As Krios left the In Perpetuum and headed back off in the direction of The Magnificent, he was sure that he could hear the beginnings of a raucous party underway on the ship behind him. He didn’t blame them and he wasn’t surprised; Gary’s eyes glistened with the tears of pure, unadulterated joy. It was a joy that Krios had yet to know, and for that moment when they were shaking hands, he wished that that joy could be somehow transferred to him, even if it was just one iota of the Joy that Gary was feeling then, it would have been more joy than Krios had ever experienced in the entire time that he had spent in the employ of the king. His own self-loathing gnawing away at him like a beaver on a log, he now had to find some way of placating the crew of The Magnificent. Already he could see some of the crew leaving the ship, packs in tow. They seemed slightly indifferent but altogether not upset about leaving. Cases, chests, and caskets were being carried off in their dozens.
“Krios!” the shrill, despicable shriek of his name caused his blood to stir with the beginnings of the rage he felt before. Hellen was standing on the deck waving his arms around like a 5 year old attempting to copy the moves to a Korean dance song. “It’s amazing what a little gold can do! I’ve paid the crew to leave the ship, and hired a carpenter to knock some walls through to expand the size of my quarters. I love being king! Everyone listens to what I say!” With that he disappeared inside the cabin. As Krios reached the deck himself after climbing up the gangplank, the captain approached him with a stride so ferocious he looked as though he was going to tear off his head upon reaching him.
“Krios I presume” he bellowed with the decibel of a birthing dragon. “My name is Charon Hermes Junior the Fifth. My father, my father’s father, and my father’ father’s father were all sailors and ship captains before me. In the tradition of my family, I am honoured that our king has chosen our vessel on which to complete his quest.”
“What of your father’s father’s father’s father? Was he a sailor and a captain too?” Krios asked, intrigued as to this unremarkable man’s genealogy.
“Why no, he was a mountaineer who retired to the mountains in his later years and cultivated a herd of ibexes. I cannot tell you the pride I feel at having us forever being a part of this historical adventure. Let us sail forth with all haste and bring the success to our king that he deserves. Our king will be the most powerful in the whole world, and it is no more than he or we have earned! Long live the king!” his sycophancy was beyond the pale and Krios felt some of his breakfast swim like a salmon back up his gullet, or at least what was left of it. Luckily he prevented it from spraying into Hermes’ stupid smug face, but only by the grace of God Himself. Swallowing back a chunk of sausage, Krios managed to speak:
“Are you not concerned that the majority of the crew have left in droves?”
“My crew? They are not my crew! They are passengers. This is a cruise ship my lad, the rich and the powerful use this ship to sail the seas. The king gave them their fares back plus some extra for any of their possessions that he wanted. Everyone wins here. I keep the original money the passengers gave me for their individual trips, the money the king gave me for you and he to travel, the fees charged by the team of carpenters working off the clock, and the fee for myself and my crew to sail off course into unchartered waters. In all it’s earned me 500 gold, and the king paid another 500 gold to the passengers and 250 to the carpenters! What a life to be king, and to be one so generous that the people will surely love him more and more and sing songs to his glory in the streets on their way to work!”
1250 gold! That is ten times what was agreed for travel on the In Perpetuum! It’s all well and good being generous, but this is the public money! The taxpayers would be none too happy about funding the king’s whimsies like this. Best that that wasn’t revealed at any point though, else as his advisor he would surely bear the brunt of the blame. He wasn’t his damn babysitter, he was advising him. How do you be advisor to someone who refuses to be advised? Is it merely a way for the king to exert his authority and superiority upon someone else, by refusing to listen to someone who is infinitely more experienced, knowledgeable, intelligent and handsome? This was not ego or pride talking, for everyone in the know knew that the king was a naive, stupid, imbecilic and unattractive person. Only his advisors and diligent PR team had prevented this from reaching public discourse.
“The sooner we set sail the better” he said.
“What’s that now, lad?” Charon asked. It was then that he realised he spoke out loud.
“I, er, said that this schooners sails are better. As in than most that I’ve seen. Pray, when do we get to see the ship cut through the waves with the majesty of our king cutting down his enemies?” Krios felt a little relieved at recovering, however poorly it was.
“Oh you are too kind, too kind my sir. We will leave just as soon as the carpenters have finished the alterations in his majesty’s quarters.” Charon said with all the gushing pride of a child receiving a glowing school report. This only served to irritate Krios all the more. He wanted to set sail soon as he wanted this to be over. He wouldn’t mind waiting if it was to fix something with the ship, but not yet again serving the selfish ideals of the idiot.
“Your Grace, I suggest we find somewhere to eat whilst we wait for…” Krios called out to Hellen across deck, and he was rather hungry so it came out rather more urgently than he had thought it might. He did not however, expect the reaction he got. Or maybe he did a little bit, as Hellen was not a particularly nice person. With a look of intense incredulity and more rage than was stored by Godzilla in the first of his city smashing parties, Hellen interrupted and bellowed right back:
“You will SPEAK only when you are SPOKEN to! You must NEVER, not EVER address me with demands EVER again! I am the KING, boy. You are of distinctly less breeding than me and no doubt even most of the men aboard this ship. With how uncouth you have just behaved, I wouldn’t be surprised if you did not venture below decks and find your own mother laid out in the straw there like a common mule!” Hellen turned his back to Krios and watched a seagull fight with another over a morsel of bread, and a few deck hands chuckled in the direction of Krios, although the chuckle stopped short of becoming an all out King-gratifying roar of laughter when they saw that Krios was quite likely to morph into the Incredible Hulk and hammer throw the entire ship over the nearest hill at any slight provocation. Before his skin turned green and his hands ripped apart his shirt in fury Hellen, without turning round, spoke over his shoulder: “It is time we ate. I hunger for beans on toast. Krios, come!”
To be continued…