[xquote]The new city's city hall was actually busier than it ever had been. People from all parts of the new city and the outskirts had accumulated in the space of about half an hour. The main hall of the building had a number of pews laid out, the raised platform at the far end acting as a stage. This setup had been used before for musical performances and acting, but not yet for any formal meetings.
Splashy Silve wasn't sure exactly why all of this was going on, but she was pretty sure she could take a guess. She had a pretty creepy dream last night. Normally this wouldn't be of much interest to anyone, except maybe her close friends if her lack of sleep worsened her coffee dependency for a couple of days. But there were two things about it which really got under her skin.
In this dream, there was someone or something trying to get into her apartment. A sharp knocking at the door, nobody in the hallway. A dull thud on her external window, creepily enough, but nobody outside. Dream-Splashy had been lucid enough to figure that sooner or later, this situation would get worse. At that point, it would be better if she was extremely alert. Unfortunately, to reach the fancy coffee machine she would need to leave her room and walk down the hall which may result in sudden death. So she had decided to settle for an instant coffee, and had started boiling her kettle.
“Splaaashyyyy…” a thin, raspy voice had croaked from outside her door. Only a moment had passed, before it happened again. “Splaaaaaaaashyyyyyyyy…“
“Hey, what's up?” Splashy had called back. Sure it was creepy, but she wasn't going to let it get her down. She had already began to suspect that this was just a dream. If she stayed calm, she was confident she could kick the butt of whatever this thing was.
PING! Her kettle had said. She had loaded a heaped teaspoon of coffee into a mug, then eyed the container of sugar next to her. After little extra consideration, she had also added a heaped teaspoon of sugar, then went about completing the coffee.
Splashy had sat back in her lounge, and taken a slow sip of the beverage. That is when the first thing had hit her. The taste was absolutely sensational. It had carried all of the usual pleasures of the first coffee of the day. But this was the first time she had ever had the sense of taste in a dream. She had dreamed of wandering through fields made of cream puffs many times – but never, ever had the pleasure of tasting one of the tiny pastries.
Anyway, the rest of the dream hadn't been all that interesting. The intruder had blown her front door open, Splashy had reached for the massive blade hidden behind her couch, and nothing super exciting from there.
But, the second thing that had bothered Splashy was outside of the dream. She had been sitting towards the middle of the room, slowly sipping through a thermos of coffee and keeping her ear to the ground. By the sounds of the general murmured conversation around the room, she would guess that about half of the citizens of the city had all had fairly vivid scary dreams on the same night. She had even overheard at least two people who had nearly the same dream she had.
There was a creaking noise, signalling that the massive doors at the rear of the hall were being opened. Most people there would have missed it while absorbed in their own conversations, but Splashy was very tuned in to this sort of thing. She turned to watch the new entries to the room.
Tiny and Dust were the first ones to enter, holding the door open for two or three other Wishers who Splashy recognised as being from the outskirts, near where Dust lived. She would have waved, but she knew there was no way they would have seen her where she was sitting. Dust and the others from the outskirts quietly seated themselves towards the rear of the hall, on one of the many pew-like benches throughout the hall.
Tiny whispered something in Dust's ear. Dust nodded quickly, then turned to relay the message to the others from the suburbs. Tiny herself quickly disappeared into a doorway close to the doors, which Splashy knew led up behind the stage. Splashy turned back to watching the stage, casually eavesdropping. She felt her phone vibrate in her pocket, and quickly plucked it out to check what the deal was.
It was from Scary, a semi-retired mad scientist from the old city. He had tried opening a couple of staple-themed cafes over the last few months, but unfortunately there just weren't that many people who were keen on staple-related furniture (admittedly, the chairs had been ridiculously uncomfortable). After the last failure, he had opened up a strange antique shop which didn't really tend to stock anything that Splashy could foresee anyone buying. He had basically disappeared from the public eye for at least two weeks now.
Meet me behind the stage after this. It read, simply. Splashy wasn't sure what to think. The lack of personification suggested that it was probably a group message, but she couldn't figure out why it had been sent out. Could it have some connection to the dreams, or to today's meeting?
