Characters: Daroga, Erik
Notes: Pre-novel days, the meeting of Erik and the Persian.
If the world were a tapestry, and all its varied people threads running together through the countless interactions of life, Nizny-Novgorod would have a pattern uniquely its own, and made up of threads seemingly from every corner of the earth and with every color and design. Russian farmers and politicians, with their long beards and large coats, European businessmen and tourists shouting to make themselves understood, traders from Asia and the Middle East, trails of servants, carts full of peasants, all taking advantage of the city’s reputation as a center of trade and commerce.
But for some, the draw and attraction of the city did not end in the marketplaces and factories. Side streets led into muddy courtyards which led into twisting alleys and staircases. Along these paths were rows of packed public houses and dingy storehouses, cafes, market stalls, even carts attended by round-shouldered old men who hawked their wares during the daylight hours and wheeled them into a corner at night. Along the walls and on the occasional lamp post were posters advertising the various attractions to be found in the city, ranging in legitimacy and legality. One of these posters described a great magician, whose show “removed the barrier between life and death.” “Come and witness amazing feats which no other magician DARES to attempt!” the poster proclaimed.
These posters eventually led to a muddier, dimmer section of town where several boarding houses boarded on a grassy lot. At the edge of this lot a large tent had been erected, and despite its humble surroundings, it managed to give off a gaudy, vibrant vibe, which clearly proclaimed it the tent of an entertainer. It being too early in the day for a performance, the street was relatively deserted, except for an old lady sitting on the steps of one of the lodging houses, peeling potatoes.