Felix, Part 2: What Happened in the Market?

Felix has always been fascinated by the world around him and unafraid to try new things. Ever since he read about the rise and fall of the Elementals, however, he hasn’t been able to think about anything else. 

“So Voxace used to be the capitol of the world?” I ask, filling my plate.

“It would have been,” Mom says, “but when the Elementals overran Sauca, everyone abandoned the Unification.”

“That’s where all the cities would have become one big group?” I ask.

“Exactly, Felix,” Dad says, “we would have been a nation. Other lands far away have had nations for as long as I can remember.” The door creaks open, and Filion walks in with a brown jug. “Hey, Fil!” Dad says.

Filion shuts the door as Dad and I sit on the floor at the low table, plates full. “I’ll join you after I put the milk outside,” he says.

“Okay, don’t take too long.” Mom lifts a basin of water onto the stove and adds more wood to the metal firebox. She scoops chicken and vegetables onto her plate and sits on the floor next to the table. I take a huge bite and cough. My eyes water from the spice. Mom laughs. “Strong, isn’t it?”

“Yeah!” I gulp down water to soothe my burning mouth. “It doesn’t smell spicy, though.”

“You must have used the Saucan pepper. It has hardly any smell, but it’ll make any meal hotter.” Mom takes a bite. “It’s good, if you like spice.”

Filion walks back in and goes to the stove. “You used way too much pepper, Felix. I would have mentioned it, but you seemed so pleased with yourself.”

“Filion!” Dad says.

“What? It’s true.” Fil joins us with a full plate.

“I thought you said it was too spicy!” I hit him in the shoulder.

“It’s too spicy for you. I can handle it.”

“Filion, that’s enough,” Mom says.

“Fine.” Fil takes a huge bite. “How did you guys do today?” he asks through a full mouth.

Dad reaches for his cup. “Pretty good. We sold everything today.”

“Even the cima dolls?” I ask.

Mom nods. “Even the cima dolls. People bought them like they were going out of style. Good suggestion, Felix.”

“Zia showed me hers. That’s where I got the idea.”

“The girl next door?” Mom asks.

“His girlfriend,” Filion says.

“No she’s not!” I hit Filion again. He smirks.

“Enough!” Dad says, slamming his hand on the table. Filion and I turn to Dad. His cheeks are as red as his hair. “I don’t want to hear any more bickering from you two, understand?”

“He started it!” I say.

“Your father’s right,” Mom says, “Filion, you need to start setting a better example for your brother. Felix, quit hitting him. You know he’s just teasing you to get a rise out of you. We’d rather not come home to our children fighting after a long day, understand?”

“But you said it was a good day.”

“It was, but something happened today.” Mom takes another bite.

“Was it the fire in the market?” Filion asks, shoveling more food into his mouth.

Dad sets down his fork. “That was nothing.”

Filion swallows his food. “People kept talking about it in the street when I went to get milk. They said they’d risk going to the next borough for food if it happened again.”

“What fire in the market?” I ask.

“They terrified everyone,” Dad says, “people bought those cima dolls so they would feel safer. Cheap protection charms sell in a time of crisis, I guess. Let’s hope it doesn’t happen again.  We’ll lose all our business if it does, and then neither of you two will go to the Baress School.”

I don’t understand why Dad ignored me. He always answers my questions, unless it’s about something serious and he needs to think about it. Before I can ask again Filion says,“The school’s not that expensive,”

“How are you going to get there, son?” Dad takes a sip of water.

“I’ll take a horse or a wagon or-”

“Those things cost money, you know. And I am not letting you hitchhike. The road from here to Baress is too dangerous.”

“If we have a couple more days like today, we might be able to send you with Zeke’s caravan next week.” Mom starts gathering the empty plates. “Just be patient, Fil.”

My brother sighs, then picks up my plate and his. “Okay.”

“What went down in the market, Dad?” I ask again.

Dad sighs, resting his arms on the table. “This woman with white hair stopped and stared at your mom. I asked her if she needed anything, but she completely ignored me.”

