“I don’t understand what the problem is,” the customer sounded perplexed, “my size feet are quite common where I come from.”
Drahapni bit her tongue. It was obvious to her that the customer was a robusta or even a gigantica cross, so of course his foot size would be common where he came from but rare here. Of course, to comment on his species would both be rude and out her. “Unfortunately sir, we don’t get sufficient call for your size to keep them in stock, except in a sports shoe. We can order a pair in for you, if you wish, or I can suggest several bespoke cobblers who do excellent work.”
“So I can’t get a black business shoe today.” The man was, apparently, stating the obvious.
“Not from us, sir,” Drahapni said apologetically.
“Are there any other shoe stores in town?”
“I’m afraid not, sir. There was a Masselman’s until the chain went bankrupt but now there’s just us. If you’d like to select a shoe and let me take your fitting, we should be able to get it in for you by the end of the week.”
“Is that offer good until the end of today?” The large man pulled his exercise shoe back on and did up the laces. “I’d like to check with your cobblers to see if one of them might have something on hand.”
“Of course, sir. I’ll just get you their business cards.” Drahapni could see no reason not to send this man’s business to what were technically their competitors, after all she couldn’t give him what he wanted when he wanted it and if one of them could, well sending them the business might create some good will. She wasn’t surprise, of course, when the tall man came back later that afternoon and ordered a pair of shoes from her; bespoke cobblers were unlikely to have shoes on hand and if they did have unclaimed stock, it was likely to be in more common sizes.
Later, in a house out of town that had been empty since the tree changers who‘d moved into it in the nineties had died, the tall man was speaking to the others of his sworn band. “It’s not like Marche,” he told them. “The people here are more like us, but smaller. They don’t carry clothing in our sizes in their stores but they can get it in for, so people our size are not unknown. Their script is a variant of the one we learned in Maerche and their language does not seem overly complicated so having only the one mutual comprehension talisman might not be as limiting as we feared.”
One of his battle brothers asked, “Are there any others in the town? Or anyone who might recognise us as other to this world?”
“I saw and met one fae in the entire time I was away from this building,” the man who’d gone into town told them, “and I think she was young because she did not seem to realise that I could see what she was.”
“It’s odd that blindness to the strange is inherent in the natives,” remarked another of their group. “I wouldn’t have picked it as a survival trait.”
“It’s a survival trait if everyone who points out a fae or a werewolf get their throat ripped out,” replied another of their brethren. “Let’s hope we can find a way home from here easily, I’m tired of living among that which is strange to us.”
“As are we all,” answered their leader. “We all long for home and the sight of a living moon.”