Christopher Key, chapter one scene 2 (roughly)

It was easy to inch down the shaft, his back against a wall and his feet against the opposite wall. Moments later he let himself out the servant’s backdoor.
Out into the city he’d watched so long from third-floor windows, through chinks in magic-locked shutters, drawn by the cheer and freedom of the crowds. Now that he was finally down in it, the bustle left him bewildered and delighted. So many strangers! He bounced from foot to foot. And so much noise today. It was the hubbub of a festival day, not just the ordinary sounds of street hawkers, horses and cattle, doves burbling, and from high above, the deep roars of the winged lions and hippogriffs of the city cavalry. The sound of wings. The riders of the royal messenger corps had quick little pegasi, that could corner and dart like swallows. Boys his age worked as message-riders. All you needed was to be young and light and brave. Riding a winged horse was one of his ambitions. Maybe someday.
Nobody paid him any attention. Or no—a girl hurrying past gave him a second look and a smile. A woman at a toy-booth handed him a cunning folded-paper bird, just for pausing to admire her display of tin soldiers. He supposed his sunny mood showed in his face. It might even be catching.
A little girl running through the crowd collided with Christopher’s leg, hugged it, and burst out in torrents of giggles. A moment later her mother appeared and collared her, scolding. But for Christopher she had a nod and a word of thanks. He said something back, and she said, “Good work, my lad.”
Looking back over his life, this was the first time he’d ever spoken to a woman.
Yes—his guardians were bachelors, unmarried men every one, and kept strictly masculine households. They took no women into their service, and never had girl-apprentices. Christopher had never wondered about that before.
If you never had adventures, everything new could be like one. Just talking with a woman could be like an adventure straight out of one of his books.
He’d spent his whole childhood with his nose in a book. That was as close as he ever got to excitement.
It had been over a year since the last time he’d managed to escape, and that had been from a manor in the countryside—adventurous surroundings, but far less amazing than this, the king’s own city, capital of all Everie. He’d been very young then, and set out with his favorite books tied up in a blanket, bacon sandwiches and apples, and wild dreams of becoming a highwayman. He hadn’t got far, but never mind: he’d done well for thirteen.
Today, if he kept on his toes, he’d see the knights and the procession before Master Ward caught up with him.
The route to Royal Avenue was in a map in his copy of Old Almanac-Keeper’s Book of Days. He’d memorized it. He nipped through gaps in the crowd, crossing streets—almost getting run over by a coach once—and getting jostled by dozens of other people bound for the same destination. Everyone was cheerful. Roast chestnuts were for sale on every corner, and paper cones of sweet fry-candy with syrup.
A girl selling dumplings out of a stove on wheels winked at him. “Want one? For you, I’d charge a kiss.”
She was pretty, with long ringlets just like a ragdoll’s orange yarn hair. “I’m Christopher,” he said.
“I’m Loosestrife.”
“Really?”
Was that even a name?
“Never mind what my mother named me, it’s a dark secret too horrible to ever expose. I’m attending the Rainbows.” The Rainbows was the city university. Christopher made a face, and the girl made a face back at him. “It’s not bad, I like it. I’m taking astrology and rhetoric. How about you?”
Before he could answer, a long mellow blare of trumpets ahead made him jerk around and start to run. She shouted after him: “Come back later, y’hear?”
Christopher dodged down the street, wild with excitement. Around a corner. The mellow blare of trumpets was overwhelming, dizzying. There was such a squeeze of people now that he couldn’t even breathe. Or see a thing. He needed to do something about that. Well, other boys were shinnying up the massive iron rain-chains of businesses fronting onto Royal Avenue; people on balconies leaned out, giving them a hand to climb higher. Two burly merchants joined hands to make a sling, said, “Get on, boy!” and tossed him up above the crowd.
He caught a rain-chain, hooked his elbow through a huge link, and wedged his shoes into two more links. The links were ornamental, wrought in the shape of hooped halberds-and-helmets. They had been wound with ropes of flowers, in honor of the procession. He almost stopped to admire them, but then one of the burly merchants hurled an apple at his head and he had to catch it and wave it at them in thanks.
He shoved it down the front of his shirt, and began to climb.

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