“I bet she was one of those old witches from outside the city. Did she have a big cat with her?” I ask. “Zia says they always have big cats on their shoulders.”

“That’s just it, Felix,” Mom says, “she couldn’t have been much older than me when I married your father. Beautiful, too. Absolutely beautiful. She stares at me with that eerie stare and then she whispered under her breath before walking away.” Mom sighs. “It’s been a weird day.”

“I saw her!” Filion smiles, and his eyes light up. “Yeah, I’m pretty sure I walked past her on the way back to the house. You’re right, Mom, she’s beautiful.”

Mom’s brow furrows. “In that case, neither of you will leave the house after dinner until all this blows over. That woman may be dangerous, and the city guard’s grown more aggressive the past few weeks.”

“But Fil said there was a fire-”

“That was nothing, Felix.” Dad pats me on the shoulder. “Just a couple ruffians causing trouble.”

I look to Fil, hoping for answers. His brow is furrowed. “Can I help you guys out in the market the next few days?” he asks. “I want to help get as much money together as possible.”

Dad smiles. “You’re just itching to leave us, aren’t you?” Fil nods. “Your mom and I will talk about it. Right, sweetie?”

Mom shoots Dad a skeptical glance. “Of course. We’ll talk tonight.”

 

I toss and turn in my bed, thoughts racing. Did the mysterious woman hypnotize mom? When is Filion going to leave for Baress? Why wouldn’t Dad tell me anything about the fire? I rub my face, sighing into my hands. I’m overthinking this.

My door creaks open. I freeze. Filion creeps in, hair pulled back and a finger to his lips. He tiptoes to my bed, sitting at the end. “Guess what?” he asks. I prop myself on my elbows, shrugging. “Mom and Dad didn’t tell us everything that happened at the market.”

“I know. I wonder-”

“This little girl tore through the market, screaming, with her hands on fire. She burned a couple stalls down.”

“How do you know?” I whisper, my pulse racing. Ordinary people don’t shoot flames out of their hands.

“I overheard it when I went to get milk. A few of the older kids witnessed it.”

“It was just a little girl?” I ask, sitting all the way up. Maybe they manifest their powers early. The book never mentioned how they got their abilities.

Filion shakes his head. “I think she was being chased. These kids kept talking about people in black carrying weapons.”

“The city guard doesn’t wear black, though. They wear gray and blue.”

“That’s probably why Mom and Dad told us not to leave the house after dark. With everything they saw today, they’re worried we’ll get in trouble.” Filion’s mouth creeps into a smile. “Get dressed.”

“But you just said-”

“Felix, remember at dinner when I mentioned seeing the gorgeous woman with white hair?” I nod. When did he get so interested in girls? “She ducked into the Witch’s Brew a few blocks away with a terrified little girl.”

I gasp. “You think it’s the Elemental girl?”

“Hah!” Filion looks around, eyes wide. “I knew it,” he says quieter, “I knew you thought she had Elemental powers! Let’s go, we can check it out.”

I hesitate. Mom and Dad will kill us if they find out. Then again, when’s the next time I’ll be anywhere near an Elemental? When will I get to make a difference? I jump out of bed and grab a tunic and pants. “Grab my bag,” I say, pointing at my canvas bag hanging next to the door.

Filion hands it to me as I pull my tunic over my head. “What are you thinking?”

I smile, taking the bag from him. “We’re gonna catch that girl and take her to the city guard.”

Fil snatches the bag away from me. “No way, Felix. We’re just gonna take a look and come home, that’s all.”

“But if we deliver her to the city guard, we’ll be heroes.” I reach for the bag, glaring at Fil.

“No, it’ll look like we kidnapped a little girl. Besides, what if she uses her-” The floor creaks. Fil and I freeze. Insects chirp and buzz outside. I hear the neighbors from across the backyard shouting. No more noises come from inside the house, though. Mom and Dad are still asleep.

