"Depends on you wish to spend it. If you were looking to earn them in a game of skill and luck you could try the Star's Eye. You can always find a card game there. Just be wary of the trigger happy folk." Dr. Gideon said, turning and pointing with his cane towards the Star's Eye.
"But if it's more honest labor you're looking for you can try one of the shoe polishing stands. They're always hiring." Gideon said.
Outside of Arula city, yet another traveler could be seen walking down the road towards the industrious city. This one was a young woman; her blonde hair tied into a pony tail, her body covered in a brown traveler's robe, and some bandages around her head. This young lady has been traveling a long way over the past several weeks.
She had woken in Pala, no memory of anything save for her first name. Apparently, someone in the farming town had found her by the river injured and had brought her to their home to tend to her wounds; that much she had learned from the farming couple that had taken her in. They guessed that her head injury may be to blame for her memory loss, but weren't able to provide much help in getting her memories back. The only possibility they had offered was the magical spring not too far from Pala; which had been her first stop. It hadn't worked. After that failure, she had bid those that had helped her goodbye and thanked them before starting on her journey, hoping she'd find someone that was able to help her.
Now her journey lead her to Arula, the girl grimacing as she pulls her cloak up a bit to cover her nose and mouth. The place reeked of pollution, which bothered her nose and lungs. '...city of the elite?' she thought idly, remembering what someone from Pala had said. 'more like city of the stinky...' She shook her head lightly as she began to travel into the city, using part of her robes like a filter against the pollution.
"Sakes," griped a middle-aged peasant woman as the female traveler passed her by. She was wearing a tattered gray scarf on her head and carried a bucket full of grimy water. "I thought the ne'er-ending rain of pollution from the sky was bad enough. Now they got it coming up through the ground too?" A younger peasant man walked alongside her, clad in an apron peppered with muddy handprints and pushing an empty wheelbarrow. "Well, they're sayin' the steam coming up through the grates is completely harmless," he remarked. "Still, don't mean ya ain't in for a surprise should you happen to be standing on one when it blows." "Any inkling of what could be causin' it?" "Got me. Everyone's just saying it's some new part of the clock, or the mills. But seeing as the mills shut down at dusk, yet the steam keeps right on spewin' up into all hours of the night and morning, don't see how that could be."
((There should be a TVTropes page entitled "All Peasants Speak Cockney." razz Whenever I do peasant NPC's, they always speak Cockney in my head. Even in the Old West.))
The young traveler paused and looks towards the peasant couple, overhearing them a little bit. She couldn't remember much of Arula city beyond what she had heard; the fact that it was a polluted industrial city and apparently the heart of the current government. She idly listened as the pair spoke of the steam coming up from the grates.
"...excuse me..." she started, moving her robe enough so that she could speak clearly, only to cough a little bit. "...perhaps you two could help me?" it couldn't hurt to ask, after all. If they were locals, they could help her find some places in the city. That and she was a little curious about what they were talking about.
"Two things," she starts, relaxing a little as she began to speak to the peasant. It did seem clear she wasn't too comfortable with the pollution, but she would manage. "Could you tell me what has been going on around this city? I thought I heard you say something about steam."
"Oh, musta been long about a week now," the older female peasant chimed in. "If you keep on heading inta the city, towards the clock tower, you'll start seein' grates in the sides of the streets. You never can tell when it'll happen, or how long it'll last...but ever' so of'en, a burst of steam will blast through them grates. Smarts like a whollop if ya get caught in one, especially since ya ain't expectin' it."
"A week?" the traveler mused with mild surprise, then a frown. Something about the steam the peasant warned about it bothered her. But why? Steam was just steam, right? "...that's a rather long time... nothing's been done to handle it, or at least find out why it's happening?"
"You got three magic families to pay your dues to, you work dawn to dusk, you know better than to raise your head and ask too many questions," the man grumbled. "They're saying it's got something to do with the clock or mills." He leaned closer. "If you're wantin' my two bits, though...I'd there's a couple more sprockets down there than is being let on, if you catch my drift." "Shh!" the woman elbowed him in the side. "Hush, Dennis. You should know better than to talk about them out in broad daylight, and to a perfect stranger!" "Oh, come off it, Ma. Ain't nobody on this street don't know they exist." "That don't mean ya go around pointin' it out!"
The traveler listened to the man as he grumbled. She had no idea about the magic families in the city, and the dues the townsfolk were paying. After having spent about four days with the farmer family, she couldn't help but feel that was a little unfair. Blinking a moment as she saw the man lean closer, she couldn't help but lean a little closer herself as she heard what he said next. Something about sprockets down there. Even as the woman elbowed the man, the traveler merely blinked in confusion. "...I'm sorry... but what do you mean by sprockets?" she asks, genuinely curious. She hadn't heard anything about something by that name back in Pala.
"Haha...never mind my son. He don't have his head in the right place," the woman said abruptly, almost apologetically. "We don't want no trouble. Now, I recollect you said you had two questions. I only heard one, so what was the other?"
The traveler shook her head. "It's quite all right," she replies. "...just a little curious was all; didn't hear anything about 'sprockets' out in Pala." She explained. "...but you're right, I did say two." She might have said she'd like to ask a third one now thanks to that sprocket thing; but judging by how this woman was reacting to her son bringing it up, perhaps it was something akin to taboo. If she wanted to find out, she'd need to find another way.
"...the other is simple, can you point out some places of interest in town? At least... any besides the obvious," she asks, pointing a thumb at the clock tower. She felt it would help, if she saw something that could spark her memories, perhaps she could gain a clue about her past.
"Gladly," Dennis acquiesced. He indicated a direction to his left. "Down that way's the Star's Eye saloon. Every town that's got misery has got a place to drink and play it away...and if boozin'and gamblin' till your purse is light is how you cope, there's no finer than Star's Eye." His mother gave him the stink eye. "...Not that I ever been in there," he added sheepishly. "For the more upright among us," the mother added, "there's the port on the river where all the goods are shipped in and out. The magic families' mansions are situated on the opposite end of town, away from all the noise. And, lessee...I think there's a library up the street, unless it got tore down for construction by now. Hard to keep track of these things."
"Anytime. Good luck with that then." Gideon said with a tip of his hat before he started to walk past Tirellian. As he came close to the man, he slowed for a moment and spoke in a softer tone as if he intended for no one else to hear him.
"Although if you're looking for work worth your while Mr. Harken, come by the Star's Eye an hour before it closes. I might have something that would interest you." Dr. Gideon said. As soon as he had spoke the words he picked up his pace again, never stopping for a moment as he headed for the other side of town.