Cassim jumped, gripped stone, and braced himself, as a small servant girl carrying a pile of linens nearly as tall as she was scurried through.
“Don’t drop anything!” a man’s voice hissed from around the corner. “Or you’ll be doing it all again!”
Bastard. Cassim knew how much work clean linens were even when you didn’t have a sadist making you do it over. Anis and his mother had both done laundry for food and goods, back when they’d been alive. Among… other things.
Soap cracks your hands, scrubbing breaks your back, have to make sure you hang it all so it doesn’t catch dirt again while it’s getting dry- ugh. Cassim’s fingers clenched on worked stone, barely feeling the burn of holding his own weight up here. Compared to a day’s work on the streets, this was nothing.
“Don’t think we’ll get out of it if the brat does drop them.” A woman’s voice, sour the way only someone who’d been beaten down could be. “You should just be glad she’s too young to be scared of those… things.”
“You should be careful. They’re the delegation’s honored bodyguards.”
A long silence, broken only by shuffling footsteps behind a sturdier strut, the elderly maidservant carrying a basket of something that smelled a little like oranges as she followed a man in plain servant’s off-white.
“You can’t believe what you hear from the guards,” the man grumbled. “Who could hide elephant trunks under a veil, anyway? It’s crazy. Something out of a Sinbad story.”
“Oh yes. Of course it is.” The elderly woman’s voice was far too humble to be real. “Didn’t you hear? They’re trying to keep it quiet, but the king of Sindria was in the palace, just a few days ago….”