“I’m starving, my brother, how about some decent refreshment and not the nasty stuff you feed your poor brethren. The delicious repast you have for yourself. I’m sure Angus and Soc would be grateful for something more substantial than rice and juice that looks like its been taken out of the toilet after you’ve had a dose of the shits.” Big Mac floats into the Father-Abbot’s office like he owns the place. He takes up residence in the squishy armchair and places his feet, still in their hefty boots, on the coffee table. Mud drips onto the paperwork.
Gorse flies by my head and sits on Big Mac’s shoulder, chirping. With his paw in the shape of a fist, he shakes it at Father-Abbot.
“Boys, sit down on the sofa. Relax. I heard a new word today unlax – it means to do less and take note of life. All the kids are using it.”
This kid isn’t, Angus thinks and shrugs at Soc.
“Ah I discern there is one kid who doesn’t think I’m with it. You have to work but I want plenty of unlaxing until showtime. We’ll leave mid afternoon and aim to reach Noah’s Landing under the cover of darkness. We’ll use the Earth networks to get you to Seatown. We can’t get you in there directly.” He smiles and nods at me.
Father-Abbot approaches. “Don’t I get a say in it? Angus should be protected at all costs. We need an heir, someone for the people to rally around.” He sits on the sofa, taking up all the space and leaving nowhere for Soc and I to sit. We stand back. The whole pissing around between brothers we understand and neither of us wishes to intervene or be used as pawns in it.
“You mean you want a pawn in your plan for getting off this Universal Father forsaken rock. Can you provide a safe route to Seatown? I’m almost certain I wouldn’t have been included in your plans if you could accomplish them without me.” Big Mac looks like a cat, cleaning his teeth after he’s devoured a mouse.
“Very well. When he gets there – you will be going won’t you? I want him back here. I worry that you want to keep him for yourself.”
“I’ve no plans for entire planet domination.” He lies even further back and appears chilled.
“No but you want to get your people out of the sewers of Covesea Island.”
“And how do you think a seventeen year old boy will do that?”
“The same way he will get my brethren off this rock.” At that the Father-Abbot glances at me with a moment of satisfaction. He knows he’s put a seed of doubt about Big Mac in my mind.
I work on a stronger mental firewall, unsure whether or not he heard the thought. Big Mac is putting on as much of a show for me as the Father-Abbot is. Rei and I are their sacrificial animals, ready to be punished when we don’t deliver what they want. There are people here I care about and as much as I hate to admit it, Rei is one of them. She's too fragile to be left with these powerful beasts.
Being spoken about like I’m their captive makes up my mind – I am not coming back here. Not ever. This Universal Father forsaken place will shortly be an Angus forsaken place. I must have given something away in my facial expression, because Soc is glaring at me. His brow furrows and I can see he wants to march me out of the room so we can talk. Or fight.
“What is your brother thinking, Socrates?”
Soc snaps back at the Father-Abbot. “Can’t you discern it? He’s unhappy being spoken about as a dumb creature. As Crown Prince and heir to the throne he shouldn’t be left out of the discussion. When he is king he in the true order of things – your equal.”
“And that’s why you are angry with him?”
I do not want the Father-Abbot to know of my burgeoning plan and I set about working on a new mental code so I can detect his intrusions into my mind. Tomorrow night I intend to go in search of Beatrice.
“I’m not angry at my brother, I’m concerned he will do something stupid. He has a hot temper. He’s ill equipped to deal with yourself and Mac.”
The Father-Abbot stands up and moves until he is right in front of Soc. “I know you’re lying, boy.” He cups my brother’s chin and smiles at him. “Maybe I should hold you hostage until your little brother returns. If he wants to see you again he will have to come and get you.”
The fear I expect to see in Soc isn’t there. Instead he removes the Father-Abbot’s hand, stands up straight and looks right into the Father-Abbot’s eyes. “Reckon you could hold me, Father? My sister couldn’t. Little brother, whatever you plan do not take this threat seriously. Listen to your heart and you’ll do the right thing.” He takes a small step so he is nose to nose with the Father-Abbot. “Going to see if you can take me on?”
The Father-Abbot backs off and appears fearful of my brother. “Very well, Socrates. I will have to trust your judgement. I’m not used to having so many novices here outwith my control. Since he...” He points at me. “Arrived here even the infirmier is becoming difficult to discern. When he returns he won’t be allowed to exert his power over my order. Prior Shun will be escorting you all.”
Soc grins. “He has a talent for organising and leading rebellions without realising that is what he is doing, but isn’t that what we want here? A rebellion. I don’t want to be in bed with you but we all want freedom for our people. To do that we need to get rid of my sister.”
I’m feeling very small. All of them are talking about me as though I am not here. Not even Soc really cares about me. What he wants is Evelyn dead and I’m a means to achieving that.
All I want is to find Bea and get off Covesea Island. I want to run away to Switzbergenland and study astronomy. Its been my dream since I was a small child and Dad brought me back, from a state visit, that astronomically correct quilt. Thinking of Dad doesn’t help me feel big. I wipe the tears from my face and decide to play their game whilst I make my plan. “Big Mac have you brought the bits and bobs I need to fix my copper?”
“Come with me. We can work in your cell.” Gorse falls from Big Mac’s shoulder as he stands. After giving Big Mac an indignant growl he flies back and buries his claws in my shoulder.
The Father-Abbot looks like he’s about to object. Gorse growls and hisses at him. Soc moves in front of me and shakes his head. “He needs to work and he needs to get that broadcast out. Whatever he does afterwards we need the world to know that Empress Evelyn is not King Lorenzo the second’s daughter. Angus will also need decent food. This is all too crucial for him to do it whilst hungry.”
A night of blood, mayhem and magic thrust Prince Angus, the youngest son of the king, onto the throne of Covesea Island. He's never wanted to be king. Social media calls King Angus a clown. His subjects don't rate his ability to lead them in the trade negotiations with one of the planet's superpowers.