Kiia had spent the last few months in marble palaces and bustling desert metropolises. It had been comfortable, for sure, but she enjoyed the chances she got to go back to her nomadic, tribal roots. She was not always High Priestess; a century ago she was merely "priestess," or "healer," or even more simply: "kind woman." She had few regrets in her life, but not being able to walk the open sands as regularly was unfortunate.
So it was with great anticipation that she awaited her annual trip to Maraan. The trading city was a colorful and musical place, with goods from around the world. This time she had brought a small caravan with which she would transport the goods she bought back to Annuakat and had quite a bit more money to spend, but she still enjoyed the nostalgia of the ritual.
She moved through the market stalls slowly, and people seemed happy to move out of her way. Maybe it was because she was obviously a priestess, maybe it was because the silks she wore were obviously quite fine, or maybe it was because she walked with a golden cane to stifle the limp in her left leg. The leg itself, like the rest of her body, was adorned in ornate white tattoos of sprawling tree branches, but these did not disguise the fact that it was thin, wasted, and stiff.
Finally she reached the vendor she was looking for, and the elf greeted her with a smile warmer than the desert sun.
"Kiia Sidra, my dear it is good to see you." He moved around his stall with arms outstretched to embrace her. His face was partly shaded by the light turban he wore out of necessity. He was quite fair-skinned, and his blonde hair and blue eyes offered next to no defense from the relentless rays.
"Fhaerlevir, how have you been?" Kiia replied, matching his smile and accepting his embrace. "I trust the journey from the Falwood was uneventful?"
"Oh, you know it never is, but nothing I couldn't handle. But my sweet friend, what has happened to you?" His question was directed at both her handicap and her obviously expensive attire.
"It has been an eventful year, to say the least," she answered kindly, but in a voice that indicated no further questions would be needed at this time.
"Well, at day's end we must catch up. But first, please! Come see what I have brought you!"
Fhaelevir sold plants. Large plants, small plants, flowering plants, vines and mosses, magical and mundane. His entire stall was a verdant green interspersed with every color imaginable, and despite the dry air, it smelled of humid jungles and deep woods. Kiia knew there must be some magic employed to preserve them, but she had never been able to convince Fhaelevir to part with that secret.
She perused his goods while he helped other customers and made idle banter here and there. She inquired about where certain plants were from and what their properties were. The questions were as much a part of the ritual as anything, and she enjoyed them, but they were not strictly necessary. Kiia was looking for one thing: lifeforce. She did not need anyone else to assess that.
Her eyes wandered the market in between plants. The most interesting travelers came to Maraan, she wondered who she might find here.