Act 2: The case of three cans, a rotund Vizier and an era within an age within a universe

Scene 2

Three idiotic geniuses stood at the altar of magnificence – the great mehmaan khana* of the Grand Vizier’s palace. The roof was high enough to fall and die from. Exquisitely carved vaulted arches stared down from the top. Male and female statuettes, copulating in the Ananga Ranga position, were sculpted on the arrises where the vaults met.

Raafae was lost in admiration of the skilled craftsmanship that graced his eyes. Sidharth was lost in his own thoughts of…well…what scientists think. And Sebastian; his nose was breathing in the aroma of the red rose he brought in case of a meeting with the Viceroy’s daughter – the devastated Batindra Joseph.

“Attention! Attention!”

Their heads moved in tandem in the direction of the voice. The palace’s messenger boy was standing by the gate-like door, wearing a blue ribbon across his neck. He held a small chrome bell in his hand, jingling it from side to side.

“The great mercurial one; the omniscient light of the kingdom; the bearer of serendipitous tidings; the nation’s barrel-chested pride…”

“Just cut to the chase,” interrupted the Grand Vizier.

“The Grand Vizier of the United Kingdom of Indrastan, Abdul Jalab Montgomery Bahadur Douglas Cornwallis are** blessing your ignoble existence with their** presence.”

Unamused, the Grand Vizier passed a discerning glance at the witless herald. “How many times have I told you Bansi, just Abdul Cornwallis. Do you hear? Abdul Cornwallis.”

“But Your Excellency,” said the herald but a stern stare from the Grand Vizier put him in his place.

Chin upright and brow high, the Grand Vizier strolled in the direction of the three sleuths. Raafae rushed to greet him.

“It’s an honour Your Excellency,” said Raafae as he bowed slightly. The Grand Vizier nodded his head to acknowledge him.

“The majesty of your each footprint sprinkles gold dust in the air.”

A proud smile appeared across the Grand Vizier’s cheeks as he heard his praise. Sebastian bowed with his right knee bending and his left hand neatly placed behind him. The Grand Vizier was surprised to see such etiquette displayed by a foreigner.

“You sound like a citizen of Britannia,” said the Grand Vizier. “But you possess the poise of an Indranian.” Britannians were known for their brutish and often lewd behaviour. Hence, their dignitaries were seldom seen at Indranian balls and banquets.

“Your countrymen should follow your lead,” the Grand Vizier continued.

“Maybe they will,” Sebastian replied. “In another timeline.”

Raafae nudged him to shut his mouth. He simply winked at Raafae and stared at him with a sardonic smile.

“Shall we begin?”

*Drawing room

**In sub-continental culture, elders and persons of high status are often referred to in the plural such as they, them or their out of respect