Pt XII… The Conflicts of Jolliness
Princess Aureyborealice slipped back behind the tree, softly tittering.
‘Aureyborealice,’ chided her aunt Lady Frastreiayal of the Grim Northern Mountain of Urnnnng ‘I am sure throwing a soggy snowball at King Vilfahengo (The Iron) of Chilbin is not a move conducive to our enterprise,’
‘Dearest Aunt, he is a sour ol’ fizzog and deserves it. See how he glares about in all directions puzzled by an act of random frivolity. An arrow he would expect, it befits his rank. He will be more unsettled by a soggy snowball. For grim kings are not normally the targets of such missiles. It is when he is unsettled when he will be at his most vulnerable,’
Frastreiayal had to admit when you accepted the unconventional approach, her niece did have a certain point. And since as part of their revised and now joint plan Frastreiayal had caused the wet snow to fall thus delaying the advance of the army out of Chilbin she could not really complain if her niece chose to take an opportunity to spread her own form of planned mischief. What was equally unsettling was her niece’s earlier discernment of and resulting wheedling out an admission of Frastreiayal’s guilty little secret.
Frastreiayal had an attraction for Vilfahengo (Iron, King, Grim), in spite of his sour ol’ fizzog, although she preferred to think of his features as serious, reflective and a little careworn. She, having observed most of the male nobility of the six kingdoms from the vantage of her castle, had grown over the years attracted to his lack of frivolity, strength of purpose, reasonable amount of intelligence and his willingness to bathe his taut, muscular, scarred body regularly and thoroughly. Frastreiayal had had absolutely nothing to do with the death of his wife who used to go out bear hunting to calm down and thus work off the urge to murder her, (as she saw him), infuriating husband (their’s as you will recall was a lively marriage). On one jaunt in her exasperation to get away from the man she had not checked her favourite hunting snack of Chilbinian hard cheese for mould and this had been the cause of her demise.
Thus Frastreiayal‘s true plan had begun to work. With the resulting chaos at the wedding Vilfahengo had indeed marched south, as had the barbarians. The next stage would have been in the guise of Frizgrunstar Wylde Wyfe, Spouse of Thugnnorran The God of a Thousand Peaks she would have encouraged the barbarians to rebel (in a smallish way) against Vilfahengo, which since he was committed to the south would have left him extended, a bit. She would have then appeared before him (in a revealing dress) in her true identity as The Lady Frastreiayal of the Grim Northern Mountain of Urnnnng offering to use her influence to stop the revolt, flip back and forth between identities, win the barbarians back to him while always wearing her revealing dress in his presence. Her niece, the annoyingly astute Aureyborealice, having deduced by the way her aunt went slightly breathless when ever the subject of Vilfahengo turned up soon found out the plan.
She had said.
‘It has a good strategy dear aunt, but to be frank its execution lacks a certain dignity. You should know by now how the folk of Chilbin are notoriously sniffy and serious; their king being the most sniffiest ever. Flaunting yourself will serve to annoy him and make you look slightly trollopish. You must be your true self of dignity and poise at which you are magnificent. We shall meld our plans together, playing on the distain he has for Dingledong’s historic predilection for being jolly,’
Thus she had explained her ideas
Which was why they lurked on the edge of snow heavy forest. And Aureyborealice with whispered glee said.
‘Now dear aunt, stalketh forth,’ nudging Frastreiayal out.
So stumbling a little, but recovering, turning to the forest and magnificently raising her cloak about her arms gesturing she cried out.
‘Away thee, fey creatures of mischief, shadow and confusion! Away thee I say!’
‘Ppbbbth!’ said Aureyborealice peeking from behind a tree, then as her aunt feigned a glare did her own feigning of fear and skipped away, squeaking.
For melodrama and stagecraft as an art it lacked a great deal, to a king whose army was held up by damp snow, some of which was dripping down his neck it had the desired effect. He strode over to Frastreiayal.
‘Lady! Art thee of these frivolous lands? What comes to pass(eth) here?’
‘Sir,’ she said, with all due poise and dignity ‘King Vilfahengo (The Iron) of Chilbin. Know ye thus, I am The Lady Frastreiayal of the Grim Northern Mountain of Urnnnng, come here to aid thee in thy enterprise and free these benighted lands of fey enchantments and mischiefs,’
Although Vilfahengo’s sole intention had been to march in a no-nonsense manner and knock some sense into these foolish folk then take the throne it had not even occurred to him there were fey enchantments and mischiefs; he did not want to seem unaware as it were, for he was a king of purpose and not a night-pot head like Genially. Thus with a clearing of the throat and slight bow, he said.
‘Lady. Thy reputation as scholar and sober possessor of knwoledge precedes thee and I do give thee some small thanks for thy aid. Let me escort thee to my encampment while thee explain unto me the fel grip within this land,’
From the cover of the trees Aureyborealice with hand to mouth stifled a little triumphant giggle and skipped away lightly o’er the snow. She would spread a few more tricks and bits of mischief and then in silly high voices say The Dread Lady Frastreiayal of the Grim Northern Mountain of Urnnnng had arrived and everyone had better scatter ‘cas she was mighty and would be fearful cross at them.
The rest would be up to Aunt Frastreiayal
Meanwhile she could get back home. With mother turning her back on the nation; her brother Frendlehanz captured by the flame haired and fiery Magnificalorin- thanks to intelligence of his location delivered from Aureyborealice by one of her messenger hawks; the miserable ol’ northwest now likely falling under Hulstorm’ s stern but dull and fayre rule, again thanks to several hawks to several folk and Whinsome ensconced as a reminder of who of the royal family was was still around she could journey back and take the throne; woe betide any cousins etc who tried to sneak in as she had several plans in those directions!
