Oranges meant vitamin C, and vitamin C meant a swifter recovery. At the same time, oranges meant stealing, stealing meant risking getting caught, getting caught meant losing a hand, and that would take a lot longer to recover from. She snatched the oranges, hiding them at the bottom of her basket and paid for a handful of dates when the stall keeper turned back around. Cold sweat clung to the back of her neck. Oranges were the best she could do. Stealing from an apothecary didn’t bear thinking about. Their medicines were effective. So were their guards. And their magics. It would take more than a cold to drive Taene to steal from apothecaries. She left the bazaar and wove her way through streets of progressively poorer nature. The lamps went from well polished crystal to glass to cracked glass. The enchantments went from clear to spotty, but she didn’t go so far that the streets relied on oil or torches.
Taene waved to her neighbors and ducked through the archway to the courtyard she shared with three other apartments. No one else was out so she went in briskly.
“Kida,” she called. “I’m back.” Taene began emptying her basket onto the table. Placing the bread in the bread box and arranging the fruits and vegetables by meal grouping and preparation, she would make them stretch where they needed to stretch. Kida wandered in, wrapped in a blanket, soft hair tousled, and eyes groggy with sleep and sickness. She clambered into a chair and wrapped her blanket a little tighter. “Can I help?” she asked Taene.
“You’re still sick,” Taene replied. “You can make it up to me when you’re better.”
“This should help.” Taene drew an orange out of her mostly empty basket and offered it to her sister. “Just for you.”
Kida took it, only remembering after she’d pulled it in close that oranges might have strings. “Should I save it?”
“No, you should eat it. I have two more.”
Taene smiled softly. “Three. Oranges help you get better.”
“Oranges are expensive.”
“I got a good deal.”
Kida looked down at the orange and dug her nail into the skin until she could peel the orange. She held it close to her nose so she could enjoy the bright smell, like sunshine and laughter. “Thanks Taene.”
“You’re welcome Kida.” Taene got out her kitchen knife and began wrangling vegetables into useable shapes. The kitchen knife made her aware of the knife strapped to her right forearm, and the ones at her ankle, hip, and the small of her back. It had been two years since she’d had to use them at all. Kheffa was far enough away from Lendres to be safe and odd enough to be low on the list. She didn’t want to move Kida again soon. She glanced at Kida who was eating her orange segment by segment and savoring each bite with her eyes closed. She still needed vitamin D and additional iron. Wistfully, Taene thought of the Irohki tea she and Kida enjoyed when they were younger. Not knowing all the supplements that went into it. But you couldn’t find tea this far south that worked the same way. Oranges and dates it was until she could find something better. Until Kida was old enough to look out for herself. Then Taene would go back. She quartered an eggplant with unnecessary force. Yes, then they’d both go back.
I’m a thief! I stole this first line from Kathryn and you can see her original piece and pieces written by other thieves if you look over here!