and leave. I’m the last one in the room so I grab plate and pile on lobster hoping that was alright. The hallway outside the dining room was very dark and I saw a table with a bag on it that said Anne. I look inside and see a box that I put the lobsters into. There is also a lot of red colored gold coins, some red silver, and some red copper. I pull the map out but it’s too dark to read the words. Walking outside I try to make sense of the map. I look at it until I understand it but I don’t know where I would even want to go! I start walking down an alleyway. It’s dark and there is a breeze that brings me scents of spices and flowers. Inside a window I see a young girl probably no more than three spinning around in a poofy dress like my own. I should probably find a place around here because I’ll need help getting into my dress again. I keep walking down the alley, my shoes hit the dark red brick and make a nice noise. I keep walking and I’m getting hungry. I haven’t seen any people. A bench is to my right and I sit on the swirly bench that is a credit to the architects of Ruby’s Eye. It somehow feels like the most comfortable seat ever even though it’s just wood. I pull out my box of lobster from the bag I was given. I look at it for a second before realizing I needed to take a cracking thing. How am I going to eat it now? I sit there for a second.
“Heya, how are you doing?” asks a curvy woman. I look at her face and it was framed with brown hair with streaks of red. I didn’t know that brown was legal here and when I looked again she had big, beautiful eyes in a color I swear I don’t think I’ve ever seen before. She stuck out like a sore thumb in her simple white dress but she was very pretty. “Here, let me help you.” She takes the lobster and cracks it with her hand.
“Oh wow, thank you miss…?”
“Hestia. My name is Hestia and if you need a place to stay I have a spare room. Just follow the street until you see a star shaped sign.”
“Thank you Hestia.” I bow and hurry off. Finding the star shaped sign I knock on the carved red door. It had peeling paint to the red wood underneath. A few flakes fell off the door when I knocked. I wait for someone to answer the door and I look around. I still don’t see anyone but it’s such a lovely place. I try to memorize every detail so that when I go back home I can think back to now. I focus on a hanging basket of red leaves and flowers that droop down. I look at how the uneven paving on the ground makes it more interesting to the eye. Someone opens the door,
“Hello, welcome to Scarlet’s bed and breakfast, I’m Rita Catherine.” Rita is a thin, tall, beautiful woman who is probably around 50 or 60 years old. She wears a red corset and a bustle skirt instead of a hoop skirt like me. Her candy apple red hair is braided in a halo around her head and her eyes are a very light red. “Would you like to purchase a room?”
“Yes, Miss Catherine.” I responded. I’m curious as to why it’s called Scarlet’s bed and breakfast and not Hestia’s or Catherine’s but regardless I’m not going to turn it down.
“Then come on in, and call me Rita C.” I’m ushered into a cozy hall with mahogany wood floor and a terracotta colored spiraling staircase. There is an ornate carpet decorated with roses and boats and the room is sprinkled with photographs of places I assume are around the town. “Let me lead you to your room, cost is 2 silver a night and we serve breakfast during waking hours. I prefer it if you don’t bring food in at all but if you make a mess please clean it up.”
“Of course,” I respond. Walking up the stairs I notice a purple handkerchief. I wonder how that got here. There was also the woman with the strange eyes but I don’t think she lived here at all.
“My name is Anne by the way.” I tell her some things about me just so that she can identify me but nothing about my origins or anything. Anyhoo, we get to the room that I assume I’ll be staying at and she opens the door and it’s lovely. The bed was there but a window shone the bright red light in. How was I supposed to sleep?
“How am I supposed to sleep with the light?” I ask.
“Wow you must not be from around here,” she told me. “Let me show you.”
Rita walks to the window and reaches above for a knob. She pulls it down and it clicks into place around the window. It completely blocks out the light. I close my eyes and relax.
“Rita C do you have anyone who could help me get out of this outfit? I am exhausted and it is far past sleeping hour now so I’d love to get sleep.”
“Yes, my friend Isabella. I don’t know if she is still awake but I can see for you.”
“Thank you.” I sit on the bed. After a few seconds of thinking I decide to get up and open the window cover so I can see but then a woman who I assume is Isabella comes in.
“Are you Anne?” she asks me.
“Mhm, are you Isabella?” I respond and return.
“Yes ma’am. Let me help you get out of that dress now.” I worry that she thinks I’m spoiled and incapable but she says nothing as she helps me undress.
“Thank you. I am going to sleep now.”