The morning was bright and warm as Bantula and his entourage walked through the city streets and into the smaller villages nearby. Silent butterflies flitted here and there, bees could be heard buzzing about the gardens, and sleek and happy dogs lazily yawned and opened one eye as they trod by. It was the kind of day which begged to be spent at the water hole or sipping an iced beverage with one hand whilst tending a quiet fishing pole with the other. There was commerce but no barkers, just a merry conversation held between plain folks about services offered and wares sold.
Bantula noticed none of this, of course. A man of his stature needed to keep his eyes on the prize, and his thoughts wandered often to every curve of his prize. He had already memorized the flow of the girl's long locks, the demure way she cast her eyes from him when he approached, and he imagined the sway of her hips as she would dance in the moonlit palace gardens.
As she would dance for him for ever more.
Bantula was giddy with expectation as he neared her domicile. He imagined her subtle scent already airborne and wafting to him along the breeze, as if calling to him, bringing him home. He licked his lips and asked his manservant, "Juredditish, how much farther must we walk through this squalor?"
Juredditish was born in a dark hovel on the outskirts of the kingdom, and he was familiar with squalor, something very far from the quaint little township they currently found themselves. It had been a great honor for his family when he became one of King James Bantula's nearest slaves. He responded patiently, "The Illyander residence is just on the other side of that ridge, Master. I suspect we should arrive before the midday meal."
Bantula sneered and turned so hard on Ju-redd that for an instant Ju-redd feared a physical beating. None was forthcoming but Bantula warned through sharply clenched teeth, "I know where the house is, dolt! What I mean to ask of you, simpleton, is how long it will take this idiot train to make it there?"
More and more frequently of late Ju-redd rued the day he set foot in the Royal Palace; at least in the slums he would not have to face men such as Ibo Bantula. He choked down a quick and vitriolic response before it passed from his lips but instead he smiled warmly, "Forgive my ineptitude, Sire. This Royal Caravan will go as fast as you wish. You need only set the pace and it will follow."
Ju-redd did not worry about going too fast, for he knew more about Ibo Bantula than did the prince's father. He knew that the unmotivated dullard that was their leader on this day was so feeble-minded that it was all he could do to go to the bathroom unaided. There was no way he was going to slip the entire cavalcade into a double-time march.
Not while he was walking anyway.