This little tale started itself about a dozen years ago. It was originally a one page background for a D&D character. Then came a dream or three which added so much more. Life & Death interfered for many years. I’ve begun dreaming of the tale again, recently. This will eventually be a book, I hope.
This is the first public ‘showing’ of my scribblings. Please tell me what you think!
my Heartfelt Thanks to Pfiore8, DianeW and Cronesense for their many words of encouragement & inspiration…
Especial Thanks to ek…for making this readable…
And last but certainly not least…
Thank You buhdy! I Love this place.
This never would have seen the light in orange.
The Street of Thieves is on the first tier of the City of Colours, just above the horseboys, herders, and herbwomen. Permits for the Bazaar are sold there, for buying and selling; or goods can be appraised. The street of thieves is also the best place to go for information. From local necessities such as who’s selling at the Bazaar, and where, to news from distant cities and sometimes countries, the latest information can be had …for a price.
Glittering gates line the left side of the street, most shining with silver, seemingly made of lace. Closer inspection reveals they are finely wrought from iron or some other metal. Near the center one stands out, being more ornate, having finely drawn lines akin to spiders web. Just past this the mountain falls back a way and in the recess formed is an almost indistinguishable gate of black iron partially covered by vines.
A’drui slips out of the gate closely followed by a smaller model of himself. The boys are dressed in their finest clothing for the Celebration of Life, their faces and curls gleaming from the recent encounter with the wash basin.
After glancing up and down the street to map the best path, A’drui makes his way up the wide ramp that has been worn smooth by the passage of millions of feet, passing in and out of the dappled sunlight that beams through the vine laden collonade. He holds the hand of his little brother tightly, so he won’t wander off in the crowds. A silver to spend, and two whole days to do it in, is worth putting up with A’klym. The Celebration is only on its second day, the selection at the Bazaar should still be good.
They make their way up the ramp to the second tier, where the Street of Artisans begins. This is where local craftspeople make and sell their wares by special order. Traveling artisans can barter, or pay, for lodging in spare caves deep within the mountain. The boys wander in and out of the shops they know so well, looking at the commissioned wares. At the turn to the third tier, halfway up the Street of Artisans, they pause before Rauli the baker’s, drinking in the aroma that wafts from the shop.
“Can we get a sticky?” A’klym begs. The smell of the sweet treats tempt A’drui and he ponders. Before he can decide whether to buy, a girl comes out of the door of the shop. She is about twelve, A’drui’s age, and has her strawberry blonde hair pulled back out of her face for once, making her eyes seem to dance.
“Got a day off from Slauti?” she asks.
“I’ve got to keep A’klym out of trouble for two days, but at least I’m off. What are you up to?”
“I’ve got to watch Vitara for the day. We were going to go up to the Bazaar. Wait here and I’ll go get her.” Sarella sails back into the shop before he can answer, emerging in a few minutes with her hands full. The sweet scent of stickies intensifies as she draws closer. A petite child is trailing behind, holding onto Sarella’s skirt, her huge eyes peek from under an abundance of curls.
“Rauli gave me these when he saw you waiting for us. Hungry?” Sarella says as she passes out the stickies. The children wolf them down, enjoying the treat that only Rauli makes, and proceed up the ramp. They pass through the Street of Artisans, and then thru the Money Lenders at the end of the third tier. Up onto the fourth tier with its Street of Dreams and then the Street of Healing on the fifth tier. Here they pause again. All who pass seem to slow, drinking in the varied aromas of herbs from all over the world. Just walking this Street brings a feeling of peace and well being.
At the end of the fifth tier they pass the cut off to the street of the Gods and go on up, finally arriving at the plateau on the mountain top, the Bazaar.
Oh, the sights and sounds of the Bazaar! Especially now, just after the harvests, during the Celebration of Life. Traders are here from all over selling their wares. Bards, with their stories of far off places, most too outrageous to believe. On the constant breeze wafts the scents of the food merchants, advertising their specialties.
With so many here there is hardly room between the tents for the crowds that have come to look and buy. The children wander from tent to tent, in and out, trying to absorb it all. Traders with every imaginable item one could ever want to buy. The saying goes, `If you can’t find it at the Bazaar, it isn’t to be had ‘, and this is even more true during the Celebration of Life.
