This left her conflicted. On the one hand, she wanted to help. They are just children! They need a meal and a roof to sleep under! But there were just so many of them, and they were so aggressive, it was more than a bit overwhelming. She struggled to understand as she walked the streets of the Twynne Rivers InnerWall.
I knew there was crime and poverty and suffering. I just imagined it happened to grownups. Isn’t there some sort of shelter? An orphanage?
The streets meandered, lined by wood and stucco homes and shops, most of them two stories, occasionally separated by fences. The streets themselves were still wet from the rains, but drying. Most of them were paved in cobble, but many of the smaller side streets and alleys were dirt, now mud. There were many dogs trotting along the streets, and she thought she even saw some rats.
She walked past the working people, carrying heavy loads, leading carts and animals, sitting on the streets surrounded by food and wares for sale. Most wore rough and ragged clothing, cloaks and leggings. Many looked at her as she wandered.
Before long, she stepped down a street that opened up into a wide and busy walkway. As she moved forward she worked her way between passers-by and suddenly found herself looking over the expanse of docks and piers that lined the edge of the Wynne River.
She paused, struck by the sight. For years, she had seen it only from her tower window. It meandered through the town below her. Now, as she stood on the waterfront itself, it was much wider and stronger than she had imagined.
And much busier! People were walking up and down the piers next to barges and boats, loading and unloading. Carts and animals helped carry the heavier loads.
She began walking down the waterfront, away from CenterTowne. She was fascinated by the constant motion. So much so that she almost ran into a man. She was startled and backed away.
“Oh! I’m sorry!” She stepped to the side, out of his way. He was a tall human, and wearing a dark shirt under an very black cloak.
“You look a bit lost.” He said, and stepped into her way again.
“I’m... fine.” This time she stepped away from him, a bit taken back by his imposition.
“You look like you’re not from this part of the city.” He took a step toward her.
“Excuse me, sir, I’m just passing along the street.” She stepped back again. “I’m not trying to be in your way.” She continued to back away.
She felt herself back into someone else, who immediately steadied her by grasping her shoulders. “Steady, there, miss,” a man said, but didn’t let go.
She tried to move aside, but he held her firmly in place. The first man moved forward again, so there was very little room to spare. She looked to her right, toward the buildings of the RiverFront, and saw a third man in a deep brown cloak walking forward, smiling and stealthily drawing a dagger.
He spoke, “You really shouldn’t be in this part of town. Why don’t you come with us?”
She felt her breath quicken, and her heart race. Her imagination ran to dark fearful places in her mind as she saw herself beaten, robbed, or worse.
Get control! Get strong! Breathe deep! Her fingers pressed to her temple, focusing her concentration. She dug deep into her will, and suddenly pushed out with her mind. The three men tumbled away from her, knocked off their feed by the force of her mental impact. Suddenly freed, she stepped to put her back away from them, to see them all, and to draw her own blade.
The surprised passers-by lept aside and the three men scrambled to their feet and faced her. They all stood, facing off, as she started backing away. She glanced behind her and saw that she was only a few feet from where the dock drops straight to the river. She was cornered.
“She thinks she’s a mage!” one of them taunted, but he was still a bit hesitant.
“I don’t care!” Another said, “She’s obviously got money!”
She tried to play it up. She stretched her hand out and said, “I WILL use my powers!” Her summoned confidence was doing a bad job of hiding the fear shaking her voice. “I Will!”
Someone on the street shouted, “A wizard! Run!” People started to scatter.
The man to her right laughed and lunged forward.
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