Today I hiked through several more sims of clutter and mess. I followed the roads for a bit, ending up a bit east of my initial destination. I fear I was so inspired by my initial success that I anticipated a cloistered community of Ladies and Gentlemen hidden around every corner. Instead, I was disappointed to find more of the same garish dance-temples and empty, slapdash cities.
One notable exception was a most singular structure occupying the majority of the sim called Hjalmer. Unlike the surrounding countryside, this area was uniform to a fault. Very large, very grey, and very rectangular, this collection of structures seemed to serve no purpose that I could discern. Yet it possessed a proud, stately, quiet demeanor that somehow drove me to investigate it.
Occasionally, I would chance a glimpse of a man standing atop one of its great, staggered walls. I was forced to shout my hellos at these persons, for they were at such a great distance and height. They seemed disinclined to come any closer, nor would they return my greetings. For a moment, I wondered if they had heard me at all.
Then, in the sapce of an instant, they were upon me. Not just the one or two lone silhouettes I had spotted, but some six men and one heavy vehicle. They surrounded me with their weapons in hand… black, elegant firearms of a design more elaborate and a manufacture more precise than anything I have seen at Ordinal's.
The strangers all wore black, and their bodies were covered from their necks on down, which was a relief. Everything else about these men, however, suggested a vulgar and unrefined manner. Their faces were unkempt and their hair disorderly, and in general they presented a very rakinsh appearence. They swore and they spat, and they did not so much speak as bark guttural commands. They frowned continusouly, and for all their objections, later, about being refered to as "natives," they never once put down their weapons. Civility seemed an alien concept to them.
For a while they pointed their guns at me, uttering their strange, spare words to each other while ignoring my questions. Words like "check," "safety," and "copy," which make no sense to me outside of any context. They all seemed to understand each other, though, for they moved in unison and acted instantly and with like purpose.
Finally, a figure strode forward and commanded these others to stand down. He did not introduce himself, but I learned from the card he gave me that his name was Rico Roizman, and his title was that of "Black Market Wolf." I learned that he was a purveyor of firearms, ammunition, and equipment. From what I could tell, his workmanship was above reproach, as not one single weapon discharged prematurely, locked, or backfired during my visit. However, this apparent quality of manufacture was underlined by a distinct lack of form; every firearm, and indeed, most every object on the premises was plain smooth cylinders and rectangles, colored either pitch-black or the most dismal of greys, and not in the slightest bit decorated.
Our conversation was interrupted more than once by the work that these men were apparently doing. They seemed to spend an inordinate amount of time running to see who had just entered their territory. This made conversation extremely sparse, to say the least.
I learned that these people represented a standing army, and when I asked for what purpose had their countrymen sent them to this location, they replied that they were there to fight other armies. I learned that the oppressive grey structure was called a "military base." It took me quite some time to figure out that the way these men used the term, it was not a garrison or a defensive structure, but rather a single place for militaries to gather and engage each other. (One can speculate that this practice may have come about as a means to settle millitarily disputes between rival nations, without destroying civilian lives and property, which strikes me as remarkably civil, in a barbaric sort of way.) Also, I learned that these men were after something called "frags," which I gather are an important local resource. It is my thinking that frags must be quite scarce, indeed, to be worth dying for.
Any Caledonians interested in the purchase of advanced mainland-style weapons are encouraged to contact Rico Roizman, Black Market Wolf. However, I do not advise a visit to Hjalmer under any circumstances. The view is bleak and depressingly regular, the locals are crude in every conceivable manner except their mode of dress, and deadly battles with firearms are a routine occurrence. A bored noble might send a regiment of hardened soldiers to fight for him only if he is extremely interested in accumulating "frags;" otherwise he would do well to stay at home.