Cow and Noir are at the Fortress

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Cow and Noir are both silent, on camel-back and in front of a fortress. The fortress looks built of mud and fronts pearly black gates. It’s enormous and in front are two guards dressed in plain-white robes, with gold trimmings. After inquiring why Cow and Noir are visiting the fortress, one of the guards proceed with taking them inside to meet the sick king. Inside the fortress, everything is rather quiet, except for ducks sitting near a fountain, or an odd breeze gently moving leaves of trees. The sick king is in his chamber room, and when Cow and Noir meet him, he is busy talking to one of his members of court. The chamber is decorated in plush red velvet, and the bed, even though built of cherry wood is rich in details. Cow greets the king and elaborates on his unexpected short visit – he mentions how he and his adviser rushed over here to meet the king and hope healing of his awful ailment is speeded up.

Abrahim Butros: Ah, Cow! How long has it been since I laid my eyes upon you?
Cow: Not that long! I would think somewhere around two or three years.
Abrahim Butros: That’s preposterous. It’s far too long. Had I not been caught up in my kingdom’s affairs I would have certainly visited. Cow, you don’t have any idea what’s been happening…is that your adviser there standing in the corner of the room?
Cow (turns around): Yes, that is my new adviser. Her name is Noir Chocolate. She is an excellent adviser. Noir, why don’t you come here and chat with the king? It would be very nice.
Abrahim Butros: That won’t be necessary. Why don’t you sit here at the foot of my bed?
Noir: Sure!…why are you dying?
Abrahim Butros: I am not dying! I am just…not healing. I expect to do better within the next few weeks.
Cow: Butros, be serious! You know you don’t have much time.
Abrahim Butros: I will not be dead when my kingdom is going to my rivals.
Cow: But what are you going to do? That is what your people want.
Abrahim Butros: What about what I want? What about my country?
Noir: Weren’t you like your people ten years ago and you had supported Queen Golden’s journey to the national throne?
Abrahim Butros: That’s besides the point!
Noir: How?
Abrahim Butros: That Queen is nearly not as bad as this new Queen my people have in mind.
Cow: What? They are both horrible.
Abrahim Butros: Queen Golden wasn’t as bad. She was dumb and a puppet in her husband’s hands. Do you know what Queen Sophia is like? She was forbidden by her father, like all maidens in the country to join politics. But she got married and her husband let her be an equal to all men in the country. Not only is she going to tarnish our country’s image across the world if she replaces me to the throne but she will also go ahead and give the women in our country brand new ideas of what is must feel like to be a woman in a man’s shoe…Noir do you like sweets?
Noir: I like sweets, yes!
Abrahim Butros: Let’s go for a walk in my courtyard garden. And when we get tired, we can stop and have some sweets from our kitchen.

Cow, Noir and Abrahim Butros are walking in the courtyard garden. It is filled with trees of every shape and size, of flowering plants and smells pleasantly of Butros’ favourite flower too: blue water lily.

Noir: Blue water lily is your favourite flower…why?
Abrahim Butros: Mmm, oh I have been fond of it since I was a little boy. To me, it represents a far away world I have never been to but would have liked to.
Cow: What place is that?
Abrahim Butros and Noir (together): Ceylon.
Cow: Who?
Abrahim Butros: It’s Sri Lanka!
Cow: Oh! That place is Sri Lanka? Wow! I have never been there myself too.
Abrahim Butros: Yes, it is a nice place I have read.
Cow: It is. And so far away too.
Abrahim Butros (heartily slaps Noir on the back): Sweets. My favourite ones look like green and white striped duck eggs. I would love to know which you will like.

Unbeknownst to Abrahim Butros, Queen Sophia is losing her patience over having to wait for her throne and begins to hatch a plan to politically push it up faster – she gathers her supporters to see to it that a political idea spreads out amongst the local people that the transition to power for her happens before the king dies; it will ensure the local people have a say in how the country is run for a change and the expectation is they’ll get so excited by it, Butros will get dethroned in Queen Sophia’s favour immediately. Meanwhile, a kitchen boy serves Abrahim Butros and his two guests some sweets that look like duck eggs, in various colours, on a silver plate in the courtyard garden.

Cow: Oh! Look at all the delicious colours!
Noir: I think I like the orange and yellow one.
Abrahim Butros (gasp): You do? That tastes like red apples on the inside.
Noir: Great! I like apples. What does yours taste like?
Abrahim Butros: Melon. Why don’t you take some back to Egypt for your friends too? I feel they would love the crumbly sweets.
Cow:…mine tastes like fatty buttercream.

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