Nine Years Later
“Six shillings for a piece of bread!?” I yell at the stand manager.
“Hey boy! So many people have gotten caught up in the army, so that His Majesty, can take over the Fire clan and Ice clan. I can’t help it! If you aren’t payin’ then get the hell out of my stall!” the old fart demanded. I grumble and fork over my money. I grab my bread, and head out into the streets. I look for a spot to sit down, but I notice a twinkle in the corner of my eye.
I turn around and I find myself staring at a blacksmith’s stand. I shove my bread in my handy knapsack and head over. My hair flickers behind me like fire in the wind.
“Hellu there young lassie, ye looking for anythin’ in particular?” The black smith’s musty breath fills my nose and I cough.
“Yeah, I was wondering if you had any daggers?” The blacksmith points to the edge of the table.
“Them daggers are old, but I just worked on em yesterday. It’s a pair, with em’ fire symbols. You ain’t want them Fire folks to see you have it.” I study the pair. Silver bladed, with a symbol engraved on the hilt. I reach into my pocket and pull out my money bag and pull out a silver.
“This should be enough right?” He holds out his hand for more. “Bullshit.”
“Fine, I need to get rid of em’ anyways.” I flip the coin to him, and and take the daggers.
“Pleasure doing buisness with ye.” The blacksmith grins, and I see his black teeth shine. I cringe, and step back. I bump into a boy with a messy pony tail trailing behind him.
“Sorry mate!” I run-walk back home to show Elis my findings. Elis is my foster brother. My real parents? I never knew them. I’m the girl with the forgotten past. Elis is the only family figure that I remember, even if we aren’t blood.
“El! El! I found something amazing!” I burst into the room. My brother rolls over on the couch and falls off.
“I got off the couch so it better be important,” he grumbled sarcastically.
I grin proudly, and hold out the knife. Its blade glimmers under the flickering light bulb. His eyes widen and a foxy grin slips on his face. And then I slowly reveal the bread in my bag. His eyes drool and our stomachs talk.
Our laughter echoes in our underground hideout.
“Ze, what time is it?”
“Time for you to start making dinner.”
“Soup sounds good, now that we have this lovely baby here,” he stokes the loaf in a romantic manner.
“Sounds great!” I chuckle and head over to my room and lounge on my bed as Elis makes supper.
The full moon strikes a light through the cracks of the curtains. I slip on trousers and a tank top. My suspenders snap in place and I slip on my boots.
I spin around and find Elis glaring at me.
“Zeliana. Rockwell. Where do you think you’re going at this hour?” His stare pierces my skin, leaving chills.
“Um, erm, well you see, I um-” My voice is mustered and the words barely form on my lips out of nervousness.
“You were going to the burrow right?”
“Yeah, but I was just-“
“Just going to see some friends? Poppycock! I can tell when you’re lying, and you know I wouldn’t have minded us going to the arena. A bit of sport isn’t bad now and then, but you didn’t, did you?”
My nerves begins to tremble and my feet are rooted to the ground. Using all of my strength I could muster, I nodded. My lips quivering
“Gods, you could’ve just told me, but I’ve really disappointed in ya.”
“Sorry.” My voice is barely audible. “I’m really sorry. I just-” I choke back my tears, “I just wanted to get some money, seeing at how hard you have to work everyday. I can’t stand not doing anything!” I’m breathless by now.
“Gods Ze, when you put it like that-” he let out an exasperated sigh. “Fine.”
“What?” I’m completely befuddled.
“I’m saying that you can go to the burrow!”
“By the love of Gods!!! Thank you! You’re the best brother ever! I could-”
He holds up his finger to shush me, and an eyebrow is raised crookedly.
“But, on one condition. Be home in a couple hours!” I nod, and rush out down the street, prancing to the raddest place in all Ziore. The Burrow. My heart begins to race, and the wind is breezing into my face.
The market is buzzing to life. Lights are strung on trees and lines, making the place come to life. The cobblestone road is trampled by people and stalls.
Ah, the night market life is my thing.
I glance around to scope out the people. A girl a couple feet away from me was wearing trousers and a tanktop underneath a weathered leather jacket. Her auburn boots made her pants tuck in and poof at the rim. But her hair. Her hair was another story. It was a strawberry light brown with, well I’m guessing, natural ringlets that the ends, that was pulled into a messy ponytail. She looked nice.
Nice enough to flirt with. I walk over to a bar stand and buy her a cocktail, Porcupine Sunset. I buy a beer for myself, and head over to the butterfly.
“Hey there strawberry.” a cocky smile pulls over my face as I casually slide her the cocktail. She stares at me, in disgust. Wait did I do something wrong? Did she come here with a guy? Shit.
“Sweet cheeks you’re gonna need something more intense than that flimsy cocktail to win me over. How bout a nice round of shots?” A coy and playful smile spreads across her face while she plays with her hair. A cackle of a laugh slips through my lips, and her smile becomes more at ease. We head over to a dimmed bar on the side, arms linked. It looked as if we had known each other since forever.
A round of shots slides towards us, as the my new friends turns towards me.
“1. I’m not interested in a lover, but we can still be friends.”
I nod. Awkwardness clouds my eyes.
“2. My name is Rosaline Everight. And yours?” One of her eyebrows is cocked at an angle.
“Um-yeah. My name is Zeliana with no last name.” I stuttered. Gods Z. You act all confident and bold towards people, but when people do it back you become all goofy tongue. Good going.
Her striking giggle echoes in my ears. “Well then Zeliana with no last name,” she pauses to takes her last shot in a big swig, “shall we escape this barred place and explore the ventures of this night market?”
My shoulders ease a little and I become more relaxed. “We shall!” I return the mischievous grin. Well Ze, don’t mess this friendship like you did with all the others. This was sure to be an exciting night.
We head over to a tiny stand filled with antiques. There are sweet little tea cups adorned with flower patterns. And lights bulbs hang from the canopy’s roof. They reminded me of little stars that dangle in the air. The stand was also filled with woodworks that would spin around and make gay laughter erupt from a baby’s mouth. The stand owner gazes at me. He’s an old man, with the hit of kindness twinkling in his eyes.
“Your eyes linger for something. Perhaps a light would show you the way.” His eyes smile as he reveals a tiny light bulb with a shining star inside. It was as if the star was calling to me. As if I actually needed it.
“How much?” My own voice shocked me. What are you thinking? You don’t need useless trinkets!!! Well I mean it is very pretty and would be nice. Okay but hear me out. Money issues. Yeah, but we can get back to that when we hear the price. I snap out of it, and snap my attention back to the seller.
“For you young lady, a copper for 5 lights.” A gentle smile is quirked at the ends of his lips.
Damn. That was cheap. Fine. You win.
I slide a copper over and take 5 lights. Two had stars, another two had crescent moons. Whereas another had a cluster of tiny stars in a swirl. I never knew how much these lights would come in handy. I wrap them in a cloth and slip them into my knapsack. I turn back to Rosaline, and find her staring back at me.
“Come on! I know this other cool place Ze! I can call you Ze right? Cool!” I follow her half light jog, half dragged. After a bit, I find myself staring down a narrow alley with lights strung on the side.
“Uh, Rosaline, are you sure this is a good place?”
“Of course! I go here all the time! Just listen to the laughter!”
I keen my senses and listen. Faint laughter and playful shouts are distant, but still there. I shrug. It can’t be that bad right?
We step into the ally and glide down the path towards who knows what.