A Few Moments of Wonder
On a day when the light is as beautiful as a dream and the city is as perfect as a picture, the famed jeweler and former guildmistress, Joscelin Arterius, vanishes from the city
The afternoon is an average one in Arx. There's the noise in the market as various merchants hawk their wares, punctuated by the occasional angry shouting over someone trying to charge too much or pay too little. There's a brawl or two in the Lower Boroughs, as there always seems to be. All the thousand little tensions grievances that make up everyday life are well in evidence.
Merchant Road, just east of the market, is the first place anyone notices the odd way the sunlight seems to fall just perfectly to illuminate the world. Everything is a little brighter, a little more crisp, like when the sun first comes out after a torrential rain. The way the sunlight glimmers off of a beside a water barrel, the thousand tiny constellations they can see in the way the stones are laid out in the street, and the way the uneven surface of poorly-laid shingles on the roof of one building seems less like shoddy worksmanship and more like natural growth. The sky, too, is the brilliant hue normally only seen in dreams; the sunlight across the clouds tints them in a dozen different pale watercolor shades.
Others in the city notice it as well, within minutes. The way the light catches on the statue in Alarice Plaza, and for an instant the sculpted metal hair is as brilliant as the queen's silver-and-gold tresses were said to be in life; the statue seems, just for an instant, to smile. The way the sight of the Great Cathedral in the afternoon sun suddenly makes one's breath catch, the light shining from behind the bell tower with a beauty to make the heart ache to hold on to it forever.
The world seems as perfect as the greatest painting; even the mundane bits of the city rendered as fascinating as even the greatest bit of jewelry. More than a few of the citizens stop whatever they're doing, taking the time to look at the world around them with a renewed sense of awe. In times of unrest and strife, it's all too easy to forget how beautiful the world can truly be.
But that perfect light fades all too soon, and the city is once again what it always is. Life continues as it was before, and people resume whatever they were doing before. But perhaps, just for a little while, people move through the world with a bit more wonder in their heart than they had before.
It isn't until evening falls that word spreads: Joscelin Arterius, the former guildmaster of the Crafters Guild, is nowhere to be found. No one knows quite where, or why; people seem to have a dozen different stories of seeing her leave. She walked down to the docks to take a ship. She walked out the Seawatch Gate and into the Gray Forest. She walked into her shop and simply never came out.
The only thing they all agree on is that wherever the famed jeweler went, she went willingly, her children beside her and a smile on her face as perfect as the light that had touched the city earlier.
The clouded skies over Arx turn dark for a moment, as something seems to move in the clouds. Many in Arx explain it as possibly a strange trick of storm clouds, though the clouds are fairly white, and there doesn't seem to be much risk of rain.