“Thank you, sir,” she said. For a moment, the look in his eyes had led her to worry that maybe she would be killed, too, for speaking out against him like this, but she needn’t have panicked.
“That was a very brave thing you just did, Anna,” said Caecilius. “I’m actually quite impressed. And you were right, I think, about the peace. It would be a pity to disturb it.”
“How long has it been like this?” she asked.
“Like what?” he queried.
“Peaceful … and so quiet,” Anna replied. She realised that she couldn’t hear any traffic, or smell any exhaust.
“Oh, about two hundred years. Well, that was when we last had a war, anyway,” said Caecilius casually. Anna was surprised.
“Must be nice,” she murmured.
“What must be nice, Anna?” said Caecilius. His young guest seemed sad, and in a house usually full of music and laughter, this was not right.
“No wars. Where I come from, or I suppose you might say, when I come from, there are always wars somewhere in the world. Several at a time, usually. It’s all so pointless.” She was close to tears. It had been a hard day and she only now understood just how far from home she really was.
“Oh.” He helped her up from where she sat on the floor and they walked out of the room. “Now. I believe we were on our way to find some lunch?” he said, much more cheerfully.
“Yes, please!” said Anna, suddenly noticing that she was extremely hungry. She laughed at her own eagerness.
“Then we’d better go find something! I can’t have you starving to death!” He seemed to have a split personality, Caecilius. He was jolly and friendly one moment, serious and imposing the next. It was a hard life, though, being a king. Maybe that explained it.
“Er … Caecilius?” said Anna. It was the first time she’d used his name.
“Call me Cae,” he said, surprising himself. “What is it?”
“Well, what exactly do you eat here?” said Anna, feeling foolish. “I mean, it’s probably going to be very different from what I eat, in my time, I thought I’d ask, so it doesn’t surprise me when we get there.”
“Oh, don’t worry. There’s sure to be something you recognise. The fruit is all different, the historians assure me, but bread is much the same. And we have very nice drinks nowadays, healthy, you see, but much tastier. It’ll be fine. Don’t worry.”