Various jewelers with wares from ornate and gaudy, to simple, perfect stones that could be set into a variety of items from hair ornaments to fantastical rings. Cloth merchants, displaying their wares in the open sided tents, calling to passerby and holding a length of cloth so that it can catch the light to glitter and shine. Some tanner tents then, displaying belts and weapon holders, pouches and boots.
Off in a corner a woman with long hair and strangely shaped eyes (maybe an elf!) whose only merchandise are gloves. But, oh, what gloves they are! Made of the finest leather, ranging in color from near white to deep tan, they have whimsical embroideries upon their backs. Vitara pauses here, not quite daring to touch. The woman sets her work down and comes over to the child. “Would you like to try some on?” Vitara nods and her eyes get larger still as the woman brings out a tray from under the counter. Placed carefully in it, between layers of fine muslin, is an assortment of child-sized gloves. The woman sorts through, as Vitara watches in awe until finally the woman pulls a pair of pure white gloves from near the bottom. “These suit you and I think they’ll fit.”, she says extending them. Vitara carefully takes them. As she turns them over to put them on, she stops, admiring the delicate vines of jasmine with gold thread highlights worked onto their backs.
“Oh, Vitara, they’re beautiful!” Sarella breathes. She takes the gloves and lays them down, showing Vitara the bowl of rosewater and towel to use first, off on one side of the counter. After washing and carefully drying her hands Sarella sprinkles powder from the urn onto her sisters’ hand. “Rub it in good, it will help the gloves go on.” she says, then helps the little girl work her fingers into the gloves.
The child inspects her gloved hands, turning them this way and that, finally bringing them up near her face to closer inspect the embroidery. Vitara gasps “Sarella look, they smell!”
The woman laughs “Yes, dearling, that’s my specialty. To find the sights and scents that go together.”
Sarella, also astonished by the gloves, asks hesitantly “How much?”
“Usually five copper, but these have been done for awhile and have fit no-one so far but your sister. I’ll let you have them for three.”
Vitara looks at her sister with pleading eyes. “This will be all you can get.” Sarella says sternly.
Vitara nods and calmly states “I know. It’s all I want.”
The woman assured of one sale looks to another by extending a second pair, worked with bees and smelling of honey, to Sarella. “How about these, for you, miss?”
Sarella looks longingly at them, extending a finger to almost touch them, then examines the contents of her pouch and then her sisters. “No, I think the one pair will be fine.” she says with dignity. She hands the coins to the woman then gathers up her sisters gloved hand and heads to the next tent.
A’drui bends towards his brother “Rungo catch up with them. I’ll be along in a minute.” He turns to the woman “How much for those?” pointing at a different pair, one worked with strawberries.
“Five copper” she smiles.
“Three” the boy offers.
“I’ll take four, but no less.” The woman starts to wrap the gloves as she sees A’drui reaching for his pouch. The exchange made A’drui races out, only stopping at the entrance long enough to throw back “Good fortune to you, Mistress!” He runs on looking for the rest of the group.
He runs past five or six tents, pausing briefly at each to search for the group. Finally he finds them, down at the puppeteers, watching intently as the man makes the wooden dolls come alive. He pulls Sarella aside and hands her the package. “Fortune to you this Celebration!” he says. Sarella opens the package and sniffs the strawberry scent in delight then hugs A’drui tightly. “You’re the best friend in all the world.”
They watch the puppets for awhile then wander on past scribes, toymakers, spicers and milliners. Foot sore and hungry they head west towards the wonderful aromas that float on the constant breeze.
Passing a small striped tent that has sprouted on the edge of a larger one A’klym exclaims “Look, music!” Sarella stops also and looks over the wares. Wordlessly she chooses a small brass horn, hands it to the boy, then pays the girl behind the counter.
At the edge of the lake, with its spring near the center, the children pause giving thanks to Aquia, Goddess of Water. They take a circuitous route past the tents near the water, sniffing and drooling over wares before finally settling on a shop nearby the waterfall. They each order a meat pie and sit under the awning watching the water.
“If you’ll watch A’klym for me, I’ll go get us some drinks.” A’drui says pointing at a gold and white striped tent to the south. “Baji has some blue juice we could share.” Sarella nods her head and as A’drui is turning to leave says “Bring back some lemon wiki for the little ones from Drekka’s. They’d probably like that better.” She flips a copper to him. Catching it he grins, then melts into the crowd.
