Tarren made his way through the marketplace and was surprised to see so many of the stalls empty. Usually this place was full of merchants calling for people to come and buy their wares and happy people hoping to find a good deal. That normal atmosphere was replaced with downcast merchants packing up their stalls and mournful people not paying them any attention. He just didn’t understand it, shouldn’t everyone be talking about the Masked Man’s latest attack?
Tarren shook his head and started to enter Obediah’s bakery, but was shoved to the ground followed by an authoritative voice saying, “Watch where you’re going.”
Tarren growled at the Enforcer that had shoved him and started to rise to his feet. The first Enforcer was followed by two others that didn’t pay Tarren any attention and Obediah, who quickly rushed to Tarren’s side and grabbed on to him. He waved at the Enforcers and cheerfully said, “I certainly hope that you capture that Masked nuisance, he is certainly making it harder on everyone.” Under his breath he muttered to Tarren, “You do not want to pick a fight with them today, my friend. They are out for blood and they don’t care whose they spill.”
Tarren stopped struggling in Obediah’s grasp and watched the Enforcers make their way through the marketplace, shoving anyone aside that didn’t get out of their way fast enough. Tarren shoved Obediah’s hands off of him and stood up. “You didn’t mean what you said, Obediah, did you? About the Masked Man?”
Obediah grunted, “That he is making it harder on everyone? I certainly did. The Pedestal has raised my taxes three hundred percent to help cover the damage he has caused and the Enforcers are watching everyone more closely. It doesn’t take much to be arrested and put to the question these days. Just one wrong look, and you dragged off and never heard from again.”
Tarren frowned. “If that’s all it takes perhaps I should get today’s bread and get out of here as soon as I can. I’d have a hard time not glaring at the Enforcers.”
Obediah sighed. “I’m sorry, Tarren, but I can’t give you any bread today. In fact, until this all blows over and the taxes drop again I won’t have any bread to spare.”
Tarren looked at Obediah and shook his head. “What are you talking about? You are sure to have some old bread lying around that no one would want. It doesn’t matter how old it is, the orphanage will be happy to get rid of it for you. I’ll even chop up extra wood and do any other tasks you may need doing around here.”
Tears formed in the corner of Obediah’s eyes and he turned his head away. “I wish I could accept your offer, but with the price of everything going up I can’t afford to make as much bread as I once did. The cost of fresh bread has tripled, and my two day old bread goes for the price that fresh once did. I’m afraid that you won’t find things any different at any other bakeries either. It’s all because of that Masked Man; if he hadn’t started all this trouble then things would be different. If I ever find out who he is I won’t hesitate to hand him over to the Enforcers.”
Tarren swallowed hard and his voice shook when he spoke. “Surely there must be some way that you can help us, we’ll take anything.”
“I think you had better go, Tarren. Before the Enforcers come back and have us both arrested for creating a scene. I wish you the best of luck, my friend.” Obediah walked back into his bakery and closed the door behind him.
Tarren stared at the closed door blankly and started toward it, but stopped. He knew that Obediah would help if he could and him going back in would just put both of them at risk. What was he going to do? He couldn’t just return to the orphanage empty handed. Maybe if he tried some of the other bakeries in the marketplace he could find something. Even if it was only one loaf of bread it would be better than no bread at all.
Tarren decided to try Herman’s market stand next. Perhaps Herman would still feel like he owed him from when Tarren fought the Enforcers to protect him. He searched the entire market place, but couldn’t find old man Herman’s stall anywhere. He stopped at every food stall he could find and begged the merchants to help him provide for the orphanage, but he got the same response that he did from Obediah. The prices for everything was going up and no one could afford to part with anything for less than full price.
He heard murmurs from nearly everyone he passed about what the people would do to the masked man if they ever found him, along with a few about overthrowing the government. Tarren was tempted to approach those talking about the government and inviting them to the rebellion, but reconsidered when he heard their talk change to stringing up the Masked Man.
Tarren turned when he heard something crash behind him and saw that a man had thrown a merchant’s table over. The man roared out, “I can’t afford to pay for that! The mines are closed because of the damage that draxxin Masked maniac did to it! How am I supposed to feed my family with no income and prices this high?”
The merchant weakly held his hands in front of him and muttered, “Please calm down. You do not want to make a scene here today.”
The angry man picked the merchant up by his collar. He chuckled a weak laugh. “What are you going to do to me? Things can’t get any worse than they already are.”
The merchant squawked out, “Please! Things are tough for everyone! I have to do what I can to feed my family as well!”
The angry man shook his head. “Why should your family be fed while mine goes hungry?”
More tables were tossed aside as others moved in to attack the merchants. “That’s right! Why should our families go hungry instead of yours? It’s not fair that the Masked Man attacked the mines instead of the marketplace!”
Tarren started to back away before things could get any worse, and he backed into someone and was shoved to the ground again. Tarren glared at the Enforcers that rushed past him and gasped when one of them swung his spearbutt into the back of the head of the man lifting the merchant up. The man dropped to the ground heavily and the Enforcer roared out, “That’s enough out of all of you! Surrender quietly before things get any worse!”
Some of the rioters turned and ran further into the marketplace, and some of the Enforcers chased after them, but others attacked the Enforcers. Tarren was tempted to join join the fight until he saw the first rioter get stabbed in his stomach with an Enforcer spear. Tarren decided it was best to get out of there before the crowd got pulled into the fight. On his way out of the market place he saw a wanted poster hanging on a pole. The government was willing to pay ten thousand quillions for any information that led to the Masked Man’s capture, or one million quill for his body.
Thank you for checking out my story, if you liked this and want to see more of it, come back on Wednesday when I will publish part two, and check out the other stories I’m working on writing, here: Tales of the Imagination, check out my facebook page to connect with me and give me some feedback: Facebook, and follow me on Twitter here: @EJBorchardt. Please like, comment, and tell your friends if you like what you’ve read, and don’t forget to check out my new book, The Kids on the Case! You can find it here: The Kids on the Case: Our First Case