»Good morning, my darling!«
He blinked and received a big kiss on his cheek. »Get up Softmax! The elders need to see you.« Even though he was king now, his mother was still overseeing his numerous objectives. She was a logistic genius. Before she left him in his drowsiness, she randomly walked around his room for some moments, approached the main window and pulled the curtains aside.
The all-pervading brightness of the sun struck him unprepared. Just like the beginning of the semester strikes a student. »Arg, what the #x!L?$sX?!«, was all he could think. Before he could collect himself, the next disturbance followed swiftly. James, the royal advisor, stepped into his quarters. »King Softmax, it is not appropriate for a king to remain abed at such a late hour.« James eyed Softmax’ boots, trapped under a mountain of clothing. Many would consider his gaze despising, but over the years Softmax had learned to appreciate the accurate, but after all loving nature of James. »The preparations are underway, but your presence is urgently needed to assess the quality of the final plans.« Softmax sighed and pulled the pillow over his head. He just wanted to stay in his bed, remaining deeply hidden in the layers of his blankets.
»Get out, liars!« The delegation of the king was insulted wildly on their way out of the village. Mayor Pareta could hardly finish her sentence. Strong protests came from all sides and drowned out her slightly trembling voice. Among the villagers, Pareta was known as an outspoken, but very open-minded character, continuously pointing out social inequality. Just like her father Vilfredo had taught her. In the current situation, however, she had a hard time controlling the heated atmosphere.
At the very back of the crowd, Claus struggled to process all the turmoil. He seemed parallelized. Although he heard the calls of the surrounding people, Claus was too agitated to deal with the situation in all its implications. A riot was an extremely rare event in Seaborn. Most of the villagers couldn’t even remember to have witnessed any kind of rebellion in their life.
A hand touching his left shoulder suddenly tore Claus from his thoughts. »I cannot even remember to have witnessed any rebellion in Seaborn in my entire life!«, said Loretta, the lady of herbs. »Finally something is happening here«, she added in a sarcastic tone.
The new king had sent his most trustworthy heralds to Seaborn to make sure that the message would find its designation. To the chagrin of the residents, King Softmax had big plans for the village. He had always found the royal castle a sad, oppressive place. Accordingly, his first official act as king was to find the most gorgeous place on Artificial Island to build his new summer residence at. Seaborn offered all the principal components for his plan: Pleasant weather all year round, intimate seclusion, good beach access and direct proximity to the highest mountain on the island. In his mind, he already strolled along the beach, past a majestic avenue lined with coconut palms, up the hill to the royal zoo with exotic animals from all over the Great Kingdoms. Compounds for impalas, cheetahs and pandas were only outshined by his well-renowned snake collection. In the current castle, the cobras, pythons and anacondas had to be kept in an almost sad part of the moat…
What sounded like paradise to King Softmax, however, was bad news for the villagers: In the course of the relocation of the royal residence, the village was to be resettled the following year.
The tea ran comfortably warming down the palate of Claus. He did well after the unexpectedly long hours in the cold of the marketplace. Loretta insisted on a joint five-o-clock tea testing at her home where she presented him with a selection of eight different herbal teas. »You want it with milk?«. Claus nodded. »So I pour milk first or tea first?« »As if that would make any difference…«, came a shout from the living room. Ronald, Loretta’s husband, had just returned after several days on the high seas and prepared himself for a cozy evening by the fireplace. Fishing was a tough business. Loretta handed Claus a gracefully decorated, shiny bowl of biscuits. »There you go! During the holidays I just love to bake. Are the cookies acceptable?«…
After a brief moment of silence, only disturbed by Claus’ smacking, Loretta began to tell of old times. Claus learned a lot about life on Artificial Island. Hard work and selflessness were values that were capitalized in Seaborn. The simple life was hard but fulfilling. Under the previous king’s reign, the people stuck together like a prickle of porcupines. Now, however, for the first time in decades, the mood threatened to change. »We should be careful not to forget our roots. The new king doesn’t even rule for long, but I can feel there’s evil afoot. You are a good fellow, Claus. My senses have never deceived me in these things.«
Meanwhile, the dissatisfied villagers gathered in the tavern…
Continue the journey with Chapter 3.