Chapter Eight – continued
Winter had finally taken a turn towards frigid. She shivered as she pulled her thick and almost too heavy cloak around herself. The hood was lined in soft, plush material that helped keep her ears moderately warm, and she kept it firmly pulled over her face. Her gloves were lined in the same soft material and were almost as thick as her cloak, making it a little difficult to keep a tight hold on her basket. The sun was shining weakly and the snow had yet to come, but Abigail still shivered.
“Here, allow me,” a familiar voice said as a large hand swooped in to take charge of her basket.
Abigail bit back a smile. His sister and the mermaid princess had been taken care of. She wondered what Adrian could possibly be doing at the markets this time.
“Is it more duck this time?” Adrian asked cheerfully as they entered the markets together.
“N-no,” Abigail stuttered through teeth she kept clenched to prevent them from chattering.
“It is cold out here, isn’t it? Come. Let me purchase something for you to help.”
“N-no. No, thank you. I’m really in a hurry.”
“Please,” Adrian said. “It’ll just take a moment. Why don’t you tell me where I can find you and I’ll bring it to you so you can get home as quickly as possible? Honestly, I don’t see why your mistress or master doesn’t offer you a carriage on such dreadfully cold days.”
Abigail clutched tighter at the cloak, her eyes wide. She had no answer, none that would or could be flattering to anyone. Besides, if she had taken the Olidan carriage, with it’s family crest on both sides, and he’d seen it, he might guess at who she was.
She swallowed the ball in her chest, the one that both wanted her to speak up, to correct his misunderstanding and to bite her tongue and not say anything so as to prevent further embarrassment. It was, needless to say, an uncomfortable feeling.
“Gail? Where can I meet you at?”
“Oh,” she said with a small jolt. “I, um, I’m here for some material. There’s a stall near the fountain that sells the finest fabrics from the Sun Kingdom.”
She peeked up at him when neither of them moved. His eyes had lit up, though he appeared deep in thought.
“Then you must be employed by one of the wealthiest families,” he murmured to himself, his voice loud enough for her to hear. He turned away to walk off, murmuring, “That narrows things down a little.”
Abigail swallowed hard, her eyes lingering on the basket still swinging from one of Adrian’s hands.
It did narrow things down. Almost too much. Very few families outside of the royal family could afford the fabrics from the Sun Kingdom. Only accessible by either a roundabout route across most of the continent or through the narrow and often treacherous single pass of the Fairy Mountains between the Sun and Glass Kingdoms, the merchants who made it through often charged exorbitant sums for their troubles. But the fabric themselves were the finest woven, and very little was produced year to year.
It was said the threads were like spidersilk. Thin, yet strong. When woven properly, it was nearly impossible to see individual strands. An opalescent white in it’s natural form, it was very difficult to dye and, reports said, took great amounts of dye to turn it into the pale, pastel colors they shimmered with. Even the Queen wore very few gowns made from it.
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