A’klym and Vitara scoot closer together and squeeze each others hands, grinning from ear to ear in anticipation. Lemon wiki can only be had during Celebration, and being the great age of four, they remember the treat. A’drui returns with two small skins just as the meat pies are being served, the succulent aroma making him hurry to a bench. Following behind him is Drekka’s boy, Drel, his Slight build making him appear younger than A’drui. “I found him at Drekka’s, moping around. You don’t mind if he comes along, do you?” Sarella smiles and shakes her head, moving over to make room on the bench. Drel passes out the wooden cups he’s been carrying and takes the skins from A’drui. “You gohead eat. I just finished some stew from the fisherfolks. I’ll help the little ones.” He pours out juice for them all, then moves to help A’klym and Vitara open and cool their pies.
“What do you want to do next?” Sarella asks around a last mouth full of pie. “We’ve seen most of the tents and its getting hot.” A’drui shakes his head. “We haven’t seen half the tents. But we could do that later, maybe this evening or tomorrow. Have something in mind?”. Sarella looks downcast. “No, I was hoping you would. What about it, Drel, got any ideas?” A’klym pipes up “We could go watch the Smiths. I like to do that.” The older children shake their heads. “Too hot” A’drui explains. “We could go watch the artisans, its cooler there.” Drel shakes his head, “It’s the Celebration, let’s do something special. We can see the artisans any time.” A’drui nods. “You’re right.” he says dejectedly.
“I’d like to go down to the fishers and swim. We don’t get to do that very often.” says Sarella hopefully.” The fishers are off this week and we could get extra clothes on the way down.” The children all nod excitedly. “Let’s go!” shouts A’drui gathering up some cups. “We’ll go by Drekka’s first and drop these off then head down to the lake.”
Grinning, the children make their way through the maze of tents to Drekka’s. Drel and A’drui carry the cups in then A’drui comes out alone. “Where’s Drel?” Sarella asks. “He had to do something for his ma, he’ll be out in a minute.” The children squat next to the entrance to wait. After a while Drel comes out with his sister Dawyn. Except for more finely drawn features on smaller bones, she is an exact copy of Drel. Drel looks embarrassed.
“Sokay if she comes? Ma said.”
“Course she can, why not?” says A’drui.
The children head south through the maze of tents, intent on leaving the Bazaar. They head down the ramp, on their way to Rauli the baker’s. Just before the cutoff to the street of the Gods Vitara stops, pulling on her sisters skirt making her stop too. She points to a lonely tent, the only tent not actually at the Bazaar, but lying just below it. “I want to hear The Seth.” The other children nod. “The Seth is much better than swimming.” Drel and Dawyn state in unison. The children turn, plans changed in an instant, and head towards the tent.
Sitting under the Bazaar on a faded silken stool is an old, ancient man. He is slightly built and, for this city, shabbily dressed. The tent he sits under is quite small, just big enough to shade him and the six children. The only real canvas tent in the City of Colors, it is becoming ragged with age. Patches upon patches, of every type of cloth, some no longer even made, comprising ages of repairs, until at last the original cloth has been totally concealed. The front three sides of the tent have been pulled back; open to catch every passing breath of air. The fourth hangs down covering the mountain side, an elegant, patched curtain, jewel toned, made of swatches of only the finest materials. The patches have come from every cloth seller that has visited the bazaar, brought from far away places along with tales to relate to The Seth, a token of their regard. It is pulled back in the center to partially reveal the dull silverlace gate covering the entrance of his home cave.
The children sit on the rather large cushions at his feet. “Tell us a Tale, Sirrah The Seth” begs A’drui, the largest of the children.
“Please! Tell us `How the Dwarves Found the Mountain ‘. I like that one best. Please The Seth.” says Vitara in her soft whispery voice.
The old man picks up his tankard from the floor beside his stool and makes a big show of peering into it, then he holds the tankard upside down and one glittering red drop falls to his tongue. “That’s not enough to cool my throat from the tale I just told. Come back later, when I have rested.”
Vitara’s large eyes well up with tears and she begins to dig in her pouches and pockets. “How much do you have?” she asks the others. “Surely between all of us we can get a silver to buy a wine skin.” says Dawyn digging through her pouch. “Would you tell us a tale then, Sirrah The Seth ? Please.”
