After a small meal of roasted fowl and bread, with sweet wine to quench her thirst, Kaliah met Sindai Tarzia at the front entrance. The other woman, whose long brown hair was pulled back into a tight knot at the back of her head, handed her a tiny package along with Kaliah’s freshened cloak.
Slipping the package into her waist-pouch, Kaliah bowed courteously and slipped the bar on the front door. The disdain on Tarzia’s face had left her with an unexpected chill, and Kaliah was absurdly grateful of the heat of the midsummer sun. One of the twins reached past her and pulled the door shut, prompting her to jump forward as his arm brushed her back, a heated blush staining her cheeks.
Her face set in an intimidating scowl, she set off, pulling her hood up to shield her skin. It was red enough from embarrassment, she didn’t need to add to it with sunburn. Now that the food had been cleared from the tables which had been stacked along the left Temple wall, the main square of the village was crowded with people jostling about on their various errands. Sometimes, it felt as though she never had a moment of true silence. People seemed to be everywhere!
Sidling close to the buildings lining the lagoon, Fisher’s Row, as the locals pretentiously called it, Kaliah kept to the shadows as much as to ease her passage through the crowds as to keep out of the sun. Finally, after long minutes avoiding, dodging, and accidentally brushing against her fellow villagers- who, whenever she made contact, spat a little to the side and made the sign of the Protection Ward in her direction- she finally made it to the Jeweler’s Court.
From there, finding Master Volster’s establishment was easy. The brightly tiled doorjamb of his shop shone like a beacon as the sun glinted from the various colors and filigree imbedded in the oak. It was by far the most elaborately decorated storefront on the street. Perhaps in the entire Court, though Kaliah had no intention of loitering long enough to make a comparison.
The interior of the building was cool, thanks to the thick stone walls, and brightly lit from reflected sunlight streaming in from windows set high in the walls and glinting off strategically placed mirrors. The clever arrangement offered light with an absence of heat that was much appreciated by shopkeep and customer alike at midsummer.
“Welcome. May I interest you in a choker to adorn your throat? Or perhaps some earrings to frame your undoubtedly lovely face?” The young woman, no doubt Volster’s clerk, spoke from behind a table of jewels, her eyes leaving the display well after the words had left her lips. When she did lift her eyes, they widened as she blanched at the sight of Kaliah’s white hair.
Lifting her chin, Kaliah stared down at the shorter woman with her customary icy reserve. “I am here on Temple business to see Master Volster.” Her voice sounded unnaturally loud in the silent shop, and she winced at the slight echo that came back to her.
“Master Volster is not here presently. Perhaps you’d like a jeweled belt? We have a fine collection of them.” One small hand gestured at the arrangement draped over the table in front of her. “I’m sure we can find something you like.”
Kaliah had a moment’s shock; the girl was one she had known in school before she became Mishrey. They’d never passed a civil word between them, and now the other girl was behaving as though Kaliah was no different than anyone else in the village, as though her visit were not an off-putting event. Even the color had come back to her cheeks and a sparkle positively lit her eyes as she held one belt after another against the fabric of Kaliah’s cloak.
“Master Volster is the only thing that I am looking for at the moment. When will he return,” she asked, frustrated and more confused than she’d like to admit.