She addressed the guards firmly. “I desire and audience with Lord Mandrean.”
Neither guard changed their expression or pose. One responded. “Lord Mandrean has not left his chambers this morning. He will not be disturbed, Madame. Return to your quarters and we will relay your request. If he desires your company, he will send for you.”
The woman was infuriated. “You tell that Rotund Sow, I demand to see him immediately. You know who I am.”
“Indeed, Mistress,” replied the guard. “You are Concubine Number One. I am to show you respect. That being said, you wait to be summoned like any of the other seventy-three concubines.”
Number One angrily pounded the door. “You will see me.” she yelled through the wood. “I will not move from this spot until we speak. Do you hear me?” She kicked at the door repeatedly. No movement could be heard inside. The tirade continued in a most unladylike fashion for an extended period.
During that time a formally dressed gentleman with neatly cut red hair approached. A slave girl of impeccable youth and beauty walked on either side. Having traveled the hall, they reached the brass-hinged doors. All three of them bore silver trays with food covered to retain heat. When they could go no further, they paused and the man addressed Concubine Number One.
“You know full well he cannot hear anything through that door Betrimpia. Why must you continue to make a mockery of yourself?”
Betrimpia relented in her attack on the door and turned to respond to the man. “At least you have the courtesy to call me by my proper name, Fendri.”
“I know all the original names of my Master’s concubines,” Fendri answered. “I also know which ones are requested in his chambers. You were not requested last night. Considering the fact he has not risen for the day, I highly doubt he summoned you this morning.”
“He never calls for me anymore,” she snapped. “He just leaves me down there with all of those young, brainless whores to fret away my time.”
“It is true,” said Fendri, “that you do exceed his other concubines in maturity on many levels. To your credit, My Lady, time has been unusually kind to your appearance. A fact I am sure is not lost on our master.”
“Were he half as kind as you, Fendri, the situation would at least be tolerable. Instead I am shut away like a leper. Well, I shall not be ignored any longer. I will have words with him. He must leave there eventually and I will be here at that time.”
Fendri shook his head in disappointment and then looked at the guards. With a single nod of his head, he gave them instruction. Each Imperial Guard took hold of an arm of Betrimpia’s and dragged her struggling body away from the door. Then one man held her while the other opened the door for Fendri and the slaves. As Fendri prepared to enter he told her, “I will inform the Emperor that you are here.” After he and the other servants passed beyond the doors, the massive entry was shut and the guards returned to their original positions.