Alfalaria sat in the shade of the wicker tower, the shade sail billowing above. On the tower side of her sat a dozen giant pots holding palm trees that swayed and clacked far above adding more shade to the cool breeze off the sea. The deck under her moved slightly, gently rising and falling as if the hospital itself were breathing.
The Hound was berthed on the other side of the island, where the water was deeper, even though she drew amazingly little for her size. “Missy?”
Kaylebuh stood off to one side, holding a rolled up Pages in his hands, twisting it back and forth, leaving a powdering of grey/black ink against his brown hands.
“Yes, Kaylebuh?” She turned and patted the deck next to her, to invite him to sit. He still had the servile mannerisms of a slave, but then he’d only been free, precisely, for a few weeks. He settled down gracefully.
“I kin read the headline, Missy but would y’all be so kind as to read this tah me?” He proffered the Pages. She took it and looked at the headline as it unrolled. “Not ‘Alesinae’s Baby Named?”She turned it over. “Ah. Fehinnan Ambassador Arrested.”
“Hmm… Date… Byline… I don’t know that reporter… it’s a girl though. “The Marble Palace Announced that the Fehinnan Ambassador, Reynawed Pearse Beyauregar Aeesleen… I think that’s how it’s pronounced…” She looked up to his nod.
“A little fast on t’ vowels, Missy but good ‘nough.”
“… on charges of murder and conspiracy to murder, conspiracy to enslave INAssembly members, conspiracy to destabilize the Empire of Arko and thirty-six other charges brought before the High Court and Assembly. The Ambassador and the entire Fehinnan staff of his official office have been truth drugged and all those involved with the charges have been detained.” Kaylebuh pursed his mouth in a silent whistle but didn’t interrupt.
“Speaking for the Empire, concerning the charges of murder and conspiracy to murder Arkan citizens, He Who’s Ear is Held By Assembly deferred to the Assembly in their deliberations and they voted, by a margin of eighteen votes, to deny the High Court’s recommendation of hanging, but to send all self-condemned people back to their God King in chains and a request that that country deal with their own.”
“Blest Rik,” Kaylebuh breathed. “It don’ matter who’s in power. They dead, dead, dead.”
“Really?” Alfalaria shrugged. “I’m glad. It was their plans that killed my parents.” She continued.
“The Fehinnan Embassy remains open, run by the innocent in that company, though the position of Ambassador will necessarily await the God-King’s pleasure to announce. All citizens of the God King being held for transportation across the sea to their own country remain in close custody in the Embassy building.”
The drum sounded distantly, and the cheering. Alfalaria and Kaylebuh shaded their eyes against the burning sparkle of sun on sea and watched the enormous tri-hulled ship, the second of her kind, surge up onto her sea-legs and fly in one of her testing runs. “The story doesn’t say but I bet they send the lot of them on the Golden Eagle.”
“Kaylebuh, we’ll be needed on the Hound… she’s escorting. I’m going to translate.”
The small brown man patted at a pouch he wore around his neck. “Name's Kayleb not Kaylebuh... no more diminutives fer me. I’m comin’ Missy. Y’all pay me enough t’ buy m’ wife and even kiddies free.”
Alfalaria nodded. “I’ll help you negotiate, if you like. Knock ‘em down a peg.”
“It’ll be dangerous.”
“We’re going with two flying boats and a ten of quinqueremes. For a ‘peaceful visit’. I don’t think Fehinna wants to really start something official.”
“Nah, they best on land, Miz Alfalaria. W’ field guns n’ balloons. Y’all's wings’ll cut em up right fierce ifn they’all try sumpin’. They make war like rats eaten the rotten bottom out. Not real keen on stand up fight.”
“They, Kayleb? Aren’t you fiercely Fehinnan?” She raised an eyebrow at him.
He grimaced as though biting through a sheet of lead, lips peeling back from his teeth. “Nah more… Miz Alfalaria. Y’all set me right. Set me loose. Lessee what I kin do, as a freeman.”