Tidbit: Looking Through, The King

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“I take it you have a very good reason for being so abominably rude this hour of the night, madam, er-“ From a door hidden somewhere behind the throne, a grizzled old man constructed entirely out of jiggling wrinkles limped onto the cold stone floor, a flutter of children attempting to clothe him mid-stride. His tiny eyes scrutinized her from within wiry storm-cloud eyebrows as he waved an arm at the slaves who scattered back and then flooded back in again with the patience of those accustomed to the stubborn and powerful.  His grey streaked beard mimicked the wiry hair on his head, flaring out at all angles, lending his face a kind of hourglass shape. After a moment, the frown vanished, and took with it a dozen layers of age. A monarch barely a decade older than herself stood before her now, grumpy and tired in a threadbare nightgown. “Oh, it’s you.”

“Yes, your majesty.” Sierra bowed low as the king flailed at his slaves some more. “My apologies for-“

“Aren’t young ladies like yourself supposed to wear decent bloody clothes in my presence?” The king, having banished his slaves to the far side of the room where they gathered and stared like beetles, threw himself dramatically onto his throne, stretching with a yawn. The slaves huddled together and fidgeted with the royal gown.  Thoughts of Shouhasad were never far from her mind in Sovereign and she wondered if the king knew where his ‘stock’ had originated from. Sierra trembled at the sight of their tiny bald heads.She hoped, desperately, that he wouldn’t notice the shake in her hands as he eyed her, remaining bent at the waist before him.  “What are you doing caterwauling like a cat in heat in my bloody castle?”

“My apologies, Highness, but-“

“And what kind of armour is that for my guards to be wearing I keep you better paid than that, don’t I? What do you do with the money, get drunk and buy women?”

Sierra opened her mouth, shut it, and glanced up through her hair. Her lower back was beginning to ache. “Sir?”

“Oh for god’s sake straighten up I can’t talk to you when you’re all bendy like that. This bowing business has to stop, I mean, you can dip up and down just fine, all this posturing nonsense. I’m the king, I have a crown, I don’t need people to contort themselves to remind me.” The king sucked on his teeth and watched as Sierra straightened, leaning back slightly to stretch the ache from her spine. “I suppose you have a damn good reason for dragging me out of bed, madam Cacciatore.”

“I hope so, Highness.” He stared at her expectedly. She cleared her throat. “My apologies for waking you, sire, but we have just returned from the battle on the Batav border. I believe I have some information you’ll find… interesting.”

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