That’s the thing about this city, business is transacted, neighbors greet one another, the little tasks of each zidan are completed within all-encompassing safety, protected from the army encamped outside the city walls.
On that zidan when the Kingdom of Hexeoral, commanded by King Bertramus the Confident, invaded our lands, citizens flooded through the city gates looking for refuge, safety, an oasis of peace, away from the violence and death breaching the border, flooding our land. The protective spell was cast and fully realized, enveloping the city in its embrace, before King Bertramus the Confident’s army could follow. Outside the walls of our city every inch of the Kingdom of Sequrenths, our home, our paradise, was laid to waste so it is of no use, comfort, or aid to our enemy. The trees, meadows, and crops in the field shriveled before our enemy’s eyes under the onslaught of the double suns following their paths through the sky. No rain has fallen to quench the parched earth. No breeze has blown to cool our enemy’s brow.
Things should have been different. A peace treaty between King Bertramus the Confident and our King Gerolt the Noble had been agreed to. In a show of good faith, the treaty was sealed by the marriage of our Princess Plume, the only daughter of King Gerolt the Noble, to King Bertramus the Confident, making our kingdoms more than neighbors, more like family. The raids across the border were to end. and peaceful, profitable trade would flow between our lands, enriching both kingdoms. That peace lasted six hexters after the wedding celebration, eighteen cycles ago.
It’s amazing how something welcomed as a blessing, wished for, desired at the beginning, can evolved into a curse. When the Kingdom of Hexeoral spread across our land all we wanted was safety, protection, hope, everything the protective spell offered us. The Kingdom of Sequrenth had relied upon magic to wage what wars we were called upon to fight. Cycles ago it was decided the magic to wage war would be reserved for the female members of the royal family. Only the princess of a king can wield the magic of war. Only Princess Plume, we refuse to refer to her as King Bertramus the Confident’s queen, can free us from this conflict.
For four cycles it was debated why Princess Plume had abandoned the land of her birth. It was reported Princess Plume had shed tears when she crossed the border from the Kingdom of Sequrenth into the Kingdom of Hexeoral, so loathe she was to leave her home. So, what happened in those six hexters that would make Princess Plume abandon her people?
On the fourth anniversary of Princess Plume’s wedding, an oracle was given the answer. King Bertramus the Confident had an enchanted cell in one of his castles where he imprisoned Princess Plume once he knew she had conceived. Princess Plume was helpless to aid her father King Gerolt the Noble and the kingdom of her birth.
With King Bertramus the Confident waging war, Princess Plume was able to make plans of her own. The night she gave birth, during a raging thunderstorm, her four daughters were whisked away from their mother into the safety of anonymity. They were separated out of necessity so they could grow up under the watchful eye of Princess Plume’s allies within the Kingdom of the Hexeoral. These princesses are now our only hope to be freed from this city when they fulfill their destiny by overthrowing their father and taking his throne as their own.
That prophesy was given fourteen cycles ago. For eighteen cycles we have been safe inside our city, our home, our prison. Outside the army of King Bertramus the Confident has been camped, unable to sustain itself without constant supplies and reinforcements of men being shipped from the Kingdom of Hexeorals. They are unable to penetrate the magic and we are unable to mount an attack to drive them from our lands. They are suffering the deprivation they wished upon us. We are locked together both waiting for something, anything, to change.
At least we live in relative comfort inside our walled city, patiently waiting for the prophecy to be fulfilled. The blessing that has made our survival possible has come with a cost, as all enchantments do. The price we pay is our lives do not change. Each zidan begins exactly as the zidan before it began. Our basic needs are provided for with fresh food appearing in the stores every morning and waste disappears every night. We no longer barter over prices. Those that need food, water, or firewater are provided those provisions. Everyone in good health has found a task to perform every zidan. Those in good health were in good health when the protective spell was cast continue to be in good health. Those that were in poor health remain in poor health, they do not deteriorate, and they show no signs of recovery. We are in the same health we had on that first zidan, eighteen cycles ago.
No one falls in love. No children are born. The children we have do not grow up. The artist always starts with a blank canvas. The poet begins with a blank sheet of paper. Nothing we create survives the night. The only way we know time as past is the memories we carry into the new zidan, like dreams remembered upon waking.
We drift through our zidans, going through the motions of life. We cook meals we have ate thousands of times. We walk the streets we have walked thousands of times. We greet the neighbors we have greeted thousands of times. Every zidan is different and yet every zidan is the same, with only the hope of being freed from our prison, to look forward to.
It’s easy to fall into a pattern, performing the same activities every zidan, going through the motions, alive but not living. We exist, waiting to be freed by the daughters of Princess Plume. We exist, living inside a dream, a dream drifting into being a nightmare, a nightmare we are powerless to wake from.
You will have to pardon me. It is the time I walk the perimeter checking for the slightest change. A change that will herald the awakening of Princess Plume’s daughters to their destiny. A change that will herald the beginning of the end of our captivity.