At the gaping mouth of the cave Odella paused throwing her hood up so as to hide her face in the dark shadows of the folds, but Llana doubted it was necessary as they seemed to be arriving somewhat near twilight. 

“Keep your mouth shut and your eyes open child there is much to learn in Candlelight.”

Llana tried to search her memory for any reference to such a place, but came up empty handed.  Quickly they came upon the town itself which burned a flickering red against the night due to the immense number of candles burning in store fronts, on corners, and even in the trees.  Llana had to admit that the picturesque scene had an ambience she had never encountered before. As her eyes adjusted to the ruddy light, which seemed to shadow as often as it illuminated, it became obvious to Llana that Odella’s hood was necessary.  Everywhere she looked there were people going about their business as if it was high noon not midnight, however how they were able to do so remained a mystery to Llana as no sign hung from any of the doors they passed. Though the streets were crowded with people, many of whom went hooded, there was almost no sound.

The quiet was such that she could hear the bee’s wax scorching on the fresh wicks as they passed, unless a door was opened. Along with the tinkle of bells, which alerted the propitors of an indivuals entrance, such a mix of sounds would pour into the night that Llana had no time to process what might be occurring behind the firmly shut doors and shadowy windows. Odder still were the people. Few on the street would meet her gaze, but the shop keeps and venders more than made up for it with eye contact strong enough to make her squirm. Fear of the strangely assessing looks meant that Llana kept her eyes constantly roving sliding from one thing to another without actually focusing on what she was seeing.

However, as they rounded a corner one store front in particular drew Llana’s attention.  As she got closer she realized it was because the glass alternated between being filled with opaque smoke and being clear enough to look through.  With her fingers resting upon the glass she waited and as the pane emptied she caught a glimpse of the patrons.  Llana jumped back as if electrified and turned angrily towards Odella who was a good ten steps ahead of her now, “The Red Light District,” she shrieked distress emanating from her in waves.

A quick right to left head jerk confirmed Odella’s suspicion, if they didn’t move quick they would be alone on the street, not an ideal situation as they were still a ways from Appetence. Without a second to consider how the girl would react Odella grabbed her by her accusatory finger and pulled her into the very building whose window had been such an affront to her delicate sensibilities. Llana blanched as the door slammed shut and the pounding music reverberated up her legs from the floor boards.

“You sit and keep quite no matter what, this time,” Odella said in tones that brooked no argument while pointing to a dark corner booth away from the stage and door.

Hating herself for every step deeper into the debauchery she went Llana sat quickly and focused her attention on the polished black lacquered table top. In what seemed like a very long time Odella returned with a man dressed only in leather straps whose sly eyes and half smile made Llana flush and look away. Odella, however, did not flush nor lower her hood rather she leaned into the man and whispered into his ear and sent him off with a wave of her hand.

“What…”

“I told you to keep you mouth shut.”

The statement wasn’t shouted, but the scold in the words hit her like an open fist.

“We are looking for your answers, are we not? You have chosen at every fork in the road, have you not? So we would only be here if we needed to be, right?” Odella had asked questions but expected no answers as such she had never once paused. “Now do as I said and watch with open eyes and mouth closed we will talk later.”
***********************************************

For other exerts from the story The Chains We Own click the links below

The first link in the chain

Chains that make no noise

Answers at the Y in the path

Finding the blood stone

Prolouge

This is a story about a young girl who has gone off in search of answers before making one of life’s greatest choices. Unexpectedly, she has found that truths and answers are not for the faint of heart, nor easy in the discovering. On her journey she will come into contact with individuals who will be able to teach her not only about the ways of the world she has mostly been sheltered from, but also how to find the strength to own up to your burdens and baggage whatever form they may take.

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