Author's Note: I will be posting early and short, because today I am going to take it easy, but I couldn't leave my readers hanging any longer... well, you'll see.
Minakas was being a poop. He said he was going to get me a knife… my first real knife an’ teach me to use it, instead of a stupid old stick. It was just ‘no. no. no. All the time.’ So when he said I should go to Gannara I grabbed Kefas and dragged him behind me, sniffling, to see if he’d notice but he didn’t. He just chewed on his pen some more.
Gannara was at the other end of the ship and I had to go past the gangway an’ it was out and the guy guarding it wasn’t looking, he was waving at someone on the dock. So I walked down the plank and along the dock and nobody saw me.
I was going to find a market all by myself and buy a knife like they said.
I stopped and watched four people in a walking-wheel crane lift a bunch of barrels on a pallet right over my head into the next ship, then turn and face the other direction in the wheel to lower it down. I chased some of the seagulls because they were lookin’ at me, kicked a stone all along the street and poked a stick into a puddle that had some purple and green scum floating on top like a soap-bubble.
It was noisy like a market and I squished against a wall to let a big wagon rumble by. Lots and lots of big horses on the one wagon and they had big, hairy feet. The wagon wheels were taller n’ Minis. Minakas. The poop.
I asked a woman with a big sack on her back where the market was, but she didn’t understand me and waved me away with one hand, even though I was polite and said it equal to equal. Oh. Yeah. I guess I should use Enchian, not Arkan.
There were a bunch of walking haystacks all over the place and I realized they were people when I saw a hand come out and hold onto a little black boy’s hand. Maybe his nurse.
The grown-up men I could see were all standing on raised stone pedestals with silks and lots of perfume I could smell. Whistling and calling to people going by. All fancy and showing off their muscles to the women as if the women were important. A lot of kissy faces and kissing hand waving, waving people to come closer.
Most people were black, or brown, and mostly women. A gang of little girls ran by, playing pirates, with wooden swords.
There were players in this big park, fire-breathers and I watched a big girl with a trained monkey and a… I guess the haystacks are all veils… some man with a veil so thin it almost wasn’t there, dancing. They had a big ol’ Great Hound and a tiny little pony smaller than the dog that made me think of my donkey. The one Minakas got me.
“Hey there, little one,” someone was addressing me. He was one of the silky men. He spoke to me in Enchian, so I tried to answer him politely. “Hello, Ser.”
“I’ve watched you, little sweetheart. Where’s your mother? Where’s your…” he said a word I didn’t recognize.
“Don’t have a mother.”
“Are you by yourself?”
“I’m going to the market. My brother promised to buy me a knife! My first knife and then he kept saying no no. So I’m going by myself!”
“Your brother. Is he around?”
“No. Ser, can you tell me where the market is?” He looked back over his shoulder at a big woman in armour standing outside one of the pillared houses. He held out his hand to me.
“I tell you what, sweetheart,” he said. I wasn’t sure I liked his voice going like that, like I was an animal he was trying to catch. “Why don’t you come over to that house with me, and I can let my guard know where I’m going—and I’ll show you myself.”
I didn’t answer right away and he leaned toward me, reaching with his big hand. “Or perhaps you’re thirsty? You could have some cordial before we go to the market.”
“I really shouldn’t go with strangers,” I said. I got up from the ground. Both the man and the guard were looking at me and I started to get a bad feeling. He smiled too big at me. And she wasn’t doing anything.
“Guard! This person is bothering me!” He grinned and glanced at her, and she didn’t move. Maybe she didn’t speak Enchian.
“She knows I’m only looking to help a lost little boy.” He didn’t ask my name. He just wanted to know if I was by myself.
“Come along, laddie, you shouldn’t be wandering around all alone like this.”
Was he sweating? But everybody understood ‘SOSAS! Myda-e!” Both words for help in two different languages and she still didn’t move. When I shifted from one foot to another he grabbed for me and I jumped back and he only caught Kefas by one arm and I yelled, “LET GO!” The woman guard got up and I yelled to her for help again but she just grinned at me when he tried to pull me in and grabbed with his other hand and I ducked like it was 2nd Amitzas. “Kefas, RUN!”
The man had him and the guard was coming, but she wasn’t coming to help me, she said some stuff in Hyerne. Talking to him, not me. I yanked as hard as I could and Kefas’s arm ripped off and I ran. They both shouted, mad. They were bad. They were bad people.
I ran and ran, straight under the big dog and around the dancer, under a wagon, then into an alleyway.