Sacripant Fenswater awoke to the sound of the great bells of Talossa tolling and groaned. Shutting his eyes, he did his best to try sleep again, but it was hopeless. Rest escaped him, in the manner of his uncle's little pug dog when Sacripant was on orders to try and clean it. He would appear to be on the verge of holding it in his hands, only to have it slip away.
He gave a frustrated yawn. He knew he was tired now--he was getting poetic. And nostalgic. But the bell kept ringing, and so Sacripant rose from the too-lumpy mattress and changed into his uniform.
The ringing finally stopped as he fastened on his cloak. Sacripant scowled. He blamed being a country boy for not getting how these city dwellers allowed their lives to be ruled by the clanging of bells and the rules of strange fellowships. In Valse, your parents woke you in the morning, and then you fished.
Because everybody in Valse had parents, and fished. It was exciting, but it was regular.
Talossa was different. The Guilds were everywhere. The Great Bells rang on their appointed hours, and men and women lived by them. Sacripant had never seen anything like it. Not even in the Folly, with its clubs and sworn brotherhoods. Compared to Talossa, the Folly seemed a simple place.
He'd been here almost a week, and he still had not seen the Ancients. Indeed he was still saying in the Lamplighter's home, despite promises that he would be moved to a more private set of rooms, promises that never varied in their pleasantness, in their vagueness, and indeed, in their very language.
"Hello, Mr. Fenswater," said the Lamplighter's wife as he came down the stairs. "The oatmeal's ready, if you'd like it. Apples and raisins."
"Thank you, Monica," he said. He glanced around. "Where's Nathan?"
"Sleeping," she answered. "He had a late night."
"How can he sleep through that?" asked Sacripant as he took a seat.
"You're not the first person to ask that," she answered ruefully. "I think it's a family trait. Lamplighters, five generations back." She sighed. "He warned me it was a strange life, but I was smitten."
"Well, make damn sure he realizes he's a lucky man," noted Sacripant.
"Rest assured, I do," she said with a smirk.