The City of Magic - Chapter 14

A Narrow Escape

ope you scraped some fun off the Fair!” Clever smiled and said. He was speaking loud since the sudden siren had also stirred up much commotion that voluminously flooded the range of air.

“Yes, we did!” I answered aloud. “Going to the Center?”

“Yes,” he replied, “Let’s be quick!” We hurried to the Center.

There was a great fountain, lit by colorful and playful lights, in the middle of Fair with a good sized open space in the front for people to stand. There was a stage set up by the fountain adorned with balloons, ribbons, and flowers. Armed guards stood all around it. A fine looking gentleman with a red suit on stood at the lectern smiling profusely, as if smiles were all biting at him. Behind him stood an array of five elegantly dressed personages that seemed to be officials. The Lady Avaritia was easy to distinguish by her golden silk vesture and a crown of sparkling diamonds. Also, on the stage were Fate and Chance. We were able to get a little close to the stage. When the people had all assembled, a second siren called, and the man in the red suit smiled even more torrentially to the extent that his face swelled and his words dropped like celebrative fireworks.

“Ladies and Gentlemen,” he began, seemingly quite conscious of the presence of Avaritia in all his conduct, “It is our pleasure to have you all at this Fair again. Your presence and participation add to the pleasure and romance …”

“Huh, ROMA: Radix Omnium Malorum Avaritia!” I heard someone murmur and I turned to find that it was a rather unkempt man, having meager appearance, short stature, and a worn-out face, his eyes fixated on the stage. “Evil… evil…. Root of All Evil,” he murmured again.

“Fate and Chance,” the red suited man continued, “had been appointed by our Honorable Lady to pick the trader who had affected the best business, and so I would call on them to please step forward and announce the winner.”

There were cheers and great applause as Fate and Chance stepped forward together hand in hand towards the podium. It did seem that the red suited man didn’t feel very comfortable having had to step behind.

“Choosing a winner is not always quite an easy job, when two are appointed to the task,” Chance began. The audience joined in cheering again. My criterion of choice was simple: the one with the greatest guts to face the highest risk of loss – the perfect gambler.”

“Mine was a bit different,” Fate joined in, “the one with the guts to embrace risk as riches – the apathetic utilitarian.”

“Fatal intoxication, fatal entrapment, fatal Fate – the false shadow of false Chance!” the unkempt man murmured again oblivious to all around, as all others were to him.

The crowd cheered again. “So, who wins?” someone shouted. “Yes, who wins, who wins?” they all clamored.

“The winner is the optician, Clever!” Fate announced as a jubilant crowd cheered uncontrollably.

Clever looked at me and smiled. Then, sprinted towards the stage where he was being welcomed by Fate and Chance and given a little trophy by Avaritia. He, then, turned and stood at a little corner on the stage.

I heard the unkempt man’s murmur: “So shall Curiosity gain hand over risk and finally swallow wallowing greed in his bottomless mire.” He seemed to be an intelligent man to me, but I wondered why he looked so unkempt. I turned at him, and at that instant was taken aback. The man had disappeared. I ran my eyes all over trying to catch a glimpse of him; but, he was nowhere to be found.

“My dear subjects,” Avaritia announced and the whole crowd went mad with ecstasy.

“Speak, noble Lady, our lifegiver and ruler!” some shouted.

“The dials of Fate and Chance turn in favor towards those who tap into the Magical power of Mammon. Money is Magic; and Magic, Money; everything else, its slave. Money is influence, money is strength; money is freedom, money is true wealth. So, never stop urging forward, amassing greater; for someone must always top the other. Contentment, fear, and sloth are the greatest destroyers of your power. Contentment makes one impotent; impotence creates insecurity; and insecurity breeds rebellion, rebellion against our Queen, rebellion against the Kingdom of Magic, rebellion against self. So, never stop short of any higher scale you can fix for yourself; and, when you’ve reached that, fix a greater one. Don’t be compelled by need alone. Be compelled by the glory of your Mother, by me, your Governess Avaritia; for success is defined by prosperity and prosperity is inherited by those who are faithful to me!”

The crowd now, on hearing this, was thrown into uncontrollable ecstasy, calling out, shouting slogans, gesticulating with hands beating the air, some crying tears, and it all seemed to land everything into a heavy confusion.

“Let’s go, let’s go!” Inno cried. I looked at her eyes. She was afraid. Then, suddenly the siren howled striking the commotion into a dead silence. Two men in black suits ascended the stage and began whispering something in the ears of Avaritia. While they did that, I saw her eyes turn fierce and hawk-like and I felt a premonition.

“There has been an emergency call,” she spoke again with a grave voice. “Our city has been intruded by a number of enemies who are bent on our destruction. We received news of a young man who has escaped prison and is now target of the search. He is said to have a child with him.” I squirmed, but then felt there wasn’t any need to be alarmed since there were many men with children in arms there until I turned towards the stage again, and at this moment caught the eyes of Clever; they were unblinkingly riveted on me. I shuddered at the way he looked. The Lady continued, “There are a few more others who have been spotted but not caught yet; however, we anticipate the Final Victory soon and the elimination of all threat whatsoever altogether very soon. In view of all this, the City requests the cooperation of the citizens to nab the criminals. Anyone who cooperates through providing information or help in capturing the intruders in anyway will receive high rewards and honors. Anyone, however, who cooperates with the enemies against us will be counted as traitors and tried along with them.” At this moment I noticed a spark in Clever’s eyes, and he moved towards Avaritia and began whispering something to her. I began moving away silently through the crowd, and as I moved I removed the glasses that the optician had given and threw it in a corner. But by then, the whole crowd was in voracious commotion and I also saw search agents spreading all over the place. I reached near the gates and saw that it was blocked by the guards and Ira’s agents. The crowd went trampling about in mad warlike passion, and I was gripped with fear now because of Inno. I tugged her closely, and turned around to see Clever, at a distance, accompanied by two or three officers running towards me. I began to run, howling, clamoring, and wildly shouting at all, that for a moment I struck lightning and surprise in the nerves of those around. In a split I had broken through the guards, had jumped on to the road, and was fleeing through the streets, while the mad cursing crowd and angry officers chased me from behind. I ran like a torpedo, crying all along when suddenly it seemed that a mist rose in front of me clouding the ground ahead. I heard the crowd behind me halt as fading voices cautioned, “The poisonous gas…the poisonous gas!” I stopped as well, turned behind and then towards the mist. There was silence. Then, a strange thing occurred. I saw the figure of Faith on the face of the mist beckoning to us with a smile. I turned behind and saw the agents lift their guns towards me. In that moment, I turned round and hurled myself into the mist, leaving the spray of bullets all behind. I had leapt into the unknown.