The Dockmarket was busy as ever. Trade might be down, but there were no vacant stalls. Tired old women hawked handfuls of trinkets from the tops of bollards. Fruitiers and greengrocers occupied wide spreads of stalls, their produce ranked in colorful arrays like a kitchen paint box. Thieving children ran through the market clutching half-rotted summer apples and the thin coins stolen from the careless. I smelled machine oil, spices, the acrid scent of blades being sharpened on a grinding wheel, the dung of a dozen kinds of animals. The sounds likewise made such a distraction. The blue-robed memory men squatting on the distorted faces of ancient, fallen idols chanted their histories. Hogs bellowed their fear before the sledge took them in the skull. Chains jingled, babies cried, hammers fell.
This place was as close to the comforting chaos of Kalimpura as I was likely to find in Copper Downs. I let myself slip into it. I found myself falling into the habits of a Blade on a run my stance, the set of my shoulders, how close I kept my weapons. Realizing this, I forced myself to relax. This was not the place of my enemies. The city of Copper Downs did not oppose me. Only some people in it, most of them foreigners.
I caught myself at that thought. Selistani. My own people were not foreigners. Or were they?
|Originally published at jlake.com.|