A thief had snuck into the city.
Despite the weather, the markets were roaring with life. The yells of sale and buzzing of chit-chat easily overpowered the raindrops’ gentle drum. But the further you moved from the markets, the more silent the streets became. Words were still exchanged aplenty, but the whispers couldn’t be heard from any further away than the foul breaths of those who sent them forth could be smelled. Still no new queen, they spoke. Has the family died out, they wondered.
The larger part of the city’s populace didn’t bother meddle in monarchical matters. The rest was smart enough to know not to. Having just crept her way into the city, Livia belonged to neither of those groups. The murmurs had found their way to her ears before her cape could get fully drenched, and the temptation of playing another one of her grand schemes was just too strong to resist.
She picked the nearest fool’s pocket with ease, then tapped him on the shoulder. When the unsuspecting young man turned around, she held up the bag of gold pieces and took off her hood. ‘Sorry, I think you dropped this.’ Her gentle smile had the desired effect of striking the man. He attempted to compliment the attentive stranger, but she spoke before he could. ‘Say, do you suppose I can be shown the way to the palace gates?’ She had seen its spire rise high above the roofs of more common housing, but the giant walls surrounding the royal grounds obscured all else from view.
The clueless fellow didn’t hesitate to point the direction out to her. ‘It’s on the southern side, right down the third left here. My ma has the flower shoppe near ’em, can’t miss that lovely smell.’ He wanted to offer walking her there, but before he could start his proposal she was already moving out of sight.
Boy, I sure do hope that use of “to be struck” wasn’t actually incorrect! It probably is though. (next)