-Inside the gates of the Tri-Council City-
Abigail and Victoria hurried inside the large wooden double gate that had been opened for them by another merchant wagon going into the city. This wagon was hauling an assortment of clothing packed into wooden crates for the safety of the cargo. While the sides were starting to be worn away by sand, the wagon's mechanical parts were in far better shape than that of the carpet merchants from earlier; the clothing wagon did not squeak in the slightest and the only sound it made was the whisper of wooden wheels rolling over sand. Abigail rejoiced when the pair stepped inside the city walls and were greeted with the sight of locals and tourists milling about the enormous Tri-Council City bazaar, which stretched from the right wall all the way to the far left wall.
The bazaar was everything that storybooks portrayed it as. There were open-air stalls covered with white cloth to shield vendor and patrons from the sun and the stalls themselves were of simple wooden construction. On the counters were wares of almost every kind. The two mages saw a dizzying array of wares that ranged from fine jewelry to clothing to furniture to even a stall that sold incense for religious and everyday use. They were in search of a shop named The Desert Defender and they did not feel like they would find it in the open-air bazaar, so they began to look for shops laid out in a more contemporary style.
The pair walked side-by-side and parallel to the bazaar and gazed upon the sheer variety of wares from afar; they also got to see the diversity of the patrons perusing the goods. There were a lot of things that caught their eye, but the real prize would be found in The Desert Defender, where the shop owner might be able to fill them in on whether their client's sister Liz made it to her destination or not.
They kept walking until they reached the far left wall, then followed the wall straight through a continuation of the bazaar that specialized in selling food like couscous, rice pilaf, shish kebab, coffee of different blends, aromatic spices sold in little tan cloth pouches with the contents labeled on the front, and even fresh pastries like doughnuts. There was even a bearded man in a white turban selling shaved ice from a cooler with at least ten flavored syrups for the customer to pick from. Judging from the line of at least twenty-three people waiting in front of his stall, he was by far the most popular vendor in the food area due to the unrelenting desert heat. Child and adult alike lined up to purchase a frosty and sugary cup of flavored ice.
"I'm not sure where the shop we need to get to could be." Abigail said to Victoria, who was focused on the food offerings, if only due to astonishment at the variety available. She had not seen this much food in one place since the time she peeked through the window of a rich man's house in Capital Crocus and had to run from the police for her trouble, but the Autumn Jamboree with the weird personality flips and the Midsummer Festival came awfully close. Victoria took her mind off of food and tried to focus on their mission, which was hard because they did not know where to look.
"Maybe we should ask for instructions." Abigail not-so-subtly suggested to her partner. Victoria turned to look at the blonde who was standing to her right and spotted a wooden sign hanging above an arabesque archway. The wooden sign featured an emblem of a silver shield placed just in front of an expanse of desert as if protecting the desert and the words painted in black letters brought a smile to Victoria's face. The shop the Sabertooth mage had spotted was The Desert Defender!
"Found it." Victoria said, pointing towards the shop in question and beaming with pride at her serendipitous discovery. Abigail turned and looked in the direction the brunette was pointing in and saw their destination right in front of them in a sort of desert shopping plaza hidden behind food vendors. The blonde frowned in disappointment with herself for not seeing it first before reverting to her usual chipper demeanor.
"Well then, let's get going and talk to this Joanna." Abigail suggested, leading the way back towards the front gate and past the stalls that were so closely packed together that one could barely slip a playing card through a gap between stalls. The mages would have to loop around to the front gate and go behind the right row of vendor stalls lining the path, but it could not be helped. After the eight hours of walking they did to get to the Tri-Council City, what was a couple more minutes worth of walking to them?
[Word Count: 840]
[Total Word Count: 1,406/12,500]