Chapter 3:

The Market District

Roeyan Saga

<No one knew where it came from. No one from this universe. It was a parasite. A devourer. Its name was unknown. But it was created. It had a purpose.>

Melissa I

Melissa never used the capital's public transportation before. They took the train inside a serpentine-like tube that coiled around the city. The tunnel was transparent and up in the sky, so they had an astonishing aerial view of the city. The chaotic ducts resembled intricate water slides.

Melissa pressed her face against the train window, eyes gleaming with child-like wonder. She soaked in as much new information as she could, watching the capital come alive. Both the chaos of the technological side as well as the fervor of the archaic side.

Alcedina wasn't the capital city of the Dorrean Federation for nothing, its visage was like a moving painting. Seen from above, it looked like the intricate, colorful patterns of a Sirtosian carpet. It even had a rectangular shape and its city center looked like an open flower. Inside the lotus-like dome was the administrative and financial center: The Comitium and right next to it, the cultural and religious center: The Athenaeum. Museums, concert halls, and more importantly temples were located there.

The temples were segmented into the Worship temples and the Studying temples. The worship temples were named Hieron and handled rituals and ceremonies as well as esoteric training for the spiritually gifted. The studying temples were named Academia and were two types: The scientific ones and the military ones.

The more luxurious and older city center buildings were made of marble and jade and looked like flowery palaces that were harmonious in shape. They were in stark contrast to the newer buildings at the periphery which were more industrial looking, made of glass fiber, and had an asymmetric, chaotic design. 

While screens weren't allowed on the older buildings for religious reasons, the newer ones displayed various digitized commercials and even had an option of making three-dimensional holograms. They were considered to be in poor taste. A deplorable simulacrum only for the lower masses to enjoy. It was seen as a way to replicate the practice of the temple sacerdotes, priests worshipping Yarl: the god of light and wisdom.

The city center had numerous exquisitely well-maintained parks with luscious vegetation that was so beautiful there was no need for botanical gardens. The seeds were brought from all corners of the planet showing an impressive variety in shapes and colors. It wasn't uncommon for strollers to stay a whole day just to admire a specific segment of the shrubbery.

The most beautiful of them all were The Suspended Gardens of the Dorrean Palace, majestic pieces of botanical and architectural engineering. The Dorrean gardens were themselves copied from the House of Galandor, the oldest and most respected of the Seven Houses.

The main highway was flanked by fountains in the shape of the Goddess Galatis, the patron of water and life.

Just outside the flower-like dome were the entertainment district as well as the market district, they resembled nothing of the orderly, immaculate city center. The two sectors were total opposites: the entertainment district was technologically advanced, no corner was without some type of innovation: opera music that produced visible colors, virtual reality game arcades that were neuro-linked to the players, robotic bartenders, plasma-fueled bike races, mech suit fighting tournaments and even holographic idol-based concerts.

The market district on the other hand was another kind of erratic: narrow street corners surrounded by colorful bazaars.

The noblewoman only visited the market district in the capital once a year but every time it was in the form of an official tour. As the duchess of Winderver, the third biggest state in the Dorrean Federation, she was always accompanied by her envoy.

“My advisors planned every part of the touring schedule. I had no freedom. They kept me from frequenting certain locales and from interacting with the common citizens. And of course, chimeras without city permits.You’re so lucky, having your privacy. I’m jealous." Melissa lamented.

“After my inauguration I won’t be able to keep my anonymity. I have to come to terms to that.” Ereya resigned herself.

“Eventually this always happens. It’s inevitable... But that doesn’t mean we can’t have fun!” Melissa tried to comfort her niece.

"We've arrived at the Market District Station" a robotic voice announced. Passengers started to get off the train.

"This was so exciting!" Melissa let out a cheer while disembarking the train. The duchess reached out for her niece's arm and they started walking hand in hand.


