Perrin grinned as she threw the rabbit skins over her shoulder. As a hunter, Rivek could regularly venture outside the camp to trade furs for medical supplies. Despite his warning that his trip would be exceedingly boring, Perrin insisted that she go with Rivek to the marketplace. She had been cooped up for too long in her father’s tent with his noisy experiments, and any fresh air sounded preferable, even if it smelled like body odor and horse shit. It took two weeks straight of begging, but Rivek finally caved.
The marketplace ceiling was a mosaic of brightly-colored linens. Each one clamored for visual attention, calling buyers to different stands. Perring surveyed the different shops which offered everything from ripe fruit to handcrafted jewelry. The air hummed with trade and filled her nostrils with savory flavors of street food. Rivek nudged his way through the crowd, one arm holding his quarry and the other over his wallet. Perrin mimicked his motions, keeping her hands over her pocketbook. She paused to smell the wares of a street vendor who offered her a fried lizard on a stick for a copper piece. As she inhaled, she felt a little faint.
“Sorry,” she said, moving away from the cook. The odor of the lizard must not have sat well with her. Maybe she just needed some water. No, that wasn’t it.
It always started with an ordinary headache. Perrin massaged her temples, hoping it would go away. This was the worst place for it - it was too crowded. Too many people could see. Unfortunately, she knew these situations always got worse before they got better.
One word at a time, pieces of conversations she wasn’t supposed to hear popped into her head. Flour. Here. Go. Twenty. Can’t. Just go away, she thought. The headache worsened into lighting firing around the sides of her skull. They escalated to full sentences.
She doesn’t like my lizard?
I don’t think he’s right for my daughter.
Wow, I would love to touch her-!
Perrin buried her face in her hands. At least ten people, talking at once - she couldn’t make sense of it.
“Rivek,” she muttered, her actual voice nearly drowned out by the ones in her head. She tugged on his sleeve. “I can’t hear anything.” The voices came from so many places, she couldn’t pick a direction to walk. She couldn’t feel as he placed his arm around her shoulder.
Where’s that man going? I need those rabbits.
“Perrin, just follow my voice.”
Your total is five pieces. I can’t afford that much.
Perrin wiped her tearing eyes. The pain was beginning to get to her. She pressed her hands against her forehead, trying to stop its pulsing. He lead them to an alleyway. “Listen to me.”
They shouldn’t let kids in the market.
Damn, where’s my purse? My earring was stolen last week.
She collapsed on the ground, unable to walk further. Rivek grabbed her forearm, half dragging her as he coaxed her to crawl along the alley. “Follow my voice.”
Where is a blacksmith when you need one? I heard there was a house fire forty minutes outside of town. I wish my tailor weren’t so expensive.
“I can’t.” She resisted his steps, digging her nails into the ground.
That man charges too much. Who has fresher apples around here? Last week, this guy’s fish had worms. My cousin got a parasite from this man’s pork.
“They’re in your head.”
My father was forty-five years old when he finally quit the army. Did you hear someone is building a hospital here? I want a cake, but it can’t have too much butter in it. I wish cows weren’t so expensive, or I’d start my own farm.
“I can’t.” She brought her knees to her chest, curling up to try and avoid the verbal barrage.
Rivek switched to Alisian, “I’m right here.” His voice rang in her ears. The sharp difference in sound cut through the everyday words. The foreign language forced her to concentrate, and slowly pushed the common babble to the back of her mind.
“It’s all right.” She looked up and wiped her wet eyes. They knelt in the back of the alley, shielded by darkness as far away from the busy street as he could lead her. The rabbits lay at her feet. Rivek waved a few brave rats that decided to try to claim them for a meal. Perrin breathed a sigh of relief. Animals didn’t have voices. She threw her arms around his neck, and he patted her back. “It’s okay. This stuff. I’ve been through it, too.”
Although Perrin doesn’t realize it, as a dual genomancer, she is the strongest magician out of all of the cast. But when her powers start to emerge in ways she can’t control, she has to figure out how to survive puberty, first.
Rivek Ailinar and Perrin Maier belong to Grace Fong,
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`anmari has been spreading her infectious positivity throughout our community for over 6 years. Throughout this time Ana has been at the core of all things devious, passionately developing an eclectic gallery, helping organise devmeets, participating in chat events and also recently completed dedicating her time as a Community Volunteer. We are absolutely delighted to bestow the Deviousness Award for May 2013 to `anmari, congratulations! Read More