Each step of her bare feet created a swirl of dust, curling through the heat-soaked air and sticking to her skin as she pushed her way through the color and sweat of the marketplace. Indali knew how to stack her newspapers in the curve of her left arm and hold them still with her chin while her other hand carved a path through the crowd, occasionally swatting away a drunkard or child who hoped to steal a paper to sell for themselves.

As she grew closer to the square of Barindra, where the ships docked, a starship swooped in too low, roaring overhead and spewing warm steam, which tumbled to earth like thick fog. Indali stooped close to the ground, protecting her wares with both arms from the darting shadows of thieves and not standing until the white curtain dissipated. The dust had temporarily settled under the steam, but the sun, thief that she was, would drink up any moisture within a minute.

She continued past the overflowing stalls of bright scarves and clockwork toys, dodging a metal-armed juggler, trailing a string of children who screamed with laughter, and a woman forcing necklaces over the heads of the tourists and demanding payment. The best business would be near the ships, where weary traders would need the news to decide how much they could get for their wares.

The Holy Ones were dancing in front of the temple as she passed, their blue robes brushing through the dirt yet somehow remaining spotless. The lesser temple servants swung their arms in time at the massive drums, pounding out the dull rhythm  heard throughout the market; the deep, rapid heartbeat of the city. The Holy Ones turned and flipped their arms in the gracefully precise motions only they knew, heads turning as sharply to the beat as if they were automatons. Every day they danced. A small cluster of tourists watched in awe, top hats serving as fans to brush the flies away.

"Sabda! Sabda!" Indali called to the group, hoping for a sale. They ignored her, enthralled in the dance, and she moved on. This didn't concern her. She would sell when she got to the square of Barindra.

The End

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