Maximilian Rho walked down the hallways of the Grand Palace, frowning to himself. It occurred to the Preceptor that he was doing that an awful lot these days.
“So this is the Grand Palace, eh?” muttered Constans Mu. He glanced around the Palace, and shook his head. “Don’t know. Bit underwhelming, really…”
Sylvester Khi glared at his fellow Squire. “You are in the political and spiritual center of Leonais! Have some respect!”
Arcadius Pi coughed, and gestured to the rather dingy walls, which appeared to be in rather dire need of paint in spots. “You know, I hate to be agreeing with Constans on ANYTHING--but I have to admit, this is… less than grand.” He idly scratched his nose. “More like the Adequate Palace, really…”
“Exactly,” agreed Constans. “Half the brothels in the city are swankier than this place! And I know ‘cause I been in ‘em!”
Sylvester sighed, and glanced at the Preceptor. “Sir, could you--PLEASE--please do something about these two?”
“Squires Mu and Pi, stop making Squire Khi upset, you damn jackasses,” stated Maximilian wearily.
“I know that voice!” came an eager cry. The Preceptor’s face went wide. “Maximilian! Old friend! So good to see you!” As Rho watched, Pelleas Pescheour, King of Leonais tottered towards him.
“Y-your Highness,” proclaimed Maximilian uneasily, managing a crude bow. “It is… good to see you.” The Preceptor found himself almost amazed how… worn the King looked. His skin was wrinkled and pale, his silvery hair and beard long and unkempt, and he wore nothing more than a bed robe.
Pelleas smiled blankly at the Sacristans. “And it is good to see you! By the Light it has been a long, long while.” He scratched his beard idly, and began to stare intently at the Preceptor. “By Uriel, Maximilian, you’ve gotten OLD!”
Preceptor Rho turned away. “That is generally what people do when years pass, Your Highness.”
Pelleas nodded absently, and then suddenly handed Maximilian a flower. “Look! A posy!” Pelleas nodded eagerly. “I picked it in the garden!” He gave a witless chuckle. “Spring has sprung! Praise Holy Sofiel!”
“There you are, Your Highness,” muttered a small man who came rushing down the hall. As the Sacristans watched, he took the King of Leonais firmly by the shoulder. “My goodness, you gave me such a fright!” He began to pull Pelleas away. “Now--come along. It is time for your medicine….” He glanced up at the Sacristans. “I do apologize for any… trouble His Highness has caused…”
Maximilian found his frown deepening. “He has been no trouble,” he said, his grip tightening on the posy. “We are honored to be of service to him.”
“This is Maximilian Rho, Doctor Praetorious!” said Pelleas cheerfully. “My old, dear friend!”
Doctor Praetorious managed a rather smug smile. “Well, isn’t that wonderful, Your Highness. Now… please come with me…”
The Sacristans watched the King and his doctor retreat into the distance for some time before anyone spoke. “Well… the King is… most definitely lively today,” said Sylvester suddenly.
Constans snorted. “That’s a bloody bright way to put it.”
Maximilian gave a sad nod. “Pelleas has… not been well for some time. He began to get… odd after defeating Lord Shaddad. I’d heard of his… decline, but seeing him…” He took a deep breath. “I have a sudden wish to see the garden for a moment. Do you suppose the Prince can wait that long?”
Arcadius shrugged. “For the important news that everything is exactly the way he wants it? Why not? After seeing that, I need a break myself.”