The Southern Market
The Market of the South was a very populous place, and close by, for the little communities spread in the Northern Territory of America. It wasn’t as modern as the cities of Europe and North America; however the traders and merchants making a business out of the Northern Communities profited from their ignorance and wonder of the outside world. Many of the merchants’ supplies actually did come from Europe after their many expeditions with their airships to stock themselves with curious new objects created in the Land across the Ocean. The heart of the South city was occupied by stalls after stalls of merchandise, subtly lining and running across the city’s length.
The promenade was filled with wonder and amazement for the inhabitants of the Northern Territories, who more often than not enjoyed traveling South to trade their Dust supplies for some new object to add to their collection. The Central Road was the name of the promenade across the street, flanked by buildings with fading facades and colorful banners and canopies inviting buyers in. Several foreign voices were heard, adding up to the cacophony of sounds inherent to the place. Flamboyant and feisty owners cleverly coaxed people into buying their stuff and yearning to come back for more, it was far more easily accomplished if they had an exotic accent and appearance and if the colors of their stands screamed attention, which many did.
“This is precious jade from China; the pendant is a one-of-a-kind piece of jewelry. Very attractive for women to wear, look, it is very becoming to your friend!” the voice of the merchant was gruff and heavily accented with Middle Eastern grace. His thick beard reached his hairy chest and his prominent belly blocked the view from his short, chubby legs. His skin was a dark shade, a stark difference to many of his customers, but many of the foreign merchants had a distinct physical attribute to them. His size wouldn’t have helped him attract attention but his loudness did.
Eliana turned the golden pendant with a light green jade stone attached to a center disc in her hand. This was what caught her attention the moment she and her friend stepped into the Central Road to enjoy a little bit of Retail Therapy. Her blue eyes glinted with awe and delight, “and you said this comes from faraway China?”
“I assured you young lady, that its origin is in the heart of China,” the merchant said, crossing his thick, short arms across his chest, “I traveled there myself before coming here and I’d travel there again when my merchandise is running low. I only sell good quality, not poor. That jade, for example, was carved by a master. Very good man, but hard to find. It was a miracle or luck that a merchant like me had encountered him in the deep grooves of a forest. Long story made short, I made a fair deal with him and he agreed. That tells a lot about me, I’m a good honest man. Chinese are hard to bargain with but I’d give you a good price for it. Half of what it cost me!”
Eliana squealed in delight and was fascinated by the story the foreign man was telling her. “I wish I could travel to the Outside World someday!”
“And you should, there are lots and lots of hidden treasures just waiting for your eyes to uncover them!” The merchant nodded knowingly. “Will your friend want something? She seems quiet and distant. I assume the beauty of foreign lands have left her speechless.” He chuckled hoarsely, as if he was choking with his own saliva.
Eliana turned to her friend and held the green stone next to her friend’s face, “It does compliment your eyes Aimee, though your eyes are greener.”
Aimee turned to look at her friend absentmindedly. The entire time her mind was elsewhere whilst her body was here, standing under a warm, late summer sun in the Southern Market. Beads of perspiration were already trickling down the back of her neck and strands of loose, soft brown hair, which had come out of her ponytail, were already attaching themselves to her smooth, pale skin. She noticed Eliana holding the pendant next to her face and she gave a little jump backward, surprised that she was doing such a thing in broad daylight. “What is that?”
“A pendant, Aimee,” Eliana said patiently, “we’re in the Southern Market, remember you said you would accompany me in my trip down here to get something for my mom’s birthday?”
“Oh yes,” Aimee said apologetically. “I’m so sorry; my mind just wanders off sometimes.”
“I can tell,” Eliana said, holding out the pendant for her to take, “do you think my mom is going to like it?”
Aimee stared at the golden chain and traced the glinting gold to a center disc with a polished round jade attached to it and secured with golden claws at the stone’s edges. It was hard to believe any of the jewelry that the merchants offered was real; hence they sold it at such despairingly low prices. However they told different stories spiced up with travels and bargains to entertain their customers’ monotonous lives. Apparently it had worked with Eliana.
Aimee then glanced at the merchant. Something that had always fascinated her was the blackness of the foreigner’s eyes; they were like black pearls framed by thick and long eyelashes set in a face darker in tone than her own. Most of the merchant’s skins were darker than her own, and tanned, and their hair was abundant and dark. Sometimes she felt jealous toward some of the foreigners because they were exposed to much more solar contact in a day than she had in her entire life! Other foreigners were from the Oriental Lands with their slanted almond-shaped eyes and slightly yellowish skin, their hair was black and thin, their language and writing system was much mystifying to Aimee.
There were also the people from the Tropics, with their happy personality and women with bountiful physical attributes that attracted men. She felt plain, thin, and tall beside those beautiful women with tanned skin and tight curvilinear bodies set in small packages. The merchants from Europe were closer to their kinship than the rest, but they usually were cold and distant and not as friendly or as amiable. The less amount of foreigners were Africans, or people with dark color skin, they were usually very massive in body, with gleaming white teeth and the white of their eyes seemed to pop out at night.