Total Wordcount: 36,040
I declared tonight that I could not go to bed until I had written at least 1000 words. Then Rakoto took over and out poured nearly 2000. Awesome!
Rakoto learns why naive highborn sifakas should not visit the markets by themselves and has his first run-in with Misokosoko. Ah, Miso is fun. He's more cynical and scornful than I expected him to be.
Rakoto frowned. “What do you mean?”
The kotrika sighed. “I mean you get good deal, excellent deal,” he declared, plucking the saphira from Rakoto's hand. Too late, Rakoto realised that it did indeed take the scruffy little lemur both hands to hold its weight. “Now, you want me wrap 'em or take as is?”
The little rat's cheated me, Rakoto realised. “Azafady, I would like it wrapped,” he declared. He pointed at a neatly folded blue kerchief, tucked under one of the belts. “In that.”
“But that is genuine silk!” The kotrika declared. “I cannot just give it away.”
“And why not?” Came a low voice from beside them. Rakoto whirled to see the one-eyed varika had sauntered over. He crouched beside the kotrika's stall, tail draped over his shoulder. The vivid circlet of orange fur, partnered with the silk eyepatch, made him look both dangerous and sly. “You've just pretty much robbed him in front of everyone.”
The kotrika sputtered. “Robbed him? I never! This is honest business, it is.”
“It is?” The one-eyed varika cocked his head. “And I'm a mongoose's uncle. The kit's a naïve little highborn and cos he's as dimwitted as a drongo, you've just skinned him. So give him the damned piece of cloth and his belts and know that you've gotten the leafy end of the stick.”
The kotrika glanced about to find many pairs of eyes upon him, he hastened to wrap the two belts into the piece of silk. Shoved it at Rakoto. “There you go,” he said.
Rakoto reached out to take it, but the varika interrupted. “No, you ain't done yet, kit. I reckon as this cheeky bandit here oughta toss in that mirror and that there comb. Unless he wants me to go singing to the Queen's Hunters about how as he's skinning the...” he winked at Rakoto, “prince an' all.”
Rakoto startled. He was not used to being recognised and identified as a prince – his own mother failed to acknowledge him. And whilst he did spend much of his time in the company of the Queen's advisor, it seemed generally assumed that he was an apprentice or runaround.
“Prince?” The kotrika stammered, shaking his head.
“Didn't ya see him in the parade yesterday? All fine and fancy with his blue collar and all?”
The kotrika's ears flattened and his tail sagged. He shoved everything together – the wrapped belts, the comb, the mirror and a small carved goblet. “Take it,” he said, “go, go. You done good from me, you did. Really.”
Rakoto took it, and hopped away, bemused. It was a lumpy armload and he rather wanted to set it down. Also, he could not stop shaking. But he could not give into such urges yet, because the varika had followed him.
“Misaotra,” Rakoto said, his voice wavering.
“Well, you can thank me,” declared the varika. “But thanks ain't much to a one-eyed homeless chap like meself. I done you a good turn, I reckon you owe me one now. You don't be wanting that comb or that mirror, do yous just?”
“No, I suppose I do not require them. Here, take them – they are yours. You have more then earned them.” He held them out to the varika.
To which, the varika slapped him in the shoulder, hard enough to send him staggering over. The weight of the collars unbalanced him, and he toppled into the dirt. Cowering into a ball, he hugged the bundle to his chest.
“What,” he whimpered. “What are you doing?”
A crowd had gathered, as crowds do around such an unexpected example of market theatre.
The varika loomed over him, close enough so that Rakoto could smell the spice of his fur and see the distain in his one eye.
“You is just gonna give it to me? He snarled. “Not even try to argue? You is soft,” he snarled. “Like a baby bird fresh from the nest. Just waiting for the mongoose to eat you. And she'll gobble you up. You've gotta grow teeth and learn how to use them or you ain't never gonna be nothing more than the Queen's little pet.”
With that he scooped up the mirror and the brush, nudged Rakoto hard with his foot, and scampered off on three limbs. The crowds parted to let him through and began to disperse. The show was over, and no blood had been spilt. A vague scent of disappointment hunt in the air.
Rakoto picked himself up, shook the dust from his fur. He was scared, but worse than that, he was humiliated.
“I shall find you, you one-eyed scoundrel,” he growled. “And I shall show you that I do have teeth and I know how to use the... Ow!” A small, hard fruit had whizzed through the air, striking him on the cheek. He whirled in time to see a small lemur, his bald head hidden beneath an oversized hat. The little lemur laughed, and darted away.