There are ships sailing to many ports, but not a single one goes where life is not painful. Soon I too will depart, but it is what I leave behind that troubles me most.
-Igos Du Ikana, King of Ikana
South Clock Town was buzzing with activity, despite being closed off to the general public for the day. Carpenters scurried left and right in a disorganized frenzy, attempting to cobble together some semblance of a parade path worthy of Ikana’s royal procession, which would be coming into town later that very day. Normally Clock Town’s administration was incredibly meticulous with making sure projects were completed in a timely manner, often weeks in advance to ensure things ran smoothly when the organizational nightmare that was the Carnival of Time came around. This particular task, however, had only been assigned just yesterday, when an emissary from Ikana appeared in the mayor’s office for the first time in 25 years carrying a parcel bearing the Prince of Ikana’s royal seal.
News of the Prince’s arrival spread quickly, and it wasn’t long before Mayor Dotour’s office was full of “interested parties” demanding to know why Ikana had suddenly decided to open their borders after all this time. Dotour nonetheless stymied all attempts to grill him for details, revealing only the following facts: the Ikana would be arriving tomorrow to begin negotiations, but the Prince would not be making a public appearance until the day after, when he will be giving a speech of some kind. Dotour then closed his office to all guests without an appointment and set about making his own preparations.
The other districts were busy in their own right, even with the carnival still three days off. Most of the celebration had arrived early, it seemed, and one could seldom walk five paces without bumping into a befuddled tourist hopelessly lost in the crowds. West Clock Town, much to the annoyance of the merchants already operating in the area, had become besieged by peddlers of all shapes, sizes, and varying levels of legitimacy as they desperately tried to squeeze as many rupees as possible out of hapless passerby. Amidst the ramshackle stalls stocked with trinkets, confections, and souvenirs, a few rare treasures could be found hiding in the rough; however, such a claim could’ve been a myth perpetuated by the merchants themselves to draw foolish “treasure hunters” to their gauntlet of aggressive advertising, but this is a truth best left resolved by the individual.
North Clock Town, despite being a quiet park for most of the year, was much of the same. Preferring the soft dirt and fresh cut grass of the northern district, the many Deku Scrub merchants in town for the Carnival preferred to set up shop there as opposed to the much more competitive atmosphere of West Clock Town. This had become something of a nuisance for the rest of Clock Town, as the northern park had always been a popular picnicking spot, especially around the Carnival of Time. For obvious reasons, a bunch of plant-men chattering about title deeds and offering you bargain prices on miracle medicines wasn’t exactly the most enjoyable back-drop for a carefree afternoon at the park, so the district had been carefully divided up to keep the picnickers and the scrubs as far away from each other as possible.
East Clock Town, the entertainment district, seemed to be the busiest of them all. As far as the eye could see (which was admittedly not that far considering Clock Town was surrounded by large walls), performances and games stretched all around the district, drawing crowds and lines that seemed to pile up in the center of the district as a huge chaotic mass of people all struggling to keep their spot in line or catch a glimpse of some talent act. The few unfortunate musicians scattered here and there struggled be heard over the competing acts, unable to shout over the sporadic eruptions of applause and screams of joy or defeat coming from all ends of the district. The unfortunate overworked Clock Soldiers did their very best to keep things under control all over town, but the odds were certainly against them. It was truly sad to see a lone, flustered guard in the center of a ring of tourists and townsfolk complaining about some issue or asking for directions or, perhaps most egregiously, the time of day (if there is one thing Clock Town has no shortage of, it’s clocks).
Gathered outside the western gate was what had colloquially been dubbed the “tent city” by most of the townsfolk. Especially around the Carnival of Time, space inside of Clock Town filled up quickly for merchants, performers, and other entrepreneurs; in order to fairly divide up the space for visitors, Mayor Dotour’s office required all interested merchants to apply for business permits that would reserve them space during the carnival season. These permits were not only expensive, but also sold out quickly and required applicants to abide by certain standards of operation in order to keep their spots. These operating standards, set forth by the Mayor’s office, were put in place to counteract a rising trend of rigged carnival games and poor quality merchandise plaguing the carnival for some time, and were generally positively received by much of the public. All those who could not acquire a permit were forbidden from conducting any sort of business inside the city walls, and as such, the tent city was born of these misfit merchants.
About as large as one of the districts but perhaps a little less crowded, the tent city is an entirely different world from the rest of the carnival, despite ostensibly looking somewhat innocent. Among the sprawling rows of tents and sheds thrived a certain seedy, nefarious element. No guards patrolled the tent city, as it wasn’t technically part of Clock Town; as such, thieves and swindlers made their homes among the tents. Honest merchants could be found here and there, but any shopkeeper worth their salt would never dream of bringing their precious wares into the tent city without some line of defense against the rogues that called it their home, usually in the form of armed guards or a very prominently displayed weapon hanging from their belts at all times. This temporary village was home to the outcasts and the scoundrels, and most everyone in Clock Town was glad that they only had to suffer the eccentric “boons” of the tent city for a week or two each year.