My brother swans into the study.
“Thanks, Soc, son. I couldn't manage without you.”
“Everything is done. Delegates accommodated, food ready to be served and alcohol is oiling the wheels.” He smiles and approaches me. “Hey, Titch. Looking good.”
“Yeah right. Not even you could look good in this thing.” We embrace. For all our differences he's not a bad big brother and I almost like him.
He punches my arm. “Idiot.”
Since I was a small child it has been our “code” for you’re not forgiven but you will be soon. The force of the blow indicates he's more than a little pissed at me.
“What was that for? I’ve not done anything to you.” I rub where the bruise is forming.
“For Litae's sake! I didn't hit you that hard. It's for worrying Dad -- again. He's been sick with panic half of the day and a good portion of the Soaring Warriors have been out searching for you.” He picks up my burgundy beret. I hate it, because it looks like a bloody turd on my head. With his usual flair Soc arranges it as reasonably as it can be arranged. He smiles with satisfaction.
The smile would get on my tits if I had any. It was so smug and superior. I rearrange it. It doesn't look anywhere near as good but at least Soc didn't do it.
“Dad? What? Shit?" we both say together.
He's sat on his desk with his tunic off and holding his undershirt up and his shorts and leggings are partly down.
Gilbert is unwinding a cotton bandage.
“I was shot earlier. Consequences of escaping my guards in an attempt to find you.” His face contorts in pain as Gilbert lifts the bandage off the wound “Ahh … all that is good... on this...” He catches my eye and stops.
I guess he was about to swear. I've never heard Dad swear before. He hates it when I do.
“Loren, this is nasty it really needs a doctor's care.” Gilbert continues to clean up the wound. "It's beyond my abilities."
“I have to attend the banquet and the talks. A doctor will insist I don't. There isn't another King Lorenzo the second and I can't delegate this. Just patch me up and pump me full of painkillers.”
“I can clean it up, but...” Gilbert opens his make up bag and takes out his first aid kid. “Loren, at least let me phone Dr Falmouth.”
“It's Your Majesty in this instance. Just do as I order you. Ahh.” He closes his eyes. “Angus, promise me you won't escape your guards again.”
“I won't, Dad,” I whisper it but my fingers are crossed behind my back. Although I don't want Dad hurt, I can't promise to stay in my prison without escaping occasionally.
Soc places his arm round me. He's transfixed by Dad's wound and his face is full of concern. “Dad, maybe you should see a doctor. I'll preside over tonight and you get some rest."
"No!" Dad shouts. "By all that is good on this planet I need to do this. I'm not willing to put either of you boys in danger."
As I've been writing Angus, Imagine Dragons have provided the sidetrack. This song was used for this scene:
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.