Pt XIII… The Arrival of Storm Clouds (No, Jolliness…all gone)
‘Hello there Aureyborealice,’ Whinsome, said flatly and not moving from her reclining position.
Aureyborealice on returning to Whinsome detected a certain coolness and a distinctly casual slouch, like she owned the place. The princess told herself the strain of being left as the representative of the throne had obviously caused a strain on the poor little dear. She would make it well and danced across to the couch, placing slightly grubby hands on Whinsome’s shoulders.
‘You have been so brave to have kept my royal presence,’ trilled Aureyborealice in Whinsome’s left ear ‘ole, the pitched being somewhat discomforting ‘But not to worry for I have returned swiftly by secret ways to make things right,’
‘No kiddin” replied Whinsome, in a long drawn out drawl ‘Gladsome day and happy thoughts indeed,’
Aureyborealice stood up, a trifle perplexed. There was more than a hint of the sardonic there, nothing like the Whinsome she had taken under her wing.
‘Dear Whinsome. What ails you, my sweet spouse? Have the courtiers, Chancellor of the Exchequer, High Diplomat and near relatives of mine been bothering you with questions of state and no doubt in the latter case some sly scheme to gain ill-deserved appointments? I will speak with them all crossly,’
‘No need,’ Whinsome said with a dismissive gesture ‘I made examples. Your sword waving cousin Sipulsnoot I did thwack with a staff and his parents being swift on the uptake have now locked him in a tower. My agents brought me details of a plot by Murddlethyn to have me stabbed. That was very rude and since he was paying to have it done, somewhat cowardly. I rode over to his manse and thwacked him too. He has now been de-nobled of titles and in addition is tithed, with the aid of a chain to his left ankle, to the owner of a location wherein very dirty socks and underwear are washed . Your other cousin Wyrthlethum fled the country, for no good reason we can discern of,’ there was a pause ‘Yet. Anyway I sold off all of his possessions for charitable purposes,’
Aureyborealice‘s head spun. She did not care for the sensation in this sort of circumstance. Cousins thwacked, personally by Whinsome? One fleeing the country? What had been going on? In one planned situation she would be rescuing Whinsome from being besieged by rebellious cousins. And yet finding them cowed? What the frib? And agents???? (Truth be known they were the High Diplomat’s agents but he had advised Whinsome to say they were hers as it sounded more authoritarian-a style they had bother agreed was required for the present)
In the meantime Whinsome was still lounging and speaking in that rather flat, but somewhat commanding way she appeared to have adopted.
‘Anyway Spouse. All is under control. So you can go and get bathed, changed into clean clothes and rest in your private apartments thus recover from your long journey. Tomorrow we can discuss your duties,’
‘Uhhp?’ was Aureyborealice‘s first reaction, however being a quick wits soon recovered ‘Duties? My duties? My dear spouse,’ there was no affection in the term ‘dear’ and since Whinsome was not using first names…Well! It was looming over and hands on hips time!!! ‘Has the strain of being my representative fatigued you beyond reason. Have I to remind you who is the next in line to the throne of this realm?’
There was a brittle smile, Aureyborealice found Whinsome’s brittle smile rather unsettling and for the first time observed she had her russet hair all tied back tight.
‘Slightly inaccurate. It should be your brother Frendlehanz. But you arranged for him to be captured by Fiery and Proudful Magnificalorin, the flame-haired daughter of Gurt Broadsword a northern barbarian of some renown; she being incensed that her trysting with Hulstorm was now being curtailed,’ Whinsome produced from a pocket in her long, dark heavy clothed skirt a long piece of rather dirty and ragged parchment ‘Although from additional intelligence he supplied in this long letter, written in a rather hasty hand he reports he and Magnificalorin have reached a certain accord (that is a polite way of putting it). He has renounced the Official Teachings of Doctrindoss The Arch-High Elect Supervisor for The Supreme One as, to quote ‘Since I am up here in the north he can go and, as they say here, hurpsvendeldorr. I am marrying Magnificalorin, renouncing my title to the throne of Dingledong and you can tell my scheming little sister my last official act is the pass the rulership of Dingledong to you dear Whinsome and the best of luck! So Spouse, that is that,’
And brittle smile still intact Whinsome neatly folded to parchment and placed it back into her pocket.
