Need to involve more scenes about their plans
Why does everyone's mood change so quickly? (weird right?)
Ok. I've probably changed some of the names and words.
Still not sure about the voice.
Chapter (what number is this? :P)
Today was the festival of light. According to the gossip of passers by, it was to be a jolly time. There was to be fireworks headed by the palace and every person in every part of the city would hold a light. It was a centuries old tradition from the early days of the lands of humans, when people still believed surely in sun goddesses and pagan idols. Nowadays it was simply an excuse to drink too much and have fun. I wonder if this was what it was like a hundred years back. Was it far more pious? Did people actually pray and believe.
The preparations were in full speed, with different arrays of brightly coloured tents visible and smell of strong spices assaulting my sensitive nose. I sneezed as Zephina smirked, her ‘sympathy’ from the day before wasted like a twig burnt to dust.
It was midday and the sun reached my skin, though it was actually quite frosty. Unlike the desserts I had come from, Faecham was cold. It didn’t bother me though; for some reason I rather liked the feel of a cold breeze upon my skin and the gentle touch of cool drops of water that at the inn would have been a ------ (Forgot the word)
“Amara...” Zephina said.
“Zephina...” I said, mimicking her tone. She always said my name like that, it was getting annoyed. I continued to stare at the people in the markets. They were all so happy.
“Amara!” she shook my arm, as I sneered.
“Don’t touch me.”
“Amara!” This time she shouted the name, catching my attention. Zephina pointed at a piece of paper rolling on the market floor. She shot up and retrieved it in a matter of seconds in sharp precise movements.
“Can you read?” she asked me.
I nodded and took the sheet of paper. It displayed a strangely accurate drawing of me and Zephina in her indigo gown with a short message at the bottom offering a reward of 20,000 gold coins for the two of us alive for killing Dove.
My eyes widened, we needed to hide, to run. Now. Zephina could obviously read too as she ripped the paper up in two
“Amara,” it was getting annoying now, “Amara, how do you fancy a bit of dress up? Finally a bit of fun.”
She leaded me down a dark alleyway where I found myself in the dogier part of the town. Children dressed in old and rugged clothes that reached up to their ankles looked at me with wide pleading eyes. But I simply put my head down and walked straight past. Different to the city centre, the back streets where unclean, bags of mouldy food overflowing on the kerbs and rotten leaves and god knows what forming a mushy brown paste on the thin roads. It looked as though Faecham was ignoring them. The people who needed it most.
I didn’t care that my already sea soken and ash smelling gown trailled in the muck but Zephina obviously did, taking careful steps infront of me until we reached an abandoned little house. Wait, I wouldn’t call it a house. The walls where made of corrugated steel and the floor lined with pieces of cardboard and odd parts of plastic. A broken matress sat in the middle of the mess topped with an patched quilt.
Zephina reached under the mattress and gave me a roll of white bandages and pointed to my chest. Obviously I couldn’t dress like a man with the figure of a woman. She did the same to herself, though as I had thought before, she didn’t really have much to hide. Then she gave me shoulder padding, a loose fitting brown coloured tunic, a pair of black trousers and a pair of worn boots that I stuffed with tissues to fit me. I looked in the broken hand mirror she passed to me. She looked far more masculine than me, though that was helped by the fact she already had a rather square face and her hair was.. was cropped short. She grabbed some scissors and pulled at my jet black ringlets. I let out a scream.
“No? You need to do this Amara.” Zephina looked at me in a motherly disappointed manner, I didn’t know she was capable of.
“I’m sorry, I.. I can’t.” I continued. I just couldn’t. My hair, I couldn’t. No, not for anyone. Uncle had called a hairdresser once from the nearby town. She was a cranky old woman, who complained about the condition of my hair and tried to cut it into the latest fashion, jaw line length. I don’t quite remember what happened but I never saw her again and Uncle never mentioned my hair again.
“Amara stop being so selfish. You need to do it or you will get me caught. They will let you off. But they will kill me.”
“But I can’t,” she sighed as I continued with my meagre explanation, “My hair. It.. it matters. I’ll wear a hat. Yes, I’ll wear a hat.”
“This better work, or I will find you from my grave and make the rest of your life miserable. Trust me, I can do it.” She said as I wondered what she had done that was so terrible that she was so sure, if caught she would die. “I trust you.”
In the end I tied as scarf round my face like she had done as the Stranger. The result was not as impressive as her masquerade but it would do for now. Happy with the results, Zephina led me back into the centre of the town in the hope we would find someone who knew ‘Elias Howare’.
What I had thought was busy just this morning, was nothing compared to the sheer number of people crowding round the square. In the middle of all the commotion and noise was a middle aged man dressed in royal purple robes with striking green (who I assumed was the king) who didn’t seem to be enjoying the attention. His face was sour and was tapping on the floor repeatedly.
