The heavy pattering of rain striking the cobbled streets of Corvallis was outstandingly similar to marbles falling, cracking against the pavement in sharp clacks. In this way, the rain ran its usual course into the vast metropolitan of sewers which stretched through the entire city, so that even the toshers, brave and ingenious as they are, were forced to climb the slime-coated ladders out of the miry cess and take refuge in some far flung area of the city.
The toshers, of course, were far from the mind of all respectable citizens of Corvallis, and above the dark sky and clouded shawl that battered the weathered city of stone palaces and brick terraces, the sun shone as it ever did. Of course, the joke was that the sun shone wherever it could, as long as it could refrain from touching Corvallis, and this would seem to hold a grain of truth, as the wind and rain seemed to adore sweeping through the city, and ominous clouds lost their sinister appearance due to an affirmed regularity. So it was, then, that the Corvallian people wielded lazy umbrellas like swords, and dashed for cover with a remarkable lackadaisical attitude, accustomed to this most inclement of weather. Women flustered with keeping the hems of their gorgeously flowing skirts dry, but complained, on occasion, to those who would listen that it was useless; men, liberated from skirts and dresses, simply had to avoid the puddles, the splash of a tram or coach coming past.
So it was then that Corvallis moved about its daily business. Being midday, the cafes were open, and soft, indolent music could be heard from some, while women laughed and men did business over tea and a scone. Both imported, of course. Tea would never grow this far north, and one would be mad to think the sugar needed for a scone might be made in Corvallis’s borders. Thankfully, the great throngs of people who, from all across the known world, came to Corvallis made up for this. Boutiques and shops were always open for the newest travellers to buy goods from, and the black market was a secret taboo which, rumours claimed, was run by an albino dwarf who heads the begging operations in the city. The police, thankfully, are able to claim with certainty that this is a myth.
From his place in his own private tram carriage, Prime Minister Stevens watched his city flower. Like all good Corvallian people, he had the furtive activities of the night far from his mind, focussing instead on the elegance and sophistication of the day. He watched foreigners mingle as they always had with the city people, and he saw a rather handsome woman trying a fetching hat on through the windows of a clothes store. All of which made him smile the type of smile that is as troubled as it is genuinely pleased, one of those oxymoronic smiles that conveys more than it means, yet not enough. Of course the man was troubled, though. He was on his way to address the Upper Senate, and this was not a business he enjoyed. While not young himself, being forty-four, he was inexplicably terrified of the older, more experienced senators, who filibustered and prevaricated in all ways to distract him from creating any change to Corvallis.
In a deep melancholy, he missed the demurely dressed serving lady enter his carriage with a petite nod, and an anxious gait. It was only at her soft, almost ethereal “begging your pardon, Prime Minister” that he was wrenched from his reflection and brought face to face with a rather homely looking girl of no more than twenty. Round faced and reticent, she held her hair in a blonde bun that was partially covered by a functional hat that matched her red and gold uniform. The uniform itself was a long sweeping dress, ruffled at the skirt, as well as the shoulders, with, when coupled with the soft gloves, ensured that her face was the only skin shown. Stevens reacted with all propriety expected of a Corvallian.
“My dear girl I apologise. Has the driver sent for me? Do you come with important news? Tell me, girl, I am quite afraid I was absent for your arrival, and so you must repeat yourself”.
With a nod, the woman replied, “Prime Minister, the driver wishes to know if you would like to stop at Waterford’s. He asked me to tell you that he is aware your son has a love of his merchandise”.
The Prime Minister smiled - this was a brief problem he quickly dealt with. It was not so much that emotions were frowned upon in day time Corvallis, more so that a lack of control was the issue. Besides, hysteria was for women, who were quite free to giggle and play gay through the streets to their leisure, as long as the business of work was left to the stoic men. “You may tell the driver he will indeed stop. Have my man buy an ounce of fudge, and, if it is of no trouble, you might see to it that it is wrapped. I suspect the whole business will cost no more than a crown.” And with a wave of a white gloved hand, the woman was dismissed.
And the Prime Minister went back to his brooding.
Corvallis is described briefly, while the PM is on his way to the Upper Senate in a private coach.