In hindsight, he probably should’ve thought to do something about that table leg.
Well, it’s not like anybody told Bill to replace it, or even how to do so. Could anyone blame him? Well, maybe Bob could, but Bob didn’t care to say anything at the moment. Bob - the short, portly weasel – was too busy groaning and rubbing at the new marks on his back under his shirt. How undignified for a royal guard, and yet there he was. Thanks to whatever happened to that table, Bill now had a cut in his lower back and needed to patch up his work shirt. It was quite peculiar that those claws of the king’s didn’t kill him, wasn’t it? They had might as well…
Bob especially picked and rubbed at some of the freshly pricked at places on his being. It wasn’t like he had to worry about it looking bad; because of his and his lanky partner’s rather convenient fur covering, no one would ever see the bruises on their skin. Bob tried to wag his tail, as he always did when he felt distressed or overwhelmed, though the sting was too much to bear at the moment. It seems that the Panther King had recently taken notice to Bob’s usual tactic of destressing and made it a habit to tug at the portly weasel’s tail when punishing him.
“I’m sorry, Bob…” came Bill’s shaking, scratchy voice, the taller weasel leaning his pained body on the spear he held.
Bob turned his head toward Bill, furrowing his brows. Great, now the poor git was gonna act like this was all his fault. And what else was new? It was as though their lives were a checklist: After every “duct tape” session, they’d be standing out in the hallway while whimpering like newborn pups. Then, the taller and older of the two would be apologizing for stuff that wasn’t even his fault.
“Yeh, Bill. Next time, you should read th’ bastard’s mind.” Bob scoffed before turning away. “Bluidy ‘ell…”
Of course, that was impossible. Any living being of any age knew that no one could read another living being’s mind. Yet, around here, it was almost expected of a servant. There was no room for “accidents happen” or “forgive and forget”. It was curious how any of the previous generations of weasel servants had even survived taking orders like this. Perhaps those weasels were just better at their job. Maybe Bill and Bob were just inferior somehow.
“You remember what we ‘ave to do?” asked Bill, starting to make his way down to hallway with his spear as support.
“Ah think so… Th’ boss said ‘Fetch me th’ professor and don’t make me wait!’” Bob tried to make his voice deep and throaty as he mimicked the pompous king, much to Bill’s amusement.
“Right, the professor…” Bill uttered before pausing and shaking his head. “….The bloody professor…”
When the two finally approached the large wooden door, marked with several torn bits of paper that all had sloppily written variations of “GO AWAY!” or “BUSY” on them, Bill hesitated to knock. He could almost hear the elder weasel’s muffled muttering from behind the door, talking of experiments and chemicals - things neither of the two inexperienced guards understood very well. Whatever any of the things he spoke of really meant, they didn’t sound very pleasant. Finally, Bill managed to shakily knock on the door, praying he wasn’t to be greeted by the elder weasel chewing his ears out about interruptions.
“Vhat?!” came a shrill voice in reply, quite obviously irritated by the interruption.
“It’s only, err... Us, Professor!” Bill stuttered. “We’re to escort you to the throne room immediately.”
“Ah!” From the very little one could hear of the professor, it seemed all his irritation had been wiped from him, replaced with worry. “Ah, just a minute, ja? Let’s see… Have I got everyzhing?”
“Oi,” Bob elbowed Bill, looking up at him as he started to whisper. “Why don’t ye let me ‘andle this, then? You gotta patch up that uniform, anyway.”
“Are you sure?” Bill asked. Well, Bob wasn’t wrong. Still, it was quite an unusual offer coming from him, considering how insistent he is to never speak in front of the Panther King.
“Ah could ‘andle the old, arse-kissing, lunatic cripple. Not like he’s even capable of much.” Bob replied, turning his gaze to look up at all the sloppy notes on the door. “Go on, then.”
