The voices were soft and gentle but the sheer number of them was almost overwhelming to the young teen. The street was full of the hustle and bustle of the holidays, with greens on every door. The smell of hot cider poured from inside the tavern, tankards clanking just past the heavy oak door. She looked into every window to see the marvelous goods: from special cranberry tinctures at the Apothecary to the new sword in the window at Ken Smith’s, the Alchemist. The Baltimore Bakery had chocolate fire cookies in the front window, complete with a small light show. She had wanted to purchase a spell book and had been told by her grandmother that this Marketplace was the right place to go.
Finally, she arrived at her destination: The Owl and the Elemental. The blue eyed girl headed to the Restricted Section just like her grandmother had told her. She went past the busy shelves and entered the quiet room with the brass skeleton key which was, oddly enough, in the door’s keyhole. There on the shelf near the back of the room was the manuscript she was seeking.
She took it to the front to pay for it, but found naught but an empty store, not a person in sight. She left her coins on the counter.
She stepped into the street and, again, found no one, though the whispers of the crowd remained. The smells lingered on the air. In the tavern there were no customers, but the sound of tankards continued to clank and the hearth felt warm, though no fire blazed there.
As she stepped back onto the street, the wind blew her book open, and she heard her grandmother’s voice, though her grandmother had long since passed, read the glowing quilled words aloud. “The veil is thin at the time of Yule, child. May the spirits of a town long since deserted bring you wonder and amazement, and may it be a gift you treasure until we speak again.”