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Posted: Jun 25 2017, 09:10 PM
Outside of Skystead
27 years old
Fayanya paused as the street opened on to a bustling plaza. After three days of travel, she had entered Skystead by its west gate- more footsore than she would admit- and had followed the natural flow of the streets and the steadily increasing foot traffic around her until it brought her here.
In truth, she was a little dazed. She had never been to the city before, and hadn't ever thought about just how populated it was. As she had allowed herself to be idly guided towards the city's centre, the crowds and the cacophany had steadily increased; until trying to process all of the competing stimuli became overwhelming. She had been on the edge of panic since she got here.
The weather was mild, but Fayanya was sweating under the weight of the shield hanging from her back and the deer pelt draped across her shoulders. The tip of her spear sagged under the weight of the two rabbits she had snared and tied to its shaft.
What had she planned to do once she arrived here? In truth, Fayanya had not given it any thought. She had assumed that she would be welcomed with open arms by a waiting horde of Xastilian warriors, that her people's strength and fury would be awoken by her mere presence, that swords would be drawn and the spilling of Estrian blood would begin in earnest. It was already clear that this was not the case. The city was just too busy. And every Xastilian that she had seen had been a meek servant plodding obediently behind their master; cheerful participants in their own subjugation. She spat the image out on the dusty ground and wrinkled her nose in distaste.
Unsure of how else to proceed, Fayanya resolved to address more mundane and immediate concerns. She would need to eat. Her waterskin needed refilling. She should have taken some gold with her from the last caravan sacking. What might she sell in the marketsquare that was spread before her?
The most valuable item she had was Star-Shard; sheathed proudly at her hip- but that was not an option. The deer pelt was probably the next best plan. It was a little torn and ragged from travel and an unclean kill, but she might get a little for selling it, along with the rabbits. She had smoked the deer's meat as best she could over a small campfire, and taken as much as she could carry, but that was beginning to turn a little tart already. If she could sell the hide for enough to get a little salt, then she was sure she could hunt or steal enough to sustain herself. Mind made up, she strode into the marketplace.
She had been milling with the crowd for about an hour when she spotted a face which gave her an infuriatingly elusive flicker of familiarity, accompanied by a similarly vague unease. A middle-aged Estrian behind a stall about thirty yards ahead, selling silks and linens from Taigon. Rendered stupid once more by the chaotic sights and smells and voices all around her, it was not until the man had locked eyes with her and held her gaze for a second or two that she could place him.
A caravan trader. One that she had guarded while her fellow bandits-playing-rebellion had slaughtered his fellow merchants and their guard and plundered his goods, before releasing him to spread the terror of the Warriors at the Gates among his fellow citizens.
A chill ran up Fayanya's spine as she broke his gaze and turned away. Was it six months ago? Seven? Did he know her? His face had shown the same uncertain recognition that she had felt, she was sure of it. She did her best to nonchalantly browse the nearby stalls, tugging self-consciously at her clothing to try and cover the tribal tattoo across her collarbones, until the tension became overbearing and she turned back to see the merchant- still looking in her direction.
Fayanya allowed her anxiety to overcome her, and shrugged the deer pelt off her shoulders and onto the floor. She ran as quickly as she could in the direction of the nearest side street, earning yells of anger as she barged passed or knocked down anyone in her way and skidding occasionally on the shiny, uneven cobblestones. She turned one corner, and another, and another, until; when looking backwards to see if she was being pursued, she was brought to an instant halt by a collision with a giant.