Bill nodded in thanks and walked away for his room, hoping he’d have any needles and thread left under his bed. Just as Bill was out of sight, Bob felt himself grabbed onto and lifted into the air before he could even comprehend that the door had opened. He dropped his own spear as he winced at the metallic, almost claw-like appendages gripping him under his right arm as he was pressed against the wall behind him. In front of him were the mismatched eyes of the professor, who held the younger, chubbier weasel up with both hands. The blaring red light from that robotic left eye of the professor’s made Bob squint his as he felt the professor’s nose pressing on his own.
“So… I am an ‘arse-kissing, lunatic cripple who is not capable of anyzhing’, ja?” the professor seethed, his organic eye narrowing to a slit.
“A-Ah… Ah didn’t r-really say… I didn’t say anything like that, P-Professor.” Bob stammered, wriggling in the older weasel’s grasp. He’d forgotten that the professor was that much bigger than him. Then again, Bob was pretty short, even for a least weasel.
“Are you sure?” the professor growled. “Do you zhink I cannot hear you, loud mouth zat you have?”
“Well, really…” Bob turned his face away from the professor’s, shutting his eyes from that blaring red light. “…I didn’t say yer not capable of anythin’. I said ‘much’.” There was no point in lying to the elder’s face if he already knew what really happened, not that any of this smart talk would make the professor any less likely to slaughter him right there.
“Much…” the professor repeated, his brow raising. “…Funny how you stay so silent all ze time, except for vhen you zhink no one is listening… But you are right. Ja, you and your slow-witted friend are more capable zhen I am. So much so zat you can clean ze castle floors and even pour milk!”
A grin came to the professor as he spoke that last bit, as though he were trying to decide what to do with his prey. After a moment of silence, the professor finally dropped Bob, letting him hit the ground with a thud. He likely figured he’d get in trouble for injuring or killing a royal guard, not that the king himself didn’t do enough of that already. Not to mention, he had to hurry. The king wasn’t exactly known for his patience.
“I must go. I am perfectly capable of getting zhere myself.” The professor gave Bob one last look as if to say “I’m watching you” before he sped off on his hovering chair.
Bob let out a grunt where he fell, glaring in the direction the professor had hovered off in. That impact made his already sore body feel much, much worse. He could do little but whisper some curse words as he picked himself up and rubbed his rear. That’s just the way, isn’t it? If there had to be an old man hanging around the castle, why couldn’t it have been a nice old man who acted like a grandpa to the poor, young guards and helped them through their insufferable lives as servants to the Panther King? Or a sweet mama-bear kind of lady who would mouth off that bastard for harming her boys?
Well, actually, he already knew the answer to the latter.
Picking his spear up, he could hear Bill’s footsteps coming from the corner. Surely enough, the lanky weasel was right in front of him in a matter of seconds. Covering the slash put in his shirt was a brown patch that seemed a bit sloppily sewn on, not that anyone could expect any more out of Bill. Still, it was a bit odd to see him hurry back.
“You’re still here?” he asked, frowning as he quickly noticed Bob’s expression. “What happened to you?”
“Eerr… th’ old ninny wasn’t too interested in bein’ escorted.” Bob muttered, leaning against the wall. “Got ‘imself all buggered over it, he did.”
“You know, any time we see him, that man scares me.” Bill looked toward the door the professor came from, shaking his head. “I probably shouldn’t have let you face him alone.”
“Dun’t think of it, Bill. It’s fine. Old ninny’s gone now… Th’ bastard…” As though Bob were about to continue mouthing the professor off (which, he really wasn’t), Bill placed a hand over his mouth.
“Not for long…” Bill uttered, glancing down the hall, in the direction that lead to the throne room. “Don’t look now.”
From a distance, they could see the professor coming down the hall with a scrunched up, enraged expression on his face. Unsurprisingly, he was muttering what the two could only make out as “my liege” and some curse words under his breath. Bill and Bob both straightened their postures as he passed by, the former taking his hand away from Bob’s mouth and folding it behind his back. In the midst of his cursing, the professor snapped his gaze toward the two, causing them to wince. Bob even put his hands over his head.
“Get back to ze throne room!” the professor hissed before hovering back into his room and slamming the door.
Bill gestured for Bob to follow him back to the throne room, only for Bob to ignore him for the moment. The short weasel waddled toward the now shut door, leaning his ear toward it.
“Duct tape?” he could hear the professor growl behind the door. “I’ll give him a duct tape! Fucking arsehole! I’ll come down here, I’ll show him where ze duct tape is…”
Bob narrowed his eyes. Like that old fucker was one to talk. Bill walked over to Bob and nudged him, startling him. Whispering an apology, Bill gestured for him to follow. Ignoring the cursing coming from behind the professor’s door, the two made their way back upstairs and toward the double doors to the throne room. Neither exchanged a word on the way there, for there was little to speak of when it came to the throne room. Both of them would rather be anywhere but there and there was no question why. One might be honored to even be able to look into a king’s royal quarters, but for them, there was no such feeling. Honor was a fairy tale and comfort was a luxury.
Once they stood in front of those large double doors, they paused to look at each other. Bob’s half-lidded stare and neutral frown were hard to read, but Bill could tell what he was feeling. He knew that fear and hatred of going through another day of this well, for it was the same feeling he felt. With a sigh, Bill opened one door and entered the room, Bob following behind. They were greeted to a slim red carpet that needed dusting and large stone walls surrounding an empty space as they usually were. Of course, waiting there for them in the back of the dark, empty space sat the much bigger panther whose amber eyes were on them the moment he heard the door’s creak.
Bob looked away from the king’s gaze as he followed Bill to their place to the right of the throne in front of their own nook in the wall, where they were to stand with their spears lest the king need anything from them. Bill returned the eye contact hesitantly, as though thinking that perhaps it was the right thing to do at the moment. The Panther King, however, only narrowed his eyes toward the weasel with a growl, causing Bill to shrink back. No, that absolutely was not the right thing to do.
Supposedly, the Panther King was waiting on something, likely from the professor, because he hadn’t given either of the two orders. After what happened hours prior, neither of the two wanted to even think of what would happen if that old man kept the king waiting. Yes, the professor did often suffer the same punishments as they did, but what was to happen if he wasn’t here to take that punishment? All they could do, so Bill thought, was to wait and see.
Meanwhile, he turned his attention to one of the small windows on the wall opposite to them, noticing how blue the sky was. It was sunny out today, wasn’t it? Must’ve been awfully nice for whoever got to be out there. It was funny to think about how some people lived out there in cozy little houses and got to spend days in those fields, doing whatever they liked. Bill was always told that poor people lived out there, doing nothing useful with themselves. Well, even if that was all there was to life outside the castle, being poor couldn’t be all bad.
Suddenly, Bill felt sharp, clawed fingers poking at his back. He jumped when he noticed the Panther King looming right over him, tracing his fingers from Bill’s back to the right hand that held the wooden spear. He then griped onto Bill’s left hand, which the weasel didn’t realize had been playing with the ruined flag on the spear for the last few minutes, and moved it away from the spear. Pulling his own paw away from the lanky weasel, the Panther King backed away while gazing down at Bill with an emotion that was too hard to read.
“Don’t do that.” he demanded with a low growl. “It makes you look idiotic.”
“Of course, Sire…” Bill gave a nod as he fixed his posture and folded his left arm back at its side. He was too old to do something so foolishly childish.
The Panther King gave a hum as he began to pace the floor, turning his attention away from the guards and back to his own thoughts. His expression was still painfully hard to read, though one educated guess would be “distain”. He folded his large paws behind his back while he kept his amber eyes on the set of double doors ahead. Just for a bit of fun, he snapped his head back toward the guards, watching the two pale and stiffen up suddenly.
Please get back soon, Professor.