Fun stuff, but editing is taking up time. Imagine that. Feel free to insert five paragraphs of description.
The pungent smell of humanity, toiling in the hot sun, filled the courtyard while shouts rang through the air, echoing off the tall earthen walls surrounding the market.
I escorted the Elven girl through the narrow stalls, blocking the malevolent glares and the evil signs with my body, signs she never noticed even as she fiercely defended them.
I'd been assigned her, an assignment I'd quickly dismissed as beneath me, but had grown to accept and almost enjoy. Her naivete and innocence came with a shocking breadth of knowledge and intelligence while her eyes, shifting between amethyst and sapphire mesmerized me. I'd been wary of her using her magics on me, been warned by the Emperor's own speaker, but so far she hadn't done anything other than argue eloquently for a cause other than her own.
I smiled at her while the slaves in her periphery shifted, taking aggressive stances. I barely paid attention to my own words as I waited for unpleasantness. “The slave plays his part in the great order as does every other creature. We are all creatures with greater or lesser levels of development, but deep down we’re simple animals. Without society there is no meaning to the individual.”
“I'd be more convinced of your sincerity if you did not occupy one of the highest levels of administration.” She slanted her eyes down to peer directly into mine, focusing on me in a way our modest women would not do, frank, naked appeal in her amethyst eyes.
The voices behind me, the hissed curses came before the flung fruit. I leaned into her, close enough to smell the delicate scent of her skin, while I felt the sting and thud on my armored back with flecks splashing up my neck.
So close, I only had to whisper. “Unlike you? Daughter of an Empire? Ambassador of the High City?”
She turned away from me, from the threat behind me, never seeing it. Her vulnerability stirred something, envy maybe for a creature who had lived without the need to anticipate violence.
She faced a seller behind a stall who froze with wide eyes and slack mouth as she spoke to me. “As you know, we have no slaves. Each house has its order, but within the order there is choice. I chose diplomacy over the ranks of the Rasha. My interest in linguistics over small magics or armaments brought me to my current position.”
The Rasha were the silver soldiers who fought like lightning. The idea that my young friend could choose a life of fear and rage when she didn't even notice an attack made my stomach clench. I covered the plum in her hand, a plum with purple streaks that matched her eyes.
"You speak of magic and choice in the same breath. Your magic, your religion would call your position destiny. Is relying on fate so much better than depending on state?”She smiled unconsciously as I took the fruit, filling her mouth with its flavor as I took her arm, too intimate a gesture, but those behind me had not stopped their hissing. I led the way past the fruit seller, throwing more coin than the plum was worth to the seller. The man, a merchant who knew who oiled his cart, wheeled his wares into the space behind us, blocking the slaves and leaving us to exit the market without her knowing how close she'd come to tasting the slaves' hatred.