When he woke up again it was because of the raging banging
at his door. “Merogan? Are you ready yet? We shouldn’t wait too long to go!”
said Merrhyna through the door. Merogan shouted a ‘be right there’ and started
changing clothes. The shirt felt very soft and pleasant. He tied his belt and
made sure his sword was firmly attached and stepped out in the hall. He majestically
descended the stairs with a fake look, when he had reached the bottom stair
he and Merrhyna were laughing so hard they were almost crying. When he could
finally see again, he gasped at the sight of Merrhyna. She had, again, untied
her long blue hair, which fell nicely onto her shoulders, but it was covered
with a pinkish veil, held by a bronze tiara. Her dress was also bronze coloured
and matched perfectly with the blue colour of her fur. She smiled awkward and
started fidgeting. “Well, say something…” she said.
He gave her his arm and said, “You look absolutely
beautiful.” She blushed and they stepped out in the fading daylight. They walked
towards the path that led to the castle and saw a large crowd, waiting to get
in. “I hope we get in,” he said in an anxious voice. She patted his arm in a
comforting way. And so they waited, it seemed age, the sun set and the guests
stayed outside in the darkness. Soon servants came out with torches, that had
pink and purple ribbons bound around them, and set themselves alongside the
path to illuminate the guests. At long last the crowd started entering the castle.
“Stop fidgeting!” said Merogan. “They won’t
let us in if you look this anxious!” Merrhyna froze and muttered something under
her breath. Then finally, they reached the grand gate.
“Name please,” asked a Blumaroo servant in a
“What?” asked Merogan anxiously.
“I need your names sir, to announce you in the
hall.” Merogan hesitated, he couldn’t give his name, the king would know then.
“Go on then!” whispered Merrhyna.
“Sir?” asked the servant just as coolly.
“Ah yes, of course. Sir Merogan and Lady Merrhyna.
The servant turned and shouted their names inside
the hall, they both passed. Merogan was ready to run, fight or whatever he would
have to do, but nobody paid attention to him. As he saw the servant screaming
the next names he noticed, to his great relief, that you could barely hear the
poor man. They walked on and admired the splendour of the grand hall. From the
ceiling, they could barely saw, long banners hung down from the large beams,
with the emblem of Meridell; back then it was a fully black Ixi head with a
golden crown on it, with a gold-blue background. Backed against the wall there
were numerous tables, and when people looked around they could see the tables
were set in a perfect square. The tables were covered with white cloths and
were decorated with silver candleholders and flower-pieces. The very middle
of the grand hall was kept free for talking and later on dancing. Merogan and
Merrhyna mingled amongst the crowd. Merogan eyeing the grand throne every 5
seconds, Merrhyna admiring all the beautiful dresses worn by the noble class
of Meridell. Suddenly, all were startled as the large doors to the hall were
“We’re lucky we got in!” said Merrhyna in a
high-pitched, excited voice. “Oh look!” she said, tugging on Merogan’s arm.
“There come Sir Bryhendin and Lady Misselya. They are very important people
in Meridell -- oh look at that beautiful tiara that she’s wearing.” Merogan
didn’t allow himself to be bothered with such futilities.
Finally the moment that all expected, and especially
Merogan, arrived. Out of nowhere trumpets were echoing in the grand hall and
the crowd froze, all eyes turned towards the big throne and the curtain behind
it. Slowly the Meridell curtain moved aside and a Kreneh came forward with one
daughter at each arm. It struck the guests how much both girls were alike. They
had both brown fur, were of the exact same height and had the exact same looks
on their faces. There were but two differences: Illiana had devilishly red hair,
and pale blue eyes while Illyne had black hair, and dark green eyes. But even
the length of their hair was the same; it came to their waists. All were silent
and admired the beautiful twin princesses. Illiana was wearing a pink and purple
dress, with puffy sleeves and a puffy skirt. Illyne was wearing a dress similar
to Merrhyna’s. It was of the same colour, although Illyne’s dress was of finer
work. The king raised both his hands to get attention, which he already had.
”My friends, my loyal subject. Today is one of
the most special days in the history of our beautiful city! For it is the birthday
of my two daughters!” He paused, and some uneasy looks were exchanged among
the common people. Not all had yet forgotten Ghisen, not all were so blind and
hat forgotten that it were Ghisen’s daughters. “Tonight must be a grand feast,
an 18th birthday cannot go unnoticed! I shall not bore you with archaic words
and long speeches! I say: Let the feast begin!”
