A gentle wisp of feathery cloud blew across the otherwise clear sky as a solitary dove glided down from amongst the cotes which nested in the lofty parapets of the sentinel towers which pocked the symmetry of the stern eastern wall. Soaring high above the guild's rooftop terrace, the dove passed briefly in front of the unrelenting sun; its graceful silhouette for just a moment against the vast expanse of azure skies.
From his wondrous vantage point, safe beneath the folds of the canvas awning, casually rippling in the light breeze, he lazily followed the dove's flight across the deceptive calm. Sprawled among the generous cushions that decorated the terrace, he closed his eyes and felt the warm wind of the East caressing his face while he enjoyed the remnants of his watered wine and picked at the edges of a plate of gull eggs and roasted chicked thighs.
He wondered at the light chill that a warm breeze could sometimes cause one to feel inside. Perhaps it was the memories that it carried with it? Wummers spent in the summer palace, training with the best and Carefree days of laughter and dreaming. The certain belief that he had be born for a purpose.
It was easier then. Foolish and arrogant but nonetheless easier. But there was no point pining for past glories. There was no going back and, just as they had all promised him, it hurt less now. There were still bad days when he'd think of her and slump into the dark place but they were fewer now. An exception and no longer the norm. Nonetheless when she did still come back him, she was still so real. So vibrant. Laughing. Eyes shining with mystery. Lips curled in the teasing smile that said that she understood him. That she loved him.
He'd lost sight of the graceful dove in the canopies below, which spread across the busy thoroughfare of Guardian's Way, leading from the Great Gate through to the heart of the Inner City. The mighty cobbled thoroughfare heaved with the stalls and hawkers of the weekday market, thronging with citizens rushing about their daily chores.
Studying the sea of movement along the Way, he noted that behind the rows of the lofty poplar trees which lined either side of the street, the jigsaw of alleyways, bursting with the white plastered houses of the poorer sections of the city, appeared as a relative haven of tranquility.
From his elevated position, he could see the roof-top gardens of the citizens; many of the cities famous kitchen gardens having been replaced in recent times with cool bathing pools, hidden in the shade of brightly coloured pagodas. He smiled as he recalled how Edwyn Malmesbury had railed at the city Council last year, warning them of early symptoms of complacency that he believed had begun to infect Jura as the city basked in it's sense of prosperous self satisfaction.
While his warnings had (to put it kindly) fallen upon deaf ears in the stuccoed buildings of the government district, Malmesbury had not only had the foresight to diagnose this particular problem but, having failed to rally sufficient support in his beliefs, he had also possessed the good sense to hastily depart Jura. That kind of talk was bad for business and an enemy of business was not safe in Jura these days.
He stood up, stretched his tanned, muscled torso and moved out towards the edge of the terrace and into the heat of the sun. Standing there, he soon felt a trickle of sweat form at the nape of his neck. Hanging tantalizingly in a bead, it finally broke free and trickled its way down along the ridge of his spine, between the muscled ridges of his shoulders. Was it hotter than usual? The knot in his stomach certainly felt uncharacteristically tight. He wasn't sure why that should concern him.
He turned around and reached beneath the table that his half-eaten plate rested on and pulled out his bundled cloak. He tipped out the contents of the cloak and examined that blades and leather straps within. He ran his finger along the length of the short blade and, satisfied, strapped it to his back in its customized leather sheath, which would soon be concealed beneath his lined linen cloak. He strapped the customised leather greaves to his wrists, adjusting the perilously sharp blades concealed within and ensuring that the mechanism for their quick release was sufficiently oiled. Content that all was as it should be, he set his jaw, turned for the stairs and headed off to alter the course of Juran history.