A work in progress by enchirist.
Part 1: The Port
Hungry eyes inspected the deformed creation on the turntable in front of her. The audience in front of her was growing. They were wanting as she had expected. The chime of a wine glass two stalls to her right rung sharply silencing the room as the guests came to a standstill.
A short man in a felted purple suit appeared from nowhere and bumbled his way on to the stage. “Stall eighty-five,” he motioned to the scorecard turner, waving his hands as if decidedly disappointed at the lack of enthusiasm in the blond-haired boy’s response.
The boy shrugged and grabbed the speakerphone in one hand.
“My sweet ladies and my even sweeter gents!” he boomed with confidence, making an obvious wink in the direction of the Chairmaster’s box. He had a child’s face, delicate and rounded, feminine almost but the voice of a grown man. The mismatch earned the crowd’s attention.
The presence of a seasoned professional filled the room. His words were precise, fluidly spoken without pause for thought. His actions were deliberate, practiced.
“It is my pleasure as your host Riktor Silkbatton, nine times the almost-winner of the Grand Fes-ti-va-le, three times a close runner-up, and countless times a participant in only the greatest tournament in Port Bouvarde – and possibly the world,” he threw off his plaid jacket revealing a smartly fitted maroon suit.
“Much better, I think. It is an honour now to introduce you to our act from afar, our current tie for the spot of ninety-nineth runner up. To get this far is an achievement and yes, our top hundred have been determined! A gifted act, is our Miss L’Ouvelle Dessenmire,” he paused then added, “And a childhood friend of mine.”
Loud whispers erupted in the crowd.
“Presumptuous. Never presume. Always, one must always, suspend judgment. At the least, until further threads cannot be bespoke,” he tutted. Unable to hold in a playful grin he added, “Like this suit. It’s tailored Chester grain leather, wonderful material, an excellent find by a local expert, I must admit it is making me uncomfortably warm.”
He resumed a serious tone.
“All is clear with the Chairman and the Committee. I am as unbounded, free, and ready to serve as ever. Ask our fact-checkers, the all-knowlegeable Cabinet of Havelin and Locke, if you will. They require no such disclosure from me, but I have now, for all of you. Details, are unnecessary. I will say that I serve neither the Tournament, the Entrants, nor the People. With respect, I am but your humble host.”
The Chairman nodded solemnly and raised his glass.
The explanation seemed to satisfy the crowd.
“Back to it! About to introduce lucky ninety-ninth, as it were.”
He flashed a smile.
“I warn you. Do not be fooled by her foreign sounding name, she’s as local as they come. Trained overseas, she may be, but expect from her a celebration of what we of the Port are about: beautiful, fresh, tender. Good men, I think you would agree with my saying the same of our fair ladies. For they are why a great many come to port.”
The mood had lightened. He continued through squeals of laughter from the dressy village lasses and the banging of glasses against the pine-wood tables.
“Without further ado, then,” he concluded stepping down from the stage.
Out of view from the crowd, he placed his hand around the woman’s waist and led her toward the stage.
“You’re on, Miss Dessenmire. Entertain them, you must. Remember exactly why you are here. Good luck.”
Suddenly inspired I was suddenly inspired to write this start, the hook of something to come.