Hello Everyone! If you are here in the US, hopefully you had a splendid Labor Day weekend and are coming to terms with summer drawing to a close. I am not there yet, still holding on to sun, the hammock, and sandals. Obviously, I’m not in Colorado, and if any of you are… just wow 😲. I don’t know how I would handle that crazy temperature and precipitation swing, but I know my Akita would be happy! Schools are resuming all over the globe now, fingers crossed that we aren’t back in lockdown again because of it. Stay safe, and don’t get sucked in by the Halloween candy already in the stores (for several weeks now 🙄)…
When we last left Elahna, she was in between the baker and the boys who stole some bread. Remember the thrown rolling pin? Okay, that’s where we will pick the story up…~
“Thorn Arborea! I’ll be having a chat with your grandess! You can be sure of it!” The baker recovered his implement from the dirt and started brushing it off. Then he noticed me standing there a bit astonished.
“Consarned boys. They’re nothing but trouble, those three. But mostly that Thorn, he’s aptly named. ‘Bout time he was sent off for some ‘prenticing, that’s what I think. A bit too stuffy for my like, he is.”
“Do they do this often?”
“That’s the quarta time this anos. I haven’t said anything to Lady Arborea to this point, just to him and the matres of the other two. That will change now. Quarta’s the number of preparation, and young Thorn needs a reminder. That’s my part for the future.”
“I wouldn’t blame you at all. Typical teenagers, but annoying nonetheless.” I turned back toward the shop with him. He shot me an odd look, but held the door for me to enter.
Breads and cakes filled every possible surface within the bakery. A woman with dark hair piled on top of her head and bare arms white to the elbow with flour glanced up as we came in.
“He got dua loaves,” she said, shaking her head.
“I know, I’ll head to the manor when this bowl is cut and stored.” He tossed the dirty rolling pin into a soapy sink. I took in all of the various baked goods and tried to keep from drooling. “Now then, what can I help you with?” He managed to force a slight smile in my direction.
“Um, well, how about one of those large cookies, and one of those round breads?”
I hadn’t meant to get anything here, but I felt compelled to, given what I’d witnessed and how the baker had confided in me.
“Of course.” He wrapped my selections in brown paper and placed them on the counter, looking at me expectantly.
My cheeks heated some and I withdrew the pouch from my pocket. Time to own up to my ignorance and hopefully not be robbed.
“I’m sorry, I’m not familiar with the worth of these coins and pearls. Can you tell me what they are worth and what I owe you?” I dumped the contents into my hand.
The baker’s eyes widened for a split second and then he looked at me with a clear, steady gaze. “You’re the Passer, are you?”
The woman’s head shot around again, but her gaze softened and she moved to the sink to wash her hands. She stepped to the counter still drying them as he replied, “Well, you have enough here to buy yourself a room at the Barrel for a good few aneks, I dare say. Here, I’ll break down una of these golds so you can be more comfortable buying.” He took a box from under the counter and started counting coppers out.
“See, these are called holecops.” The woman held up a copper with a hole in it. “That bread you have is una holecop plus seis coppers, and the cookie is seis coppers, so the total is dua holecops.” She waited for me to take that in.
“Ok, thank you. So one holecop is the same as twelve coppers, er, or however you say it. I can remember that.” The man replaced the box and now handed me many more coppers of both sorts, six holecops and twenty-four coppers. My pouch was going to be much heavier now.
“Holecops are represented by this,” and she pointed to an X with three lines across it. “And coppers by this,” which was a plain X.
I learned the other symbols later, this was enough to get me through the day though, as they said. I thanked them again, and as I turned to go, I noticed something moving in the huge bowl the woman had been working over. Two wide paddles plunged and folded the white dough though she was nowhere near it. I stopped and stared, then caught her grinning at me as she retrieved the paddles and set about kneading once again. I gave her a sheepish smile back and left.
How cool would that be, to make your kitchen tools carry on without you? Imagine how much I could get done! It seemed like magic played some part in everyone’s everyday lives.
