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Winter Markets

posted by Donna

Posts: 4
Winter Markets 1 of 1
Feb. 1, 2023, 9:29 p.m.

Date: Winter of 797 ------- Location: the Seaglass Inn's kitchen

It's wintertime in St Loomis, and thankfully this year the winter hasn't been so harsh. Some blame the disappearance of a transient foreigner called the Pig Witch, and others consider more sensible things, such as late frosts and heavy summer rainfall.

(Donna): It's a bright, if rather bitingly cold, morning. Donna wears a basket over one arm, and her boots crunch the frost in a steady tread beneath heavy woolen skirts. She's early enough to the market square to catch the farmer's wagon still setting out wares for the day, so she waits, while chattering pleasantly to the farmer's daughter from time to time.

"Oh, ye aren't joking?" she asks in her friendly manner with a hearty chuckle. "A haul of turnips this late?!" The farmer's daughter receives a warm and excited beam. "My my, aren't we blessed! I'll be gettin' some of those in a minute!"

The innkeeper then looks away, glancing around the square with a small cloud of her breath misting in the air -- no doubt giving the farmer's daughter a break in the conversation so as to focus on continuing to prepare the wagon for customers.

(Velusiyen): A piercing whistle sounds from a short ways down the street, breaking through the slowly rising clamor of the morning market. A few heads turn towards the source of the noise, which appears to be a small figure dressed in grey wool cloak and skirt and oversized old work boots. Some of those heads then nod in amiable greeting, while others shake wryly before looking back to their own business. But the whistler herself ignores most everybody else as she comes gallumphing through the frozen mud and grimy snow-slush at an enthusiastic pace, waving her skinny arm at one person in particular -- Donna the innkeeper.

"OOIII! OI, MIZZUS DONNA!" -- just in case the innkeeper hadn't heard the whistle, apparently, or noted the exuberant arm-waving. The shabby young woman clomps up to Donna, tangled brown hair blowing in the breeze, the oversized and water-stained boots on her feet crunching on the cold ground. Tucking her arm back into her cloak as she reaches the older lady, the waif repeats a somewhat quieter, "Oi!" in greeting and then, totally casually, gives Donna a small up-nod.

"How's business, Miz Donna?" she asks, so off-handedly, and slouching her posture like the cool cucumber she obviously is (if anyone here knew what a cucumber was). "Gettin' some good deals today?"

(Donna): Donna beams over at the shabby girl. "Well good mornin' to ye as well, Lucy Mudlark!" she states with some cozy, grandmotherly drama that simultaneously provides a warm greeting and a gentle reminder of a primmer way to say hello. The innkeep doesn't truly seem offended by the kid's manners, though, for her smile lingers in an affectionate crinkling. "I sure am!"

She makes a gesture with her basket towards the farmer's wagon. "Soon as the lass sets up, at least." Bobbing both graying blonde eyebrows with a wider grin, Donna adds to the waifish girl, "Can ye believe they had such a grand late harvest?" She brightens somehow, even though it appeared impossible for a person to be able more cheerful. "Want to come back to the inn for some neeps?"

There's a glance around the market square, as if looking for someone, and then Donna appends a typical small-town question. "And how's yer sister?"

(Velusiyen): That hint at better manners seems to entirely pass Miss Lucy Mudlark by, who just smirks appreciatively at the greeting as if this were her due. But she lights up straightaway at the offer of food, deep blue eyes brightening as she blurts out, "Neeps! For real, right now? Sure I'll come by for those, Miz Donna, if you're askin'." Bobbing her head eagerly, the skinny young urchin has evidently forgotten how cool and collected she's supposed to be. She grins happily at the generous innkeep, until the latter looks around the square, which seems to remind Lucy of the proper way to act.

As she puts the look of worldly disinterest back on her face, the scrawny girl arranges herself back into a careless slouch and replies, "Oh, Zaza's fine." Then, frowning absently, she gives her cloak a surreptitious pat, as if checking on something concealed beneath its worn folds. "Least," she adds distractedly, "I'm sure she is; ain't seen her in a couple days."

(Donna): The response to an offer of food does not appear to surprise Donna; in fact it makes her beam even more happily. But that smile fades entirely at the revelation about Aizana. "Not a couple of days, now?" Donna repeats with a worried frown, giving Lucy a second keener once-over. "That be awful worrisome, lass. Oh, ye hold on here a minute --"

She seems momentarily distracted by the farmer-daughter having finished placing out turnips in the crate at the market stall. Her thoughts clearly remain with Lucy Mudlark, because the smile she gives the vendor is frought with vaguely confused anxiety, just a quick nicety for the sake of courtesy.. "Aye, I will take some of those turnips, thank ye! Mighty fine they are, mighty fine..."

(Velusiyen): Lucy, in contrast, seems entirely more concerned with the vastly more pressing matter of turnips, and eating them. She keeps an avid eye on the crate as the farmer's daughter sets up her display, and says vaguely to Donna, "Aw, nah, 's just Zaza doin' business..." Her brow does furrow just a touch, as if at some faint unvoiced concern, but she only adds, "She'll be back soon, sure as showers. Just gotta make sure I get back to the shop inna bit; Toad's in today an' she's shit at makin' change and keepin' things tidy."

