(Part 41) For the complete list of this series, please go here.
Sitting cross-legged on her bed at the inn, Alynedarra swirled a dried leaf of bloodthistle around in her mouth while staring at a ripped and tattered piece of parchment on top of the bedspread. She tried to ignore the voice in the back of her head that chided her for almost getting caught in the orphanage office. Aly was not used to losing her cool and getting caught up in her own feelings while on the job.
Name: Alynedarra Chasseur
Siblings: 1 sister, possible others
Description: Reddish brown hair, green eyes, jagged scar on the bottom of right foot
She stared at it, not wanting to believe. It didn't make any sense. And why'd the page have to go and tear as she tried to remove it from the drawer? She really wanted to know what the rest of the chart said, but she couldn't risk returning to the orphanage for a third time. She'd barely scrambled out the window and down the alley out of eyesight of the matron who came to check on the office.
As the last of the bloodthistle dissolved on her tongue, she swallowed hard and peeled off her socks. She traced her fingertips over the white scaring on the bottom of her right foot. Her mother – at least who she thought was her mother – once told her she got it from walking on broken glass in the kitchen when she was very little. Could she have been lying?
Then again, lots of kids get scars when they are little. That doesn't mean this is my chart, she thought. She ran her fingers through her chestnut hair, trying to untangle the curls. If this is true… then I'm hunting my big sister. Her stomach felt heavy, as if she had swallowed a rock. The thought was unsettling. She would need to seek out her boss, but first…
Aly jumped up, slipped on her boots and rushed out the door. Her need to find the mysterious Aerissa had reached a new level of urgency.
* * *
Aerissa walked amidst the sea of merchant stalls set up in the bazaar. It was an eclectic and exotic crowd. Traveling merchants from across Azeroth were there: goblins, trolls, orcs, forsaken, and even a few tauren. The sights, sounds, and smells were overwhelming. Music, garments, armor, weapons, jewels, food, and more were for sale. It seemed as though anything one could imagine was available, for the right price.
She kept the cowl tight around her face, avoiding eye contact with everyone. She would stop here and there to check out merchant wares, then dip, dodge, and weave her way to the next stall. Aerissa stopped to admire a bright, colorful dress, rubbing the material between her thumb and forefinger.
“Yu like?” A tall, plump troll woman asked. Aerissa was fascinated by her blue skin and fuschia mohawk. The troll woman grinned around two pointy tusks. Her bracelets tinkling against each other as she pointed at the dress. “Ay be havin' da bes' deals en dis plaise,” she encouraged in her heavy accent.
“I-it's pretty,” stammered Aerissa as she tried not to be impolite and stare at the woman. While she did think it was pretty, she also knew the dress was too loud for her tastes. She tried to slip backwards into the crowd, but was joustled around, the throng pushing her back towards the stall.
The troll woman cackled. “Dis nat be yur style, hm? ‘ow 'bout dis un den?” She flipped through the rack and withdrew a long, elegant emerald dress. She held it up, shaking the hanger. The silky fabric shimmered in the light.
“Ooh, that is beautiful,” Aerissa cooed.
The merchant nodded her head in satisfaction and came around the side of the stall by Aerissa. She pressed the hanger to Aerissa's collarbone. “Da size be good, ya?”
Aerissa looked down at the dress being held against her, the hem grazing her boots. She pinned the cuff of the sleeve between her wrist and fingertips, stretching her arm out. Running her other hand over the bodice, she smiled at the gold embroidery and jeweled buttons. She let the sleeve drop, and pressed the sides of the dress over her hips.
She raised her head, looking the troll woman in the eye. “I'd love to buy this dress. How much?”
“Fer yu, fi' gold.”
Aerissa looked crestfallen. That was almost all the money she had. “I-I can't… I don't have enou-“
The troll woman shook her head violently, tucking the hanger under her arm. “Barta wit' me.” She crossed her arms across her ample bosom, tapping her foot.
“Um, one gold?” Aerissa asked uncertainly.
Aerissa sighed with exasperation. “But I'm going to need new shoes too!”
The troll woman rolled her eyes and went back around the stall. She mumbled in a tongue Aerissa did not understand as she rummaged around. She plopped a matching pair of shoes on the counter and waved her hand at Aerissa. “Make an offa'.”
Aerissa furrowed her brow. “Two gold?”
“No, three. Final offa'.”
Aerissa lowered her head, holding the coin pouch close as she counted the money she had.
“No, no, no!” shouted the merchant. Aerissa looked up, startled. The troll woman rolled her eyes. “Two an' haf, ya, ya. Yu need ta lern ta barta.” She held out her hand, motioning for the money. Aerissa smiled, happily dropping two gold and fifty silver into the large, blue hand. The merchant folded the dress carefully and wrapped it and the shoes, handing them down to Aerissa.
Aerissa hummed happily as she fought her way against the oncoming, would-be buyers. She clutched the cowl tightly, afraid that it would get knocked off her head and expose her face. She saw a striking elven woman bounding towards her through the crowd. Aerissa tried to lean out of the way, but the woman slammed into her shoulder.
“S-sorry,” Aerissa attempted to apologize, but as she turned, all she could see were the bouncing reddish curls fading into the distance. How inconsiderate, hadn't even slown her down to run smack into me. Aerissa shrugged and made her way towards the Court of the Sun, where the leader of their city reigned. It was also where she was told she could find the orb that would translocate her to the Undercity.
* * *
“Stupid old woman, can't see with her head shrouded by that ugly old cowl,” muttered Aly as she rubbed her shoulder.
She darted around throughout the bazaar, flashing the photo of Aerissa, asking anyone that glanced at it if they'd seen her. Most people shook their heads and a few seemed to ponder the picture, giving Aly false hope, before admitting they hadn't seen her.
She had checked inside the shops that lined the bazaar first. One of those shopkeepers told Aly that the elven woman looked familiar. When Aly asked where she had gone, they had pointed into the mess at the center of the bazaar. Aly grew increasingly frustrated, it was like searching for a needle in a haystack. Several times she thought she'd seen Aerissa herself, but when she caught up to the woman in question and spun her around, it was clear that she was mistaken.
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