Was Mark brave or an idiot? Eli wasn’t sure, but the king had insisted. He asked Prince Marcos to stand to his right as he led the funeral procession from the palace to the royal family’s mausoleum near the edge of the city center. Mark held his head high with confidence and Eli fought the urge to sneer.
With one symbolic move, King Sayid had announced to the world his chosen successor.
Eli’s father, Prince Omar walked to the King’s left, the meaning of which was not lost on anyone. His mother, Princess Nijah stood to Omar’s left with Queen Salaina to his right, grasping Omar’s right arm. She seemed to be barely holding herself together. Eli wished he could comfort his great-grandmother, but the public show of affection would have been frowned-upon and shown the queen as weak.
Prince Jared and his wife walked to the right and behind Prince Omar, and Eli to his left, Kadin at his shoulder. At that moment, Eli wished he had taken the time to marry Savannah the day before because she would have been at his side as they made their way to the tomb.
The funeral procession was formal and attended by most people in the kingdom, who seemed there out of curiosity or reveling in the pageantry rather than grief for a prince none of them had seen in forty years. Many of the people in the kingdom had never met Prince Marcos and his American grandson was just a novelty.
The internment was solemn and formal. The only noise was Queen Salaina crying in the arms of her grandson, Prince Omar, who also was sobbing. Eli was at a loss how to comfort his father. The man had always been cold and stern, showing little emotion and even less affection. His uncle must have meant more to him than he ever allowed the world to see.
The pallbearers slid the ornate casket in which Prince Marcos would forever rest deep into a tomb that had been carved from rock. The heavy stone placed in front of the tomb already bore his name and the stone to his left read the name of his brother, Eli’s late grandfather, Prince Jared Sayid of Mada’in Saleh.
Eli had never met his grandfather, Jared, but believed in his heart that he had been an upstanding crown prince and would have made a great king.
If King Sayid were to pass away, the throne would be highly contested. The king’s wishes had been made clear. But would the kingdom honor his selection? Eli doubted that would be the case. He couldn’t envision Jared stepping down, or the Princess of Tayma allowing him to step down. Jared would be a terrible king. A puppet with a crown. Eli shuddered at the prospect.
He silently willed King Sayid to stay alive as long as he possibly could.