229 Days Until Celebration and the Uncertain End (Part 1)
Heia hated the Cloudcity, more so than she ever had. Perhaps it was just Valaria, Queen of the Cloudcities. Perhaps it was that all Circles and Stars were so entitled to their lives of luxury that the sweetness of it prickled her skin and disgusted her. Whatever it was, Heia hated the city. She hated how she could get anything on demand, or so said Evester. She hated how everyone moved about their ways as if there weren’t a war and a massive death toll rolling out on the Lowerlands.
They had to get food for the mouths she had brought to Evester’s family. Mouths that were going to be easily fed without so much as a question. Food that Heia was picking out with Evester as he ordered it in bulk, speaking to the groceryman quickly and with numbers that Heia had never imagined would be related to her family before.
“It is expensive.” Heia complained him as they left the shop.
“It’s to be expected. Due to the Catastrophe, prices have skyrocketed.”
“Yet, you don’t have food shortages.” This pissed off Heia.
“If we did, there would be a lot more mayhem than there is.” Evester shrugged. He still wore a disguise, being the most wanted man in all of the world at the moment. Perhaps their prices would not be as high if they had said who he was. The thought made her angrier.
“You say mayhem, but it seems to me that no one cares.” Heia watched as people strolled out of shops, heard the conversations about nails, and issues about late movies. They were all non-problems that these people seemed to care about. Did they even know what was happening in the UnderCities and Lowerlands? Their Towers?
“No one cares.” Evester agreed with her. “Speaking of not caring, there is a party tonight. We are going.”
The comment hit Heia like a falling roof. “What do you mean we are going to a party? We have to find that boy and then get out and save—“
“The party is to find him.” He cut her off. With a shrug he reminded her that the outburst was not appropriate for the city sidewalk.
“Why…” She tried to contain her fury. “Will a party be the way to find him?”
“We got to get onto Star Campus. That requires connections. Connections I used to have, but as I am wanted… We go to the party, get our in, have a little fun, and then we are good to go.”
“Are you even taking this serious?” Having fun? He was going to the party for no other reason, despite the way he tried to lie.
“Am I?” Evester looked on ahead. “I found you didn’t I?” He walked off, leaving her to remember that, yes, he had found her. This entitled Circle, who was renown for idiocy and daring acts, had went out of his way to find her.
That still did not make her certain that he was taking it seriously at all.
“You coming or…?” He called back to her.
She would have to take it seriously. Her family’s livelihood was at stake. She could not let his negligence overpower her own rational and reasons for even listening to him to begin with. Heia chased after him to the next shop, which was a clothing shop. Stepping inside, Heia listened as Evester read out the measurements.
“Who?” The man asked with wide eyes as he took the order and struggled with the name Evester gave him moment’s before. It was as if Evester’s mother’s name completely backfired in that moment. The workers of the shop had frozen and the patrons had stopped to listen.
“Estishia Igiliastal.” Evester repeated as if he hadn’t caught the attention of the entire shop. “She has a group of students who are coming from another City, one that recently fell. She’s taking care of them as, they are orphans now, and she needs new clothes for them.”
Heia listened as whispers hit her ears. How kind Estishia was. How wonderful she was for taking them in. Heia hadn’t even met Evester mother yet, and just the idea of her was frightening. Was Evester speaking so plainly in order to use his mother’s name to his advantage?
The clerk eyed over Evester and Heia. Heia was wearing Evester’s sister’s clothes, her braids pulled back into a Valarian updo, and with makeup on her face as done by Kim, however Heia knew she stood out. Evester’s disguise was good, but Heia didn’t hold the right… confidence. The way the clerk examined them made Heia nervous, what if he noticed?
“It will be a pleasure.” The man agreed. “The Igiliastal family are regulars of ours.”
“Which is why I came.” Evester nodded. “You know where to send it.”
“But of course.” The man the whispered something Heia could not hear and Evester could. Evester paid and then led Heia out without looking back, a grimace burning on his face as they moved.
“We were noticed?” She asked, and only his darkening expression could answer her. She went to apologize. “I—“
“I am apparently far too recognizable. I will need to reevaluate my disguise when we get back to the mansion.” His response made her silent. All she gave was a nod, secretly wondering if it had not been him but her, and he was too worried to have noticed.