‘Hrrumnf . . . spl’t grnarff.’
Horus tried again, shaking the king’s shoulder a little more vigorously.
One bleary, bloodshot eye opened. ‘Seems I’m still not dead, Horus.’
‘It would appear not, Your Majesty. We have plenty time for being dead, sir. For now, let us be up and about. The Chief Minister and Mister Knewtun are due at the palace within two hours. And later on you have an appointment with the new Ambassador of Judysear and the outgoing Consul General.’
The king hauled himself out of the bed and stretched.
‘What time is it?’
‘Six o’clock, sir.’
Toot at the Moon reached for the cup Horus held. ‘Mmm, tea!’
‘Yes, sir. As Your Majesty instructed.’ There was a note of disapproval. Horus was suspicious of anything that even hinted of herbal. Whiskey was the thing for a king. He now suspected tea was responsible for the king’s continued bachelor status and his apparent reluctance to do the Royal Business.
Why couldn’t His Majesty have a stiff one in the morning like every previous male ruler of Sunniclimes?
‘Would you like me to send a handmaiden, sir?’
‘No thank you, Horus. I could do with washing everything. I’ll have a bath.’
‘Ah. Another example of the Royal Wit, sir,’ Horus replied.
‘With a capital T, Horus?’
‘Oh, no, sir!’ Horus sounded affronted that the king could suggest he would be so rude. ‘Not a capital T, sir, no.’
Toot at the Moon laughed as he wandered off to bathe.
‘Have clean clothes laid out will you?’
‘Already taken care of, Your Majesty.’
The bathroom door banged open as Princess Nefer burst into the room.
‘Excuse me!’ her brother cried stepping out of the bath.
‘Is he here yet?’ she asked, excited as a child on Yearend morning.
Yearend is celebrated across the known world. However, it varies depending on religious beliefs. In Sunniclimes, they call it the Festival of Dog. Gifts include miniature replicas of the Great Cube of Geyser. There is a tradition that these cubes are supposed to be hollow and filled with sweets. So far, no one has been able to open one to find out whether this is true
‘This is my bathroom and I was taking a bath,’ Toot at the Moon tried again, pointing out the obvious. ‘Do I ever barge unannounced into your bathroom?’
‘What?’ Nefer seemed confused by the question. ‘Oh! For goodness’ sake, stop being stupid. It’s only me. Besides it’s not as if there’s anything I haven’t seen before, is there?’
‘Well thank you very much,’ he said indignantly, while trying to hold on to as much dignity as possible.
‘Tch. You know what I mean,’ she scolded, handing him a towel. ‘Why did you bath in cold water?’ she asked, as the steam poured off him.
‘I didn’t. Why . . . ?’
‘Very funny,’ he said wrapping the towel around his waist.
‘Well, is he?’
‘Is he what?’
‘Here. Is Isack here?’
‘Oh, it’s Isack already, is it? Haven’t clapped eyes on him yet but already we’re on first name terms, it seems.’
‘Can’t I be excited? We are family, after all.’
‘Family? Well there is a bloodline, although by now the blood must be so thin as to be transparent.’
There was a note of triumph in the way she said the word.
Copyright 2013© Douglas Pearce