At this stage Princess Aureyborealice’s incomparable beauty was marred by rather nasty twist of the mouth, in exasperation she raked one less than clean hand through her long currently tangled blonde hair; some tiny twigs fell out. She was currently disinclined to be generous and kindly to anyone, be they person, bird or small furry creature and the only dance in her mind was a rather boisterous and jovially vulgar rural one known as ‘I’ll kick thee arrrsss’ (Only this version was to be without any joviality)
Before she could tirade in busied Bishop Quirrblelong carrying that crown Whinsome was not so keen on.
‘Ah Queen Regent Whinsome, Lorina, Maydearlene, Theseeleee, Ingomin, Flaridia, Rhyledelli, Porrido of Dingledong,’ bowed ‘Please placeth on thy crown, for do cometh thy council,’ and he plonked the thing of Whinsome’s head. She swiftly sat up and adjusted it.
”Tis mine!’ squawked Aureyborealice, making an undignified lunge, which Whinsome, neatly swerved to avoid so the princess collided with cushions, as Whinsome adjusted the crown to a proper angle.
Just in time for the arrival of the same bunch of fellows who had first acclaimed her in the garden. They bowed in unison, having finally worked out how to do this without knocking each other over.
‘Oh your Majesty Queen Regent Whinsome of The Stave,’ the one with the grey and black beard said, sonorously ‘Fifty Days of your reign hath passed. We bring you greetings and statements of thanks from many communities,’ and they all produced boxes crammed with rolls of parchment and tied with colourful strings, some with bells attached.
‘Eh?’ Aureyborealice said surfacing from the cushions and to her horror witnessing Whinsome walking with admirable grace towards the clutch of, as Aureyborealice saw them, noodles. The girl stood before them and with small yet elegant hand gestures bade them rise.
‘Good lords. I am truly blessed this day. So much affection and encouragement from so many. I thank the Supreme Being for guiding me thusly and to be rewarded so. Good Bishop Quirrblelong, please go and arrange a prayerful ceremony of thanks unto The Supreme Being,’ this said and the bishop exiting Whinsome turned lightly on one ankle and gestured to the dishevelled figure on the couch ‘And look,’ pause for everyone to stare ‘Princess Aureyborealice hath return(ed),’ pause ‘finally. To explain where she has been and why,’
The council stared. The sight, coupled with the leave of absence when compared with the way in which Whinsome had stayed and conducted herself, dutifully did not engender much enthusiasm for the return of the princess. There was a faint air of the sort of unease which arises at a party when a drunk or the unpleasantly eccentric one everyone had hoped wouldn’t, arrives. Each man seemed quite lost for words, well suitably tasteful and mundane ones.
‘How very nice,’ one fellow managed, cleared his throat and managed to stammer on ‘Was the journey…ah…particularly trying?’
‘Indeed, ’twas,’ Aureyborealice said, standing up and shuffling closer to Whinsome so she could inadvertently tread on her toes ‘I journeyed north to seek out,’ she managed a forlorn tearful sniff ‘To seek out the body of my poor, slain father and-‘
‘Such a tragedy!’ announced Whinsome stepping in front of Aureyborealice and grasping her hands tightly, so she could not move ‘When the body was already found by a group of peasants who wrapped it cabbage leaves and sailing down the River Murf arrived here some ten days ago. Worry(eth) not dear Aureyborealice for they were rewarded and your poor father was buried with all due ceremony,’
(The ceremony had actually been a rather short and perfunctory one. The day had been cold and heavy with rain and despite the low temperature and the efforts of the peasants his large fleshy body was a bit ‘off’)
‘I appreciate this is very distressing for you,’ Whinsome said artfully slipping one arm around one of Aureyborealice‘s in something of a lock ‘Come let my retinue of ladies assist you in refreshing you with a bath and clean clothes, food and drink too. In fact you must be so thirsty, for your eyes are squinting, a sure sign,’ Whinsome made a soft clicking sound with the fingers of her free hand. A chosen servant reacted.