The Seth nods his head but doesn’t say anything, just sits on his silken covered stool stroking his long wispy silver beard.
The children all dig in their pockets and pouches and pool their money onto a brocade patched pillow. “You count it A’drui. You’re the biggest” says his little brother.
“No, A’klym, you need the practice more than I do. You count.” Unnoticed, The Seth nods his head.
A’klym begins to count the copper coins and the children wait patiently and watch. He finally finishes and proclaims “We still need four more.”
“Count again ” says his brother quietly. A’Klym pouts.
Dawyn nods. “He’s right A’Klym. Count again.” A’Klym counts. The other children wait without any sign of impatience. “Nine?” he asks. The children all nod in unison.
“That’s still not enough!” Vitara sobs. The tears which had begun to dry on her thin cheeks reappear.
“Let me see what I can do.” booms a voice from behind them, startling the children. A dwarven guard stands just outside the tent. He is dressed, as are all the city guards, in elaborately decorated finely woven chain-mail. It glitters and shines in the sunlight, with apparent signs of long use. A sash of fine brocade runs from left shoulder to right hip with a jewel encrusted pin, the symbol of The City of Colors Guard of The Bazaar, holding the tasseled ends at shoulder height. A smaller pin, of intricate silver lacework is just above his heart.
The guard pulls a small brocade pouch from somewhere inside his sash and opens it. “What tale do they want this time, The Seth? `How The Thieves Came To The Mountain ‘ or `How The City Came To Be ‘? That’s my personal favorite.” He extracts a silver piece and tosses it on the pile. “A whole wine skin should buy them a weeks worth of tales.” Before the words have left his mouth A’drui scoops up the pile of coins and races out of the tent.
“They’re wanting to hear `How The Dwarves Came’,” replies The Seth. “Having much trouble today?”
“Only the usual. Out-of-Towners with hangovers and short tempers.”
In rushes A’drui with two small wine skins and a wooden cup. “Baji said you could return this when you make your way ’round to him, Sirrah.” Bowing, he hands the cup to the guard. The hint of a smile flickers across the dwarfs face. “Change?” A’Drui grins sheepishly and pulls three coppers from his pocket. He flips them through the air in a high arc to the guard, and turning towards the TaleMaster says, “There was enough for two small skins but not enough for a large. I got you a black and a rose. Is that alright, Sirrah The Seth? “
A small smile plays on the storytellers lips. He pours himself a shot or two of the black wine and takes a small sip, savoring its taste before swallowing. “Ah, that’s good. Baji always makes the best black. Is this the latest batch?” A’drui shakes his head. “No, Sirrah, when I told Baji it was for you he went to the back to get that skin. He said you liked the earlier batches better and he didn’t charge any extra for it.” The Seth nods and his grey eyes seem to sparkle as he turns to the guard. “Have some, Durlije?”
Durlije grins broadly as he takes the skin. “I’d be honored, The Seth. I’ve been trying to get an old batch skin or two out of Baji for months.”
“I’ll have to remember, next time, the way to go about it.” Grinning he pours himself a cup of wine and settles onto a pillow. “I’ll just listen in as you tell the children their tale.” he says as he hands back the wine skin. Durlije turns and settles his back against the corner pole of the tent and sips from the wooden cup. Licking his lips he watches the crowds bustle to and fro among the tents of The Bazaar.
“Are you cooled yet, Sirrah?” Vitara asks softly. This is the first sign of impatience from any of the children.
The Seth looks over at her and then reaches out carefully, almost as if he expects her to disappear, and strokes her fine white curls. “Yes, little bird, I’m cooled now, and you and your friends are ready, and past ready, to hear your tale.” He takes another small sip from the tankard, rolls it around on his tongue, swallows, and sets the tankard down within easy reach.
“And so begins the tale of …..Which one did you want to hear?” The Seth’s eyes twinkle with merriment as he winks at Vitara.
She winks back, with both eyes, not quite having mastered just one yet. “Please tell us ` How The Dwarves Came To The Mountain ‘, Sirrah, The Seth, Master of Tales ” she states with great solemnity.
The Seth run his hand through his coarse hair, causing greater disarray, then strokes his wispy beard and settles his patched and faded robes into even greater disarray. He picks up the tankard, takes a quick swallow and places it back on the floor.
As he begins the tale his voice gains resonance and depth. “And so begins the tale ….
continued in part 2
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