“Alright, alright. We won’t try anything.” I’m whispering now, knowing if we get caught Mom will never let us go to Baress.

“So Voxace used to be the capitol of the world?” I ask, filling my plate.
“It would have been,” Mom says, “but when the Elementals overran Sauca, everyone abandoned the Unification.”
“That’s where all the cities would have become one big group?” I ask.
“Exactly, Felix,” Dad says, “we would have been a nation. Other lands far away have had nations for as long as I can remember.” The door creaks open, and Filion walks in with a brown jug. “Hey, Fil!” Dad says.
Filion shuts the door as Dad and I sit on the floor at the low table, plates full. “I’ll join you after I put the milk outside,” he says.
“Okay, don’t take too long.” Mom lifts a basin of water onto the stove and adds more wood to the metal firebox. She scoops chicken and vegetables onto her plate and sits on the floor next to the table. I take a huge bite and cough. My eyes water from the spice. Mom laughs. “Strong, isn’t it?”
“Yeah!” I gulp down water to soothe my burning mouth. “It doesn’t smell spicy, though.”
“You must have used the Saucan pepper. It has hardly any smell, but it’ll make any meal hotter.” Mom takes a bite. “It’s good, if you like spice.”
Filion walks back in and goes to the stove. “You used way too much pepper, Felix. I would have mentioned it, but you seemed so pleased with yourself.”
“Filion!” Dad says.
“What? It’s true.” Fil joins us with a full plate.
“I thought you said it was too spicy!” I hit him in the shoulder.
“It’s too spicy for you. I can handle it.”
“Filion, that’s enough,” Mom says.
“Fine.” Fil takes a huge bite. “How did you guys do today?” he asks through a full mouth.
Dad reaches for his cup. “Pretty good. We sold everything today.”
“Even the cima dolls?” I ask.
Mom nods. “Even the cima dolls. People bought them like they were going out of style. Good suggestion, Felix.”
“Zia showed me hers. That’s where I got the idea.”
“The girl next door?” Mom asks.
“His girlfriend,” Filion says.
“No she’s not!” I hit Filion again. He smirks.
“Enough!” Dad says, slamming his hand on the table. Filion and I turn to Dad. His cheeks are as red as his hair. “I don’t want to hear any more bickering from you two, understand?”
“He started it!” I say.
“Your father’s right,” Mom says, “Filion, you need to start setting a better example for your brother. Felix, quit hitting him. You know he’s just teasing you to get a rise out of you. We’d rather not come home to our children fighting after a long day, understand?”
“But you said it was a good day.”
“It was, but something happened today.” Mom takes another bite.
“Was it the fire in the market?” Filion asks, shoveling more food into his mouth.
Dad sets down his fork. “That was nothing.”
Filion swallows his food. “People kept talking about it in the street when I went to get milk. They said they’d risk going to the next borough for food if it happened again.”
“What fire in the market?” I ask.
“They terrified everyone,” Dad says, “people bought those cima dolls so they would feel safer. Cheap protection charms sell in a time of crisis, I guess. Let’s hope it doesn’t happen again. We’ll lose all our business if it does, and then neither of you two will go to the Baress School.”
I don’t understand why Dad ignored me. He always answers my questions, unless it’s about something serious and he needs to think about it. Before I can ask again Filion says,“The school’s not that expensive,”
“How are you going to get there, son?” Dad takes a sip of water.
“I’ll take a horse or a wagon or-”
“Those things cost money, you know. And I am not letting you hitchhike. The road from here to Baress is too dangerous.”
“If we have a couple more days like today, we might be able to send you with Zeke’s caravan next week.” Mom starts gathering the empty plates. “Just be patient, Fil.”
My brother sighs, then picks up my plate and his. “Okay.”
“What went down in the market, Dad?” I ask again.
Dad sighs, resting his arms on the table. “This woman with white hair stopped and stared at your mom. I asked her if she needed anything, but she completely ignored me.”
“I bet she was one of those old witches from outside the city. Did she have a big cat with her?” I ask. “Zia says they always have big cats on their shoulders.”
“That’s just it, Felix,” Mom says, “she couldn’t have been much older than me when I married your father. Beautiful, too. Absolutely beautiful. She stares at me with that eerie stare and then she whispered under her breath before walking away.” Mom sighs. “It’s been a weird day.”
“I saw her!” Filion smiles, and his eyes light up. “Yeah, I’m pretty sure I walked past her on the way back to the house. You’re right, Mom, she’s beautiful.”
Mom’s brow furrows. “In that case, neither of you will leave the house after dinner until all this blows over. That woman may be dangerous, and the city guard’s grown more aggressive the past few weeks.”
“But Fil said there was a fire-”
“That was nothing, Felix.” Dad pats me on the shoulder. “Just a couple ruffians causing trouble.”
I look to Fil, hoping for answers. His brow is furrowed. “Can I help you guys out in the market the next few days?” he asks. “I want to help get as much money together as possible.”
Dad smiles. “You’re just itching to leave us, aren’t you?” Fil nods. “Your mom and I will talk about it. Right, sweetie?”
Mom shoots Dad a skeptical glance. “Of course. We’ll talk tonight.”

