Not so much for you sophisticates who follow my blog, but I imagine most would have difficulty imagining post-Breakup monarchy. It would be very personal, a throw-back to the Early Middle Ages. No “constitutional” form and even more direct that the Absolutism of the 18th century. Empress Faustina shot a man through his head, a man who was legally a POW. Rhun has killed with his own hands, as you will read in an installment or two. That makes Gil’s “back talk” surprising to the point of foolhardiness.
Teresa’s candor makes more sense: if caught in a lie her head would be on a pike, too. Thankfully, she comes from a political family.
The few between the king and Gil scattered as he strode over. Unsure of protocol, Gil bowed from his waist about forty-five degrees.
“My King,” he muttered, recalling the fires in the City.
“Gil Haven!” Another shout as he felt hands lift him. He looked up…
Gil was tall, but Rhun even taller. Maybe six-five? His hair and close-cropped beard were flaxen but with some white. Bright blue eyes… Nichole was right, he thought. This guy is built like some Germanic god from central casting.
“Yes. Sire.” He managed to reply.
“I hear you’ve had an interesting day,” Rhun went on, finally in a normal talking voice. “We should take a walk…”
The king looked to Kult who shook his head once.
“…in here, where it’s not so cold. A magistrate of mine from Portland shall join us. Come!”
Taking great strides further into the hangar, Rhun was already ten feet away before first Gil then Teresa trotted up to his right and left, respectively. After another hundred feet, he spoke.
“It would seem,” Rhun began in a conversational tone, meant only for those two with him, “that you and I shared someone important in common, Mister Haven.”
“You mean Ms. Johnson, here?” Even at the potential cost of his life, Gil could not resist the urge to strike back at these people. People who had done so much to wreck his old life. “Yes, we did once have a moment or two together.”
Rhun stopped. He turned completely left, his back exposed to Gil.
“Teresa?” he rumbled.
“We swam naked together and felt each other up,” she replied with no tremor in her voice. “Weeks later, went I was a waitress, I brought him drinks.”
She tilted her head to her king and her predatory smile returned.
“You were not my first, Great Lord, but I’ve no others since you,” she stated flatly.
The king nodded and now turned to Gil, leaning into his personal space.
“Trying to make trouble, Haven?” he demanded.
“Yes. Sire.” Can my hand make it to my back in time…?
Rhun tossed his head back and laughed.
“Now! Now I see why that girl had you as a boyfriend! If you insult your king to his face, no wonder Nichole picked you!” he said loud enough for those at the entrance to hear.
“She was a remarkable woman, my King,” Gil allowed.
“I know.” He was quieter and sighed. “I wanted her for one of my wives, but she left me right after the campaign against the cannibals. Teresa, here, told me later what she tried to do in Portland… almost blunted my assault on the city. And then she slipped away again. No one heard of her again.”
“And now,” Rhun resumed his walk, but slower, “her ex-boyfriend gets picked up by a Russian warship in my territorial waters. Isn’t that a coincidence, Mister Haven?”
After what Nichole told him about coincidences, Gil kept his mouth shut.
“Did you, my loyal subject, see Nichole after she fled me?” From his voice, Gil could tell the king seemed honestly curious.
“Yes, Sire.” How much to say? I cannot put my family at risk! “As I’m sure Ms. Johnson has told you, she tried to rally a defense of the City. When that failed, well, she took some of us to a pub on campus… and told us to go west. Then she ran away.”
Rhun paused his walk.
“Seems you weren’t the only one she left, Sire,” Gil concluded.
“Any idea if she’s alive? Where she might be?” the king asked.
“No clue. She was,” Gil nearly said ‘made,’ but bit back the word in time, “from Japan. Maybe she found a way home?”