Melissa walked along a narrow dimly-lit street with Ereya by her side. The atmosphere was surreal, one of the only quiet places in this part of town. This part of the street was still paved like in ancient times. They arrived at an intersection between the market district and the entertainment district. The direction for the market district became upwards. Slowly, the marketplace unveiled before them in all its chaotic glory.

The crowd noise became stronger and they got inundated with different kinds of stimuli: The various smells from aromatic perfumes to spicy condiments and smoked meats. Distinct textures and patterns were displayed, from silky robes to crystal embroidered dresses to wooly coats. All those stimuli caused a symphony of senses. It was this sensory overload that Melissa was so excited for.

There were people from all walks of life, from afar they looked like multi-colored scales on a giant snake, slithering along the market. All different shapes and sizes, different clothing styles. All the way from the Sirtos Federation, with their tall golden headgear for men and dangling jewelry as headdress for women, dressed in their lavish robes to the technologically advanced Xyntar Federation, wearing mechanical suits or wearable nanotechnology. Some even wore holographic dresses or capes, very fashionable lately with the Xyntar youth, Melissa remembered hearing.

And of course, in the market district, there were a lot more chimeras than in the city center, of all different species and combinations. The further they got from the city center, the more chimeras were there. For only being 10% of the Dorrean Federation, half of the outskirts inhabitants were chimeras. And the Dorrean Federation was the most generous and forward-thinking of the Seven Houses. All other Houses had the standard 2% chimeras of the general population, in order to not get over this percentage, the chimeras were deported to the Dorreans or they were terminated. Of course, 170 years ago the Noble Houses didn't have to worry about the chimeras multiplying naturally...

Melissa looked around every market stall and caravan. She was fascinated by the variety in the clothing stalls, from elegant, jewel-encrusted robes to the puffy dresses with a floating option installed, to the color-changing holographic suits. She ran her fingers across silky sashes and scarves. She tried on some turquoise earrings which were a perfect match for her. The noblewoman had a slight smile in the corner of her mouth. She knew Ereya noticed and could already feel her embarrassment for what her aunt was about to do.

"Owner, how much for these earrings?"

"Miss, you have a good eye for quality products. These are all the way from Sirtos, mined directly from their giant quarries. Only for today, I left it at 450 vanarii." the shopkeeper said confidently, crossing his arms above his large belly.

"That's very nice of you owner. But unfortunately, I don't have that much money on me. I'm currently on a tight budget" Melissa shyly whispered.

"That's too bad. 450 vanarii is the most I can do for you" his expression changed into a frown.

"How about 400 altogether for both these earrings and necklace, I take this off you since I don't see many interested in buying it?" Melissa put on the necklace while she was in the middle of negotiations. The necklace accentuated her already ample cleavage.

"If you put it that way...Indeed, the necklace didn't sell well today..." the owner curled his mustache while blushing, changing his focus on Melissa's endowments.

"I'm so glad you say that. I didn't know these earrings were from Sirtos, I'm not well versed in their jewelry." Melissa gasped while slightly squeezing her bosom. The owner noticed a mole on her cleavage which made him flush even redder.

"Well...If that's the case, it can't be helped. 300 vanarii for both is alright with you?"

"Of course, that's so generous of you!" Melissa radiated a smile.

"Hope to see you again around here, miss" the owner blushed while packing up her accessories.

"Of course," Melissa said while waving goodbye and turned away from the shop to visit more stalls. The owner waved back, now he was in his dream world.

"Well, that was awkward as hell" Ereya made a disgusted face.

"Oh, you're so silly, Ereya. You have to learn to have more fun!"

"It's not fun seeing a noblewoman haggle for a cheaper price."

"Right now I'm not a noblewoman, I'm dressed as your everyday commoner. Bargaining is such a fascinating and exhilarating experience. There are so many unknowns. Will the owner comply with me lowering the price, will they reject my offer and not engage further, or will they be willing to meet me in the middle? Oh, the possibilities!" the noblewoman was giddy just thinking about it.