A loud cheer rose up from the crowd. The king
sat down on his throne and so did his daughters. With a discreet little nod
the guest knew they could also sit down. Soon, servants came in with millions
of silver dishes filled with the most exquisite foods of Meridell. Many people
admired the silver cutlery and the fine craftswork of the plates. Cups were
held full, tummies were eaten round and laughter was all around. Almost, all
around that is. Merogan could not tear his eyes away from the big black shadow
sitting on the royal throne. When he could tear them away from him it would
be to let them fall on one of his sisters. So naïve, he thought, they do not
know that they’re sitting next to the monster that killed our father! His hand
slid onto the handle of his sword and a firm grasp was formed around it. His
breathing got heavier, he was calculating the jump. He was sitting rather close;
he could definitely kill Kreneh before anyone could kill him!
But the gentle touch of a hand on his shoulder
tore him away from these morbid thoughts. ”What’s wrong?" asked Merrhyna.
“You’ve been distant during the whole banquet and you have barely touched your
food! This is a once in a lifetime opportunity.”
“I’m sorry, Merrhyna, this is just all so overwhelming.
But the banquet is not over yet, I’m sure more dishes will come and later we
will get a chance to mix and mingle among the finer crowd of Meridell.” He hid
his despise as much as he could, pronouncing these words.
“Yes, you are right. Isn’t it wonderful how
we are all treated as equals?”
“We ARE equals, Merrhyna!” he said in an angry
voice. Yes they were all equals, but then why is it that the more common people
were sitting further away from the King’s table, how come that they had more
common cutlery and wooden cups painted with a thin layer of gold-coloured paint.
How was it that these nice gents were so easily fooled by that evil shadow?
Merogan didn’t understand how they couldn’t see. All around him there was laughter
and joy, but all he could see was betrayal and death.
Then Kreneh rose, gave a short nod to the corner
and sat back down, immediately a soft but entrancing music filled the air like
a warm cloud. One by one the guests were wrapped in the rhythmic tones and felt
like dancing, it was the beginning of the prom. Couples headed for the middle
of the hall, which was to be the dance floor. Ladies in beautiful dresses gently
twirled in respectable knight’s arms. Paws were pressed together and feet moved
in regular patterns while the lute told her song. Illyne and Illiana were both
immediately invited by two Gelert Knights, obviously also brothers. They gently
bowed and reached out their paws, waiting for the princesses to accept them.
Soon Merogan’s sisters were moving on the dance floor.
“Come, let us dance too!” said Merrhyna grasping
Merogan’s paw, as she already pulled him towards the centre of the hall. They
both bowed with a hautain smuck on their face and started dancing, their heads
in the air. After a while they started laughing so hard that some of the couples
surrounding them shot dark looks. “Now we won’t get admitted in the high-class
social parties!” Puffed Merrhyna.
“Stop it! I can barely breathe,” said Merogan.
“Let us just dance!” He liked dancing; even when he was little he jumped around
whenever he heard something that sounded like music. As he grew up near the
forest it was mostly birdsongs he heard, but it didn’t matter, it had always
relieved him of his troubles. Now, he was dancing with a good friend in nice
clothes in the gigantic hall of a castle. Yet he couldn’t be genuinely happy
But then the corner of his eye caught a glimpse
of Kreneh. He seemed to be in some major discussion with a very important Zafara.
“Who is that guy talking to the king?” he asked Merrhyna.
“That’s counsellor Mrydè, he is the most important
man next to the king. Some say he rules the city for Kreneh, but those are just
rumours. What is sure is that the king never makes a decision without the counsellor.
It’s a man hat one has to beware of, there are many less flattering rumours
about it, but let’s not spoil the evening” She said, adding a cheerful note
to her last remark. Merogan showed her an absent smile and started to make her
twirl, all the while looking at Kreneh with a hateful eye. As they moved across
the dancefloor they were getting closer to Kreneh, so close Merogan could even
hear him speak!
“Ah, don’t worry about the NP’s Mrydè! Let those
fools have fun now. We needed something to make them trust us again! Soon the
taxes will be raised again, and if you think hard you will see we will make
more money, even with the costs of this party. There are to many of those dumb
peasants in the city! They bring the productivity down. When we raise the taxes
they will have a choice: Or they will have to leave the city and make room for
others, or they will work for me as slaves without getting paid! The privilege
of staying in the city is enough payment. They are nothing but mere bugs in
my hands” He took a red berry and squashed it between his hooves. Mrydè laughed
Suddenly Merogan froze, let go of Merrhyna turned
towards the king and slowly started drawing his sword.
To be continued...