As Splashy returned the phone to her pocket, the noise level in the room suddenly dropped tremendously. Her eyes immediately returned to the stage, where four members of the city were now approaching the small lectern, front and centre on the stage.
Tiny led the group, still looking a bit flustered. She couldn't be blamed, she would have had to run really quickly to reach the stage in such good time. Behind her were Lavender, Jilda and Lightning, all three of them smiling and looking really proud of themselves. Now this, Splashy couldn't decipher. Though everybody in the small group did get along well, it appeared to be a group of four completely random Wishers. She couldn't put her finger on why they would be addressing everyone together.
“Good morning, fellow Wishers,” Tiny opened, looking uncomfortable with her role. “We wanted to bring you all here today to make a very exciting announcement.” She turned and signalled for the others to approach the lectern instead, making a very speedy retreat to stand behind them.
Lightning glanced at Jilda, who glanced at Lavender. Lavender in turn glanced back at Lightning, who paused for a moment, before glancing back at Lavender. They both turned to Jilda, who looked for a moment like she wasn't sure where to look, but shrugged and stepped up to the microphone on the lectern.
“Hello everyone, I hope you've had a great morning!” Jilda started, with a slightly uncertain, but generally charismatic tone. “So, no doubt everyone here has heard about the new TV series that's going to be launched next week?”
There was a general murmur of agreement around the crowd. It was going to be a Warriors Wish sensation, for sure. When they had all moved to the new city, Hawkfrost, their old arch-nemesis, had made a desperate attempt to take over the city. However, the then-mad scientists of the city had stood up to him, kicked his butt, and shipped him off to a tiny island in the middle of the ocean.
A group of brave Wishers had travelled out to the aptly-named “Hawkfrost Island”, and made a documentary about his day-to-day island life from the safest distance possible. Despite the fact that he had clearly gone stark raving mad in his isolation, apparently he had some kind of bizarre schedule going on. At the same time every single morning, he would have breakfast. Not much more had been said, but it sounded pretty interesting.
“Basically, we've decided that we can't force you good people to wait another week for it. So the start date has been moved a bit ahead of schedule, to…” Jilda wasn't wearing a watch, but she glanced at her wrist for dramatic effect, trailing off in her sentence. The whole room was in dead silence as she pretended to check the time. After what seemed like forever, she raised her head again. “Two hours from now.”
There was a general excited buzz around the hall as everyone discussed the news. Splashy took a long sip of her coffee, partly because she was worried it would get cold and partly because coffee is great.
“The RB cafe is getting ready for a pre-launch party right now,” Lightning announced, taking the lectern. “Free drinks for the next half hour, get over there right away!” Everyone leaped straight out of their seats, not bothering to wait for any form of debrief, making a beeline for the doors leading back to the main street.
Lavender took the mic to add a final statement. “Hawk this way! It'll be a really chill time!” Unfortunately, the pun was lost in space. Watching everyone walk away, she added “Well that was hawkward.”
“Really? We really have to have the puns?” Lightning groaned.
“Thanks for the help,” Tiny cut in, re-approaching the trio, turning off the mic and lowering her voice. Splashy was still among the crowd, but unfortunately the rest of their conversation was out of earshot. She noticed there were still a few people around the place, mostly checking their phones. Splashy figured she would bide her time until most of the people there had left, then just make for the rooms behind the stage.
On the stage, Tiny was talking to the rest of the Hawkfrost Show last-minute-hype team. “I had no idea how I was going to keep everyone's attention off those creepy dreams.” She admitted.
“It's fine,” Jilda said, speaking for the three of them. “Luckily, editing the series is way ahead of schedule. Do we get to find out what this is all about?”
“Sorry, I'm not really sure either. I was just asked if I could help get everyone distracted for the time being. As soon as I know more I'll let you know.” Tiny made a very quick escape for a door on the side of the hall, leading away from the stage and the main room. “I'll see you later!”
Once she had left, the others turned to each other, slightly bemused.
“Should we head for the RB?” Lightning asked to get some conversation going.
“Oh, definitely,” Lavender replied instantly. “I have a whole host of Hawkfrost puns ready to go.”