“Are those tentacles?” Kane asked loudly, eyes going saucer round. Tobie, Kane’s brother whipped his head back, not willing to miss whatever had arrested his sister’s attention. The two children’s sudden stop caused the crowd under the gates to grumble and move around the small family. The guards ushering them through smirked.
Rache smiled apologetically at their fellow travelers. “Yes, Kane.” She picked the little girl up. The sudden strain reminded Rache just how much Kane had grown. “But hush, it is rude to stare.” She offered her hand to Tobie, who took it dutifully.
“They grow from her shoulder!” Kane’s mouth gaped at her mother, as if Rache had kept a strange secret from her daughter with purpose. At least the words were hushed wonder, instead of exclamation.
Rache nodded and pulled her children back into the herd. “Yes, sweet.”
Tobie followed quiet behind his mother, staring up past the heads of the crowd at the iridescent towers spinning their spires into the too blue sky. He’d not said a word since they left the banks of the river back home. Rache worried about his silence, but at the moment was guiltily thankful for it. Kane had been only chatter for the last two days of travel.
Born and grown in the backwaters of the country, it was hard for Rache not to stare at the strange peoples around her, and harder for her still to answer her daughters questions with anything less than whispered pleas to be polite. They passed below another arch, this one seemingly made from spiderweb.
“Does Da know about that?!” Kane said, still loud and directly next her mother’s ear. Rache winced. Kane strained back, not towards the tentacles writhing from a shopkeepers shoulder-blade, but at something else.
Rache couldn’t see what her daughter referred to, but she saw Tobie’s eyes get even bigger when he caught sight of it. She breathed in through her nose and hurried them forward. “He must, living here.” Rache said.
“Where does Da live?” Kane asked and didn’t wait for an answer. “There?” She pointed to a strangely squat building, a fat man with a long lizard tail slithered from the window and disappeared over the roof. “There?” Kane pointed to a gilded gate that barred the street from an alley. Rache thought she saw oily shadows moving behind the golden bars and picked up her pace, dragging Tobie a little.
“Ther-” Kane started.
” I don’t –” Rache said with gritted teeth before she could stop herself. She breathed, feeling her stomach roll. He was here, he had to be. Rache would find him and then they’d be alright. Another breath in, another breath out. She squeezed Tobie’s hand, reassuring herself. “Not there sweet, somewhere else.”
“But in this city?” Kane asked, dark brows furrowing with almost comic intensity. Her thick braids swung around her round face as her mother jogged to get across a rising bridge.
“Yes.” Rache said, slowing as they got to the other side. A black fin broke the water of the canal next to them, the creature rising its back into the air before it slid back into the sickly green depths of the waterway. She closed her eyes. “In this city.”
I am a PG thief this week, you’re welcome fellow scoundrels. I’ve stolen this tentacled first line from the talented Kate Kearney over at More Than 1/2 Mad. Make sure to see the original and the rest over at the Legal Theft Project.