Post by Milo Miloslavsky D11M [Kay] on Dec 30, 2016 11:53:49 GMT -5
I've never been any good at being a Hammerfell, but lately I've become pretty good at being me. Know Thyself is more than a cliche - it can be a mantra, if you say it enough so that it takes on a shade of your voice. To me, it sounds more like: I am enough. And I am, mostly, except for those pesky daddy issues. This morning we got into yet another argument about my measurements - how short I fall on so many scales (with no regard for my intelligence, how many books I've read, how very good I am at entertaining myself when there isn't a weapon in the room). My father isn't unreasonable but he also just doesn't get it - doesn't get me. Most of the time, I don't get him either.
We need something to help bridge the divide.
I don't usually wander around the marketplace. I know the book vendor better than my father, and I always stop for a hot chocolate on the way home. That's it, unless I've been tasked with something specific. Today I warm myself with the hot drink first and when the book vendor waves at me, I hurry by him, because if I stop, I won't leave til dusk.
See? I know myself.
But I'm not sure what I'm looking for until I'm lost. I always stick to the main thoroughfare but my thoughts had tipped to Proust and I'm dreaming all the time and this part of the market is dirty and dark and suddenly - there. "Pardon me?" I ask the only person in the stall. "Curious little shop you have here. Mind if I take a look around?"
It is a cold and gray day, but I have learned not to mind such things. I guess you get used to it when you live with the snow in the mountains of District Two. Some people in the market place are dressed warmly today, and yet they still shiver against the gentle breeze of the wind. I shrug slightly and look down at my own hands, ungloved and bare. They are not red, or blue, for that matter; they are just as fair as the rest of me. I reach down and pat Aurora, my pet snow leopard, on the head, who is curled up next to her sister, Pire. They have been resting behind the register since I arrived here.
My parents ordered me to look after our place in the market. We do not often bring creatures down from the mountains to sell, as most of them go to the capitol, but today is one of those rare occasions.
I stand in the back of the market behind the register, arms folded over my chest. Not many people come to our store, only the rich and the brave, those who are not daunted by the sight of exotic animals in cages.
And speak of the devil — someone approaches.
A boy, or a man, about my age, walks up to my stand.
"Pardon me?" he says, and I raise a curious eyebrow. "Curious little shop you have here. Mind if I take a look around?"
Hearing the man's voice, Aurora and Pire open their bright eyes and rise from the ground to stand. Aurora pokes her head out from the register to peer at the man, and I smile at her.
"It's just a customer, Aurora," I soothe. My eyes avert back to the man, and I say, "Of course. Anything in particular you're looking for?"
Post by Milo Miloslavsky D11M [Kay] on Jan 2, 2017 16:40:07 GMT -5
While she smiles down, I fold my arms. It's not that I'm strictly against shaking hands (the whole exchange of germs thing doesn't bother me as much as you'd expect; I have to be realistic that being out in public means exposing myself to the common cold on a daily basis). Rather, I hate the constriction of wearing gloves and I do alright keeping myself warm as long as I'm moving. But to shake her hands - which are delicate and pale and look like icicles - would be like grabbing an ice cube.
I probably shouldn't be contemplated her hands while a snow leopard is sizing me up, but just like in the Training Center, I've never been very good at the politics of combat. Predator/prey, victor/tribute: two sides of a coin and I don't know if I'm supposed to make small talk first or just look vaguely annoyed?
I settle for the latter as I meet Aurora's gaze.
"Hmm?" The tiger's eyes are pale, bright and cunning. She could devour me and it would be a noble death. Certainly much more dignified than dying of a concussion in the Training Center, or by slipping on the icy pavement. The vendor's asked me something and reluctantly, I turn my attention to her. "Something to protect me from my family. Doesn't have to be vicious," my gaze betrays me, flickering to Aurora, "just... intimidating."
"Hmm?" the customer says, peering at the curious Aurora, likely sizing her up as a possible threat. I forget sometimes that not everyone is accustomed to big cats, and that while Aurora would never mean any harm, she could appear intimidating to some.
"Something to protect me from my family. Doesn't have to be vicious," he says, his gaze flickering to Aurora. "Just . . . intimidating."
I smile reassuringly at him, noticing his apparent nervousness towards Aurora. "Don't worry, she doesn't bite," I promise, and it's half true: she doesn't bite, unless I tell her to.
"We don't carry any of the larger, more dangerous cats, in the marketplace," I say. "Those are distributed privately to Capitol buyers, so uh, don't worry, you won't get eaten." A giggle escapes my lips, and before leading him to the animals in the back, I turn to Aurora and Pire. "Stay," I order them.
I walk towards the rows of cages, which hold a variety of animals. I've forgotten how much I hate working the market; the animals don't have as much freedom as they do back at their usual enclosure, though their cages aren't uncomfortable and they're only in there for a short while. But the guilt comes anyway.
Surveying each animal, trying to pick out which ones aren't vicious, but intimidating, and function as good guards if needed. Once I've made up my mind, I turn back to the customer.
I begin with the felines, gesturing to each as I list them off. "There's ocelots, which are the smaller, spotted ones over there — kind of like mini leopards. And servals, which are the spotted felines with the long legs. They're a bit bigger, but don't be fooled; they're actually very sweet creatures.
"Oh, and then bobcats, which are kind of like mini lynxes. They're a bit smaller, but also tough and are known to take on prey twice their size, amazing, really."
Next are the canines. "If you're more of a dog person, we have plenty of canines to choose from. For guard dogs, there's wolves, coyotes, dingos, and then hybrids of those three. If you want something less vicious, then you may prefer the hybrids — wolfdogs, coydogs."
My eyes flicker to the customer, and then to one of the wolfdogs in the cages, who peers at me with dark amber eyes. "For what you're looking for, I would recommend a wolfdog."
Post by Milo Miloslavsky D11M [Kay] on Jan 5, 2017 11:55:27 GMT -5
"Stay," she says, the giggle still lighting her words, and I wonder if perhaps I ought to stay outside the shop as well. Surely her family must have some sort of temperament test, to determine which vicious predators are shipped to the Capitol - for the Games? - and which stay behind. How rigorous is this test? Has it been peer reviewed or cross examined by an independent source? Have there been any failures? Will I be the first?
I try to mimic the Hammerfell scowl as I pass the cats, and then hurry to stay close to Sarasin girl. Truth be told, the cats all look alike to me. I bob my head politely, watching her more closely than the animals. She moves a little like them, graceful, purposefully slow so as not to spook someone - probably me. She's knowledgeable and if they've left her in charge of the shop, probably also quite clever. I purse my lips as she moves on to the canines.
"A wolfdog," I echo, testing the word. She's stopped in front of one, his dark eyes following me, for once. I glance at her for permission and then step to his cage, my hands clasped firmly behind my back. I don't have to bend very far forward to come to his level. His breath makes a little cloud in the air and his ears perk, but otherwise he is calm. This is no stray puppy, wagging its tail for scraps. This is an intelligent creature, waiting.
"Would it be possible to let him out of the cage? I'd like to see how we'd get on."