Part I: A Happy Kingdom and Plans for a Jolly Wedding
Preface: I like writing Fantasy and do try to keep it serious. I also have a generally censorious view of the events in the News but try never assume one side is all good and the other all bad (only certain groups and individuals). Sometimes the strain of keeping perspective on the latter has a tectonic shift into the former creating an urge to write something less than serious….. Hence the following.
Once upon a time there was the land of Dingledong ruled by King Genially (of late middle aged years) who was a jolly and generous fellow as long as things were uncomplicated
Everything in the kingdom was happy and the peasants didn’t have to pay much in taxes. This was because Chancellor of the Exchequer of Dingledong was a crook; who juggled the books while keeping everything looking fine, for he knew the dark magic secret that Economics was not based on facts but on what folk thought and so far no one had out-thought him. In this venture he was aided by King Genially’s High Diplomat to whom he channelled much gold to pass out to important folk in the neighbouring kingdoms. This made them so happy they did not stop to think they had been channelling gold to the Chancellor of the Exchequer of Dingledong in the first place. The whole process was known as Trade Agreements and Tax Unions.
As the jolly king (of late middle aged years) relied on his Chancellor of Exchequer and his High Diplomat he didn’t worry at all and remained very, very jolly.
Now jolly king Genially (of late middle aged years) and his beloved Domesticia (gracefully aging queen of many happy years marriage) had two children. The elder was Prince Frendlehanz who was handsome, noble and fayre to the lesser classes; he liked to ride, hunt and design gardens, the former two being requisites of his status, the latter a side-source of income to the royal household as everyone who was anyone in the kingdom wanted a garden designed by Prince Frendlehanz. The younger child was his sister Princess Aureyborealice, her beauty was the necessary beyond compare; she had long flowing blonde hair, was kind to everyone, sang with birds, talked to small furry creatures, danced barefoot in gardens and since she was the younger of the two no one worried about her possible mental state. Both children were very happy and dutiful to their parents who in return loved them both equally.
Whereas Everyone in the kingdom was so happy the said joy, unlike the trade agreements and tax unions, did not translate into everyone in neighbouring kingdoms. More than one royal (and dysfunctional to varying degrees) household found the whole thing rather grating on the nerves, if not downright insufferable but since the kingdom of Dingledong was seen to be so durn wealthy and necessary in the complex regional matrix of politics every other royal family had to put up with it and allow the kingdom to be the senior partner in all economic arrangements.
Of all who was most miffed was King Vilfahengo (The Iron) who ruled the most northern and wintery land of Chiblin. He, had spent long years subduing the barbaric tribes of the even farther north all of whom wore unsanitary furs and had lacked any social graces. The survivors now paid tribute to Vilfahengo (The Iron) and had been made to cease to scratch under their armpits at the dining table. Vilfahengo (The Iron) thought after all this effort the other kingdoms should look to him in the north even if Chilbin had no discernibly strong economic base other than tribute from those even more northern and also still socially awkward folk. He wished have his son Hulstrum (The Fierce ) to marry Princess Aureyborealice and thus gain politic transaction. Hulstrum (The Fierce) although strong, brave but ruthless feared his father and supposed he would have to marry Aureyborealice, even if he was secretly unsettled by the thought of a wife who never mind if she was beautiful beyond compare and had long flowing blonde hair she was blasted well kind to everyone, sang with birds, talked to small fury creatures AND danced barefoot in gardens. After all how could he maintain societal standing amongst his friends and carry out his task of cowing those very northern barbarians with such a bride? He supposed he would have to bend her to his husbandly will, which truth be known was a distraction from cowing barbarians. Actually, the true reason why he kept on going north was to tryst with the flame haired and fiery Magnificalorin; daughter of Gurt a barbarian of some standing (and scratching of armpits when with his own folk).
