The puffs of smoke still wisped into the air as they closed the distance, Basch winding the pair of them across patterned cobblestones in the melting shadows of theatres and restaurants. “Alright?” he asked her hopefully, leaning close and smiling in the dim, street-lantern-lit dusk. He licked his lips against the dry northern air, the look curling into a grin. “I once knew Muthru to come alive by night, the shops open long under moonrise and torches to light the way. Molberry has its own take on it. Not quite home, but something new to your eye?”
And as he said it, a long gasp came up from dozens of voices, the surprise bursting into a collective laugh. The drums gave it away, and Basch winked to Penelo before moving toward the sound. The crowd was tightly packed in the small square, no more than a hidden corner of the district. Tumblers in motley rolled and cantered about, fizzling coloured sparks before the smiling faces of the Archadians and flicking gil coins from behind children’s ears. Some pattered on bandercoeurl-skin drums, viridian under the deepening sky, while others danced in quick swipes of light shoes. At the center of the band were the fire-breathers, and Basch moved them to the fore just as one man, bared from the waist up, took a long swig from an amber bottle and thin glittering torch in hand. The long stream of his spewed flame flared to touch upon the sky, and the first stars of the night came out in answer. Basch’s laugh joined the delighted cries of the crowd, and he squeezed Penelo’s hand, so very pleased to share the sight at last.
To say she was stunned was an understatement. Archades was a place that instilled stiffness and worry in her heart, yet now, once the night had spread onto the cobble steps, she was delivered a new sight. One of colourful wonder and bustling crowds. No longer was the air of superiority present, rather it was a place of excitement. In all her wonder, she forgot herself, and it wasn’t until her date called her back that she remembered herself. He had been talking, still was, something about nightlife in the city. A flush took over her cheeks and she nodded to him, agreeing with his statement. Hopefully he wouldn’t notice her slip. Yet he too seemed to be willing to distractions of the city.
His wink was startling - when did Basch fon Ronsenburg wink? She didn’t even know he could wink. Heartstopping, fluster producing and completely charming. As he pulled her through the crowds the only thought in her mind was that he should do it more. When they rounded the crowd, Penelo cursed her height. Even at near the front, she found it difficult to see. There were flames, chants and some sort of dancing. That was all she could make out. Basch’s tall body was positioned behind her, another reminder of her small stature. Her head met his chest, far too short to see over the heads of tall Archadians that where at least half a head taller than her. Rhythmic drums called into the night and at least that was not barred from her. The beat was pulsing, heavy and intoxicating. The dancer within wished to take flight, longing to move to sensual beats that would time so well with her footing. A small sway took over her, too light to be true dancing but it was enough. As another flame shot into the air, the laughter from the man behind Penelo vibrated through her. The hand that held hers squeezed in affection and she melted into him, laughing with him in her own way.