After breakfast the next morning, I take the boys to buy a map of their kingdom and we do a bit of sightseeing on the way. Around lunch time, a dull throbbing has made itself comfortable behind my temples. The cause? Why don't we see?
"You always complain about the service." Khidell groans.
"Well, they never do their jobs properly." Kalan defends himself.
"You complained even at the castle." Kuro argues.
"You would complain to if all those maids wanted was to spill stuff on you so they could help you change!" Ryuu whines.
"No, that's just you." Kalan deadpans.
Can't see it? Maybe breakfast will help.
"Why do we have to wake up so early?" Khidell whines.
"It's ten in the morning." I mutter.
"Why can't we just sleep?" Ryuu grumbles.
"Why do we have to walk everywhere? My feet are killing me, and I smell." Kalan whines. My eye twitches, he just took a bath.
"These beds are so uncomfortable; couldn't we get better service?" Kuro grumbles. What are you, the princess and the pea? I think as I continue to shove eggs in my mouth after four hours of running around the town looking for the safest path across town.
"What's with this food?" Khidell throws his fork down after sniffing the scrambled eggs.
"It's completely overcooked!" Ryuu adds.
"I'm not eating this, go buy me something else." Kalan says.
I glare at them from over my half empty plate, and Kuro closes his mouth as he's about to complain. "If you don't eat this, princess. You get to starve until lunch." I growl and they start shoveling the food in their mouths, grimacing the whole time.
I wonder where this headache came from. Such a bloody mystery.
Anyway, once we get to edge of town, I'm ready to rip something's head off and hunting will be my only reprieve. This gate just lets us through without checking anything, since we are on our way out. Sloppy mistake on their part, but makes our lives easier.
Outside the walls of the town, are where the farms are, and this is where you start to see how badly the kingdom is fairing. The land is full of crops, but the animals and even the farmers are skin and bones, forced to send all of their crop to the castle for measly pay. We see this at every farm we pass, and start to notice that even if the fields are full of crops, very little of those crops can be eaten since the farmers can't afford to aid them in anyway. We follow the road through all of this and turn off into what's left of the forest. Once we pass the line of trees that are there to fool the citizens, I stop and wait for the boys to notice the vast expansion of stumps and dead trees.
"What happened?" Kalan asks.
"This area is supposed to be protected." Khidell breathes.
"The trees were taken to the Noble's to build their houses and warm their fire places." I tell them and start walking along the tree line towards the next town. We have to pass through that town to start circling the kingdom, and it's much bigger than the one we were just at. "They told the citizens it was protected, so that they wouldn't venture into it, and kick up a fuss." I call over my shoulder. I can hear a distinct slump in their footsteps as they follow me, and breathe out in relief. They feel bad, which means that they will try to do something about it.