As Jaron, Kenton, Harry and I passed into town from the road leading down from the palace three hours or so after the talk with my father I made an observation, ‘for a town, there sure are a lot of people.’
Kenton let out a soft chuckle ‘certainly looks like it, doesn’t it? A lot of the people you see live in the three villages at different distances from the capital and come here to work two to five days a week except on the four royal birthdays and of course, Easter and Christmas. The actual population of Síosa is only eight hundred and fifty’ he answered as we passed through a street of market stalls.
Only eight hundred and fifty citizens? I thought, surely that isn’t normal for a kingdom’s capital?
‘How many people exactly live outside the capital, and travel here to work and shop?’ I asked, returning the smiles and waves of some children stood in front of a fruit and vegetable stall.
‘With the population of each village added together, I’d say almost nine hundred’ Jaron replied as we passed a shop whose plaque had an open book etched into the wood.
‘Jaron, can we stop here for a moment? I’d like to have a look in the bookshop’ I called, pulling Perseus around and tugging gently on his reins before telling him softly to stop- though I don’t remember speaking out-loud.
‘Of course, Your Highness’ he answered, then he and Kenton pulled their horses round alongside Perseus as Harry dismounted from behind me before lifting me down.
‘Kenton and Harry, can you mind the horses?’
The two of them nodded, and I turned to Jaron.
As we entered the store, a bell above the door announced our arrival and pulled the attention of a short bald man with a relatively thick white moustache sorting through a crate of books over to us.
‘Your Highness! I am delighted to be blessed with a visit from you’ he exclaimed, bowing his head as he came over.
‘Thank you for the warm welcome, kind sir’ I replied with a smile, sweeping my eyes over all the book spines around the room.
‘What type of books do you sell?’
‘Oh, I have a great selection of different genres milady. Romance, myth and legend, crime, and mystery. All sorts’ he replied ‘please, have a look around and choose one you like – even two!’
Thanking him, I started walking around the cute little store; pulling out and looking at the cover and first few pages of a few books that caught my eye before putting them back and continuing my browse.
Fifteen minutes later, judging by the clock above the counter, I was skimming the spines of some books on a shelf against the far wall of the store when one of them, a book of purple velvet with a silver trimmed spine, attracted my attention.
Pulling it out, I read the front cover.
The Elf Kingdom of Feldar and Its Short History.
I stared at it for several seconds, and then opened it to see if it would interest me. I was barely a minute into the first paragraph when I closed the book again, satisfied, and headed over to the counter.
‘Thank you for letting me stay and look for so long, I’ll be taking this one’ I told the shop owner, placing four gold coins from the pouch my father gave me just before I left with the others this morning, which was concealed within a secret pocket in my dress.
‘Thank you, Your Highness, for your generosity’ he replied with a smile, pulling the coins towards him before depositing them into a pouch hanging from his belt. ‘Do come again, Princess Oraelia.’
I smiled at him and waved him goodbye, leaving the little shop with Jaron following close behind me.
‘Have you had enough of your tour yet?’ Kenton asked Harry and I two or three hours later, following a visit to several other shops and a few stalls.
‘I think I’m about ready to fall into bed, and take a nap’ I replied, stifling a yawn.
Harry released a small yawn himself, ‘me too.’
‘Then, I believe it is time to head back to the palace.’ Jaron received three nods of agreement, and so we turned the horses about and headed home.
Once we’d arrived back at the palace, and returned our horses to the stables, I told Harry I was going to visit my father in his study and would catch up with him after we’d both had a nap before going to my room to change into some leggings and a blouse and then headed down to my father’s study.
Upon reaching the end of the corridor, I knocked lightly on the door and when the deep reply of ‘come on’ came from the other side, I turned the knob and stepped inside.
‘Oraelia my dear, how was your trip into town with the boys?’ he asked, as I came in and sat down in one of the chairs on the side of his desk, as he finished writing something in a little brown book with one of his quills.
‘It was great, I bought a few things with the coins you gave me’ I replied.
He nodded, smiling, and then leant back in his chair. ‘So, what is it you wanted to talk to me about?’
‘Jaron told me that the population of the capital is only eight hundred and fifty, and that the combined population of Ledoran’s three villages is around nine hundred. He also said that half of them have to travel a long distance to work, and shop for their families,’ I replied.
‘Father, I’d like to do something for our people, so that those living away from the capital who have to commute don’t have such a long distance to travel. Is there any way you and Mum can extend the magic barrier surrounding the main town? If we can move those who don’t work at, or own stores and farms in the three villages close to Síosa, they won’t exhaust themselves travelling to work or going shopping for supplies. With the extra four hundred inhabitants Síosa’s population will be more befitting of a city.’
He sat silently for a few moments, pursing his lips in thought, and then leant forward. ‘The magic barrier can be expanded with no problem; it can do so on its own thanks to the way it was created when the kingdom came into existence, as for your proposal I think it’s a splendid idea but – do you think you’ll be able to handle the pressure of re-locating the people you’d like to move on your own?’
I felt elated at his reply and suppressed the urge to squeal with happiness as I replied. ‘I’m sure I’ll be able to handle it, though I know once I tell him Harry will be eager to help me out, as will Jaron and Kenton, since the three of us have become close.’
‘Very well then, draw up a plan of how you will go about this, and we’ll go over it with Aiolos, your mother and the other three young men tomorrow afternoon.’
I grinned at him, got up from my chair, and went around to his side of the desk to give him a big hug before opening the door and leaving the study, heart leaping with joy as I headed back to my room for a nap before I told Harry and the other two my big news.
Hey everyone, I hope you’ve enjoyed the three chapters this week. Next week brings you the first of two parts in the novel seen from Harry’s perspective; what do you think he might be thinking?
You have wings. Believe in them and yourself, and you will fly.