Shahrazad had spent a sleepless night thinking of Izdihar up in Adviser Sayyid’s tower. She went to see her the next day, leaving Tommy at home again. He understood too much these days to want him exposed to their conversation. And he understood now the danger of leaving; she had left him before without him running away.

            “I need you to stay here, ok?” she emphasised all the same as she left him, sat at the table drawing.

            “I will,” he said, and smiled at her. Shahrazad felt she could trust him.

            “I won’t be long!”

            She locked the door, and hadn’t gone far when she noticed a proclamation announcing the engagement of Adviser Sayyid and Princess Izdihar. Even though she knew it had been coming, it still filled her with dread. Now it was official.

            She passed several of the proclamations on her way up to the highest part of the city and the entrance to the upper floors of the royal tower. When she got there, she was surprised to see that the guard there was a man dressed in black, like Adviser Sayyid’s staff.

            “Yes?” he said as she approached.

            “It’s Shahrazad, here to see Princess Izdihar.”

            “Do you have an appointment?”

            “No, I don’t need one. I’m on the list of people that’s allowed to go through. Shahrazad.”

            “I’m sorry, Shahrazad, but my orders don’t mention letting anyone into the palace without an appointment,” sneered the guard. “Would you like to make one?”

            “What? I’ve never had to make an appointment before! Look, why don’t you just go to Princess Izdihar and ask her?”

             “That will not be possible,” he said irritably. “There are no exceptions. Now -”

            “But this is ridiculous! I’m her best friend!”

            “Best friend or not, you’ll have to wait your turn like everybody else! Now, if you’re not going to make an appointment to see Princess Izdihar, either you must leave immediately or I will have you removed!”

            Shahrazad took a deep breath, and then let it out in a huff. “Fine! When’s the next appointment?”

            The man pulled a small book out of his pocket and examined it for a minute. “Tomorrow, at –“

            “Tomorrow? You mean she’s busy all today?” Izdihar wasn’t normally overcome with people wanting to see her, not when King Basir was around anyway.

            “That’s right,” said the guard, smiling infuriatingly at her.

            “But... what’s she doing?”

            “Tomorrow at 9:30. Take it or leave it,” said the guard, ignoring her question.

            “I’ll take it.”

            Shahrazad felt like kicking something as she left. When she’d calmed down, she stopped and looked back up at the tower, now high above her. She was more anxious than ever. Her friend was there, in that tower, probably needing her, but she couldn’t get to her. Right now she wanted more than anything to know that Izdihar was alright.

The End

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