Though she didn’t quite have a plan for her titular brother-in-law Hanselfrendlesten. But she supposed he was having tremendous fun fighting those barbarians cluttering up the north of his own homelands and also making such a mess in Grunzelpratz so he would not be her problem, not for a while anyway.
It was a bit of a shame about Father, he hadn’t been such a bad old duffer. He should have fled to Trundlealong to garner support as she had intended. Let that be a lesson to all men who get into a severe huff when things do not go their way.
Those ‘natural’ children though, they would have to be told What was What and where to go, gold would help. There was a lot of gold, thanks to The Chancellor of The Exchequer’s activities over the years and of late with the burgeoning Lychee market. He might think she didn’t know just how much gold there was and that was because for all those years everyone had thought when she was not around she was just skipping and dancing in gardens and small woods, as opposed to moving deftly from Here to There and teaching her many pets how to do her bidding. It had indeed been a very busy childhood, adolescence and of late exceptionally productive couple of years.
And it would be nice to see Whinsome again.
Whinsome was pacing. When you had to survey a map which was four times as long as you were tall and three times as wide, pacing was something of a necessity when making decisions which would have an impact on the ordinary folk living within the six kingdoms and if one was fayre also a lot of barbarians whose energies she was sure could be directed in more productive ways.
Upon the were a large number of flag stuck onto little bits of wood, each flag was part of a complex arrangement of kings, nobles, armies, areas of various types of production, religious affiliations, groups of common folk who thought they ought to be heard, and whether she liked it or not specifically Lychee potential.
‘It still looks a complete tangled mess,’ she said to the High Diplomat. ‘ Of course this is a bit old by weeks. Later news may change it. Yet waiting for the replies to sundered despatches is heavy burden,’
‘I fear it is Your Majesty,’ she could not remember when folk had started to call her ‘Your Majesty’, she had been so busy dealing with local matters. Those were on another map on another table. A map which was but twice her height in both length and width; there were less flags. This was because she had made it so. She had required a reputation, by degrees and not so much by planning or conniving but more by circumstance.
The first potentially great challenge had been the arrival of one of Aureyborealice’s cousin without invite or request. This was Sipulsnoot, a fellow with an expression as if he had nettles up his nose he was followed by a small retinue of fashionable dressed young men all appearing to suffer from similar nasal encumbrances.
‘I am the male heir to the throne. ‘Tis mine,’ he said waving a fashionable sword in her direction. His timing was unfortunate, Whinsome had had little sleep the previous night, having read a box full of urgent papers, then while trying to catch up on other work had eaten her breakfast too quickly, thus had terrible indigestion and a headache.
‘Do you parents know you are here?’ she snapped looking up from a report on the Lychee trade which some clerk had carelessly slipped in. Whinsome had previously made it clear she didn’t care a snootle (a quite vulgar word) about the stupid trade and thus was even more annoyed.
‘Ha!’ he had said, not being one for intelligent replies ‘My presence here is enough,’
At this point she alighted from her throne picking up the clerical staff she had acquired a while back, rapped it on his hand, making him drop his sword, swiftly brought it up betwixt his legs, severely thwacked his knees and when he fell over addressed his hindquarters with several other thwacks which she personally felt should have been administered by his parent long ago.
‘Now go an’ take this wibbler here n’ swithezzle off… The ghunzstat lot of you!’ she told his smallish retinue who were currently picking him up and shocked to hear such language from a young woman of whom they had been told was shy, retiring and of modest speech.
What they did not know and those of her close and trusted were getting used to was that her brother and his friends when she was still of child years had allowed her to join in their boisterous games and taught her how to use stave, sword and knobbly club. She had also picked up the language they had picked up from the soldiers and lads of the stables. Her parents not being the most attentive after two years or so had eventually found out and had had her partitioned off to be taught by religious folk, which she had accepted, if only to pass the time. She had not forgotten those more rough and tumble lessons though. To stop going insane at being droned at she had also learned how to sew, but having selected matronly types of ladies had missed out on the interesting things which passed between men and women, or men and men or women and women.
After the disposal of Sipulsnoot‘s attempted coup she had found when walking about the place when the staff over her shoulder folk who did not have much contact with her treated her with respect, and when she smiled at them, they displayed much relief.
Apparently Sipulsnoot‘s parents, the Duke Fusselbritches and Duchess Lacedoylee who had invested heavily in Lychees were so horrified by his actioned they had him placed in a tower to be lectured by the very dullest clerics and lawyers they could find. His retinue’s parents equally concerned over their profits from Lychee investments boxed ears, kicked bottoms and stopped allowances. Some of the lads were placed in smaller towers since their parents could not afford tall ones and had old wise men from villages to come and ‘talk sense unto ee’. Others were put sent to the army, which didn’t want them and gave them unhappy tasks.
Whinsome was not told of the fate of these lads; she had told her court she couldn’t have cared a bovine hindquarter’s natural digestive produces, although she didn’t quite phrase it that way.
One day after a busy day of listening to and thence discussing with various meetings of common folk the best way to address social matters. and then duelling with the Chancellor of the Exchequer about funding she had just flumped down in a very comfy chair, to congratulate herself she had managed to wheedle three-quarters of what she wanted.
Then there came a cheerful ruckus and in breezed, sunny, smiling and somewhat travel stained Aureyborealice.
‘Hi dearest spouse!’ she trilled ‘I’m home!’