“What is wrong with him?” I whispered, relying on the fact that it was too loud for anyone to hear my feminine voice.
“He doesn’t want to be king. Long story short he was enjoying not having any responsibilities until his older cousin went missing (presumably dead) and the crown was passed on to his father. It’s weird. I would love to be king.”
“Can’t he just abdicate?”
“No. No. The kingdom would turn to shreds, there is no heir.”
I nodded, rather distracted by a big bang in the sky which unrolled into a spiral of gold and red – the colours of faecham. It was beautiful, the colours in the winters night sky, converting the hues of blackness into bright metallic colours. They fashioned well with the stars too. It continued for another 10 minutes, each firework a new shade of surprise and delight; I could understand why so many people would watch. But obviously Zephina didn’t feel the same, repeatedly tapping on my shoulder saying it was time to leave. But I wanted to stay.
So we stayed until it finished and then just as we were about to exit from the outskirts of the little square, the fanfares rolled and we were ushered back in.
“See what you’ve done now. We have to stay for his stupid speech,” Zephina hissed as I shrugged, not very much bothered. Speech or no speech I couldn’t care less. It was not like Zephina had anywhere to go.
The king walked to a raised podium and everyone to the dogs that had barking and the children that where screaming, grew silent. I couldn’t make out whether it was out of fear or out of respect.
“Esteemed subjects, I wish you good tidings on this festival of light. Let us celebrate in peace and safety. People of Faecham I hope your nights will be joyous,” The words where obviously extremely forced and not his own,” but please take this time to remember that a new bill has been passed rasing tax rates to the royal family up by 3.5% to pay for the recent riots and broken windows in the palace and that every homeless man and woman must work to clean the slums for 10 hours every day for 25 days before they are to be paid,” the area remained silent surprisingly, not that bothered at such drastic moves. In the closest town to the inn, the elected men of the area (our country was a strict democracy) had once tried to shut down the public baths. The people had camped outside the baths and stopped it.
He continued, “I would also like to announce my wedding to my fiancée, the Lady Wainre in 15 days where there is to be a public holiday in celebration.” He didn’t at all seem exited or pleased and did not even smile when a beautiful young woman (at least half his age) with muddy brown waves and a flowery dress carefully stood beside him. The people clapped and cheered, somewhat please, though I couldn’t point a finger on what reason and in the commotion Zephina pulled me by the arm and into a public house on the opposite side of the road. I assumed that was where we were going in the first place, if I had not delayed us.
She strode in the establishment with familiarity and certain arrogance, turning the attention from a card game by a crackling fire to the two of us. M y eyes widened, what was she doing, we would get caught like this.
Zephina took a seat in the dsrkest corner of the room and sat in the complete opposite to how she usually sat, with a sort of boyish charm to it. I followed her like a lost cat and mimicked her ask best as I could from the way she rested her arm in the dogiest manner possible to the way she so naturally tucked her legs in a masculine wasy.
“What are you doing?” she sneered into my ear, I didn’t answer, “Just be normal, you idiot.”
But I couldn’t act normal when she ordered me an ale in a surprisingly good male voice.
I couldn’t act normal when I was very aware that there was over 30 strong and very able men watching my every move.
I couldn’t act normal when Zephina walked up to the burly man behind a soliod oak bar and slammed down two gold kings and a paper with the name Elias Howare written in block capitals. The man looked up and smiled to show a set of crooked teeth.
“Of course. He was the son of the head cook guy in the palace 30 years back. When the Queen ditched Fachem, No-one heard from him again”
Zephina grunted and snatched back one of the two gold coins. The man’s face turned bitter but he didn’t say anything as we left the public house to the smoggy streets of the city.
I was foolish for thinking thois would be easy. This was not going to be easy. But I would find Elias if this was the last thing I could do. It was uncle’s dying wish for me to find Elias and I may not have known him truly but I trusted him.
Zephina stopped by the polluted river side, there where still fireworks going but they had lost their finesse in my eye. I didn’t see the magic anymore.
“Amara, who told you to go on this wild goose chase?”
She retrieved a cake she had stolen a few hours back from a stingy bakery, and unwrapped it fdrom the teatowel. Mouth full of chocolate cake she spoke,”You are going on an impossible task for someone you don’t even know. He didn’t tell you that you forget, and I don’t care if it wasyou’re your benefit, you deserved to know Amara. Everyone deserves to know about themselves. Amara, I’m trying to do whats best for you. Give up. GIVE UP. T’is a beautiful thing, giving up. You are relieved from all your pressures. Finding this Elias man, I think he is dead. This man