A normal day in the market place
It was a normal day in the market place.
It was double day, both suns are high in the sky and consequently it was warm, the people wearing nothing of consequence over their fur.
Neither Hraal nor Tuuttii were wearing state attire. “I have no need for robes, crown or sabre. The sight of my penis alone is enough to confirm I am king,” Hraal stated.
“It is a mighty instrument of state,” Tuuttii agreed, giving it a playful stroke. In public, at least, they were not yet official lovers, not until the bonds of marriage were confirmed and that would have to wait until Hraal was of age to accept full kingship. Until then she was queen by association only.
Around them the market traders and their other subjects bowed, some of the lower people virtually prostrate on the floor, others – the bankers, the scientists, the owners of wealth, barely nodding forward in token gesture. This is not how it has always been, but it is how things are now. Royalty and power are one thing, wealth and power are another. Hraal did not survive this long without knowing when not to pick fights.
It was a perfectly normal day. Those who were of high enough status to speak to them wished them well, some even came up to talk. Traders offered free samples – fruits, beverages, hover-shoes. An animal trader offered Hraal a raccoon, and a bird-man offered him a bird, though what type of bird he couldn’t tell, it was black, but neither raven nor crow, it was too small. Whatever it was it was a poor specimen and he waved the trader aside with a scowl. What sort of king did he think he was, to accept an inferior crow?
A street performer broke into the song of Hraal’s anthem, accidentally including an out of date verse referencing a previous princess, that one before Tuuttii. Hraal’s fury was beyond words and he kicked the performer out of the market. He didn’t issue a ban, he didn’t need to, that performer would never show his face in this place again.
It was normal day.
“Something is different,” said Tuuttii.
“You noticed too?”
“It’s as if everyone is surprised to see us.”
“You’re right. There are some strange looks. Yet what could be normal than you and I walking through the market place at double day. We have done so a thousand times.”
“It’s not only that,” Tuuttii said, “I feel strange. Like a hangover, but worse.”
“You too? I thought it was just me?”
“I feel drained, totally exhausted,” she waved her arm in exasperation, unable to find the right word, “as if every cell in my body had been given a beating.”
“I feel the same,” Hraal admitted. “What did we have to drink last night?”
“I don’t remember. In fact I don’t remember anything, not even setting out to the market. I’ve lost all memory.”
“I can’t remember either. Yet we must have left the house, why can’t I remember leaving.”
“What’s the last thing you remember?” Tuuttii asked.
“I was leaving he thought. I had to pack. We had to leave in a hurry.”
“But why did we leave? Where did we go? Why can’t we remember?”
“We should go back to the house,” Hraal said, “we can go through our memory slates. They will tell us what happened.”