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About this City Journal

It's something about a city. And a struggle that never happened.

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The Bluejay

Chapter 2: The Bureau

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“What are you doing looking up my skirt! You’re peeping! Skirt peeper, skirt peeper! Constable!”

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Max hastily rolled out from under the bench and away from the threatening umbrella. Fortunately for him, before he had time to say anything, the constable arrived – a tall man in blue who seemed to be about 90% moustache and the rest beady eyes.

“Constable! This – boy! – was peeping at my sensitive undergarments from beneath that bench!” Truthfully, and considering the age of the victim, this was an outlandish claim. Her general appearance was one of propriety and respectability so stiff that one could beat a presumptuous chambermaid with it. The constable turned and considered the strange specimen with spiky hair and a most insufficient suit that was standing – albeit barely - in front of him.

“You’ve no idea where you are, do you boy?”

Max shook his head. He didn’t particularly want to open his mouth at this point – who knows what might have come out. The constable frowned at him.

“It is my consideration, ma’am, that this boy is very recently fallen to the area, and should be excused breaches in conduct pending transportation to the Bureau.”

The Respectable Matron didn’t seem particularly pleased with this development. “These fallen! Why, they get away with absolutely anything around here. It’s victimisation of the cityborn, that’s what it is.”

“Nevertheless, madam.” And that, as far as the constable was concerned, was that. It is fairly difficult to argue with a single “Nevertheless”, after all, and the Respectable Matron secretly relished the opportunity to set this castaway ruffian in exactly the right path. She peered down at the boy, who still looked a little green.

“Come along then, boy. And if you feel suddenly nauseated, for heaven’s sake turn away from me. I do not want some frightful surface disease. Do you have a name?”

Max peeled himself of the ground and told the Respectable Matron that his name was “Max” and then having opened his mouth to speak quickly resolved never to do so again.

“Max, then? Hmm. Latin. It’ll do. Up!” She threatened him with the umbrella again. “I’m taking you to the Bureau. And thank you, Constable” she nodded to the sonorous police officer and bustled away in a cloud of brisk purpose.

“Right” intoned Max, as he attempted to follow the rapidly moving Matron. “The bureau?”

“The Bureau!” corrected the Matron, whose sensitive ears had detected the lack of proper capitalisation immediately. Onto this tram, now - have you not seen one of these before? The Fallen Person’s Bureau. They take in waifs like you and civilise them and” she sniffed, spotting Max’s impending retort “teach you some manners.”

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The tram route took them past the central station, which the Respectable Matron eyed with considerable dislike. Designed by a Fallen, of all things, and so vulgar! All those arches - spires are the thing. Only an uncivilised Fallen would go for arches over the proper Imperial Spires.

“This happens a lot? And where is this place?”

“East Carmine. Yes. Too much, in fact, you people get everywhere. Taking jobs and homes from respectable cityborn, voting for the socialists in our elections. No more questions! The Bureau is just a few stops away; I’m sure they’ll tell you everything you need. “

The tram pulled into Hangman's Way Station.

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It was by now getting on for evening, and the setting sun was casting a tastelessly pink light over the buildings. Sadly, the hue failed to make the Bureau look any less intimidating. Spanning a complex of three separate buildings (with plans afoot to convert the last holdout housing block into yet more office space) civil servants hurried back and forth in frock coats, trailing papers and bewildered people in a colourful variety of clothing. And shapes. Gods, does that one have tentacles?

“The Bureau, they’ll take care of you. Main office in the buildings with the large clock tower, and try and avoid making your way underground. I’ve wasted the whole afternoon taking care of you, and I don’t want to utterly waste it by having you fall victim to the Statues, surface-though-you-may-be.”

“Good evening” she added, before pushing him out of the tram and retiring to her seat, where she could get back to glaring at youth and arches.

"Well." said Max. It about summed everything up.

/plot

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This is where one assumes the Respectable Matron might live. The blocks are comfortable, if a little cramped, but the setting is highly sought after and the nearby terraces have backgardens attached, which is quite a novelty in this New Carnelian. The trains are, however, always late.

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And they are often late due to the students of this very University, in fact. Through either accidents or intentional shenannigans, the university often seems to be at the heart of any disruptions in the city. The academics, of course, claim that this is the price to pay for scientific advances, and they managed to find that woman. Eventually. Orial, as you can see from the modern building lurking behind the campus, intended to set up an office to keep a watchful eye on the actions of the academics, but have ended up with slightly more than they bargained for. Or rather, slightly less, if one considers the notable abscence of intact windows and the curious habit of secretaries to suddenly catch fire or run screaming into the shrubbery. The price to pay!

The Bluejay

Chapter 1: The Fall

They say there are many ways to find your way here. Climb a ladder and don’t stop at the top rung, walk behind the bookshelves you don’t remember, turn a wheel with no axle.

But by far the most common way to get here is to fall. Stairs, potholes, ledges, it doesn’t matter what – something about that sudden lapse of gravity seems to be enough to loosen the ties of your home and you fall right through the floor and up onto the other side. No one is quite sure whether this is the only destination – after all, who would we ask? – but such questions tend to be at the forefront of a select few minds.

They get taken by Orial, those ones.