I toss and turn in my bed, thoughts racing. Did the mysterious woman hypnotize mom? When is Filion going to leave for Baress? Why wouldn’t Dad tell me anything about the fire? I rub my face, sighing into my hands. I’m overthinking this.
My door creaks open. I freeze. Filion creeps in, hair pulled back and a finger to his lips. He tiptoes to my bed, sitting at the end. “Guess what?” he asks. I prop myself on my elbows, shrugging. “Mom and Dad didn’t tell us everything that happened at the market.”
“I know. I wonder-”
“This little girl tore through the market, screaming, with her hands on fire. She burned a couple stalls down.”
“How do you know?” I whisper, my pulse racing. Ordinary people don’t shoot flames out of their hands.
“I overheard it when I went to get milk. A few of the older kids witnessed it.”
“It was just a little girl?” I ask, sitting all the way up. Maybe they manifest their powers early. The book never mentioned how they got their abilities.
Filion shakes his head. “I think she was being chased. These kids kept talking about people in black carrying weapons.”
“The city guard doesn’t wear black, though. They wear gray and blue.”
“That’s probably why Mom and Dad told us not to leave the house after dark. With everything they saw today, they’re worried we’ll get in trouble.” Filion’s mouth creeps into a smile. “Get dressed.”
“But you just said-”
“Felix, remember at dinner when I mentioned seeing the gorgeous woman with white hair?” I nod. When did he get so interested in girls? “She ducked into the Witch’s Brew a few blocks away with a terrified little girl.”
I gasp. “You think it’s the Elemental girl?”
“Hah!” Filion looks around, eyes wide. “I knew it,” he says quieter, “I knew you thought she had Elemental powers! Let’s go, we can check it out.”
I hesitate. Mom and Dad will kill us if they find out. Then again, when’s the next time I’ll be anywhere near an Elemental? When will I get to make a difference? I jump out of bed and grab a tunic and pants. “Grab my bag,” I say, pointing at my canvas bag hanging next to the door.
Filion hands it to me as I pull my tunic over my head. “What are you thinking?”
I smile, taking the bag from him. “We’re gonna catch that girl and take her to the city guard.”
Fil snatches the bag away from me. “No way, Felix. We’re just gonna take a look and come home, that’s all.”
“But if we deliver her to the city guard, we’ll be heroes.” I reach for the bag, glaring at Fil.
“No, it’ll look like we kidnapped a little girl. Besides, what if she uses her-” The floor creaks. Fil and I freeze. Insects chirp and buzz outside. I hear the neighbors from across the backyard shouting. No more noises come from inside the house, though. Mom and Dad are still asleep.
“Alright, alright. We won’t try anything.” I’m whispering now, knowing if we get caught Mom will never let us go to Baress.

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