Note: This book is in UK english, not US.Before it was too late, Asvett had to return home. Walking in the market, he didn't know buying vegetables could be a difficult task. His wife, Pekota, had planned a big meal that day, and if Asvett failed to bring all the ingredients, he would have to face her wrath.
Glancing at the paper in his hand, he checked his bamboo basket. He had onions, tomatoes, spinach, and green beans, but there were almost five other ingredients he still hadn't purchased.
The heat of the sun seeped into his loose white tunic, making his armpits sweat. He puffed his cheeks and stared at people near wooden stalls. Unlike him, they seemed to have no problem navigating through the market.
Working in the army for their king was easier than buying vegetables. His nubuck sandals scraped against the mud as he strolled towards a vendor. The oval glint on the tomatoes was proof of its freshness, but the cabbages next to it appeared a little dusky.
Asvett checked the list once again. For the soup, he had to buy cabbage.
"What would you like?" The vendor dusted his stall with the cotton cloth on his shoulder. He fixed his turban and placed his hands on his hips.
Despite the appearance, Asvett pointed at the cabbage. "How much?"
"Two bronze coins for a kilogram." He reached for the cabbage and picked up his iron weighing scale.
Pekota had told him people would try to sell him vegetables at a higher price. Asvett's eyes flitted back and forth between the man and his weight. "That's too expensive," he said without knowing if it was true.
Ignoring him, the vendor kept weighing the cabbage. "It's the same price everywhere, sir. Do you think I'd charge you more? You are our hero." As the scale balanced, he picked up the cabbage and passed it to Asvett. "It's two kg. That would be four bronze coins."
Asvett's lips parted, but he didn't argue. Maybe the vendor was right, or Asvett didn't have the energy to talk anymore. The heat had left him soaking wet. He searched the red velvet pocket attached to the waist of his loose pants and pulled out four coins. Handing it to the man, he placed the cabbage on top of the tomatoes.
A smile captivated his lips. He was almost halfway done with the list. A few more stalls, and he could return home.
Walking ahead, he twisted his head in every direction. The citrus scent of lemons and sweet fragrance of the mangoes, melons, and apples floated in the air, but the smell of Asvett's own sweat dominated every other smell in the market.
Upon reaching home, he would have to take a bath. In the army, no one really cared about his existence assaulting someone's nostrils, but since he had been married, his wife pushed him in the shower every single day. It was better this way.
Regular mortals didn't run away from him anymore. A part of the reason for the people not avoiding him was him leaving the military. Before Pekota, he knew nothing but war. After his trip to the Realm of Gods, his life changed. Pekota changed everything.
Everyone often told him no mortal could marry a goddess. Proving them wrong, he married a goddess—and now, the same people praised him. He had done the unthinkable. However, marrying Pekota came at a cost. Unlike everyone's belief, Asvett still wasn't welcomed in the Realm of Gods, and for choosing a mortal, Pekota was banished from her land as well.
Asvett never aspired the throne, but his wife was the true successor. She had to give up her chair to be with him, and now, they were living in a small village, Soran. It wasn't much, but it was peaceful.
If Asvett failed to buy all the ingredients, this peace would be disrupted. Even a man with a mortal spouse was afraid of her, and Asvett's wife was a goddess. He shivered and stared at the paper in his hand.
A young man in his twenties came running from the front and bumped into him. The page fell from his hand as he caught the man stumbling to the ground.
"Watch it," Asvett said, and pulled him up.
"Sorry about that." The young man straightened and sprinted again.
As Asvett followed his trail, a boy, around the same age, followed the man.
"Kids." Asvett chuckled and searched the ground for the paper. It wasn't near him. He knelt and scanned below the stalls with no success.
"Has anyone seen a page?" he asked around.
People glanced at him for a second and focused back on their shopping.
Without the list, he wouldn't be able to buy everything Pekota had asked for. The vendors wouldn't stay in the market all day. If he kept searching for the paper, it could get as late as evening, and by that time, everyone would be gone. It was better for him to return home and ask his wife for a new list.
Grunting, he pivoted and trudged on the mud path. Some people were done buying vegetables and were walking back to their houses with him. Being relatively shorter than him, some barely reaching his shoulders, all of them were left behind as Asvett strode towards his hut.
When he was a teenager, everyone would compare their height to him, but now that they were used to seeing him, no one acted odd around him. Finally at the age of twenty-seven, he could walk around without becoming the centre of attention.
He passed by the rows of hay-roofed huts. By the time he reached the path leading to his house, the sun had acquired an orange hue. If he wanted to get back to the market before evening, he had to hurry.
To his surprise, no one was on the road blocking his path. Usually children would play on the streets at this hour, disturbing the entire village. That day the lane was quiet, too quiet. It was odd, but Asvett paid no heed to it. After all, it was better than having little runts on the road.
After crossing a few huts, he reached in front of his house. Standing on the clay stair, he knocked on the bamboo door. "Peko, I lost the list."
No one answered.
He hit the entrance again. "Hurry up, or the market will close," he said, and stared at the neighbouring huts.
A middle-aged man in a loose white tunic peeked at him from behind a house. He was one of Asvett's neighbours.
Asvett grinned and waved his hand at him. "Good after—" Before he finished, the man twisted and ran off.
No one in the village hated him for ignoring him like that.
Asvett scanned the area. No one was on the street, and the houses were oddly silent. It was the market day. If anything, the huts had to be chaotic.
His palms curled into fists as he faced his house. "Peko, open the door."
As nobody answered, he kicked the entrance. The door crashed onto the clay floor.
A yellow light from inside the hut pierced his eyes. He darted inside. A man in a blue, silk cloak was standing in front of a whirring portal with his back facing Asvett. He was holding someone in his arms. Pekota. She wasn't moving.
Asvett's heart raced as dashed towards the portal. "Who are you?"
Before he reached the man, the man pivoted and pointed his arm at him. A silver lightning left the man's hand and Asvett's chest, crashing him out of the wall into the street.
Rolling on the ground, he coughed and got on his belly. His hands trembled as he placed them on the ground. A racking pain paralysed him. His eyes watered and breaths turned shallow. Despite fighting several battles, he had never been attacked by a bolt. This man was not a mortal. He had to be from a different realm.
Shivering, Asvett stared at the man walking inside the portal with his wife. The spiralling yellow lights of the portal faded as his eyelids became heavy and gave up.