PROLOGUE ~ "—Duaryth, Duaryth, Duaryth, Duaryth—"

“Each man who calls his son the name Duaryth,” begins Queen Taspeth—“Duaryth, Duaryth, Duaryth, Duaryth—He shall be granted a knighthood, big or small, rich or poor. His family name shall be added to the list of those to invite to state functions, and all his children given a free education by a good governess. In my memory, won’t you perform this service for my people, my husband?—Duaryth, Duaryth, Duaryth, Duaryth. And all because that man has blessed his son with your name—Duaryth, Duaryth, Duaryth, Duaryth.”

“What?! But that’s stupid! You’ll start a revolution! People don’t want our money and our knighthoods—they want fair wages and warm beds. The people aren’t happy!” cries young Prince Tobish, breaking the sombre simplicity of the moment with childlike tactlessness.

“Shush!” hisses Prince Padryth, leading his brother to the open doors and out onto the balcony. He points across the rooftops, and we cower in trepidation lest he has seen us. But he is pointing not to the Church, but to the Square.

“Do they look unhappy, brother?” he says with a concentrated gravity—we know that he is just twelve years old.

“Yeah, they’re drunk,” pipes young Tobish, and his brother swats him neatly on the back of the head, grazing his short ginger locks with practised effectiveness.

“I’m not stupid,” says Tobish, pushing the older boy away and shuffling to the balcony railing; he does not seem to heed his mother, who gently passes away behind his turned back. Padryth returns to the room, as does our attention.

“Anything for you, my dear,” replies King Duaryth, pressing his lips to the back of her white hand.

She nods, satisfied, and her eyelids fall.

The End

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