Main Theme- Queen Bitch by David Bowie
Prince Mudeenu is staggering to his quarters at an unroyal hour in the morning after spending most of his night slinging back drinks, waiting for Iflar to show up. And the Crown Prince never did show up for the party that he threw in his honor.
He didn’t use Invisibility or I would’ve known. Mudeenu knows that his cousin’s skill with Invisibility is unparalleled, but even he cannot maintain it forever.
His endurance cannot match his power. Talent is raw potential but when coupled with discipline and wisdom, it turns into power. Iflar’s ability to hide in light has yet to be replicated by any Mipedian. At his party, he wondered if Iflar was actually there and hiding in the light. It wouldn’t be the first time he’s done such a thing; he did that at Na-inna’s coming-of-age party.
But that was only for an hour and only because I dared him to. But that was when he was in Iflar’s good graces. Oh, he saw Iflar and even conversed with him multiple times of the day, but those were not out of familial intimacy, but duty to the Tribe.
Duty has never kept us apart, and he’s been cold to me lately. He knows that Creatures can run as hot as Chaor when it comes to anger, but Iflar’s anger is bone-chilling. Most Creatures never know that they angered the Crown Prince until it’s too late.
But he rarely gets truly angered; he’s more likely to get annoyed or disappointed. But when he’s angry, he keeps his grudges hidden until he gets the opportunity to strike. He didn’t derive glee when Iflar cut down his opponents in his rage; he pitied them and prayed to the Cothica that he would never be on the receiving end.
He won’t kill me or demote me, though he did give me a very public tongue lashing for “wasting” the Legions against a petty squabble with some humans. Anger flares up in him, causing his tail to lash against the ancient stone walls like a whip.
I would’ve whipped the human myself if I had known he had such troublesome friends. But even vermin are friends with other vermin. He swears that the next time he saw the pale, almost as pale as Iflar, human with yellow hair he will avenge his honor.
With the Cothica, we could’ve finally ruled Perim! He truly believes that his Tribe deserves the awesome power of the Cothica, but there’s another motivation for his lust for the Cothica.
Iflar’s life could’ve been extended…He has never once doubted that his cousin would die before him. Iflar was born sickly and spent most of his childhood fighting against Death; he would watch as his cousin struggled to breathe and choked on the sandy air.
He palms open his quarters, desperately wanting to escape the melancholic future.
“You came at the exact time I predicted you would.” Iflar is right by the fireplace. The fireplace is cut from ancient stones from Hunter’s Perimeter, but those stones held no Mugical properties and were thus deemed worthy as construction materials. It is a sinuous work of art that looks like two massive snakes from the Oasis that was hollowed out by a Muge.
“Were you at the party?” Mudeenu asks very slowly, not wanting to slur his words. Iflar is dressed like the costumed guests from the party, but, in Mudeenu’s opinion, he’s wearing a touch too much eyeshadow.
“I planned to be at the party, but the desert winds took me elsewhere.” The desert winds took me elsewhere has always been Iflar’s favorite proverb to use, though Mudeenu cannot trace who authored the proverb.
“And the desert winds blew you to my quarters?” Iflar grabs the poker on the mantle and pokes at the fire burning something. Fireplaces in the Mipedian Tribe are used to burn undesirable materials. There’s even an old fairytale that a mad king would throw his disobedient children into the fire.
“No, to someone far away.” Mudeenu feels himself sober up.
“Someone?” Excitement makes Mudeenu slur. Finally he’s fallen for some Creature! Oh, I hope it’s a female, but if it’s male, then they can get a surrogate. Maybe I can have that dream of our children playing together come true!
“A friend from Arabia.” Arabia? Maybe it’s a forgotten hamlet somewhere in our territory. Cothica knows, I can’t memorize every Location in Perim!
“So what did you and your friend do?” Iflar’s thin lips curl into an unpleasant smile.
“We danced.” Mudeenu trudges closer to Iflar and sees that Iflar has set up an ancient teapot over the fire.
“That’s all?” The teapot begins to whistle with white steam.
“That’s all.” Iflar lifts the teapot handle with the poker and pours the boiling water into two clay cups. Oh no, he’s not going to add anything else to it! The healers used to prescribe that Iflar needed to drink a cup of boiling water to clear up his airways. However, many Mipedian parents would make their misbehaving younglings drink boiling water as a punishment.
“Have a drink with me.” Iflar requests, holding out the cup of boiling water to Mudeenu. I don’t want to drink it, but Iflar seems to have forgiven me. Finally.
“Thank you.” Mudeenu takes the cup and drinks, and resists the urge to childishly wince as he tastes the flavorless, boiling water. Iflar smile turns into something far more pleasant.
“How is it?” I would rather drink sand.
“Hardy.” Mudeenu dryly remarks, while Iflar sets his cup down and picks up the poke to poke at the fire once more. An ember pops out with the burnt remains of a scrap from a scroll.
Is he burning sermon scrolls on the Cothica again? Mudeenu resists the urge to sigh. He knows that Iflar is not much of a believer in the Cothica. Iflar picks up his cup and resumes effortlessly drinking the bland concoction. Mudeenu continues to drink, enjoying the comfortable silence with his cousin.
We may not see eye to eye on the Cothica, but we are family.