"Guess it's a good thing I'm not human," I replied sarcastically. The young woman pulled back, and I cursed myself for speaking without thinking. "I'll be fine. Where is it?"
I took another step, and she pulled back. "What are you?" Only enhanced senses allowed me to hear her scared question.
"Well, I'm not like the guys here." Rhaelgyr roared, and it sounded far away. I hoped he and Kurlog hurt each other. Not that either were likely to die; I just wanted them to hurt.
"What do you want here?" She started edging down the alley, and I bit my lip. I didn't want to lose my guide to the troll market. Whatever that was.
"I just want to find my friend and go home." Hopefully I sounded as distraught as I was trying to be. Seeming sweet and innocent might be my only chance.
She crept out of the alley, standing up. She was tiny, underfed, showing signs of the struggle to live Between. Humans were tiny things, so fragile, not meant to be outside of their dimensions.
"If I take you, will you help me get home?" The tears in her eyes finally fell, and I rushed forward to embrace the young woman.
Looks like the compassion that had been born with Martel was continuing to grow.
I held her, and felt sorry for her. She was stuck as I was, with even less chance of getting out on her own.
Once her tears subsides, I pushed her to arms length. "I'll do everything I can to get you back home, but I can't make any promises."
"Anywhere but here," she pled. "It's horrible, and empty, and my brother won't see that. He insists we're better here, that we can make our own life."
"Doesn't look like much of a life."
"it hasn't been. There's little to eat, we're always hiding from that dragon or stupid warrior, and we're always bickering. The gods were petty back home, but at least we had a home." She sniffled, shoulders tensing with bitterness.
I gave her a squeeze, then stepped back. "Well, young miss, let's get started so I can get you home. I'm Morgan," I offered, smiling.
"Tessa," she said, wiping at her tears and runny nose. "It's a bit of a walk to the troll market, so we should start." The dragon roared triumphantly, and every hair rose on my body. "And we should move beore he starts hunting again." We slipped into the alley, sticking to shadows like rodents hiding from a cat.
I didn't tell Tessa that dragons could see heat signatures. Shadows wouldn't help if Rhaelgyr wanted us.
We'd travelled for half an hour, and were taking a little break before I talked again. "So if the troll market's so bad, why would my friend have been taken there?"
"For money, of course. We can't go in without being in danger, but Georgie made a deal with one of the slavers. We bring her strays, and we get money."
"Georgie's your brother?"
"Yeah." We started walking again, less furtively this time. Neither of us had heard the dragon since the beginning of our trek.
"And he sells off other humans?"
"Or elves, or goblins, or dogs, or whatever we find lost here." Tessa sounded sad, but she kept her face straight ahead, moving at a fast pace.
"And he's taking my friend there?"
"Definitely. The slaver likes good looking boys, so he's probably fetching a hefty bounty."
"What a horrible way to live." Before she could reply, an incredible din reached my ears. I'd heard this kind of cacophony before; hundreds of voices in dozens of languages barking their wares. Various kinds of livestock complained, and the air was redolent with a melange of odors.
"This is the troll market," Tessa said as we stepped around a corner. I stood beside her, stunned, and simply stared.