"How can you find this exhilarating?"

"Listen Ereya, everything is a trade. Life is about what you give and what you take. If there is no balance between the two, your life will be miserable. If you take too much, you'll be considered a villain. If you give too much, you'll be considered an easily manipulated fool." Melissa's face suddenly turned serious. Ereya was taken aback.

"You act silly so often that I start to forget just how much I still have to learn from you."

"That's right kiddo. When you were little you used to never listen to me. But after what happened...That aspect of you changed."

"I had to."

In that moment, the past cast a big shadow over Ereya.


After the clothing stalls, they reached the food section. All kinds of rare meats were displayed, grilled or baked in pies or stacked on top of each other and roasted on a spit. There was even a live exotic animal section. Everything from reptiles to cloven-hooved ancient mammals to tall flightless birds to hard-shelled land dwellers.

The market district was in a legal grey area: it wasn't a part of the city center but it wasn't in the outskirts either. The eating of unsanctioned animals was prohibited by the religion. While officially live exotic animal trade was outlawed here as well, they still practiced it openly. Many powerful and rich people came from the market district and established themselves in the city center. They bribed the authorities to keep a blind eye to it. There was no fish or aquatic mammal to be found here, however. Even the market district wouldn't commit such sinful acts. Anything from the sea was sacred.

Melissa looked at Ereya and knew instantly that sight would upset her: Ereya was raised to become a priestess and was schooled in the worship temples. Her niece looked nauseated already just glancing at the animals in cages. So the madame quickly changed direction towards the sweets section.

From pearly pralines sprinkled with coconut flakes arranged in a pyramid-like shape to chocolate fountains, rainbow-colored lollipops and cotton candy so fluffy that if you blew on it, it would float, like a dandelion. One of the reasons this place looked so magical aside from the glittering of the precious stones were the cotton candy dandelion-like specks that floated around the place.

"Oh, look, a floating jelly ice cream, I always wanted to try one of those!" Melissa pointed to one of the stalls. Ereya sighed and resigned herself.

"Let's go then."

There was a sizeable waiting line since the product was so popular but Melissa didn't mind, she was worried for Ereya. Her niece however seemed to give up protesting.

After finally getting the ice cream Melissa was thinking of the activities she wanted to try next. The duchess eyed a drop tower ride. When Ereya saw what her aunt was up to, she looked like she died a little inside.

"Don't be so down, you're gonna go through similar stuff as training for the space program." Melissa attempted to comfort her.

"So you're gonna boost my resistance through this ride? I'm not gonna last even a few seconds!"

"You never know until you try!"

Ereya almost dragged her feet towards the ride. The gondola slowly started lifting off the ground.

"It's not so bad, is it?" Melissa tried to encourage Ereya.

Just as her niece didn't think it was that bad, the ride started to free fall. Rapid heavy acceleration hit both of them but only Ereya started to spill her guts out.

"Let's not go for a ride anymore." the duchess put a hand around Ereya's shoulders. Her niece nodded in agreement, wiping puke off her own mouth.

Melissa kept her promise and started walking around the game stalls. She saw Ereya staring intently at a mecha bunny plush prize.

"You're gonna burn a hole through that plush. Do you want me to win it for you?" Ereya blushed like a little kid.

The plush was the high prize for a strength tester. Melissa took a mallet and struck the lever, sending the puck flying. The sensors gave it their highest score. Melissa handed the prize to her niece while having the biggest smile on her face.

"Happy birthday niece, tomorrow you'll be 17."

"Thanks..." Ereya buried her face in the plushie.

"Ereya, I've been thinking...You know I'm good at all sorts of games, right?"

"So? Where are you going with this?" her niece had suspicion and unease written all over her face.

"I'm bored now. Let's try the gambling house!" Melissa dropped the bomb with a confident look on her face.

"What? Are you serious?"


Harmonica Writes