As Aureyborealice opened her mouth to protest a cup of wine with an extra little something was handed to Whinsome who tipped the contents in her spouse’s mouth. Aureyborealice spluttered a little.
‘I fribble-burble,’ she announced, puzzled paused, tried again ‘Smoozle, gongi, ding-dong,’ she said as her eyes crossed and uncrossed. She took a deep breath and then with a very unhinged smile but an air of deep sincerity said ‘There are pixies at the bottomly of my garden, I do dance with them under the moonlight,’ No, that was not right, she had only meant for folk to think she thought that, while she had plotted and planned. Why weren’t her tongue and brain working together? And where had pixie come from, peeking behind the couch ? ‘I-‘ she began, then giggled ‘You gotta a big blue bubbly ting on your noggin’ Whimbly,’ she leaned against Whinsome free arm flopped about the regent queen’s shoulder ‘She’s so sweet,’ she told the very bemused assembly ‘And I wonder if one day she will….Hah-actually try an’ take my underwear off….. ‘cas she hasn’t yet….but she can….’cas we’s married an’ all…. an’ so can con-kon-sooommm-ble..No. S’not right…con-sooommm-muph!’
And thus did Princess Aureyborealice, daughter of the late King Genially of Dingledong leaning against Regent Queen Whinsome slither down to the floor to end up in a bit of a heap.
‘Oh dear,’ said Whinsome crouching down and making to cradle Aureyborealice’s snoring head in her lap ‘The poor girl. I fear the events of the past few months have proven to be very weighty upon her,’ she gestured elegantly to the small clutch of ladies-in waiting all selected from families who had historical issues with the diminishing royal family ‘My ladies please aid The Princess Aureyborealice to her apartments, she is to be attended to with all due care and civility, but make sure she is not allowed to wander,’
The council members thought for slips of things the assembly of ladies-in-waiting were very impressive in the ease with which they picked up and exited with the incapacitated, drooling and alternately giggling or snoring princess.
‘Such a shame,’ Whinsome said to the council ‘My lords. Is there something untoward in the family blood?’
Whereas they were generally not the most impressive of fellows to be intrusted with very high office, they were possessed of enough wit, foresight and general acumen to get the drift of a very pointed question from a very promising and capable young woman.
‘It has been suggested,’ one said in an opportunistic tone
‘All that dancing in the garden barefooted,’ another said with an air of sadness which would have done justice in a modest professional theatre company.
‘What is to be done?’ asked another, rather pointedly, as would have been expected of one of them.
‘Now that Frendlehanz has indeed foresworn the title and The Princess Aureyborealice is obviously….’
As he stumbled for the acceptable word Whinsome resisted the urge to roll her eyes rotate one finger next to the side of her head and say ‘Gone whoople-wheeble-who-hoo’
‘Sadly incapacitated by ill-humours of the mind,’ another said, managing to sniff while wiping one, presently not tearful, eye.
Another murmured (loudly enough to be heard) a prayer to The Supreme Being for the safety of Princess Aureyborealice‘s mind and soul.
‘Your Majesty,’ they all said and bowed ‘You must be formally crowned Queen of this unhappy realm,’
‘For as long as The Supreme Being sees fit,’ she added, humbly.
They all ‘quite so’d’
Whereas Whinsome in other circumstances could see an end to the business, the end being firmly ensconced on the throne. There were two slight problems
King Vilfahengo (The Iron) of Chilbin and his army still in the north.
And well, to be honest Aureyborealice was still around with a potential to still be sneaky.
From a very discreet place where folk could be unseen to make observations.
‘She handled that very well,’ The Chancellor of the Exchequer said ‘And with only the barest of guidelines,’
‘She has great potential for serious, dutiful rule,’ said The High Diplomat ‘See how she is already thinking on the next problems. We should not underestimate her,’
‘A narrow squeak, thus far. Aureyborealice had played a sly and long game. Good fortune for us she could not contain her vanity. Displaying to you she knew of secret passages while not having a secure power base to rely on; that was sloppy,’
‘Aye,’ replied the High Diplomat ‘Still there were sufficient agents in place to uncover the work. And now more of the necessary waiting,’