Pides’s reappearance implied that he was charged with yet another task by Sang-je as soon as he was done with his previous one, which made Kasser all doubtful about Sang-je’s intention in insisting Pides as their escort, even before he could have the time to recharge himself. Despite feeling uneasy about turning a blind eye to his hunch as much as if there were coarse grain of sands in his mouth, still, none of the justifiable reasons had come to his mind.
After having sensed a presence approaching him closely, he quickly snapped out of his musings and turned his head around. From there, he saw an unfamiliar looking warrior making a bow before him, who seemed to be one of the warriors who were standing in the vicinity of Sang-je’s knights a moment ago. But as they were donned in an attire distinctly different from the warriors of Hashi Kingdom, Kasser knew right away that they were indeed the affiliated warriors from the Slan Kingdom.
“It is my great honour to give my greetings to the Desert King. I am Tyren, Slan’s shadow.”
“Is it the king of the Slan who sent you here?”
“Yes, Your Grace. We have been charged by His majesty to give our best escort to the king and the queen of Hashi on their way to our kingdom.”
A traverse across the Slan kingdom was necessary in order to get to the Holy City from the Hashi kingdom. In the case of a common traveller, one only needed to be issued with a travel pass in accordance with the terms of treaty between the two kingdoms. But as for a king, different levels of formalities applied. An exchange of diplomatic documents of request and approval was the customary procedure.
However, as there wasn’t enough time to have diplomatic envoys come and go between the kingdoms, the procession departed right after envoys were sent to the Slan Kingdom. Kasser knew this wouldn’t cause them a problem as Sang-je’s summon was a justifiable reason for an exemption.
“How come the warriors of the Slan were here along with the knights? Have you all just happened to meet on the road?”
“Not long after the envoys from Hashi Kingdom arrived at the castle, the knights from the Holy City had also come to request an audience with His Majesty. And when the knights stated that they were to cross Anotty Mountains to meet with the procession, His Majesty had bid us to accompany the knights to welcome his honorable guests. Therefore, we would like to ask Your Grace for your permission to let us be your escort to the castle from here.”
If they were to make a stop at the castle, they would have to stay for at least one night to return the courtesy of the king, which meant their journey would be delayed as much as that. Suddenly, the image of Sang-je, who must be waiting impatiently for Eugene’s arrival in Holy City, flashed across Kasser’s mind. Carried away by his vexed feelings towards Sang-je, Kasser willingly accepted the invitation.
“My heartfelt thanks for the hospitality. I would gladly accept your offer.”
“As Your Majesty commands.”
The journey to cross over the mountain was different from their past ridings where they only travelled on the flat grounds. The intervals of resting time were then reduced to minimum, in order to save time on the road. They proceeded as much as they could during the day before they came to halt at sunset to prepare for the night.
There were levelled open areas laid out in every certain distance along the road, as the path was a well-trodden route for travelers. But as the procession had grown in number when they were joined by the knights and the warriors from Slan, there weren’t enough spaces to make camp for everyone.
The tents for the king and the queen, as well as for the ladies were prepared with the highest priority. Tents for their attendants were then made in the vacant spaces while the others slept in the carriages or even in the open.
When the king’s attendant was informed that the tent for his lord was made ready, he entered the prepared tent for an inspection. But when he saw nothing but a table in the interior, he faulted the servant for his poor work at once.
“You call this well prepared? Where is the bed for the king?”
“The bed is prepared in the next tent. This tent will serve as His Majesty’s office.”
“Office? A tent to serve as an office and another for the bedchamber? I don’t remember asking you for a palace. All I asked of you was to prepare two tents for His and Her Majesty.”
“As per your command, only two tents are prepared.”
“Then what about the tent for Her Majesty?”
“The tent next to this one was prepared for Her Majesty and will serve as His and Her Majesty’s bedchamber tonight.”
He was about to make a face to the servant for his nonsense, but instead, he took a closer look into the servant’s face.
“I believe you accompanied His Majesty during his last visit to Holy City as well, am I right?”
“Yes, I did.”
During their last journey, the tents for the king and the queen were prepared in the exact same way the servant had prepared for them tonight, with the king’s tent used as an office while the queen’s served as their bedchamber. The servant had only prepared the tents according to his experience from last time. Upon realization, the attendant could no longer find fault with the servant’s doing as he also knew that his lord wouldn’t be spending the night in his tent.
After a moment of thought, he entered another tent that was prepared right next to the king’s tent with the servant. After further inspecting the queen’s tent with a bed prepared in the interior, he told the servant that he may leave, along with a gesture.