Blan was known to all in Agash for the sweet confection of fruit, candy and shaved ice he sold, called h’al-h’al. He worked at stall near the market where traders would pass by. Agash lay on one of the salt roads, so merchants and strangers were the norm. But Blan had never seen someone like the woman who appeared at his stall one afternoon.
It was a particularly hot day and her face was streaked with dust from the road. She purchased a cup of h’al-h’al from Blan, paying with an old coin. In studying it, Blan did not recognize the empress stamped upon it.
“How much is this in standard? I don’t know what change to give you.”
The woman waved him away. “No matter. I’ll have no need for it soon enough.” She spoke with an odd accent, a lilt that Blan was certain he had never heard before. Her eyes and her dress were strange as well, even by the standards of Agash, where it was said the known worlds passed by. It was an old phrase, and no longer true, for there was only one world now.
“I hope you’re not in any trouble.” Blan said, though he didn’t know why. He knew better than to involve himself in the lives of strangers. Doing so led to problems, and those he could not afford.
She gave him an odd smile. “We’re all of us in trouble, more or less. Some of us just realize it better than others.”
Blan gave a wary shrug. “I guess. You like it?”
“Delicious,” she said, still smiling, and asked for his name. He told her, after a moment’s hesitation. “I will see you soon, Blan of Agash,” she said, and took her leave. Continue reading