Monday, July 6, 2009

Senta and the Steel Dragon - Hexagon Park

One of the most famous places in the capital city of Greater Brechalon is Hexagon Park.

Pushing herself regretfully away from the glass, and leaving two hand smudges, a forehead smudge, and a nose smudge, Senta ran across Prince Tybalt Boulevard, which crossed perpendicularly, making a “T” at the end of Avenue Phoenix. She ran in a zigzag motion to avoid being run over by any of the numerous steam carriages which whizzed by. Several of them honked at her with a loud ‘ah-oogah’ but none of them ran over her. And then she stood at last on the edge of Hexagon Park. Senta had no idea that Hexagon Park was so named because of its six sided shape. She didn’t even know what a hexagon was. She did not realize that Hexagon Park was the exact same size and shape as the Great Plaza, where CafĂ© Carlo was located. To her, the park had always seemed so much larger. Nor did she know that the park, the plaza, and the rest of the “Old City” had been laid out and marked, using a stick dragged through the dirt, by Magnus the Great, the King of the Zur, when he had conquered the continent almost nineteen hundred years before.

Hexagon Park was lovely in the spring. This eight hundred yard diameter wonderland was filled with delights. At the south end, to Senta’s right, the park was carefully cultivated, with large rose gardens, numerous small beds full of colorful annuals, ancient fountains spraying water from the mouths of mythical animals or pouring water from pitchers carried by statues of naked women, abundant fruit trees now in bloom behind their own little wrought iron fences, and still reflecting pools filled with tadpoles. At the north end, to Senta’s left, the park was kept more natural, with large expanses of beautifully green grass, large shade trees, now filled with more than enough leaves to do their duty, winding pathways, and small ponds full of colorful fish. Senta headed for the center of the park, following the flagstone path that led to the central courtyard. Here was a small amphitheater, a series of park benches arranged around a mosaic map of the kingdom inlaid in the pavement, and the wonderful, wonderful steam-powered calliope, which played joyful music from mid-morning to mid-afternoon.

The calliope, which had been between songs as Senta walked through the park, began toot-toot-tooting the next tune, just as she arrived in the center courtyard. Senta had heard this tune many times, though she didn’t know its name. It was lively and bouncy and made her feel even more like skipping than she usually did. The growls of hunger from her stomach overcame the urge to skip down the paths of the park though, so she sat down on one of the benches, unwrapped her red plaid bindle, opened the wax paper, and stuffed her sandwich into her mouth. Mouth watering with each bite of the course bread, the salty ham, and the tangy brown mustard, she had finished off more than half of it before she stopped to take a breath and to look around her.

There were numerous people in the park, walking down the paths, admiring the flowers, and lying on the large swaths of green grass. Several small boys, about five or six years old, tried to catch tadpoles in the reflecting pool some forty yards away. There were relatively few people in the central courtyard though. The calliope man was there, making small adjustments to the great machine. It was a large, square, red wagon upon four white wood-spoked wheels, with a shining brass steam engine, which bristling with hundreds of large and small brass pipes, each spitting steam in turn to create the wonderful music. A young man in his twenties—nicely dressed but not obviously rich—sat reading a newspaper while he ate fish and chips from a newspaper cone, which he had no doubt purchased from a vending cart just outside the park boundaries. On the bench closest to the one on which Senta sat eating, was an older man in a shabby brown overcoat. He was tossing bits of bread to several of the foot-tall flying reptiles that could be found just about everywhere in the city. Unlike birds—tending in these parts to be smaller—which hopped along when not in flight, these fuzzy, large-headed reptiles ran from bread crumb to bread crumb, in a waddling motion, with their bat-like wings outstretched.

The name and shape of Hexagon park is a nod to my background of role-playing, having drawn many maps on hexagon paper.

No comments: