Pt IX… An episode with lots of eventfully jolly and unjolly stuff. So read jolly carefully
Thus spake(eth) Lady Frastreiayal (sister, aunt, proficient in both magiks and magics; presently domiciled on the side of a chilly mountain).
‘It was, even by Mount Urnnnng’s harsh standards a dark cold night of howling winds and ice-storms. I was passing a pleasant hour reviewing and arranging the tributes gifted to me by barbarians passing by, on their way to invade Grunzelpratz. They believe me to be the goddess Frizgrunstar Wylde Wyfe, Spouse of Thugnnorran The God of a Thousand Peaks,’
‘You encouraged them so dear Aunt,’ Aureyborealice pointed on.
‘No more than you did dear niece with your messenger hawks despatching inflammatory messages to the rather majestically hot tempered Vilfahengo (The Iron) and that ridiculous bishop last seen bobbing about the Wavassup Confluence where the rivers Islewhenddle and Bonghump meet. But we meander. Anyway dear sister. Here appears my bright and talented niece Aureyborealice asking for audience with a view to a peaceful frank chat and a nice big mug of hot herbal brew, please. We had much to discuss. And, resultant it was thought best I come to you dear sister and explain things,’
‘Oh sister,’ lamented Domesticia, ‘Though joyous we can meet again, I am saddened. Did you use those powers, because you were not invited to the wedding (curse the day we thought of it)?’
‘Oh dearest sister no!’ said Lady Frastreiayal throwing back her head a giving out a brief brittle laugh ‘I would not have cared for an official invite. Having to meet with stultifying bores, men who stared down my dress and women whose frosty snootiness would compare to the chills of Mount Urnnnng. The very idea! No dear sister. I wished to save you, my niece Aureyborealice (although this proved hardly necessary) and that dear sweet creature (‘not a creature’, pointed out Aureyborealice, ‘she’s a lovely girl’. ‘Whatever’ replied her Aunt) Whinsome from pains and humiliations,’
‘How so?’ asked Queen Domesticia, although having a certain feeling about matters; in her current state of distress preferred to have someone explain it to her.
‘By now you are aware of the feckless behaviour of your husband. You should know your son Frendlehanz, despite his friendly demeanour or maybe because of it has a reputation, ( ‘Frendle ‘No complaints there,’ hanz,’ interjected his sister, in rare bout of sourness), and since he has not only the blood of your husband but that of our wretched father Snork running through his loins, there would be, eventually scandal and humiliations. Also by careful observation of Dear and, you should know very cleaver and talented, Aureyborealice I have discerned there were no less than six and ten possible suitors being considered by her father, each one as unworthy as the next, having naught but passing interests for her body and venal aspirations upon those lands she owns and will inherit. Thus did I plan to sew (an old classic way of saying ‘sow’) all this confusion and embarrassing circumstance to give great discomfort to the false Genially and show what a silly humffle-dump (a term of great mockery) he is. Thus would you leave him to sort out his own trials and take residence with our dearest Mother,’
‘Dearest Mother lives?’ gasped Domesticia, who was in quite the mood to Go Home To Mother.
‘Yes, a place far to the east, a warm and pleasant land where folk mind their own businesses, and where many a previously forlorn and cheated wife journeys to there to seek each other’s company and solace,’
‘These happy digressions aside dearest sister. But these bizarre arrangements between Frendlehanz and the abrupt Hulstorm and dearest Aureyborealice and the rather pleasant Whinsome. They cannot be so?’
‘Oh they would have be annulled in a couple of years. I planned to arrange for Doctrindoss ( The Arch-High Elect Supervisor for The Supreme One) to suffer a mild but nevertheless incapacitating affliction thus allowing a council of time-serving bishops who knew what was what in the world to declare the marriage void, then I would have left them to squabble over who would become the next Arch-High-yadda-yadda-blah-blah. By then the four young folk would have met with others who would have accepted them no matter what strange past and enter into true worthy marriages based on if not love at least a mature relationship. It was all quite sophisticated. The trouble was I underestimated the crass stupidity of folk in general and their propensity to create ill-informed loud-mouthed groups, in this case at last count four and fifty. Also,’ she looked to her nice Aureyborealice, who at the time was seated, idly swaying her legs back and forth and considering her toes ‘The astute, clever perceptions and ambitions of your very talented daughter who was very quick on the uptake and management of the situation. Although,’ her voice took on a heavier tone ‘It would have been advantageous had we both been aware of the others activities and interests in Chilbin,
‘Better late than never,’ suggested Aureyborealice, which settled the business, and the three women got to work on organising Domesticia’s secret flight from Dingledong, which in view of the chaotic situation brewing across the six kingdoms was not difficult. For now that stratagems by both aunt and niece were in place, events would play out. Neither were sure of the exact details but thought the results would be…. interesting.
At the camp of the now Two Princes, heading to link up with King Genially’s not quite as good army, messengers were oft to arrive, all exhausted from galloping (in one extreme and enthusiastic case without horse) and with news for all places within five of the six kingdoms. The latest one came with news for Prince Hanselfrendlesten (heir to the throne of Trundlealong, likes wars, now friends with Hulstorm) , it was transpiring that not only had barbarians swarmed over the borders of Grunzelpratz but being barbarians and not too focused were also causing troubles in Trundlealong’s northern parts.
‘I must away good friend Frendlehanz ( heir to Dingledong’s throne, handsome, interested in gardens and girls, while still being spousified to Hulstorm ) for my father has as little idea of warfare and seems only concerned in protecting the lands earmarked for Lychee farming. Folk are beset by barbraians and capering shamen who rattle bones and gibber all hours of the day and night, I must save the poor honest folk and a few dishonest ones who are not so bad. A flanking attack westwards should force the westerly host over the border into Grunzelpratz, where I might link up with whatever forces King Jerbloom and his three singularly useless sons have gathered, rally them to slaughter barbarians and their capering shamen. I can then threaten the flanks of Chilbin and cause Vilfahengo (The Iron) to withdraw,’
Young Hanselfrendlesten was indeed good at that war thing (he didn’t mention to Frendlehanz that while thereabouts he might well seize the throne of Grunzelpratz as the king and heirs might meet with unfortunate fates on the battlefield- he felt it might spoil the friendship). Anyway thus with much manly leaving taking and wishing of the best to both did the Trundlealong host (smallish) with a clutch of mercenaries who were up for bonus pay make all due speed to the northern climes of wherever Hanselfrendlesten reckoned he could start slaughtering.
Frendlehanz did feel a measure unsettled now that his two comrades, more versed in war than he had journey west (and northish) or east (and even more northish) he would have to face the rather impressive army (versed in fighting- barbarians) of Chilbin. Bullying, loud-mouth, half-witted, knuckle-dragging rebellious peasants were one thing, hardened professionals quite another. True he was due to link up with an army his father was bringing, however somehow the notion of his father at the head of an army used to simply parading in a jolly fashion did not fill him with anything like confidence. He had toyed with the idea of sending an urgent despatch to The High Diplomat asking if there was anything he could do about the situation, but there again since Frendlehanz was Heir to the Throne he would have to be seen being loyal (well for the time being anyway). Thus it was something of a heavy heart, but confident face (for the troops) he did ride to his tryst with destiny.
Prince Hulstorm had gathered about him the more stern and business-like soldiers. His chilnbian retinue, had sternly taken an oath to be loyal to him, as by some curious means of travelling gossip they had learned just what King Vilfahengo had accused them of (quite unfairly actually, they had a point). The rest were loyal troops who had taken offence to a bunch of peasants being rebellious, and even if they had massacred the offenders they reckoned there were others lurking which meant to have it out with them. Anyway they were jolly fed up of being under orders to be jolly all the time and liked the way Hulstorm carried out stuff.
When they crossed into the once domain of Bishop Twoodoodle they found many unhappy folk who once they leaned who was here and why, cheered up a little. This was an unusual experience for Hulstorm, he could never recall causing happiness to appear at his arrival, but once it was explained to him how horrid the bishop had been to the locals his sense of justice and ire were fired up. Officials in the pay of the removed bishop were pointed out, along with those who enforced his writ. These folk depending on the amount of unjust behaviour, bullying and venal activity they had indulged in were either massacred or beaten with sticks, in the latter case they were then left to the locals to decide if further punishment was necessary, and that was only on the first day. Hulstorm decided this unhappy realm, which currently had no name needed to be cleansed of the influence of bishops, their clerics and time-serving retinues, then the place put into order. It would be good, honest work and kept him from the awkwardness of bumping into his father and folk he had known since childhood.
It was a bright and sunny morn when Prince Frendlehanz sought out some time for reflection of the solitary sort as he reckoned he would soon being in the thick manure of it and might not get a chance for a long while, hopefully again.
In his wandering he came upon a gently sloping ground afore him and thought how he could make quite an interesting garden out of it. The wood to his left would have to be managed a bit, however there was potential though to make it quite an artistic arrangement.
He was pondering on this, when out from the aforementioned wood, burst a group of riders, of speed, ability and savage clothing. Their leader, a flame haired and particularly fiery looking ruffian was upon him just as he drew his sword. With a club they knocked his sword from his hand, then punched him in the face, causing him to lose his equineal poise somewhat. They grabbed him roughly by the collars of his coat and snarled into his face. Although the accent was very thick and barbaric he thought, in the detached way one does in a crisis, they must have some education for he could make out the words.
‘So thou art the trollop who stole (ed) away Hulstorm, mine by right of trysting beneath the star-blessed sky and full moon at wintertide! I shall teach ye a lesson fey trollop, thee!’
It was at this stage, even though his senses were somewhat fuddled though punching, it dawned on Frendlehanz that the flame haired and fiery ruffian was a girl. He had no time to endeavour to discuss the business in a more civil manner, for she punched him again. Then before he fell off his mount her fellow barbarians caught him, hauled him off his horse, to dump him on and tie him to the front of the saddle of her fearsome mount. Once this act was completed with all speed and efficiency she gave out with a sharp barbaric cry that he could not make head nor tail of and away the group galloped, at the expected fearsome pace.
Whereas the word ‘Abducted’ did swim up to what was left of his consciousness, somewhere in the very unsettled recesses of his mind, he could not help but feel this was not quite the traditional way these tales were woven.