While Vilfahengo (The Iron) brooded and plotted in the north, Genially the jolly king (of late middle aged years) with the aid of his High Diplomat did make overtures to King Doodle (Unofficially known as The Inconsequential) of neighbouring Trundlealong that Prince Frendlehanz ( handsome, noble and fayre to the lesser classes,) should marry Doodle’s daughter, Princess Whinsome (The reasonably beautiful and posssed of russet hair) who was of kindly and compassionate nature, wonderful at sewing and dutiful at prayer. Neither Frendlehanz nor Whinsome felt they ought to have any opinion in the matter and on meeting three formal times thought things could be worse and resolved to be obeyful to their parents. As did everyone else. Three other kings were disappointed one of their daughters or nieces had not made the cut but there again a new resultant trade treaty and formally mutually binding security pact would ensure the two largish kingdom of Dingledong and Trundlealong would be willing to assist the three smaller kingdoms to make sure everything continued in a conservative manner. Princess Whinsome’s slightly elder brother Prince Hanselfrendlesten (an adventuresome warrior prince) was giving the task of being her formal escort to the marriage ceremony so he could get a look at Princess Aureyborealice and hopefully take his mind off of small adventuresome wars in far away places. He was not very enthusiastic about local weddings as unlike in far away places they did not lead to wars, but having run out of small adventuresome wars in far away places agreed because Dingledong bordered Chiblin and for some time he had been trying to find a reason to square off against Hulstrum (The Fierce) who he had met once and didn’t like.
The feeling was mutual.
Both The Chancellor of the Exchequer of Dingledong and The High Diplomat knew Hulstrum (The Fierce) was bound to turn up at the wedding as the official representative of Chiblin and there could be trouble with Prince Hanselfrendlesten (the adventuresome warrior prince) or at least unwanted attentions to Aureyborealice (beauty beyond compare, long flowing blonde hair, kind to everyone, sang with birds, talked to small fury creatures, and danced barefoot in gardens) . So to various noble families who, previously, had been secretly financially embarrassed by Chancellor of the Exchequer of Dingledong, were sent smallish bags of gold on the understanding they ensured their daughters attended the wedding and heave their bosoms at Hulstrum (The Fierce)
But everyone had forgotten about or just plain overlooked Lady Frastreiayal of the Grim Northern Mountain of Urnnnng.
Lady Frastreiayal, practitioner of magiks and nurser of grudges.
And sister of Domesticia (gracefully aging queen of Dingledong and of many happy years marriage to King Genially).
Now they had been daughters to Grand Duke Snork (nervous and mean spirited) and Granduchess Dutiful(placid and fatalistic) of the usefully independent Duchy of Taxhaven. Snork though was worried at not having a legally presentable son so divorced Dutiful on Taxhaven’s law of Grounds of Conduct Unbecoming (in this case, not having sons) and packed her off to a remote religious retreat for Noble Women Deemed Unsuitable (by their husbands, that is). He then married a fluffy curvy little schemer. Both daughters had loved their mother Dutiful and were very unhappy. To stop the elder one moping about the place Snork had Domesticia quickly married off to Genially who in those days was very lively as well as jolly so she didn’t get a chance to mope.
Frastreiayal was the younger. Now because of her age it was assumed she would mope anyway so she was left to her own devices. She, however, had always been studious and intense which meant she’d been reading stuff everyone else, being more interested in tax laws, had forgotten about. Now these books of hers were the genuine books about hard magics and not just ones describing card tricks or how to get flags of all nations to appear out of the left ear. Thus without having to resort to reading crushingly dull tomes on Economics she learned of other dark powers which could twist realties.
One day while Grand Duke Snork ( at the time only- not so mean spirited) was taking his fluffy curvy little schemer of a bride for a walk in the ornamental garden he had had built for her and with a view to slipping into the summer house when along came a freak wind which deposited a large and understandably ill-tempered bull upon the couple, one of whom may have survived had not the bull ill-temperedly rolled all over them both before getting up and rushing off, adding to the tragedy by on the way demolishing the summer house.
As there were no legally and thus presentable male heirs the usefully independent Duchy of Taxhaven was absorbed into the benevolent suzerainty of Dingledong by virtue of Domesticia being there already, although its unique regional financial status (who pays taxes?) was maintained.
Several astute folk including Domesticia (who had begun to feel a certain sisterly queasiness) had noticed the normally solemn face of Frastreiayal was betraying the faintest of grins, thus she was told she now ruled the Grim Northern Mountain of Urnnnng and please go there. Since the Grim Northern Mountain of Urnnnng was devoid of any permanent population and those who passed by were wont not to stay long, she recognised she had been rumbled but fortunately for everyone involved decided she would take up the career of brooding and studying more magics. Thus taking up a with serving staff of specially selected malcontents and misanthropes she left for her new home, there to spy on everyone and nurse grudges against those who led happy lives.
Upon hearing of the news of the wedding of her irritatingly affable nephew Prince Frendlehanz she decided it was time everyone south of the Grim Northern Mountain of Urnnnng sampled her magics. She had been practicing on those north of the Grim Northern Mountain of Urnnnng who being barbarians hadn’t counted much, unless you were one of them and she felt pretty confident she could finally bring the whole shebang into chaos.
End of Part I