Chapter 21: Gold, Part III

Status: Finished  |  Genre: Fantasy  |  House: Booksie Classic

Reads: 897

He looked the other way, noticing the shops for the first time. They were simple blankets, each holding a display of unique objects. Small, odd utensils were lined across one blanket while the next set of products were elegant robes. Lance looked at the merchant of this shop as they passed by, noticing how she continued to offer a particularly nice-looking garment to a customer. She seemed to pay no mind to the crossbreed until her nose twitched and her eyes shot downwards, as if suddenly catching whiff of something. For the moment she was in his sight, Lance watched her gaze burn into Zidane, the crossbreed instantly folding back into his hunched position.
Something beside Lance caught his eye, a glass sculpture hanging from a tree branch above a shop. The shape reminded him of a DNA strand except this was just one helix, the two ends twisting loosely before thinning off into points. His eyes trailed along the branches, realizing most of the hanging pieces were wind chimes. They clanged softly from the breeze, a few tips knocking with others and adding small chips of sound to the random but beautiful music. Not even noticing that he had stopped walking, Lance looked at one of the last sculptures. Despite the fact that it was mostly hidden due to his angle, he felt a strange familiarity in seeing it.
As his mind brought him back to his surroundings, he saw that Zidane had stopped walking as well. The small child was focusing somewhere near the last few wind chimes, and his mother followed the stare. When she turned back, a smile was on her lips.
Still keeping her hand with his, she bent down, becoming head level with him. "Which one would you like, Konachi?"
Zidane raised a hand, the tip of one tiny finger pointing to one of the chimes. Lance took another step, again arriving quicker than expected, and realized Zidane was pointing to exact one that he had felt drawn to. Out of all the others, it was the one that Lance thought looked most like an actual wind chime; six thin icicle-like pieces hung downwards in a line, descending in size, but never losing their beauty. The color of them was a translucent white, gorgeous streaks of rainbow passing through the glass from the sunlight's reflection.
Lance felt it odd of himself to be magnetized to something so colorful but his thoughts fell away as he heard Zidane's mother speak. She gave a wide smile as her head leaned in to touch Zidane's. "I like that one, too."
Her thumb brushed over his palm before she stood, releasing his hand. Moving over to the counter, she politely brought the shopkeep's attention to her.
"How much for one of your chimes?" she asked.
The shopkeep, a dark-haired Spiro, glanced in the direction of the selection hanging from his ceiling. He went back to cleaning a piece of a wind chime. "Depends on your pick."
"I'd like the one second from the left."
He lifted the artifact, blowing into it; a low but beautiful whistle came out the other end. "Twenty-three precas."
She reached for the bag at her hip, a simple satchel that hung at the side of her thigh. One hand dipped into the opening, her fist clenched upon withdrawing. Lance stepped up the counter beside her as she turned back, upturning her palm to reveal rubies of different sizes and shapes. She carefully separated them from each other, quietly counting in a language Lance didn't recognize. There was something about it, though—the way the words blended together as they rolled from her tongue—that Lance found extraordinarily beautiful. The serene sounds faded suddenly, her golden eyes looking up. The deep color remained as she swallowed, a hint of nervousness in her face.
"How much did you say it was again?" A smile twitched her lips as she spoke.
The shopkeep didn't respond, and with a growing anxiety in his gut, Lance looked over to see the Spiro's stare had dropped low. Lance didn't turn, didn't wonder enough to see what he was looking at with such silent aggression. He could see it as if it were happening in front of him, the image playing out in his mind's eye. Zidane's head lowered, the light in his eyes gone as he tried to make himself smaller.
"Sixty-eight," the keep said, turning to the woman again.
Lance could feel her pang of shock; it played directly on top of his own surprise. Instantly, she tucked the feeling away—the expression barely surfacing before she relaxed into a calm, nearly passive glare.
"What happened to twenty-three?"
The man returned her demeanor, glare deepening even more.
"Price just went up."
The rubies returned to their bag, and without a word she turned around to Zidane. Crouching down, she gave him a smile, hiding away any trace of anger.
"We'll get it on our way back, okay?"
Lance saw his eyes dim, but Zidane nodded anyway. His hand was embraced once again, and they calmly walked on. Zidane briefly looked back, staring at the wind chime again. Before Lance could follow his stare up, the gruff words of the shopkeep rang out.
"Put that thing to sleep and I'll lower the price back down."
Quick pain shot through Lance at the statement, eyes watching as Zidane's mother gave no reaction. No other response except continuing to walk away with her hold on Zidane's hand tightening. Gently, her thumb ran along the sleeve covering his hand; the same loving stroke she had done before.
Keeping a few steps behind, Lance began thinking back. His mind was reaching back, going to the short time he had known Zidane. A tight laugh barked from him.
"Guess I know where you get your strength from," he said. "Damn."
Despite the fact that the crossbreed's face hidden from his view, Lance felt the smile he gave in response. But the expression was sad, lasting for only a moment before that empty stare took its place.
