The next morning marks a Milestone for Arcana City. The city is now structurally complete. Many units await interior finishing to their first resident's request, but the city is built and functional. The electricity is on, the water flows and the garden domes are planted.
None of which would have been possible in this time frame without the assistance of the Dragon Prisestesses.
To celebrate our accomplishment, we're opening a new city run service. A travel gate to Drakon City. It will be open 24 hours a day, maintained by mana stones and operated by the Mage Corps. A small fee will be charged to cover the costs, but it will allow anyone here to get to Washington state in a matter of seconds.
For security's sake, it's set in the underground areas, not far from the main entrance and parking Garage. The idea being that if either city should fall, it would be easy to block off and hard to move a large number of forces through in a timely manner.
Not everyone in the city trusts the spell, so we're doing a public display this afternoon, an excuse for me to take a much needed vacation. I'll be spending two weeks at the Blood Claw Pack with Alpha Petros, helping him get the pack used to the notion of Travel Gates in Cities. At least that's the official reason.
Personally, I fully intend to spend two weeks relaxing at the pack house, training with the Pack warriors and introducing Hui'Jin to the wonders of Lycan society. Official decorum says a High Priestess must not go on official business without at least one Acolyte or Junior Priestess to accompany her, so she's been nominated to come along on my vacation.
Lala initially wanted to go, but between spending time with Ellie and Allie and doing paperwork for the notoriously work phobic Karl, she's got her hands full here.
The thought of leaving everyone shorthanded was too much for her to bear, despite all assurances that they'd manage on their own if she wanted to go see the ocean.
The 'Travel Spire' as they're calling the building above the Gate is a magnificent sight. It's a white marble plinth with the word Arcana written vertically down its length in shining gold, otherwise plain except for the form of two black dragons arched to form the outline of a portal, that's actually the entryway to the underground structure covered in an Arcane barrier that can be fortified at a moment's notice.
The inside is truly grand. Thick blue carpet lines the outer edges of the hallway, made of entirely white marble. Large pillars line the walls, separating the roadway from the walkways. All are delicately engraved with scenes of dragons. In battle, at play and soaring through the skies. Three story tall dark metal doors mark the entrance to the portal room. Unoccupied, it looks more like a grand palace than what will soon be a busy roadway.
The building is of course enchanted to be self cleaning, and a high flow ventilation system is hidden in the upper walls, preventing any risk of pollution buildup.
The mighty guidebook, provided by the Bronze Priestess, sets the price for on continent city travel to be at one bronze coin, or $10 for a pedestrian, or one silver coin $100 for a merchant vehicle. Arcana is a very dense city, fifty times the population density of any other Earthly city with its High Rise sized corridors and towering domes.
But the density makes vehicle travel unnecessary within the city, and the glass and abundant plant life gives the city a feel more of an outdoor palace than a condo complex. Now, the rest of the galaxy might call the abundant use of magic and luxurious materials ostentatious, and rightly so, but the city is beyond a doubt beautiful.
The residents have even gone so far as to theme entire sections of the shopping districts to feel more like home. There's an open air bazaar run by a group of middle eastern born Mages, there's ten floors of pagoda styled storefronts that harken back to 19th century China.
They've also managed to recreate portions of the shopping walk of London with some of the actual retailers and near identical construction. The fact that the city is built entirely using magic let the designers make 3 and 4 story tall spaces to give a feeling as if the buildings were truly free standing in a street, and not enclosed within a city. Even the roofs are enchanted to recreate the outside sky.
Drakon City residents have been lining up for days in anticipation, and our local retailers have been going insane trying to get everything stocked and ready for what has been announced as the city's grand opening.
Many stores have been open for a days now, but with tens of thousands of new shoppers expected to arrive with coin to spend and a thirst for Earth's culture, we're expecting today to be a big hit.
As not everyone with something to sell has a storefront in the city, Karl decided to turn the ground level from the main gate to the travel gate into an open air market for the next 3 days.
It's getting to be harvest season and there's a wide variety of fresh produce, baked goods, canned and dried foods as well as locally made items like farm equipment, clothing, blankets, leather workers, even a local firearms manufacturer has set up.
It feels more like a festival than anything, we should make this an annual city holiday.
I'm not scheduled to leave until evening so I drag Hui'Jin along to check out the market for snacks to give as gifts to the Pack. Nothing warns their hearts than food.
"Hey Katrina, over here!" a happy voice shouts. Lelou of course, nobody else here really uses my full name. At least not without an honorific.
She's got Lala and the twins with her. Jake, Mary and Karl are all in line at the nearby crepe stand.
"Ladies, how were the crepes?" I wave at everyone, taking in the whipped cream visible on every face.
"Amazing" the twins shout in prefect unison.
"They're so fluffy and not too sweet" Lala adds.
"I got extras for you two, I saw you coming" Karl laughs, handing me and Hui'Jin each a wrapped snack
"Thank you Highness. What are they?"
"fruit and whipped cream in a fluffy edible wrap" Karl clarifies for her and she tentatively licks at it before taking a huge bite.
I give Jake and Mary a shared hug, careful not to hit their crepes "I don't get to see you two enough anymore, with the you at the Guild and me being so busy".
"Don't forget the training. Karl hasn't given up on his accelerated Mage training program." Mary pouts.
"Hey, I gave you the day off didn't I? Just because I'm a good guy" Karl defends himself, making everyone laugh.
Find anything good? I ask Lelou who has shopping bags beside her and she launches into an excited rendition of her morning.
"Me and the girls got to it first thing. We lost the vampire somewhere though" she laughs "I think she ran away, but that's neither here nor there. I got these amazing quilts from a local ladies group, and these cute carved animals. Oh, and so many jars of candy." she pulls them out as she lists her haul.
"There's merchants from Drakon over on the far side there, I got some storage jewelery for you!" She pulls out a pair of barbell earrings with small black pearls on the ends.
"That's great, but I can't pierce my ears, they'll fall out when I transform" I remind her.
"Don't worry about that dear, I know just where you can safely wear them without anyone noticing."
Her smile concerns me. A lot.
"Thank you for the generous gift then. I'm certain they couldn't be cheap."
"Only 20 Gold coins each, on account of my status, pretty affordable" she waves off my concerns.
40 grand for storage jewelry? I know it's useful, but that's pretty extravagant.
"She got new this amazing ring" Karl holds up his hand, showing off a Dragon pattern ring in black gold.
"A whole 4 cubic feet of storage too" not bad, that's bigger than my usual camping pack and gear.
"Alright folks, all the town High officials in one spot is causing a traffic jam, how about we split up?" Jake suggests.
"Sure, we can all catch up later before I take Hui'Jin to go visit Alpha Petros."
With that, Karl, Mary and Jake head off towards more food, soon running into Jurgen and the Ramirez Brothers, while Lelou leads us towards the shopping walk to go clothes shopping. Something that she enjoys way too much, though maybe it's just because of the new fashions our local designers have adapted for use with tails.