The house across the road turned out to be a wood turner, with everything from utensils to bowls to banister tops displayed in and outside of his shop. There was also a tailor, and a country store of sorts, where you could buy flour, salt, bicarbonate, lye, and the like to make what you needed to. The open market I saw from the tree-top occupied a grassy field beyond the tailor, and obviously served as a secondary town center. People congregated in groups talking, laughing, and browsing. I hesitated, not really wanting to be noticed, but the bright colors of tunics and the smell of worked leather warmed by the sun drew me in anyway.
I meandered through the market noticing many, many items I would love to have. The market reminded me of the craft fair my mother’s church held every fall. Tables and cart beds brimmed over with handmade items of clothing, cookware, linens, cured meats, vegetables and fruits, hot popped corn and honeyed nuts in paper sleeves, decorations, and knick-knacks. I knew, though, that most items in this market were practical and for everyday use; the market was the shopping mall of this era.
I saw cast-iron skillets in sizes from one egg to half a pig, and in innumerable shapes. And on top of that, I overheard the iron-worker tell a burly man, (perhaps a tavern owner?), that he would re-form anything to any shape desired. Really? After seeing the woodworking done on the Bluebirds’ wagons, I would be keen to see metal workers.
My pouch was bursting with coins and pearls, I swear they were burning a hole on my hip where it rested. The baker had indicated I carried a small fortune in there. It was difficult, but I reined in my shopping-spree eyes and settled for a very few practical items that I didn’t feel guilty buying—a second set of undergarments woven from the softest, finest linen, a deep purple leather thong with a wooden pin affixed to the end of it for pinning back my hair, and three of the largest, darkest blood oranges I had ever seen. The fruit itself was the size of a size three soccer ball, and so dark inside that it was nearly black. Each would easily be two meals, but after tasting the sample the grower gave me, I could not resist.
“Pardon, would you have anything I could store the unused portion of the fruit in to keep it fresh? I can’t possibly eat a whole one at once, and I will be traveling for a few days.” I was hoping for a bag or container of some sort, or that she would point me to another person who had such.
But instead, she took the oranges, tossed each one into the air individually, froze it there, and encircled her hands around it without touching it. Then she let them go one-by-one and returned them to the bag. She held them out, “There you go, those should keep for an anek, if you need.” The bag itself was woven of grasses and was cool to the touch.
“Thank you, elements be.”
I now had several parcels of different sizes and shapes to carry, which was getting awkward. I would need a backpack or something to carry my few possessions in on the journey to Irillo, so I stood for a minute in the trodden center of the rectangular space and assessed the vendors for who might have such an item. I had seen some beautiful, cinched oilskin sacks at the leather worker’s earlier, and decided that would be the most sensible thing to have; then weather wouldn’t be as much of a concern, if inclement weather during the day was really a concern here. A truly unfathomable thing for a New Englander like me, but it would be a welcome relief!
I left the market with my purchases safely stowed in my new oilskin backpack. The body of it was of a richly dyed navy leather with russet straps, ties, and cord stitching. It had a cinched top with a buckled cover flap and oiled canvas straps that seemed to adjust to my shoulders by themselves. I thought to ask if it was spelled to fit comfortably, but decided natives would already know that, and thanked the crofter again. I was very pleased with my practical self, and hoped Aymur would approve of how I used the money as well.
I’ll leave it there for now, I will continue wandering around Cragbend next time. There’s more to see and do here!~
I was dying to know what would happen to Thorn when Daphne finds out about his activities, she seemed like someone not to cross. It was hard not to go crazy in that market, would you have been able to keep the spending down? I wish I still had those garments, they were so light and comfortable. What would you have purchased in that situation? Leave a comment below so we can talk about it!
In some other news, Quill & Orb Press, (the fiction part of my word services business), is ready to do developmental edits and copyediting for YOU! Fantasy, paranormal, YA, historical fiction, and other genres welcome.
Are you an Indie author? I’d love to work with you!
Click here for a list of genres I review, and other services I offer:
Or click here to contact me directly:
Want more info about life in Huphaea? Sign up for Collata ⚡, The Collection of Huphaea newsletter! Nightingales get some more inside bits about my time in Huphaea, and other news on my writing and related interests. Once a month, so no cluttered inboxes, just a snippet here and there. Join the Nightingales, Eleanorah’s troupe!
©2020 Eleanorah Starr and Quill & Orb Press. All Rights Reserved.