Farmers and merchants compete for the attention of the Sunday shoppers at the weekly open market. Throngs of townspeople mob the stalls, eyeing the wares on display and absently thumbing the coins in their pockets. The rattling sound of commerce echoes between walls of the buildings that surround the square, a pleasant din that invigorates and reassures and reminds one that no matter what strange things may be happening outside the city, daily life goes on without cease.
But a weak current stirs the crowd, and a rivulet of space opens for a too-tall, too-thin figure with a strange gait, a stranger face, a stranger's face; streaked with white and grey and red, creases and crisscrosses in the makeup mask of a fool. But the fool doesn't inspire laughter, the fool doesn't even smile. The fool has his own mysterious errand.
He chants as he walks, a constant question, a soft plea, but seeminly neither expects nor wants an answer. Just the murmuring mummer calling for "Alms, friends, alms for a beggar, alms, friends, alms for a beggar..." This endless litany wends through his barely-parted and hissing lips like wisps of smoke.
The crowd is a sea that he must part, an obstacle to his destination. And so like the curving blade of a knife in the night he separates them, cutting relentlessly onward. The wound in the wake of his passing closes behind him in nervous silence.