The storefront where Abigail Beatrix Cormac sold antiquities and curiosities stood quietly in the most unassuming parts of Gearford’s Rowe District, rather close to the marketplace in the Saks. This was where Lucas was to meet his compatriots.
Normally, one would see the patrons of the millinery shop or the haberdasher on either side about, but Lucas noticed neither today. They were closed, as was most things in Antiford today, and the small street was only busy with folk on their way to the festivities in more open parts of town.
Lucas walked up to the door and rang the bell. He took the moments waiting to brush some of the dust off his patriotically blue-and-yellow jacket. He straightened his top hat and inspected his reflection in the darkened window.
Phinneus opened the door. “Get inside, ya peacock.”
“Phin,” Lucas said.
The two shared warm smiles and a handshake.
Lucas took off his hat and looked about. “Where’s Ms. Cormac gone off to?”
Phinneus picked up his jacket from the coat rack. Before he was able to speak, Abigail descended the staircase in the back.
“I was just taking care of a few things,” she said.
“Wonderful to see you today,” Lucas said.
She raised an eyebrow. “Hard not to see you.”
Lucas smiled and opened his arms as if to show off. “And where is Mr. Asan?”
Phinneus looked grim. “He’s not going to be able to travel to Gearford today.”
“There’s been some raids on our compatriots all over Whitehaven. He’s a little scared to be active right now,” Phinneus said.
“I’ve had informants go missing lately around town. It could be related,” Abigail said.
“We’ll have to discuss this at the meeting,” Lucas said. “Figure out what’s going on.”
There was a grim pause.
Abigail grabbed a parasol. ”Shall we get onward?”
“Fine idea!” Lucas said.
“Okay,” Phinneus said.
Phinneus donned his hat and opened the door for his friends. They entered the fray of ever-increasing crowds travelling towards the Saks. There were festivities in every district, but if the Saks weren’t out of the way, it was really the place to be today.
Lucas produced a small brown bag from his pocket. “Would either of you like some chocolate?”
“No, thank you,” Abigail said.
Lucas started munching on a piece.
“How is that not completely melted?” Phinneus asked.
Lucas shrugged and kissed the chocolate off his fingertips.
“I told you he’d be disgustingly cheerful,” Abigail said.
“I never said I doubted you.”
Lucas looked back. “And why shouldn’t I be? It’s Discovery Day!”
Phinneus nudged Lucas. “I suppose it is nothing to do with... not having to run the festivities in Astam, then?”
Lucas shuddered. “Don’t remind me about last year. I don’t even slightly envy anyone tasked to coordinate the holiday’s festivities.”
Abigail chuckled to herself.
“And what about you?” Lucas asked Abigail. “Business as usual?”
“That’s a bit hard to answer actually, but there’s certainly a lot of people who wish to experience Discovery Day under the influence. I’m walking with wet pockets today.”
“I wish I could say the same,” Phinneus said, “Boric is asking me to fund some crazy scheme, and I’m probably going to go for it, so I’ll be a little reserved today.”
“How is the ol’ Yeti?” Lucas asked.
“Well enough. Might be getting restless, I think.”
The three were interrupted, not by a word, but by a sight.
They had reached the marketplace between Portobello Avenue and Rathbone Boulevard. Where there were normally vendors as far as the eye could see, there were performers, stages, and festival food. The bright blue, white and yellows could nearly blind a man on a sunny day like today. The public water pumps were running a constant, and the public servants metering them were a little friendlier, a little more relaxed than usual. And there were even vendors selling ice for drinks and ice in sealed pouches to place under your hat. This was the richer part of town, after all.
They spent their time tasting candy floss, sampling chanka-waffle sticks, playing gallery games, and meeting up with many of their friends. Any Antifordian Lucas knew who wasn’t back in Astam Junction was here in Gearford.