Back in Murpodompous, Alistair had claimed the Mayor’s Manor as his own. He was lounging on the sofa in the sun room, one leg dangling over the back. He was reading through the notes he’d made. These people were proving surprisingly reticent in their willingness to give him what he wanted; which was of course the whereabouts of the girl. Not that it was all bad, the longer they held out, the longer he could play.
Opposite the sofa, the town butcher was tied to a chair. Battered and bruised, Alistair had a certain admiration for the man’s staying power. No matter how much pressure he applied, still the man stayed dumb. But, now the man was passed out, apparently he’d been a little too zealous with that last round.
He’d picked the butcher, not because he thought he was any more knowledgeable than anyone else, in fact he was certain this man probably only knew a little, if anything about what he wanted to know. He was simply the first person he grabbed. Alistair had found in the past that often the family and friends would offer up what they knew, or tell them who did know, in an attempt to save their loved one. So far, no one had come forward, but it was still early.
There was a knock on the door.
The man with the tattooed face came in.
“The Mayor has asked to see you Mi’Lord.”
“I bet he has. Very well. Show him in. Oh, and could you get rid of that too.” He pointed dismissively toward the butcher, who was slumped forward on the chair. Blood pooling on the floor beneath him.
“Yes Mi’Lord.” He went over, and lifted the butcher up and over his shoulder in a fireman’s carry.
He left the room. From outside the room, the Mayor could be heard to gasp in horror.
“He says you can go in.”
Hesitantly, the Mayor entered the room. Unsure what else to do, he bowed to the Prince Regent.
Alistair looked up. Not moving from his place on the sofa.
“You asked to see me? I hope this means you’ve decided to be co-operative. Not that I haven’t enjoyed myself. You’ve got a lovely set up here. But, I do have things to do. The realm doesn’t run itself.”
“Umm… Mi’Lord,” the Mayor was ringing his hands. He was still torn as to what to do. He was aware of the girl, and who she really was, and had been a willing participant in protecting her all these years; as had the whole town. But, as Mayor he knew he had a responsibility to the others in the town as well. “Just…umm… ask, and I will of course offer whatever assistance I can.”
Alistair swung around to sit on the edge of the sofa, both feet now placed firmly on the floor. He looked directly at the Mayor, his ice blue eyes penetrating through his skull.
“That’s excellent. Simply tell me where the girl would have gone, and we shall leave your pathetic little town in peace. How does that sound? Your saw what happened to that man; your butcher I believe? Now, I’m sure your a reasonable man. What’s one girl?”
“Umm, yes. Umm… the thing is…umm… Beatrice was always so secretive. She only told people what she thought we need to know. “
“Hmm, yes. She always was a cunning bitch. I always regretted not questioning her right away when we had her all those years ago. I made the mistake of thinking my brother could hold her. It goes to show that even I am susceptible to a certain familial regard for my brothers. Anyway, she must still have said something. You must have had a contingency.”
“Yes, well, umm…I think that she was talking about taking her to Belbarbiton soon. Apparently she needs to consult someone there. I’m not sure. She kind of lost me with that stuff. He he.” He smiled weakly at the Prince. “But, maybe, since she was going there anyway…umm..she..”
Alistair impatiently cut him off. “Yes, yes. I’m not an imbecile. I’ve made the same deduction. Hmm, of course, the girl is coming of age. I should have guessed she go to see the old crone. I’m almost ashamed I didn’t think of that myself. You may go now. Send Henderson in.”
It was an hour before Henderson returned. When he did, Alistair was pacing up and down the room. His face was red, and his eyes were glowing.
Henderson knew from experience that he would need to tread carefully if he was to last the day.
“I was summoned?”
“Aah Henderson. Yes, I summoned you. An hour ago. Explain yourself.”
“Apologies Mi’Lord. It took longer than anticipated to deal with butcher. I seems the man lived alone, and there was no one to take him off my hands.”
“You should have just dumped him there. Someone would have dealt with him eventually.”
“If only I were as wise as you Mi’Lord.” He bowed.
“Yes, yes.” He waved toward his servant. “No matter. I want you to arrange for our departure. It seems we are going to be travelling to Belbarbiton. I haven’t been since my boyhood. It will be good to see the old place again. I expect us to be gone directly.”
“Yes, Mi’Lord. I shall bring the H.O.R.S.E around to the front immediately.”
Ten minutes later, they were gone. Headed down the main highway towards Belbarbiton.
Alistair sat in the back seat brooding. This whole exercise had been most annoying. He lent forward.
“I strikes me that those people are traitors to the realm. Keeping the rightful heir hidden like that. I believe an example should be set.”
“Have the Royal Guard take care of it will you.”
“Consider it done Mi’Lord.”