"I'll take two," Cerra said, pointing at two steaming loafs of bread. The lady behind the stall looked at her incredulously. "I can pay for them, don't worry." Cerra added. The lady turned away without a word and messily stuffed the two loafs into a seemingly used paper bag.
The house was dim when she got home, lit only by a few flickering candles. The council must have cut their electricity.
"Mom? Dad?" she called out. Shuffling issued from one of the bedrooms, and her dad's messy head poked out.
"Cerra, you're back!" he grinned. "And you brought food!"
When he looked into the bag, his face turned serious. "How much did this cost?" he asked sternly. The cost of bread was fairly high, yet Cerra managed to scrap a few tasi here and there from errands.
"Don't worry, I earned some money," Cerra replied. "Just eat them, you and Mom must be hungry." Her dad shook his head.
"Mom isn't hungry today," he said.
"She wasn't hungry yesterday either. Or the day before that," Cerra said, walking towards her parents' room. Her dad grabbed her arm and pulled her back.
"Cerra." he warned her. "Now isn't the time."
"Then when is it going to be time?" Cerra muttered to herself.
"I'll get her to eat today," her dad said calmly. "You go visit Gabe for now."
"You know Gabe's father doesn't want me there," Cerra said.
"You have your ways," her dad replied simply.
She did, and as she knotted the ribbon around the foot of the messenger dove she stole, she wondered how her father had found out. A few minutes later, Pep returned with a different slip of paper. Sure, meet me in the back, it said. Cerra gathered up her belongings and slipped through the back door.
Gabe's backyard had always been an element of curiosity for Cerra. It was huge, yet the only thing that seemed to occupy it was grass. Cleanly cut, yet boring. The area could have been used for flowers, or fruit trees, or anything that had some color besides green. A hand gripped her shoulder and she whipped around, a rock raised above her head. She rolled her eyes when she saw who it was
"I could've killed you," she said, dropping the rock. Gabe wiggled his eyebrows at his left hand, which gripped a stick pointed to Cerra's stomach.
"Clearly you still need practice," he said.
"If I'm trained by you, I doubt I'm going to get any better." Cerra said, hitting the stick out of Gabe's hand.
"Where do you want to go today?" he asked. Cerra shrugged.
Gabe chuckled. "When did I ever get to choose?"
"Fine," Cerra said. "Let's go look at the palace." Gabe stared at her.
"It's dangerous there, you could get killed."
"We're not going inside, just the outskirts."
"That's still dangerous."
"I'm in the mood for a little dangerous right now."
Gabe didn't pry. When Cerra behaves like this it's always about her mother.
"Let's hurry then," he said.
Crowds of people were at the streets right outside the palace. Stalls neatly lined next to one another, with farmers and business owners selling and promoting their products. Cerra knew this street was normally for the nobles and the aristocracy, yet she was curious to see how they'd react to a lower class like her.
Obviously, it wasn't kind. After a few rounds of insults and dozens of grapes thrown in her direction, Gabe draped his cloak over her.
"I already have three grapes tangled in my hair, I don't need any more," he said when Cerra asked what he was doing. An entanglement of screams brought them to the quad area of the district. A young boy dressed in dirty rags was screaming at a grown noble. The noble's face was drawn into a wicked smirk, his eyes squinting in delight.
"You stole those peaches!" he shouted, pointing an accusatory finger at the noble. The nobles juggled a few peaches in his hands.
"These?" he smirked. "No, I bought these from a different stall." The boy growled.
"You liar! I saw you with my own eyes!" the boy said. Cerra noticed smoke billowing out from his now bright red hands, as if his hands were burning up into flames. And it was.
"A Spark," Gabe murmured. Cerra was impressed. A spark who could create fire at such a young age was impressive. "Oh no... "
"What is it?" Cerra asked, concerned. Gabe's ability lets him see the abilities of others before it is used.
"The noble... He's a Poseidon," he said. Cerra's eyes widened in worry at the little boy. The noble's hands were engulfed by a delicate swirl of blue. Cerra pushed forwards through the crowd but was restricted by Gabe's grasp.
"Cerra." Gabe's tone was serious. "I know what you're doing. It's dangerous."
Cerra wriggled out of his grasp. "As I said before, I need some dangerous."
As the noble's waves grew larger, the boy's flames puttered out, leaving his gaping at a wall of churning water. If that wall collapses onto the boy, he would be dead... for sure. with a flick of her hand, she erected a wall large enough to block the wave. It's edges shimmered in the sunlight, the only thing that revealed it was there. Gabe had noticed what she had done and pulled her back again.
"That was so stupid," he said. While the crowd was avoiding the waves that had suddenly changed direction, Cerra pulled the boy away and started for the alleys.
"It's always a bad idea to fight with nobles," Gabe said as he caught up with them. "You never know what ability they could have."
"Even if you feel like you could beat them," Cerra added, "you probably can't." The boy looked down at his feet, ashamed.
"I didn't realize," he muttered. Cerra patted his head.
"You have a lot of potential, don't ruin it." She said. The boy nodded, and upon hearing the shouts from the quad, disappeared within a few seconds. Gabe led Cerra towards the exit of the alley, but a figure stood in their way. As he moved closer to them, Cerra could see his recently ironed clothes yet extremely messy hair. His shined black boots clacked on the stone ground. Cerra felt Gabe kneel next to her.