For all the concealment afforded the broad, deep hoods, they did no favors for our vision.
“Only first-timers wag their noses back and forth,” Grellk said.“Especially in the Market Crescent. Now, I don't mind the extra pay, what comes with fending off skulks and cut purses. But I have meetings elsewhere in the city, and not with company to be impressed with blood on the cloak and boots, ye see?”
So we kept our heads down, and followed the broad shoulders of the mercenary ahead of us. One would have had to be a dwarf to be able to retrace the roundabout and circuitous route the mercenaries chose as we made our way through the maze of stalls and hovels. Still, more than once, I saw a cloak drift back, revealing a hand on a sword. It must have been enough of a deterrent, as our pace rarely slowed, and we made our way through the ramshackle stalls, sheds, and shanties that comprised the fringes of the Crescent.
What I’d first thought a simple heaviness in the air grew thicker, the further we got from what I thought of as our arrival point. At some point, the yellowish light shed by whatever it was that was in the strange globes that dangled from most stalls grew hazy, eventually growing thick enough to look like a proper mist or fog of some sort. It lent an ever so slight metallic taste to the air, and I thought I saw flashes or motes of golden light teasing the edges of my vision every so often.
By the time we reached the end of the alleyway that emptied into a broader, leveled stone walkway, the mists had solidified into a fog to rival that of a morning in Specularum or Akorros.
Pockets of foot traffic, or small groups pushing barrows or hand carts emerged from, or dissolved into the mists perhaps a bow’s shot from where we stood.
Across the slab-way, down a short step, heavier carts and full wagons trundled along, several lanes across, Through gaps in the passing lizard-drawn merchant traffic, I spied two pairs of the now-familiar parallel iron tracks, these sunk nearly even with the flagstone roadway. Between those, great posts had been driven into the ground perhaps two and a half to three spans in height, a thick layer of tar hiding whatever kind of metal they might be made of. The mists above shone with a muted yellowish-orange light, she'd by larger globes lasted to crossbars atop the post. A long, many-stranded rope of some dark fiber snaked through a hoop at the end of the crosspiece, dipping ever so slightly as it disappeared into the misty distance, presumably to another such post hidden further down the road in the fog.
A shove in the back caused me to stumble.
“What did I tell ye about gawping?” the dwarf spat. “Places to be, Uplander. Yours is not my only contract.”
He led us along the slabway, which stretched as far as we could see, which between the other foot traffic and the mists that seemed to ever hover a bowshot distant, admittedly wasn’t very far.
Thankfully, we did not have to dash and dodge between the wagons and carts moving along the many-laned street. Black wrought-iron stairs led to a gantryway that stretched across what I counted to be six lanes. From that vantage, I could see a bit further through the mists, from which bloomed occasional spats and fits of orange-yellow light. These, I saw, came from a smaller iron barges that used the railway down the middle of the street, a long arm lifted from the contraption that turned barge’s wheels making a hissing, sputtering contact with the braided rope dangling from the poles. Each time it skipped over one of the contact rings, it spat a great shower of sparks, and caused the light-globe to flicker and dim. The wagons and carts to either side gave a wide berth to the pitted stones near each of these points.
I hurried along before I received another prod in the back.