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    Riyya: First Steps

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    unicornbutts

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    Riyya: First Steps

    Post by unicornbutts on Thu May 05, 2016 6:54 pm

    It’s a blazing afternoon in Al’Nujum, and Riyya untucks her headscarf from around her neck as she makes her way down the last of the Spiral Steps. Her coin purse dangles limply from her belt, and the way it bounces with every third step is starting to irritate her. Fifteen minutes ago she had more than double the coin, and now Imni the tax collector has it instead. Somehow her freedom doesn’t taste as good when she has to buy it herself, especially not when she could hear Imni muttering to his apprentice about that black-haired dwarfskin behind her back. Still, for the first time in six months she has space to breathe. It’s been a tight living since her father and Samad’s disappearance. Her mother always counted on the extra spices and silks to get them through the lean months, and without them they’ve been scrambling to afford the water taxes.

    Riyya never let her mother know about this secret stash of gold, even though it could have helped them sooner. It wasn’t greed that held her back; she always planned to put it toward her mother and grandmother's welfare. She simply wanted to wait until the right moment to use it. All her life she's felt the tremendous pressure of the Excess taxes, but her mother would never let her or Samad spend a single copper toward relieving the burden. "You're my children," she'd say, and that was that. Now that she has a chance to pay back some small fraction of her debt, Riyya knows she's doing the right thing. In another month when the taqra traders arrive, her mother and grandmother will be back to enjoying their small indulgences, and they'll forget all about being furious with her. All that’s left for her to do now is secure passage to Yedesh for the morning. She turns up towards the reservoir and the crush of caravanner’s tents, scattering a pair of protoceratops in her wake.


    Last edited by unicornbutts on Wed May 18, 2016 4:41 am; edited 1 time in total
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    Re: Riyya: First Steps

    Post by Storyteller on Fri May 06, 2016 1:03 am

    Riyya weaves her way thru the bustling crowd running between the tents. New merchants have arrived and as night will soon be falling, they must prepare for the crowd of prospective buyers who will come with the cooler evening hours. There is amicable banter between the owners of shops as they each look over each others wares and trade tales of the road since they last met. When the customers come strolling by, it will soon be a different matter, as they will pick apart the goods offered by their neighbor in order to ensure that the heft of each purse finds itself joining the wallet of the most successful businessman.


    Much of the labor is being performed by the local bhuka population, the hard-working goblinoid people whose ancestry in these lands are as ancient and far-reaching as the sands themselves. They work quickly and deftly, used to the tasks of serving others, as merchants acknowledge and reward their work generously. It is a happy relationship between those who travel and the bhuka, who are more a part of the oasis than even the elven community that inhabits it. As the oldest merchants tell it, once outsiders came to enjoy the splendor of the natural sanctuary here, it seemed almost as if the bhuka themselves popped up out of the sands, to welcome and care for the visitors on the behalf of the oasis.


    Riyya stands upon the largest main path, dubbed the Silken Promenade for all the finery that is both sold in this section as well as that worn by many of the elven people who come to more to be seen than to merely buy trinkets and luxuries. Looking about, she fiddles with the strap attached with her coin purse, unsure where to bring her coin for a fair trade. Occasionally, she receives an inquisitive glance from a nearby merchant, as they size up her dress and the bulge of her purse, to determine whether or not she would be worth their time. As if hearing a silent cry of confusion from Riyya, there is a gentle tug at the hem of her blouse, and the kind and sun-baked face of a young female bhuka looks up at her with a warm smile.

    "Kekkoti can show you to good, honest wares, if you wish?" the young bhuka speaks. You may notice the elvish language not as comfortable for her as her native Bhuka, or even the Common tongue. "What things have you need of, goodly lady?"


    Last edited by Storyteller on Sun May 08, 2016 1:24 am; edited 1 time in total
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    unicornbutts

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    Re: Riyya: First Steps

    Post by unicornbutts on Sun May 08, 2016 1:16 am

    Kekkoti’s ears dart up and then quickly back down as she looks up at Riyya, showing her surprise and embarrassment. She lets go of Riyya’s tunic and instead holds up the bright orangeish-red fabric of her trailing headscarf, admiring it. “Your new scarf is so pretty I didn’t recognize you, Riyya,” she says through a sheepish grin, lazily slipping into her native language. “Is it new?”

