Chapter 5

They started on the road, careful to move to the far side when they would spot other travelers. Her dog was well trained as he stayed by her side, tail wagging happily as he watched the path ahead of them. The closer they got to town and the more people there was, the closer her dog stayed.

They walked into the open gates with no hassle from the guards. It was peak tourist season for the city, so it was normal to have a flow of people. They were the last city to the northern mountains, and were well known for the hot springs and natural beauty.

A noble man passed by, his wife trailing behind him. The crowd parted for them and their guard as they continued forward. She watched as they walked passed, their noses upturned and eyes ahead. It was a surprise they were not in a carriage, instead choosing to walk among the lesser people, as they would call it. When the two turned to go down a rather fancy looking street, she found out why. It was banned to go in a carriage, or horse down that street. To keep the area tidy, the city said.

She knew the higher levels of society well enough, due to her being friends with Elric. It was stuffy, and people looked down upon people that didn't have the right lineage. It was known that Elric was shunned by the nobles for being friends with someone of her rank, but he didn't seem to care. He said they already looked down on him for being the son of a merchant. He had the money, but not the blood. A ridiculous notion, she found. He was a fine young man, who stood tall and proud. His smooth black hair was something she could be jealous of, compared to her unruly locks that liked to misbehave. His skin was copper, and his eyes dark as the night sky. His facial features were nothing to be ashamed of, as he was rather handsome. His body was also well worked from their training over the years.

Yet the noble ladies only liked him as a novelty. Marriage was not mentioned to him, despite his popularity. Hell, she even tried to matchmake him with a local merchants daughter a few years ago, but their date had not turned out well. She was not for him, he said the next day. The girl? She was heartbroken. She cried to her for a week afterwards, her red hair frizzy and her cute freckled cheeks full of tears. He was perfect she said, he treated her so much better then other men she had seen, she wept. She was then married off two months later, and Elric remained single to this day. She was starting to wonder if he liked men, at this point. She giggled, and her dog yipped happily.

She was going to miss it, and him. She walked down the familiar streets, taking turns and twists to the market. She would have to find a traveling merchant, otherwise she might be found out. She liked to sell her hunts to the local merchants, as they gave her a good deal, and even stocked medicine for her. Soft fur brushed her fingers, and she leaned to the side to pet her pup. A few more roads to her destination. She pulled on her hood, being wary of her appearance.

She spent enough time in the city to recognize the locals, so it was easy to tell the difference of who she should seek and not. She walked past the isles of goods, eyeing the different things. She needed to find one who would be interested in her goods, but also looked trust-worthy enough to give a fair price.

Then she spotted him. He was probably her age, with hair red as an apple, and irises green as moss. He wore loose fitting clothing that matched the nomadic people, and in his hair he wore a single braid with beads of purple. The items on his blanket ranged from trinkets to pottery.

He suited her needs. A traveling nomad was someone who would least question her identity, yet would know prices well. The beads of purple and the shell were close in color, so he might have interest.

She approached him, putting on her best smile. He smiled back, two cute dimples pressing his cheeks. Ah, she loved dimples.

"Do you happen to-to buy..." She paused. "Items, merchant?" She asked, getting straight to the point. He tilted his head, blinking, before his eyes turned to her lips. He noticed her speech disorder, but he seemed to gloss over it. It was one of her flaws, but it was not something she could get rid of. It lived with her, it was much part of her as anything else.

"Depends on the ware." He said, his voice doing something odd to her. His voice was a melody, it was music to her ears and sang to her body. Odd. She shook it off, before grabbing the little makeshift pouch that carried the shards of shell. It was also made of her dress scraps. She held it out, and the man took it, peeking inside. "How particular..." He said, his smooth voice sending a wave of goosebumps on her arms. "What is it?" He said as he picked up a piece. The inside sparkled like fresh snow, while the royal purple of the outer side was sleek as horn.

"I don't... Know." She lied, perhaps a bit to easily. She already thought of a backup story before entering town. "I found it in-in the forest while on a hu-hunt." Which was partially true, at least. The man held the piece in his fingers up, his mossy eyes examining it. "Pretty colors..." She paused. "So I thought it cou-could be worth something." It was a dragons shell, of course it had to be worth something.

Mossy green eyes landed on her, and she felt a shiver up her spine. "How much do you want for it?" Ah, negotiations. He was interested.

"Make a... offer?" She said, eyes going down the line of merchants. It was a way of saying she had other options. His nose scrunched, and he felt the heaviness of the bag rather dramatically. She was hoping for 7 silver, and in the least 5 silver. It was a lot. Most people only made about 20 silver in a years work, but it was a rare good after all. Hell, if she said it was a dragons shell, it would probably be worth gold. However, that was dangerous.

"Color, quality, amount. I will give you 20 silver." Her eyes widened a fraction. Could he know what it was? No, that wasn't likely. It wasn't like people came across dragon egg shells every day, nomad or not. She stood still, as if debating. It was a bluff, she already knew she was going to take the offer. It would be enough for her to travel for months. Hell, 10 silver was pushing limits. She was prepared for 5 silver, for Dragoons sake.

"Deal." She said, holding out her hand. He gripped it, his touch hot as he kneeled before her like a Knight to his Princess. The hotness seemed to trail from her hand straight to her face in a heavy blush as he brought her hand to his forehead, then to his lips. The soft skin brushed against her knuckles in a kiss, making her blink. What was happening? She had never been treated so... Elegantly before. Mossy green eyes seemed to see through her, the decorative lines across her skin seemed to glow lightly, making her quickly pull her hand back. She pulled her sleeve down to cover her hands, now all to aware of the lines that decorated so much of her skin. She needed to be more careful.

"Deal." His voice was smooth as he dug into his money pouch. Despite her pulling back, he was still knelt in front of her. Woman who passed pressed their dainty hands to their lips, giggling at the display.

That's right, she looked male, and wore male clothing.

The man in front of her saw through that, and even dare give her extra money for her wares. Those eyes sent shivers up her spine as they looked over her once more. This man was dangerous. She would rather not meet him again. She took the money, thanked him, and drifted away. She could feel his eyes on her as she quickened her pace.

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