(Donna): "Oh." Donna's eyebrows both rise in a pointed expression, her lips pursing in a nosy look that must be all-too-familiar to anyone who knows the innkeep well. It very clearly says, 'I am too polite to ask further about this, but I am judging you a little bit for not telling me straightaway, so you should fully explain at your soonest opportunity'. She doesn't appear to truly harbor any ill feelings towards the shabby waif, however, and it's likely the sternness of that countenance is more habit than anything else.

Her face crinkles into another warm beam and she gives Lucy's wool-covered shoulder a friendly pat. "Let's get some neeps into ye and get ye back to the shop, then!" She looks at the crate and grabs up one of the biggest, most bulbous turnips, giving it a hearty few pats to knock off a small clump of cold black dirt.

Very soon, she's purchased an entire basketful of grubby purple-and-white root vegetables, passing over a handful of tarnished wafers. "Fried or boiled in stew?" she asks over at Lucy, grinning fondly.

(Velusiyen): Observing Donna's expression, Lucy confides gravely, "Yeah, don't pass it around, but Toad's not real good at shopkeepin' at all; everyone thinks as she oughtta be since her da's such a skinflint, but she just ain't got no head for it." The waif shakes her head and sighs in deep regret, "Flighty."

Having passed judgment on the poor unfortunate Toad, Lucy nods to Donna in renewed happiness, faith in the world restored by the promise of neeps. "Fried!" she exclaims positively, holding out her arms as a wordless offer to carry the basket. " 'S always stew stew stew at home. 'Course," she hastens to add, "your stew is a sight better'n mine, an' no joke. But fried neeps--!" She exhales rapturously.

(Donna): There's a warm chuckle from Donna and she hands over the basket with a proud huff at Lucy. "Such a blessin' to have a stout young lass to carry an old woman's basket home from the markets," she states, heavily ladling on the praise given the girl's actual stature. "Such a courtesy, such a good girl, thank ye, Lucy, thank ye kindly --" She goes on for a bit happily while bustling along northward through the markets, lifting the hem of her woolen skirt briefly as she hustles over a patch of mud.

Finally, when the occasion is suitably padded with phrase, she segues into, "Toad would probably carry my basket too, aye Lucy?" There's a fond chuckle. "Might drop it though, if she be as flighty as ye say, heh heh..." And then, before giving much chance to interject, "Yer sister knows Toad's like that, aye, and still leaves ye alone on this business o'hers?" The query is delivered in warm and unjudgmental tones, but Donna's real curiosity is evident in the sharp sparkle of her pale blue eyes.

(Velusiyen): "Oh, sure," says Lucy in response to the innkeeper's questioning. "Zaza knows I'm here to keep everything runnin' good, with or without Toad." From the girl's tone it's hard to say if she's proud of this, or if there's the hint of a grumble in her words. "Anyhow, she's got bigger dreams'n just some regular pawnshop, y'know.." Lucy frowns to herself, looking lost in thought even as she continues to dutifully haul the basket of neeps north along the street, automatically skirting slushy puddles and the occasional steaming heap of dung from passing horses.

(Donna): "She does..?" This response from Donna is somewhat vague, almost seeming spoken before she thinks of speaking, and it dwindles off on the cold winter air in a mist of breath. Looking away as she trundles along near Lucy, the innkeep's face falls, and likewise she too loses herself in thought until the pair arrive under the creaky swinging sign of the Seaglass Inn.

"Ah, well!" Donna exclaims with a hearty gustiness, prodding the carried basket in a friendly gesture at Lucy and pulling a big old smile. At first the expression is evidently forced, but that quickly turns into legitimate excitement. Her eyes sparkle as she declares, "Let's get these neeps on, aye, lassie? Come on then!"

With a push of her round shoulder into the door, she swings into the merry bustling warmth of the common room and holds the door for the basket-toting Lucy with a happy beckon.

(Velusiyen): Lucy tromps along after Donna in reflective silence, but like the innkeeper she brightens up substantially at the more immediate prospect of fried turnips. "Yeah, let's do this!" she exclaims, bounding through the doors of the inn despite her burden. "Whaddya need me to do? Wash'n'scrub 'em?" She lowers her face closer to the turnips and draws in a deep breath, as if already smelling the savory aroma of the meal, rather than just raw roots and dirt. "We can share news while we work! I bet you've got some good gossip; you got so many folks comin' here to stay and eat."

(Donna): "Hallo, Grexen!" exclaims Donna cheerfully to the barmaid. "Got some neeps at the market. We'll save ye some fried and put the rest in stew!" She beams and then moves on through towards the kitchen doors, beckoning the skinny waif with her basket of turnips, and nods agreement with a businesslike murmur, "I sure do, I sure do." Blue eyes twinkle with fond mischief.

In the kitchen, the hearthfire is already warm and crackling, likely courtesy of Grexen. Donna goes to a cupboard and takes out a shallow pan, which she eases towards the edge of the heated coals, and then hustles back to the counters to uncover a dish of butter. She grins at Lucy as she produces a small spatula and returns to the hearthside, and proceeds in full-on gossipping busy-body character.

"Ye know Hunnie, gal who works at the bank?" A waggle of pale eyebrows. "Word is she's sweet on some guard who's been wooing her up and down the street! Plain-looking fellow with the long face. But..." She tilts her head with a wink. "Some say it be a lie, and he's leading on the poor lass to distract from..." A snort follows. "... his dalliances with the Mistwatch's cow!"

Obviously, Donna's 'news' is entirely worthless.

(GM): OOC: The scene fades to black.

Feb. 1, 2023, 9:29 p.m.