Part Two

Nine Trees walked through the city streets, while wagons and horses and people were milling about during the market day, and took in the sights and scents and sounds around him. Every seller of beautiful tapestry, sweet fruit and savory pie, precious silver trinket and intricately carved and molded piece of furniture beckoned to him, and he listened with an air of growing bliss. There was nothing quite like the cacophony of music surrounding him, and he drank it in without regard to the other pieces of his surroundings. Much to the dismay of the driver of a cart laden with pots and pans and clothing, Nine Trees paused in the crossing of a street to gaze in wonderment at a young woman who was all but dancing through her throng of customers, handing out her baked goods and singing brightly.

Apple pie, mincemeat pie, mutton pie, and berry.
Flaky crust and sweet delight of sugared, golden cherry.
Half a penny buys a slice, three pennies buys the whole.
Eat some here then take some home; sweet pie, hot pie for all!

She was giddy and sweet, calling her wares and offering tastes to nobles and dirty-faced children alike, but none of that interested the tinker who was currently all of ten feet from trampling the poor man caught up in staring. Just before he was beaten down by sharp hooves, Nine Trees headed off toward the woman at a quick skip, and left behind a swearing, hat-throwing man who’d lost cups and other wares from his cart when he abruptly swerved and reined in his horses.

Nine Trees approached the woman and held out his hands to her, his eyes shining, and immediately she placed a warm slice of pie into his hands and danced off, still singing. He stared for a moment at the pie, and his stomach overwhelmed all other thought. Eating became the necessary thing, and he leaned against her stall in contentment, going so far as to begin licking his fingers as he saw the young woman pocket penny after penny, laughing and dancing. When she came back to him she brightly announced “Ha’penny, good sir,” and proffered her palm, which he graced, without thinking, with a flat golden sovereign. Staring, she quirked a brow and said “Was it the whole lot you meant to buy, or are you expecting change?”

“…whichever,” Nine Trees said, smiling at her lazily, dreamily. “That was quite good,” he told her as he watched her look at the shelves full of pies that remained. “I could eat six more,” he said, wiping crumbs from his vest.

“And what of the rest?” she wondered, still clutching the coin tightly in her brown fist. “You’ve bought the lot, sir. They won’t keep for the weeks it’d take you to eat them.”

He eyed the rest of the customers who still stood near, bellies rumbling and mouths watering, and shrugged, saying “Give them away?”

“Are y’mad?” the young woman wondered of him, not unkindly.

“Perhaps,” Nine Trees answered, picking up another pie and cutting into it delightedly. “Perhaps I am.”

“So if I am to give away pies, then, it is on your ducat, sir?” the girl says, narrowing her eyes and making to put away the coin in her purse, hesitating at the last moment.

“Certainly not,” Nine Trees said, and the woman paused in putting away the coin, looking uncertain. “That, my good woman, is now your ducat,” he told her, his eyes twinkling mischievously.

“You are mad,” she pronounced, and pocketed the coin, stepping away with pies in her hands, to dance around the crowd. The words of her song were just as sweet and joyous, but had now changed:

Apple pie, mincemeat pie, mutton pie, and berry.
Flaky crust and sweet delight of sugared, golden cherry.
Not a penny buys a slice, and no more buys the whole.
Eat some here and take some home; free pies, free pies for all!

Part One — Part Two — Part Three — Part Four — Part Five — Part Six — Part Seven — Part Eight — Part Nine — Part Ten — Part Eleven

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