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The knives, bombs and motorways which make up the politics of Orial are, however, a world ( in fact, several worlds) away from this distinctly average suburban road in a Secular, PLC world with little time for fancies. Instead, it has a succession of cream-and-brown-and shingle bungalows wrapped in sparse hedges, a three-lane road leading nowhere in particular and an exit to the local grammar school where the Sixth Form is taking the opportunity to flit before everyone else. One shabby looking boy with fly-away hair stumbles on his weak ankle and is pulled under by the weight of his rucksack – ah well, it can’t be helped. The luckier teenagers own cars.

Max Lowe is one such teenager, and sure it’s a pile of rust and missing screws but it doesn’t rain inside the car and it keeps the wind out if you’re willing to hold the windows closed. Better than walking along the roadside, certainly, and sometimes friends will actually pay you back for the lifts.

“Huh? - there! It’s him!”

In one of the many corridors of power – this one all smooth white tiles and brushed chrome detailing – a smooth and streamlined PA glides along carrying a copy of the latest External Affairs report, detailing the bribes to be made, laws to flout, money to be channelled and land to acquire.

In the wind, with the hair forming a halo around the head, it looks like him, just for a moment. But it isn’t.

“Hell, Charley, I almost hit a bus. Be more careful when you shriek.”

“I know, I know. It’s just – two weeks! No sign, no clue, no messages, no – no – nothing!” She looked out of the window at the passing trees. “How can someone just disappear like that?”

“Come on, Charley. I know for a fact that the only reason you’re so upset is because he borrowed your biology textbook before he went missing.” As an attempt to lighten the mood, it was a valiant attempt, but ultimately in vain. “I guess...” Max went quiet as he thought, but his reverie was broken by another squawk from Charley.

“Hey! Eyes forward, mister!” Max had drifted the clunker into the path of a traffic island at some speed. Wrenching at the wheel, he swerved with great screeching out the way at almost the last moment, knuckles white, before bringing the car back into line.

“Jesus, Max. I thought you’d killed us both.”

The car lept over a speedbump in the road, sending the pair of them up right into the roof of the car damnit and then down and for some reason Max didn't seem to land back onto the seat. He felt a odd sinking sensation and then

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woke up under a bench in a park, somewhere entirely different.

Introducing New Carnelian

New Carnelian! City of Kings and also of people who are quite lost indeed. They say there's always been a city here, which is odd, considering how much of it hasn't been built yet. I blame the monarchy.

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The centre of the city is famed for its (comparitively) wide, clean streets and the chaotically planned yet wide ranging public transportation system. A previous reforming monarch in the mid 70's decided to completely modernise their capital, terracing the ancient island and building the very best examples of Royal Civic optimism on the highest tier. The tower at the centre houses the Central Post and Telegraph Office, and is responsible for communication with the furthest reaches of the realm.

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That same reformer was responsible for giving up the ancient Tauride Palace to the demands of the citizenry, creating the first elected Parliament East Carmine has ever enjoyed. The lower house, the Commons, meets in the left hand side of the building and the Fellowship of Governors meets on the right. In the centre of the building, directly under the dome, sits the Royal Privy Council, symbolising the unity of people and Government under the benevolent rule of the Rose. The checkpoints, I assure you, are there entirely for your security in these troubled times.

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The old Royal Chapel of St Dunstan, although smaller and less grand than more modern houses of worship, is still surrounded by the old houses for Officers of the Crown and Clergy, and make a very popular and expensive place to live, especially considering the excellent views over the sea on those rare golden afternoons.

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And of course, Orial needs an embassy in the city! Surrounded by protective concrete walls, the embassy exists to coordinate local Orial projects, represent their interests to the Government and act as a first stop for new subscribers from the metropolis. Some have claimed that the building faces away from the city as a symbolic rejection of the authority of the Rose, but I'm sure it's just those lovely sea views.

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A parting night shot of the city. New Carnelian isn't dangerous at night; at least, as long as you stay on the top tier. And why wouldn't you?

The Bluejay

Introduction

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Welcome!

Welcome, all, to East Carmine. With any luck, you'll be here for a while. Or not. It depends on the alleys and rouges, doesn't it?

Founded somewhen, located somewhere, East Carmine is best described as...there. It has natives, but they're sullen and taciturn and, after untold millenia of intentional and unintentional settlement, it's impossible to say what they know, or even when they know. It has cities, but digging underneath them just finds more cities or glass and of stone and of materials so strange and disconcerting that they're covered right back up again. And it has stories. Plenty of stories.

This is but one.

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Chapter 1: The Fall

Chapter 2: The Bureau

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Nominally under the rule of the House of the Rose, reflected in the national flag which flies over the Palace and the Parliament in New Carnelian, the ancient capital on capitals. Queen Leonore, however, has not been seen for quite some time in either institution, and the rule of New Carnelian is weak outside of the heartlands. Situated on the very tip of the central island is the Shining City, Orial's gleaming pile of glass and steel which is causing problems for the crown, and their blue and white orchid is now worn by many a figure. Outside of the central island are the heartlands, where the rule of the House of the Rose is strongest, and Royal decrees extend along the iron strands of the railway network. Further afield, the many small farms and villages of the oldest settlers and even, some say, the indigenous peoples.

It's the perfect situation for someone to take advantage and of course, someone shall, in a plot oriented CJ which I really am making up as I go along. Lets get started!

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