Accidental Sorcerers, Season 2
Part 2: At the Market
Part 2: At the Market
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“Are you ready for breakfast too?” she asked the dragon. It chirped and hopped into her palm, and let her carry it to the table. A pinned strip of cloth held its injured wing against its body. A week ago, Mik had set the tiny bone under Bailar’s instruction, as it lay in magical sleep, while Sura applied a healing ointment to the torn skin. By the next day, the dragon stopped worrying at the bandage. Sura set it between her plate and Mik’s, where it could steal a piece of egg or meat from either side.
“Mik,” said Bailar, “have you learned anything new from that book of dragon lore?”
“Yes sir. Lesser Dragons, like the Desert Dwarf, heal rapidly.” Mik winced at his tone; it sounded to him as if he were reciting a school lesson. “We should be able to unwrap the bandage in another week.”
“If only we could heal broken bones that quickly.” Bailar smirked and forked up a sausage. “His appetite seems to be improving.” As he spoke, the dragon crouched then struck like a snake, snatching a piece of egg from the edge of Sura’s plate. They all watched as it held the morsel in its tiny front claws and nibbled at it like a mouse. “Strikes like a hunter, eats at the ready like prey,” he said. “That suggests it can be both at any moment.”
“The chapter about Desert Dwarves was interesting,” said Mik. “They steal eggs from nests, and eat insects. Carrion, if they’re hungry enough.” The dragon paused to listen. “Hawks and sandcats will eat them. Easterners say they house the spirits of men who died in The Godforsaken.”
Bailar cocked an eye. “Odd.”
“Not women?” Sura gave Mik a gentle poke with her elbow, and the dragon chirped.
“I don’t know!” he sputtered. “I’m just repeating what the book said! Maybe women are smart enough to stay out of that place or something.”
Bailar laughed. “Always the diplomat, Mik!”
After breakfast, Bailar went to his chambers but soon returned. “If I read the banners across the river correctly,” he told his apprentices, “the barges brought in fruit. Oranges from the Archipelago, I hope. Go and see — Sura, you know what a fair price is. If you know of anything else we need, purchase it as well.”
A few minutes later, Mik and Sura made their careful way down the steep path to the river. Sura watched Mik below her, uncoiling the knotted rope they used for safety and help on the way back up. “I’m so glad you’re here now,” she said. “I used to have to pull the canoe upriver so I wouldn’t miss the landing! Two of us can just paddle across.”
“You just love me for my strength.” Mik grinned at Sura’s laughing protest. Reaching the bottom, he turned and braced himself; Sura whooped and let go the rope, jumping the last few feet into Mik’s arms. After a thorough kiss, long enough for neither of them, they pushed their canoe into the river and struck for the far shore.
Reaching Exidy, they left their canoe on the bank with other boats of folk from up- and down-river. After adjusting the blue sashes that marked them as Bailar’s apprentices, they made their way to the marketplace. “Oranges!” Sura whispered, nodding to her left where a merchant showed off his fruit. They walked on — pretending disinterest was all part of the game here, as it was in Lacota.
“What do we need first?”
“Pepper, if anyone has it and they’re not demanding an outrageous price. If not, we’ll just use your flameweed.” She nudged Mik, making him smile. “That was really helpful. We need cheese, too. At least that won’t be hard to find.”
There was no pepper; but they filled Mik’s pack with cheese from local farmers, then made their way back to the orange merchant. The price he offered Sura was reasonable, but they bargained for the sake of good form. Mik mostly watched the man, and the way the man watched Sura. He knew Sura looking bright and smiling would get them a better price, but he did not have to like it. The mentor’s words came to him, almost a whisper: Part of you considers her your mate. You will have feelings, and at your age they are strong feelings, but reason is what makes a sorcerer. What you are in private is one thing, but in public you are fellow apprentices above all else. He remembered Bailar’s sigh before that last sentence, and the embarrassment he felt. So he stood and watched, until they bumped fists to signify agreement. The man filled her pack and offered it to Mik, but Sura laughed and took it herself.
“You would not carry your fair lady’s burden?” The man gave Mik a mocking look.
“His pack is already full!” Sura slung hers onto her back and took Mik’s arm. “I think we’re done.” She gave him a quick kiss to the cheek, making Mik smile as they walked away. The merchant’s smirk now looked forced, to Mik’s complete satisfaction.
As they left the market, they heard a strange voice behind them: “Excuse me,” it said. “You are the apprentice sorcerers?”