Her life was empty; she had been thrown into chaos. She had buried Jaca. She was alone, and she needed advise. She was no longer a child, being around seventeen. Jaca had never been sure of her exact birthday. But she needed advice. Her life with Jaca had been the only one she knew. She decided to travel on to the nearest town, where she knew a friend of Jaca’s lived. He was a stolid, decent sort, and she trusted him to help her. Perhaps he could house her until she could decide what to do about making a living.
Once arriving in the town, she made her way straight to his house. It was open, and it was empty. No sign of anyone living there. It was definitely his house, and he was definitely gone. She sat down on the stoop and tried to think, but her mind wouldn’t comply. She finally remembered that the man had been about to depart on a business venture in a neighboring country the last time she and Jaca had seen him. That was around six months ago.
Briefly she thought about crying, but she was too exhausted. Well, she could look for a job… what skills did she possess? She could read and write. Uncommon for a woman in this country, as it was strongly frowned upon. From her travels with Jaca she knew of the ways and customs of many businesses and people groups near and around the country. Not all of the better off townsmen could read or write. Maybe they would be willing to hire her as a scribe; she could afford to charge less than a man would. And she could barter with the towns-people or villagers around the area if they needed a letter sent to far off friends or family. It seemed a pretty solid idea despite the risk and probably the best she could strike on at the moment. She set out to find a decent looking business.
Eight failed attempts later she was was beyond frustrated. She had discovered that it was not only frowned upon for women to be able to read and write, women could not work except under a man. She had briefly thought about going out to work as a boy, and then quickly discarded the idea. No one would believe that she was a boy. She would have to find a decent merchant to work under. Hopefully one that wouldn’t take most of her earnings. She stopped for a some lunch and then doggedly set out again. Six stops later she on the verge of giving up. Why did the townspeople have to be so stubborn!?! No one seemed to listen to her. They took one look and heard that she could write and just swept her out of their stores. This place was filled with awful people.
Just before dinner she found someone who was willing to let her work under him. He was a merchant who sold a little bit of everything, and his wares appeared to attract those who could afford to pay for quality. He couldn’t read or write and would also have her take over his book-keeping. After establishing the wages and striking a deal, she told him she would be back when the store opened. Not the best situation she could imagine, but at least she would have some money to keep herself living for a while. After she left the shop, she went back to her small camp a ways outside of the town. Being alone with just her thoughts was terrible, but better than being alone in a crowd of strangers. Spending what little money she had on renting a room was out of the question. Besides, she couldn’t stand staying inside the town longer than she absolutely had to. The smells of the town seemed to seek her out and choke her breathing. She couldn’t understand how those people lived in it.