Leaving William’s shop an hour later with my order placed, it was time to check on a couple of leads for training. Two of them were in the same general direction, so I started that way, looking for a decent-sized street to follow along. As I came upon an intersection, I saw something that made me smile – a medieval bus! A wagon with benches facing out from the long sides. Several people were already sitting on the benches, and two women were walking between the benches collecting fees from those wanting to get aboard. I hurried and got in line.
“It’s two copper pennies to ride, sir,” the brunette said.
I smiled and handed her the money. “How long can I ride?”
She replied, “Until the driver loops around to go back the other way – another 15 blocks or so.”
“Thanks!” I didn’t need to ride, but I enjoyed the novelty of it. It only made sense that somebody would figure out how to make money getting people around – this is a large place, and spending hours walking is a big waste if you are a laborer or a craftsman. Sitting next to a dwarf, I decided to strike up a conversation. “Good morning, neighbor.”
He looked at me and frowned, “Are you going to try and sell me something?”
“Nope! I’m enjoying my third day in Nirvana and decided to be friendly.”
He smiled, “That brings back memories. I’m Jorgen. I’ve been in Nirvana for about fifty years now, and the first few days were filled with wonder. I hope you are finding your way around.”
“I am; I’m on my way to visit some combat trainers.”
Jorgan replied, “I tried the adventuring life when I first came here too. It can be very hard. Be sure you learn some cantrips to make it easier – the Explorer’s Associate has a manual that is worth buying.”
“Thanks! I’ve already attended a meeting and got one. It’s been very enlightening. Did you ever read the advanced manual?”
“They have an advanced manual now,” mused Jorgan. “I have not heard that. Have you seen it?”
“Oh yes, I have a copy of that too – but if you are interested, you should wait a few weeks. They are going to release a new version with a whole bunch of new cantrips in it!”
“Really,” asked Jorgan? “How do you know?”
“I attended the meeting the first night I was in Nirvana. There was a Siamese Cat, Beastkin, who was born before the association’s president. The cat and the president were summoning food nobody’s ever seen while sitting in The Weather Vane the next day. When I went back to the inn for dinner, I heard that Nirvana showed up in the middle of the street and made it rain candy because of them!”
“I heard about the candy, but nobody knew why,” responded Jorgan. “I’ve never heard of Nirvana showing up out of the blue. You usually have to find an Easter Egg. I’d like to see Nirvana – I’ve never met her.”
“Oh? You’ve never found an Easter Egg?”
“Nope, my adventuring wasn’t successful. I went with a bunch of newbs, and we didn’t know what we were doing. I needed to work just to make a living and have been here in town ever since.”
“Well, maybe your luck is changing! As I was leaving the association this morning, everybody was talking about an oracle and that a Nirvana priest would perform a miracle south of the harbor today.”
The brunette attendant joined in the conversation, “I’ve heard a lot of people talking about that today. My shift finishes at noon, and I’m going to go and see it!”
Another passenger joined in, “I saw the royal guard escorting an elderly woman dressed in fine robes and walking with a glowing green staff. The guard was shouting to clear the way for the High Priest of Nirvana. If I didn’t have deliveries, I would be there now,” the man exclaimed! “Nothing like this has happened in years. Hell, the last time King Henry walked about town must have been at least a decade ago!”
Soon the whole wagon was talking about the spectacle, and my drop point came up. I hopped down and waved goodbye to the riders.
It was only a few blocks before I came upon the culdesac where one of the sensei offering lessons worked and lived. I could already see that these buildings were built with a more Asian influence than the bulk of the city. There were three buildings here, each with yards that opened upon the cobblestone street, wide and deep enough for a wagon and team to pull in and turn around. The yards to the left and right had small gardens in front of the main doors, so you couldn’t just charge up to them. The center house, the one I was interested in, had a wide walk up to the front door. As you approached the building, a large bonsai tree to the left was the only greenery out front. The rest of the yard was a rock garden, with benches strategically placed to admire the patterns and view. I could hear a bamboo water feature clacking, so there must be more to the yard around the right side.
I walked up the eight steps to the porch and picked up the mallet to ring the small gong by the door when I heard a voice, “Honored guest, there is no need to strike the gong. I was working in the garden and saw you approach.”
I turned to the right and saw a young woman with Asian features holding a rake. “This one is called Mimi, and I regret to inform you that the master is not home.”
I bowed slightly toward Mimi, “Thank you. Do you know when he might return? I wish to discuss an opportunity with him.”
Mimi acknowledged my bow and replied, “This one does not know but assumes that it will not be more than two days. The masters of the way,” indicating the other two houses as well, “heard of the newly appointed High Priest and went to witness the miracles that are to take place.”
Crap, my spectacle and hers are so effective that they interfere with my plans. That’s fine. There’s no harm in letting this wait a couple of days. Bowing again to Mimi, “I hear your words and rejoice in the knowledge that the masters seek wisdom. Would you send word to the Explorer’s Association for ‘Pretty Kitty’ when the master would see me?”
“Of course, honored guest,” Mimi replied.
I step toward her and extend my cupped hands to her with another slight bow, “Even a servant’s time is valuable, as it’s what lets a master pursue his path.”
Smiling, Mimi gently takes the coin from my hand, “The honored guest is very generous, and I will not spurn his gift. It will be as you say, and the master will know of your visit, and an invitation will be sent to Pretty Kitty at the Explorer’s Association.”
I take my leave and, continuing with the small amount of courtesy and custom I know, do not acknowledge the guards approaching Mimi, who have accidentally revealed themselves too soon.