Lilith ducked as she made her way through the marketplace, dodging the ever-predictable stone that flew through the air every time she walked by the table where jewelry and other valuable wares were sold. Once the business got better, Lilith was sure that the woman who ran the table would upgrade the table to a tent. The woman, Odile, kept her son with her, and in his boredom he made it his business to torment and terrify passerby. Lilith smiled at the memory of her first day in Mikkao, when a stone had hit her directly between the eyes; the kid had good aim. Despite Odile's lack in parenting skills, Lilith had to admit that the woman warranted some respect from her. It was not easy to make it anywhere in the world if you were not a man. She shook her head and continued with her business in the city.
The colorful tents and fashionably garbed women were exciting for Lilith. The blue, the red and the yellow, that man over there who looked ridiculous throwing plates into the air—all were like a breath of fresh air after near suffocation. The monotonous lifestyle of the people in Grenwyn could eventually bury one alive, and Lilith needed the moments of delight that her adventures in the city were for her. However, they were few and far in between. She hoped to become a part of the city someday soon.
In her reveling, Lilith almost missed the dark-skinned man who stood outside his tent, whom she knew was waiting for her. Meurig had been helping her with her attempts to establish herself with a table of her own in the marketplace. She needed freedom and excitement; she feared becoming the mindless being that her mother was. Every morning, Yomaira woke up, sat at the table in the mainspace of their little home all day long, and went back to bed as soon as the suns sank below the horizon. If Lilith had chosen to leave her to her own devices upon her coming of age, Yomaira would never eat, bathe, or change her clothes; she would just waste away to her death. This is why Lilith could not venture into the city as often as she would like to. In fact, if she could live with herself for it, she would never return to her dismal birthplace. She wanted this excitement to be her life.
Meuring led her between the stark white tent flaps and into his world, which was where he always did his business transactions. His philosophy was that if one found oneself above him then he would find them to be beneath him. One must be humble, mature, and cultured—and that means comfortable stepping into someone else's world—before Meurig would shake a stick at them. In Lilith's opinion, Meurig was a good man, and she certainly did not find herself to be above anyone. She glanced quickly around the tent, taking in her familiar and comfortable surroundings before taking a seat on a floor cushion, facing her agent in the world. She waited in still silence for her host to speak first, as was polite; his customs were the most important thing in the world to him.
"Tea?" he asked. Lilith nodded and expressed her thanks. "You light-skinned people of Moroba have the oddest customs. The customs of my people are to make society run smoothly and to make sure the people keep themselves physically and spiritually healthy. Your people make customs that are designed to take the personality from the individuals and give fake comforts to hard life." He chuckled and busied himself about the fire he had put together in the center of his tent. The day was warm, but the desert from whence Meurig hailed, called Simet, was always warmer. He liked to be reminded of his home. "I have noticed that you hold no great appreciation for the way of life that your people condone," he continued. "This is why I help you: you seek direction, the true things about life, and the purest way to live. For that I give you the respect that you are due. Clean business is always the best way."
Lilith smiled; he had her pegged. She had sought such things for as long as she could remember. It had always appealed to her that Meurig spewed philosophical thoughts like a fountain would spew water. It showed that his friendship and aid had been a wise investment for her, for he was experienced in the ways of the world and therefore knew what advice would be the best to give. If she was honest with herself, Lilith loved the lessons about life and the insights to pure culture that he gave her. She definitely enjoyed keeping his company, which she had never expressed to him. He knew.
"Thank you," she returned.
"First order of business: your tea is ready." Meurig always began his business on a light note and on his own time. "Have caution, for it is still too hot to drink. Second order of business: Do you enjoy ale?" Taken aback, Lilith made a face. With another chuckle, Meurig clarified, "The Boar's Bristles needs a girl to waitress. This is an opportunity that you have been wanting in order for you to make the money that you would need to purchase a table and wares for a business. What say you?"
Still a little startled—she had not expected any kind of opportunity to be opened to her—it took her a while to remember that Meurig did not have telepathic powers. "That's wonderful! I'll take it," she decided. Suddenly, she remembered her self-appointed obligation to her mother. She could not leave her unattended. "Wait." If it was an entire day's travel from Mikkao to Grenwyn and vice versa, and if she gave herself adequate time to search for a nurse for her mother… "Can you hold the position for me for four days, Meurig?"
"I can hold it for five." He never let her down.
"I must go to my mother in Grenwyn. If I return within the next five days, I am able to take the job," she told him.
"And if not, I will understand that you are doing the right thing, and selflessly. Until then," Meurig began his customary goodbye, holding his arm out to her.
"Until then," she echoed, and she clasped her hand on his elbow firmly to show both her appreciation and her gratitude toward him.
Meurig walked with her outside of his tent, where he again assumed his position—arms crossed, face blank, and feet held shoulder-width apart—for balance, both internal and external. Lilith moved her right foot forward in the first step back toward Grenwyn. "Safe journey and swift return," he wished her, so softly that she almost did not hear him. She nodded in acknowledgement and proceeded to follow her foot on the path homeward. Yes, he is a good friend, she thought to herself.
Lilith loved her new excitement. She was no longer a small village girl, but rather a worker in the city, where she would make a new life for herself from the ground up. I hope. In her elation she forgot to look at all the colors and the people, but she could not feel too angered with herself for it since she would be a part of it soon enough. She even almost forgot to duck when the stone would normally have connected with her head—she did not see if the whelp threw it or not—and she almost did not notice the figure in a black hooded cloak following her out of the city.