From Eubeltic Descent, first in the Eubeltic Realm series
Tarek was quiet as he walked Abigaia the rest of the way home that night. She didn’t mind it, due to the strange daze she was in.
She was still in something of a daze when she went to the market the next morning, back to browsing for what her one coin could afford her, and no more. She speculated about what her family would think, what her aunt and uncle might say once they realized her allowance was no longer stretching as it had for years. Abigaia began to contemplate the strategy of haggling, which it seemed only the most aggressive townsfolk could manage, but her thoughts were stopped short when a fierce clanging sound broke through the commotion of the market. A booming, heated voice rose as a counterpoint to the clanging.
“Thief! Thief! Thief!”
It took only a matter of seconds for the alarm to replace the noise of buying and selling, bringing the normal activity to a halt.
“Thief! Thief! In green!”
The clamor in the market shifted as crude weapons, including knives and whips, flashed out from behind the counters of wares. “Thief! Thief! Thief!” the vendors joined in the chant, looking around to spot a culprit in green and any evident accomplices.
A clash of panic arose in the crowd, customers scrambling to clear out of the market as vendors went on the hunt. A long-anticipated dread immobilized Abigaia at first, but she recognized a hiss to be Lotus’s, flying by behind her. “Run, Abi!”
Abigaia turned to follow the hiss but found that Lotus had already disappeared into the pressing throng.
“Thief! Thief! Stop him.”
Abigaia’s feet led her in the direction of her friends’ usual meeting place, picking up speed once she was outside of the market, getting away from the scattering crowd. She knew her friends wouldn’t be meeting up today, so she ran past their spot as she fled from town as swiftly as she could while clutching her basket.
She then heard a distinct, masculine bawl somewhere behind her, this one not of panic but of pain.
Abigaia didn’t want to stop. She wouldn’t have stopped. But her feet came to a stop nonetheless because her ears were unable to deny what she’d heard. She recognized that male voice. She’d never heard it in that way before, in that kind of agony, but she recognized it now.
She turned around. Turned around to see a few hollering vendors hustling someone out of town. She could hear thuds of pummeling fists before the vendors threw their captive to the ground, glimpses of the captive’s green shirt made visible as his prone form became the landing place for kicking and stomping feet.
Another voice rose above the others and took charge. The owner of that voice tossed aside the short whip he’d been holding, and he reached down to turn the prone man over. “This’ll teach you!”
The pack of vendors parted somewhat, and Abigaia’s eyes grew wide with horror.
Her life of thievery. Her silence and sanity. And the famed domain of her ancestors—which may now be in crucial need of her.