She ran, the chill freezing her breath creating intricate patterns in the air. Once, she had feared Theo, his powerful family and larger body a frightening combination. However, after suffering years of his torment, she had grown stronger. Her powers once a trickle, now a powerful storm. Body collected by the morning shoppers she let them engulf her, pulled by the crowd into the market.
“You alright miss mage? We got some new books in… if you want to have a look?” Her favourite shopkeeper bellowed across from her, his voice bouncing across the heads of the shoppers to reach her ears. He must have spotted her dark robes, she was probably the only mage left in the city for the season. Smiling, she squeezed through the crowd to his stand, hoping his stall held some written treasure she could coo over.
“Anything worthwhile?” Ash spoke, putting on her best mage voice, which was a blend of loud authority with an undertone of power (it was a tool she wielded to get the best offers)
“Course young miss,” he replied, leading her past the poor attempts of literature to his hidden stash, “this just came in.” He handed her a dark green haven, the smell of ink easing from its crinkled pages. Well, she did always say the best books were the oldest.
“How much?” She tried to act nonchalant, her gaze purposely not meeting his wise eyes (they could easily spot her eagerness).
“This one is on me, without you I doubt I’d still be in business anyway,” he said with a hearty chuckle. Nodding her gratitude, she held the bundle tight against her chest. Leaving his stand, she walked towards the food market. Smells wafted through the streets, each breeze tainted with a new flavour or blend. A rowdy crowd covered one shop, sneaking through she looked at its merchandise. Some kind of delicious meat had been kneaded into balls, then covered in a dough with herbs. The owner winked to the crowd, as he dropped the delicacy in hot oil, the scent spurting forth to the hungry men. She licked her lips.
For more on the Athia series read part 1