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~ Like Aladdin, But More Shakespearean ~

 

It was getting more and more cramped in Chizeta by the day. Even with the law passed many years ago to limit each family to two children--the royal family decided to be no exception--there was no ruling to stop the growing demand of farmland for the expanding population.

Everyday Tatra, the elder princess, went into the nearby marketplace to see how the citizens of Chizeta were doing. Everyday Tatra heard complaints about the rich booting the poor off their lands to build great mansions. Everyday Tatra heard rumors spreading that the rich thought they were too good for the laws of Chizeta--or too clever, for that matter--and married, had two kids, divorced, remarried, and had two more kids.

Everyday Tatra heard protests about many different things: enforcing the laws more properly, changing the laws so that there were only one child per household, exiling the criminals and thieves to Fahren or Autozam and destroying the prisons (there was even one party who demanded that all criminals and thieves were to be put to death no matter how small the offense), banning immigrants and tourists from Chizeta altogether, lessening the taxes for the poor and raising the taxes for the rich, and so much more.

And everyday, Tatra would report this to her parents.

Her mother and father, the rulers of Chizeta, were concerned about their people like all good rulers should. In the society of Chizeta, the two main concerns were the bitterness between the rich and poor and overpopulation. Always, Tatra's mother and father would try their absolute best to meet the demands of the people of Chizeta as reasonably as possible.

Tarta always tried to come up ideas every night. She was only the younger princess, so Tarta could only make suggestions. Their mother and father always listened, but they never followed the plans, which made Tarta upset but only the more determined to find a different approach to things.

Tatra pitied her younger sister. She always tried so hard to please their mother and father.

Tatra offered to take Tarta with her outside of the palace walls, but since there were officials visiting from Autozam, Tarta refused. The poor girl was so wrapped up in the politics of the country lately that Tatra could hardly remember the last time she had real fun.

Dressing up as a commoner was easier than one would think; all Tatra had to do was dress in darker garments than she normally wear and discard her jewelry, and to use for a semi-decent disguise (since hardly anybody has ever seen a member of the royal family), she put her hair up in a simple ponytail. Since her hair was so long and bushy, she always felt uncomfortable, so she always kept her hair down inside of the palace. Another method she use was to change her name to Dacia.

It's not often that she ever used the name, but it was always a nice thing to fall back on.

As it always was during the dry season in Chizeta, the noon sun scorched the land so that the heat seemed to rise from the ground rather than shining to the earth. It was difficult to look around without squinting, but Tatra managed without the use of any sort of visor. Such luxurious items were for the nobles, and Tatra wanted to pass as a middle-class citizen as much as she possibly could.

Tatra wandered the streets that were bustling with people going to and fro for a preferred item. Her only job was to be aloof and grab snippets of conversations from random people--it was the only way she could discover the true concerns of the people of Chizeta.

She paused in front of a tea leaves booth. It was really the only shop she enjoyed herself and felt was worthwhile to stop by; at all other booths, she would pretend to be interested in what she was looking at and eavesdrop.

Through that, she has learned a lot about her own country as well as the other three countries, Autozam, Fahren, and Cephiro, although she knew less about Cephiro than she did about Fahren and especially Autozam.

Part of her knowing a lot about Autozam came from her parents, who were trying to create a treaty with the president of the country, Chrysler Vision. He wasn't the one visiting; the vice president, Daihatsu Sirion, was in the country as well as some other military people.

"Dacia!" the shopkeeper cried excitedly. "It's good to see you again!"

"I came by yesterday," Tatra answered politely and cheerfully. "Ne, do you have any imports?"

The shopkeeper shook his head. "Not today. You know how Autozam can be sometimes: paranoid. I do have some homegrown leaves if you're interested."

"Do you have any solara?" asked Tatra.

"Of course!"

As the shopkeeper went underneath the booth to dig out Tatra's--or, rather, Dacia's--favorite flavor of tea, she couldn't help but notice two conspicuous Autozam military officials in front of the neighboring food shop.