Trust no one. That was the underlying theme as preparations were made for Prince Jared’s funeral.
The best thing Prince Marcos and his family could do was get out of the kingdom as quickly as possible and leave the day-to-day operations in the capable, if only limited, hands of Prince Elmer. Mark and Alex had even decided not to stick around after the funeral for a luncheon with the royal family.
Once again, the king boldly requested Prince Marcos stand to his right during the formal funeral proceedings, sending the clear message that Mark would be his predecessor should anything happen to the king.
The entire free world was aware that Prince Elmer was ambassador to the United Nations, and Marcos Sayid was Crown Prince. Anything less than full cooperation among the royal family would likely cause a civil war.
They had the perfect excuse to board their private jet and leave the country since one of their business partners had been arrested in the United States. Not to mention Princess Hazel’s delicate condition and the impending arrival of Prince Hayden.
Mark and Alex had a private meeting the morning before the funeral with the king, Eli, and his advisor, Kadin. Everyone knew Ahmed killed Jared, yet no one could prove his guilt. The entire household seemed to have an unspoken agreement of secrecy. The only thing keeping Eli and the king alive was the assumption they were in on it too. Murder investigations were only effective if there was a way to punish the murderer. For now, they were at a loss as what to do.
Alex didn’t want to voice his opinion, even to his prince, but had the sneaking suspicion that Madain Saleh was slated to be absorbed into their host country as a bygone kingdom that had outlived its purpose. Saudi Arabia would soon be the proud owners of a very nice artesian spring that provided the highest-quality water source in the Arabian peninsula, some historically significant ruins, and a state-of-the-art modern palace built by a wealthy and snobby royal family who couldn’t get along well enough to govern themselves.
The funeral procession from the palace to the royal tombs included King Sayid in point position with Prince Marcos to his right, nearly shoulder-to-shoulder, and Prince Elmer to his left but one step behind. That alone was enough to send a clear message to the kingdom and the world.
Alex and Princess Hazel stood one step behind Prince Marcos, Alex to the right, Hazel to the left, with little Prince Aaron in between, holding each of their hands. Alex’s wife, Krystina walked immediately behind them carrying baby Prince Owen.
To the king’s left, Eli’s advisor, Kadin stood behind and to his right shoulder, with Princess Savannah to his left and the two of them holding hands with little Prince Ethan, who was nearly the same age as Aaron.
The queen was not healthy enough to accompany the funeral procession, but the king’s second wife, the Princess of Tayma walked a few feet behind the king with her son Omar one step behind and to her right, along with his wife and a new advisor whom Alex hadn’t met. The Princess of Nimrah was at Tayma’s left shoulder along with her husband, the known murderer, Ahmed.
The one notable exception to this otherwise standard processional, was Jared’s widow, the Princess of Linah, clinging to the king’s arm and faking tears like an award-winning actress.
Alex was beyond ready to leave this backwards desert kingdom and return to the modern world, and greenery, of the Hudson Valley in the beautiful State of New York.
Although he would follow his prince to the ends of the earth, or the deserts of Madain Saleh, he hoped the king didn’t die anytime soon.