THEN A PENGUIN WALKED IN #20
DOMINICK HAD NEVER KNOWN such bliss, such serenity, such calm self-assurance. In other words, never before, in the entirety of his life, had Dominick felt so darn good. And it was all due to the bath.
He’d had baths before, more than he could ever hope to count. Dominick had always preferred baths to showers. But never before had he had a bath like this.
He could die now with no regrets, having reached what he considered the pinnacle of all human existence.
The tub, for one thing, was three times the size of any tub he’d ever used before. He could stretch out, hands above his head, toes and fingers extended to their fullest, and still not be able to touch both ends of the tub at once. He was used to sitting in baths with his knees bent and sticking up out of the water.
Now he fancied himself a bit of a swim.
The bath in which Dominick found himself in was located somewhere deep within the Central Palace of Haven. There were actually six palaces in Haven, the Central Palace being just one among them. Why there were six, Dominick didn’t know. Thus far he hadn’t been told much. After he’d made a fool of himself by tripping over his own sword for all of the army of Haven to see, Vivian had led him from the field of battle.
From there he’d been put in the back of a wagon for the ride in to the city. It was a ride he’d not soon forget.
The ride had not been fraught with danger, nor had he encountered any moments along the way that he might define as thrilling. He’d not once, despite the hundred guard escort he’d been given, feel as if his life had been at risk during the entire ten minute trip. Of course, that had been just fine with him. Dominick had always tried to avoid situations that put him in any physical danger. And yet, he’d come to this new world willingly. He’d yet to fully justify that decision.
But the ride to the palace, thankfully, was anything but eventful. What it was, however, was uncomfortable.
Dominick had never ridden in a wooden cart with wooden wheels before. It wasn’t an opportunity that presented itself with much regularity in the modern world. He’d sat and watched many a character go here in there in carts on his television many times. They never seemed to complain. The reality, however, was quite different. There was no padding in the bed of the cart. No cushions, no pillows, and certainly nothing to absorb the shock of the many pits and bumps in the dirt road.
And seat belts?
Nothing of the sort. Instead he was thrown about like a lone ice cube in a blender with dull blades.
He’d also never felt more alone. Once they were on their way, Vivian had flown on ahead to inform the palace of his coming. He’d had the driver to talk to, sure, but any dreams he’d had of participating in stimulating, intelligent conversation during the cart ride in were quickly stifled when each question Dominick dared to ask of the man were answered with nothing more than the occasional annoyed grunt. The guards too were not easy to engage in small talk. They had a duty to perform and talking to the One would be too much of a distraction to see that duty done. At least that’s what the soldier in charge had told him.
So Dominick had resigned himself to silence and a sore bottom.
Once at the palace, after everything Dominick had been made to go through; the adventure, the excitement, not to mention the hair curling terror, he was shuffled into a small room and asked to wait. He hadn’t minded, not in the least.
If there was one thing in life he was truly exceptional at, it was waiting. Most people today don’t have the patience for it, and frankly, can be downright rude if what they want isn’t placed in front of them at all possible speed. But not Dominick. No, Dominick understood that even in this fast-paced world, there were going to be times when it would still be necessary to wait, and that if you didn’t condition yourself for such an eventuality, you were going to be nothing if not miserable.
So, while Dominick was an old pro when it came to the waiting game, today’s opportunity to once again test his mettle on the field of battle was a bit different than what he was used to. After his ride in, he had been more than happy to wait where he had been left: In the small room with the big chair.
To be continued . . .