    “Hardly,” Riyya snorts. “It’s simply so old it looks like a whole new fashion next to everyone else.” She tosses her head and makes a ridiculous face, like a painting of a noble gone horribly wrong. “What do you think?” she asks in Bhuka. “Do I look like a long lost daughter of the Ancient Families? Will Temna now welcome me lovingly to the top of the Southern Spire?”

    Kekkoti’s ears spring back to life as she giggles behind her hand. She doesn’t answer. Grandmother Niski doesn’t like to hear her younger phatry members speaking ill of other races, and Grandmother Niski has a preternatural ability to show up exactly when her children are least respectful. Riyya turns back toward the reservoir, stifling a yawn. Even for her, mid-afternoon is entirely too early to be awake. “Kekkoti,” she says, “I’ll buy you om ali if you’ll find me the quickest way to Nurani’s tent through this crowd.”
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    Re: Riyya: First Steps

    Post by Storyteller on Wed May 18, 2016 1:29 am

    The face of the bhuka shined with glee at the thought of a tasty reward. Without a moment's hesitation, she grabbed Riyya's hand in hers and led her bravely thru the crowded back-paths of the marketplace. She spoke rarely to any of her kin, despite how many waved hello or tried to catch up to the pair. She was determined to help her friend, and the possibility of something as delicious as om ali was a treat she could not pass up. Riyya laughed, and was pleased to have such a dedicated guide. Within no time, they made it to a tent of deep purple, from which a combination of smoky incense and something sweet seemed to waft out towards any passing customers. Ducking inside, it took a couple moments to adjust after escaping the sun's intense brightness.

    A gentle sigh came from a hooded figure bent over an assortment of papers. Sitting up straight, the individual pulled back her head covering to reveal a face as warm and welcoming as the dawn's light on the sands. Curls of raven hair playfully bounced, framing a face that was as soft as well worn-leather but without being overly cracked with wrinkles. Her thick eyebrows lifted in recognition, and her plump lips parted to show a dazzling smile. Her voice was as smooth as honey as she spoke to her visitors,
    "My darlings, what a pleasure it is to see you both! I am glad to have your company this day, but to what do I owe the pleasure? Please, please, come sit and we will have some spiced wine and you can tell me how you have been."

    She lifted a large bottle from behind her workspace, along with three small clay cups. Laying them out before her and filling them generously, her eyes twinkled as she looked Riyya and Kekkoti up and down.
    "My what fine beauties you have become, my sweet babes. I hope you are getting the appropriate kind attentions for looking so lovely. Come, come, and share with dear Nurani whatever you need or what may be on your minds!"
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    Re: Riyya: First Steps

    Post by unicornbutts on Wed May 18, 2016 4:35 am

    From anyone else, Riyya would expect these compliments to hold hidden barbs, but she knows Nurani is genuine. The dwarf has been trading with her mother since before she was born, and Riyya trusts her as much as she trusts any of her family. She’s fair, honest, and kind, qualities it seems Riyya rarely finds in strangers. Nurani smiles patiently at her as she takes a sip of wine, and Riyya focuses on the ornate dwarven water clock on a shelf nearby to keep her nerves down. She’s never tried to negotiate anything like this on her own before, and a part of her knows she'll never match up to her mother. The moment stretches too long, and she clears her throat.

    “I’m sure you’ve heard,” she starts, “that my father and brother went missing last year.”

    Nurani sighs again, leans forward, and places her cup carefully on the table.  “I was so sorry when your mother told me. We all loved Nachmann. I don't have to tell you how quiet it's been in the market without his presence." Her hands find one of Riyya’s across the table and squeeze it soothingly.  "And to think that this could happen, when he was the finest navigator of the Wellpath...my poor darling..."

    Kekkoti glances up at Riyya’s face from behind her cup, her ears flattening warily as she waits for a reaction. Riyya has never been able to stomach pity, and since her loved ones’ disappearance there’s been a whole new venom spitting from her mouth in situations like these. But this is Nurani, and Riyya knows she’s just trying to be comforting. She studies the hand on top of hers, how brown and beautiful it is. The elves in the gorge hurl the name dwarfskin at her like an insult, but it would be a blessing to have skin like this.

    She takes a deep breath and meets Nurani’s eyes. “Everyone keeps telling us that they’re dead, but I’ve had proof that my brother is alive. I’m looking to join a caravan across the death lake to Yedesh, and I’m hoping you know who I can trust.”

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