The marketplace at Lifa was one of the largest marketplaces Nisa had ever seen. Once, on one of her father’s archaeological digs, they had found an ancient city. Its marketplace had been one of the largest ever found on record, but this one in Lifa was nearly twice that size.
The marketplace itself was on, what Nisa would have considered, a balcony. Below the street that opened up into a wide circle, pillars held it up overtop the streets below them where the citizens of Lifa continued walking and traveling and going about their everyday lives.
It stretched nearly a football field and a half in length and had no buildings in sight. Instead, everything was sold either on top of large creatures—literally the creatures were so large, that they held entire stores on top of them—or on beautifully decorated, two story stalls. Each one was the size of a small house, but with cloth overhangs instead of a ceiling and walls, which meant they were open to the springtime air that blew Nisa’s black hair around her face.
“We need to find more weapons—they have better quality here,” Vanmor said.
“Why would you need weapons when you have your magic?” Ena frowned.
Vanmor shook his head. “It never hurts to be too careful.”
Bea and Susie waved off Oliver, Chris, Ena, Vanmor, and Kor’ok. “We’ll look around here.”
“Actually,” Bea started, walking backward as she headed toward one of the large beasts, “I’m going to speak to the owners about them. They have the torso of a mammoth but their heads are… quite different. I want to know more.”
Susie and Nisa both rolled their eyes. “You always want to know more,” Nisa called with a chuckle.
Susie gasped and glanced at a wall decoration at one of the stalls. There were hundreds of them, so Nisa had no doubt she would study them. She couldn’t wait to as well, but just as she headed toward Susie, her eyes caught sight of Aleyr, not with the other men like he should be.
With a frown and intense glare, Nisa marched over to where he stood beside a stall filled with gemstones, jewels, and glimmering crystals. “What are you up to, Aleyr?”
“Have you seen anything this expensive in your entire life?” Aleyr’s eyes widened.
Nisa gripped his arm. “No. You’re not going to do what I think you’re going to do. You hear me? Besides, you were only supposed to travel with us until you got to the next port, remember?”
Aleyr smirked and leaned his hip against the stall. “Not a port, remember?” His hand slid inside his pocket.
Nisa’s eyes widened. “Wait, did you—?” she hissed.
Aleyr grabbed her hand and led her away from the stall. “Of course, but see, that’s how it’s—“
“Thieves! Stop them!” a voice shouted.
Nisa whirled around, staring at the store owner with her hands up in the air. Guards poured out of the sides of the marketplace where they patrolled, waiting for trouble. “Wait… I didn’t take anything!”
The translator in her pocket beeped, but didn’t repeat her words.
The stall owner shouted something, pointing to her with an angry scowl on her face.
Aelyr snatched her arm and yanked her away. Nisa yelped and tried to pull herself out of his grip, but to no avail. They sprinted across the marketplace to the archway that led to the staircase leading in and out of it.
Aleyr said something in her ear, but she couldn’t understand him, not now with all the chaos going on when she had no time to try to think. Ignoring her, he pressed forward, but by then, a group of guards gathered at the bottom, crossbows in their hands, aimed right for them.
Nisa ducked down, but Aleyr shoved her to the side, completely off the staircase. She landed on the ground on her side with a wheeze, but he gave her no time to catch her breath. Aleyr grabbed her shoulders and shoved her forward, down one of the side streets. A thoa trotted toward them, so Aleyr pressed Nisa against the wall, his chest crushing her back as the thoa walked by.
Guards shouted at them and bolts fired in every direction, but Aleyr pushed Nisa. This time, her feet listened on their own and she burst out of the alleyway, onto one of the main roads.
On the corner, a town crier’s voice echoed through the city, louder than most of the other noises and Aleyr and Nisa sprinted toward him. Up ahead, a dozen more guards poured out of a side street and pointed to her.
The crier leapt backward as the guards darted passed her.
Still clenching her hand, Aleyr twisted her arm and dashed the opposite direction. Bolts whizzed by her head and Nisa yelped and ducked downward. Why, out of all times, did her translation device have to completely go out on her now? She couldn’t fully explain herself, saying that it was Aleyr who stole the jewel instead of her, but then again, if she did say that, who would believe her?
Nisa had no more time for questions as Aleyr yanked her down the street, with the guards right on their heels. More bolts flew through the air and Nisa sucked in a deep breath as one narrowly missed her right arm. Up here, the crowd thickened, so an elbow nailed Nisa in the ribs. She winced and stepped to the side, stepping on someone’s foot. They shot her a glare, but at the sound of the guards yelling at them, the person gasped and jumped back. The crowd leapt away in fear, which gave Aleyr and Nisa more room to run.
Aleyr held her arm and yanked her down another side street, to the right this time. It was a wider street, fortunately, so they ran as fast as their legs could carry them.
Above them, something buzzed. Nisa paused and glanced up just in time to see a cube of energy shooting down toward her.
“Aleyr—“ she started but it was too late.
The cube collapsed around them. Aleyr slammed into the energy at the front and it shocked him and through him backward. He landed on the ground with a groan, as dozens of guards poured into the alleyway.
The energy disappeared and Nisa held up her hands. “Wait, I promise, I didn’t steal it. Can any of you understand me…? Uh… uhka…” She stuttered, trying the word for peace.
The guards harrumphed. One of them jerked her to the side and clasped her hands together. Energy poured over her just like before, only this time, her entire body was encased in it so that she couldn’t move. Right before her eyes, they did the same to Aleyr and one of the guards fished the jewel out of his pocket.
Aleyr glared at the man but the guards hoisted him up and led them both away to an unknown fate.