The Sign of the Bronze Hammer
Part Two – The Souk of the Crimson Mists
The dwellers in the sprawl no less enjoyed the festival as those in the city proper, yet it had a more raucous, wild aspect to it, with the crowds thick on the streets and the noise of their revels loud. Blade kept a tight grip on the hilt of his sword with one hand and his money pouch with the other, even though it held little in it, for pickpockets thronged in the sprawl, and on days such as the Festival they were even more active than normal.
Blade pushed his way through the crowd, mingling with the inhabitants of all the civilised races, and even some uncivilised, with burly blond men from the cold lands of the north, golden skinned Metsheputi of the south, wiry, hawk faced men of Hashala and more besides, all celebrating and conversing in a score of languages.
His path wound through the sprawl, along narrow alleys, through courtyards and bustling souks where markets catered to every whim known to man, and more besides. It was boasted that anything could be found and bought within Qaiqala’s souks.
Far deeper into the sprawl, he came at last upon his destination, a souk much as any other he had passed through, one with a colourful shade cloth spread out over it to provide shelter from the sun. Stalls were packed in tight around the souk, and rough clad men enjoyed food and drink as they sauntered about.
He looked over the stalls and shops, seeking for where he could find Old Anja. He could discern little that pointed her out, for none resembled an Aedring, and no stalls seemed to belong to a mystic. He continued on his way through the souk, warily watching everything and everyone that passed about him, the reputation of the place playing upon his mind, though his outward appearance maintained its traditional somnolent demeanour.
All about, the merriment that took place masked any indications of what he sought, with little in the way of trade actually being undertaken, and with many of the stalls and shops closed, not displaying their wares which gave no indication as to the nature of their shop. And nor did the people about look to be the type one asked questions of, even when they were in the correct state of mind to give answers.
Frustration gnawed away at his mind, for he knew that he was in the right place, if his information was correct, and he did not doubt that. Fingers tightened around the hilt of his sword as he stood in the centre of the souk and slowly turned around, inspecting everything.
The he spotted something, of a shop front that most people were purposely avoiding, giving the door a wide berth, leaving an open space before it. Above the door to the shop, a pair of green eyes had been painted onto the wall, gazing out over the souk. A slight shiver touched Blade as he spotted them, for they were warding eyes and warning eyes both, ones not to be crossed.
He felt that he had found the place he sought, for only a mystic, or one like them, would so mark their building. Pushing his was through the crowd, he made his way to the door. There he stopped and only after a moment of indecision did he open the door.
Previous Part Next Part