Anneli waited patiently outside town and watched the grey clouds pass along in the sky from the branches of a tall tree. A few of the buds had already opened up but it was still too early. They would probably die before the seasons had changed. It was now early evening; the chill in the air and warmth of the breeze had slowly lulled Anneli. He did not fight as his drowsy eyes closed and whisked him off to sleep.
Castor looked into the window of a stylish looking shop in the edge of the city centre. Luxurious looking fabric draped over mannequins and dress figures were pinned and tucked in place. The owner of the shop, Castor assumed, was a lady in her early forties with makeup too pale for her skin and powder caked on to hides her wrinkles and aging skin. The lady was cutting lace into intricate designs presumable to sew onto the dress she was making. As Castor entered the stop the lady abruptly turned and they both stared at each other for an uncomfortably long moment. The lady put down her work and stood up and greeted her new customer. She looked him up and down and judged that he was probably just lost.
“What can I do for you sir?” asked the lady, her thin drawn eye brows quivering on her face. Castor looked around the shop mesmerised by the strange and exotic clothing. There were velvets, silks and furs in colours so dark and rich and so very different from the clothing of his own country. The fabric seemed thick and heavy unlike Castor’s own clothes, which were more suited for hotter and more humid weather.
“How much is that?” asked Castor pointing to a garment being displayed in the shop window. The lady raised an eyebrow perplexed. She doubted that he could even afford it.
“That par-ti-cu-lar item is one crown and two domes,” replied the lady in a polite but condescending tone. Castor laughed awkwardly.
“Is that a lot?” asked Castor, who had not yet gotten the hang of this countries money. There were copper, bronze, silver and gold coins, which was the limit to how much he knew of them.
“Probably for you it may seem like a lot,” replied the lady as she dusted off pieces of thread that had fallen on her skirt. Castor ignored the intentionally insulting things the lady was saying. At this point Castor’s impression of the people of this country was dreadful at best.
“So what brings you here to this country? Is there no work for you in your own?” asked the lady making seemingly polite conversation. Castor laughed again, trying to sooth his own mounting agitation.
“No, I am actually traveling.”
“Oh? Where to?” asked the lady.
“The northern mountain,”
“Why would you want to go there?”
“Oh!” replied the lady in a judgmental tone, “you are one of those people.”
“What do you mean those people?”
“Well… you know, one of strange cults who worship the lion king. I mean, the lion king is just some nonsensical tale but who am I to judge someone else’s beliefs.”
Castor was at the limit of his patience and was tempted to leave the shop just then and there. “Can I please have that Madame?” asked Castor pointing again at the garment displayed in the window.
“It is one crown and two domes though; I doubt you have that much with you right now-”
Castor reached into his bag and grabbed some of the coins from his purse and quietly slammed them on the table in front of the lady. “Will this be enough?” asked Castor in a demanding tone.
The lady stared at the pile of gold and silver coins and grew pale behind her makeup. She had never dreamed that a foreigner like him could be so wealthy. She reached down and too one gold coin and two silver coins. “This will be enough,” she replied quietly, “I will go wrap it up for you.”
The lady was in awe as Castor, juggling the bread in one hand, put the remaining coins on the table back into his purse already heavy with gold and silver.
“If I may ask, what is it that you do exactly?” asked the lady, wrapping the garment in soft cream tissue paper.
“I am a prince,”
The lady almost choked on air when she heard it. She quietly gave the package to Castor and watched him leave still shocked at what just happened.