A feeling floated into Lance. She hadn't been the one to teach him what strength was.
A question popped into his head.
"She keeps calling you something," Lance began, suddenly remember the confusion he had felt at the beginning of the memory. "Like... Ko—Konachi?"
"Yeah," Zidane head had raised a little bit, letting Lance watch as he nodded. "That's my birth name."
Lance's feet nearly skittered to a stop, surprise overtaking him. "Your name's not actually Zidane?"
He just received a grin in response, blue eyes brightening for the first time since this began.
"Give it time," Zidane replied. "I can only explain so fast."
They walked in silence for a few moments before the crossbreed spoke up again, moving Lance's attention away from the passing shops.
"Spiro naming is actually pretty unique," he began. "There's no last names or anything like that, but instead the 'family identification' comes from the first two letters of someone's name. Like, for example, Ryzuk. That's the most common name in our culture—basically the Spiro equivalent of naming your kid John Smith or something. In this case, the R would come from the first letter of either parent's name. Doesn't matter which one; unless someone's got an ego complex, the order just depends on what sounds better. And the second letter, 'Y', would be from the other parent."
"So that's like their surname then," Lance said, trying to grasp the concept as quickly as possible.
Zidane nodded. "And the rest, the 'zuk' part, would act like the child's first name. Zuk actually means young, by the way. There's some more culture for you."
Lance returned the grin momentarily. "So what's your name mean then? Where's the K and the O come from?"
The smallest amount of hesitation stifled the flow of their conversation. Then Zidane spoke again, both his voice and eyes touched with something Lance couldn't read.
"The K is from my mother, Kyrene. The O..." Another pause held his tongue, and he let out a quiet breath. "That's from Orah. But the rest of my name my mother gave me. Nachi is the only word for 'gift' in our language."
Lance nodded, catching the opportunity to change subjects. "So is there one language for the entire... Continent? How is this even divided?"
Zidane laughed, the light sound something Lance found relieving. "Hold on, you're asking some pretty big questions here," he said. "But to answer the first part, no, the languages are divided by region. There's four main sections in the area that makes up our part of the inner Earth." Noticing Lance's confusion, he added, "Spiros are separated from the Razaleks by hemisphere. Each faction has exactly half of the inner planet. But I mean, compared to human territory the landscaping isn't much different. There's a little more water here than the Razalek area, but most of it is just land. Some of it's like this"—He brought Lance's attention to the forest area surrounding the marketplace, the trees more visible as they approached a corner and began rounding it—"but that's just what I've heard. I actually haven't been anywhere else but Lanquim."
Lance looked to Zidane, quietly trying to repeat the word when the crossbreed laughed again.
"Sorry, I'm giving you a lot of new concepts," he said, waving a hand. "Don't even worry about it. Just know Spiros have four main states, each with their own language, and Lanquim is the name of this town. Means 'From Earth to Sky.'"
Repeating the foreign name softly, Lance stayed quiet, looking out into the road and wondering why there were no cars.
"Razaleks went more in that direction," Zidane said over his shoulder. "Dabbled in human technology before deciding it wasn't worth the trouble. They developed technology of their own while Spiros decided to go against it altogether."
"So they never evolved..." Lance murmured.
Zidane nodded.
"Do they at least have fire?"
The crossbreed laughed. "Yeah, Lance, they've got fire."
"You'd think it be natural, then, for them to develop something more..." Lance replied, fascinated.
Zidane offered a shrug in response. "They've seen what it's doing to humanity and didn't like it. Turning you guys into robots."
Lance hesitated before bitterly agreeing with the crossbreed. He continued walking, looking at the artifacts this time as they passed on by.
"What're these things made of?" he asked. "Glass?"
Zidane nodded. With the silence, Lance was left to look at his surroundings. He shook his head, a little overwhelmed. "Can't believe this is what the center of the Earth actually looks like," he murmured.
"Not what you were expecting, huh?"
"Yeah. A lot less hot, too."
The crossbreed laughed a little, motioning with his head to the chimes as they passed by. "This is the main market. Had sales going all hours of the day." And then he said what Lance was thinking: "Had to cross this street in order to get where we needed to go."
"Which was where?"
Zidane grinned over his shoulder. "Patience."
Lance bit down on his inner cheek, determined not to talk back. He kept his thoughts to himself, mind mulling over a few questions, eyes looking up only when he noticed a change in their path. They had gone away from the roadside; instead of turning at a one-way corner, they kept walking forward.
As they approached one of the wooden stalls directly ahead, Lance felt a smile appear on Kyrene's face. The shopkeep looked to her, the shadows overcasting his frame revealing nothing more than the shape of a man. A moment passed, enough for the man to smile, and he leaned forward into the light, his hands spreading out on the countertop.

Submitted: November 17, 2019

© Copyright 2023 Meaghan Kalena. All rights reserved.


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