The clamor of the village on Market Day was almost too much to bear. Not as  bad as a city, it was still getting to her after the profound silence that she had enjoyed beyond its walls. Chickens squawked, children shrieked and ran around playing as their parents hawked their wares and traded their goods. Her head felt like it wanted to explode.

Tasmin slipped down an alley, away from the noise and stopped to lean against the wall. Closing her eyes, she willed the tension to leave her body as she concentrated on her breathing. She felt a slight shifting of weight and reached a hand into her hood, fingers finding and stroking her tiny furred companion. “I know, Henry, a necessary evil. We’ll be gone soon.”

The consoling words were more for herself than the tiny marmoset hidden in the folds of her cape. He chattered softly and leaned into her fingers. After a moment, she pushed away from the wall and adjusted her cape. Rejoining the crowd, she paused long enough to buy a couple apples. Slipping the first into her satchel, she took a bite out of the second, breaking a piece and feeding it to Henry.

Her eyes never rested as they absorbed the sights around her. Always wary, always watching for potential danger. She never felt comfortable in any type of crowd, but sometimes it could not be avoided. She paused again to make a few more purchases, stocking up on rations before she headed towards a tavern on the edge of town.

He was already waiting at a table near the door, back to the wall. She took a seat opposite and set her bag down under the table. Tasmin pulled her hood down, careful to keep her small pet hidden. Mid afternoon meant that it was not too busy and the few people around paid no attention. Being Market Day meant there were many strangers around. They were just two more going about their business and were ignored. Tasmin was satisfied and signaled for a drink.

“Do you have it?” The man nodded and slid a large pouch across the table. Opening it, Tasmin found a cylinder and several gold coins. Looking up, she said, “This was not what we agreed to.”

“Tinker will give you the rest on the other side.” She stared at him and he looked away uncomfortably.

Tasmin let the silence draw itself out for a minute longer. The barmaid brought the drinks and she gave her several coppers. Taking a sip, she turned to face the man across the table. “You better not double-cross me,” she muttered.

(Next: The Travelers)