Monday, July 27, 2015

A Song of Ice Cream and Pickles or The Forbidden Romance of Lord Trelvis the Centaur and Prince Branadoc the Horse Botherer: Chapter One

TRELVIS

The throne room of Columbiana had seen better days, so had the throne.

The tapestries celebrating the glorious victories of fourscore years ago and the ones glossing over the shabby defeats of twoscore years ago were equally faded and tattered.  They couldn’t be removed without revealing the state of the walls they covered. The Throne Room of Columbiana  was still called the White Room but no one remembered why anymore.

The cast iron chandeliers were cracked and covered with rust, their bobeches were long broken or missing entirely, candle wax dripped freely downward upon the jittery courtiers below.

The stained glass had been replaced over the years with stained glass.  A different and altogether more disgusting way of conducting a sunlight that was clearly embarrassed to be there at all, into the room.

Speaking of which, the Emerald Throne itself, now consisted almost entirely of debased green glass.  Although as the Earl Earl had proudly stated during the previous regency, the glass did contain one percent real, authentic, genuine emerald.  So the throne was still considered basically sound by all right thinking economists.

The floor for what it’s worth was immaculately clean and brightly polished.  An unintended side effect of the incontinent chandeliers.  Buffing out the wax, was way easier than cleaning it up.  

Also the Regent  liked to watch the courtiers slip and fall on their butts.  It was the only thing that brightened his day at court

Lord Trelvis of Sorianonnydel,was in the half courtesy of his people. Proper kneeling being pretty much out of the question for centaurs. He stared down at his delicately manicured hooves nervously. So brightly polished for his first presentation at court that he could clearly see the wispy blonde curls of his chin beard.

Lord Trelvis licked his lips.  The Trelvis reflected in his hooves did the same. Clearly mocking him!  

Trelvis was nearly in tears at the sight.  He fought down the need to keep his tail from swishing worriedly from side to side.  To keep the skin on his haunches from twitching when flies landed with excruciating delicacy.  This day he had to win the approval of a mad man.

“Be up standing!”  The chamberlain called out.

Trelvis and the rest of the court rose fearfully. They knew they were in the presence of a tyrant.  

Duke Brian; regent for his father King Ronald IV, was puddled down upon the Emerald Throne, staring at his father’s court with malevolent hatred.

“Which one of you parasites is first?”  The tyrant sighed in resignation.

 The Chamberlain called out in a stentorian voice:  "The master Merda Serrano. Sculptor of...

"I know what he sculpted," growled the Duke.

A short, fat man with thickly framed glasses wearing chausses and braies with a tunic that was  forty years out of date and was therefore on the cutting edge of fashion stepped forward.  Chin held high.  

A few members of the court crept near him.  Covertly brushing against the hem of his garments.  

Trelvis was delighted to be to have seen this gifted artist himself.  He would have serious bragging rights amongst the other artists of his regiment of the King's Royal Corps of Inclusive and Diverse Archers.

"My-a patron," the Gift to the Ages Merda Serrano, addressed the tyrant haughtily, "once again I-a come-a to you-a to request my due payment for my life's work..."

"My executioner charges by the job, not the hour," The Duke interrupted. "And stop speaking with that ridiculous accent.  You're from Droitwich!"

"Your Grace," The great artiste began again without much of an accent this time. "Long did I labor upon the statue of your father, his majesty King Ronald.  All of what he is and was, did I imbue of him in my art.  To create a fitting tribute and near to living portrait of the King who conquered .."

"You carved it out shit!" Duke Brian stated in exasperation.  "You literally carved your royal court appointed statue of my father out of human shit!"

Well of course, Trelvis thought to himself.  But he was careful to use only his own shit.  He loving and carefully produced his statue of Good King Ronald with his own body.  Precisely detailed over a period of three years.  Painstakingly monitoring his own diet so that he produced only the finest.artistic materials available.

The rest of Trelvis' regiment had spoken of nothing else at the last Mess Night.

The grand unveiling had been last week.  Everyone thought the regent was pleased for once.  He hadn't said anything after all.  He had just stood there blinking for a while then went back inside.

"You know what," the Duke said.  "I don't care about the cost."

Master Merda Serrano beamed.  Money meant nothing to him of course.  Vile and base coinage was  a meaningless distraction from the production of true art.  It didn't matter in the least that he could finally buy that tricked out purple and green coach with the sweet, sweeet broamed French detailing in gold and silver on the sides.

"I'll pay for the rush order," the Duke said.  "Execute him immediately."

A large happy looking man with a bare potty belly and wearing cowled hood suddenly had Serrano by the neck.  "Preference your Grace?"  the Court Executioner asked politely.  

"Earwig pit!"

Trelvis gasped in horror at the loss of so brilliant an artist.  But better him than me, he thought.

"Ooooo," said the executioner, "That takes a while.  Time and half on top of a rush order, he said in a sing song voice.

The Duke winced.  Then nodded his head.  "Do it."

"Wait if its the money, I think I can cut you deal,"  Merda's voice rose to a scream as he was being dragged off  "HALF PRICE!!!  YOU CAN'T GET A BETTER DEAL AAAANYWHEEEEREEE!"

"Okay.  Next." Duke Brian sighed.

A tall slender male of what should have been graceful carriage shambled forward in a manner that the court assured themselves was quite graceful. Blonde of hair and excessively shiny of complexion, with pointed ears that only drooped a little. He  proudly folded his arms across his chest refusing to bow to Duke Brian.  The court silently gasped in approval at the cultural integrity of the man and his people in refusing to pay homage

The Chamberlain inhaled deeply.  Preparing to deliver a long and involved list of titles, that he had memorized.  “His Glory Prince El Ruyined.  Suzerain of the Mephealeunian Peoples of the Southern Marshes of...”

“No!”  Duke Brain roared.  “Whatever the hell he wants the answer is, no.  The Swamp Elves are in the kingdom illegally.”

Trelvis was shocked.  How dare he actually admit that? During the regency of Good Earl Earl and Princess Perseverance,  no one would have dreamed of saying such a thing out loud, where people could hear you and everything! Certainly never in public.

“As such Columbiana is under no obligations to them whatsoever,”  Duke Brian finished.

The Swamp Elf prince staggered drunkenly forward. “Amin feuya ten' lle! Lle naa haran e' nausalle, Utinu en lokirim!”

The court was near to weeping in silent delight at the beauty of the defiance shown, Duke Brian, by the incredibly ethnic Prince El Ruyined. Even if they couldn’t understand a word of it.

Lasta lalaithamin,”  Duke Brian growled with a cruel smile.   

El Ruyined, swallowed suddenly unsure of himself.  The Golden People weren’t used to the White People actually understanding their language.

“It’s not a secret code, you moron.  You invaded the kingdom thirty years ago. What did you expect by now?  Get out!"

Prince El Ruyined angrily spun on his heel one and a half times.  Was helped to complete his rearward orientation by the Court Chamberlain and staggered furiously out of the Royal Presence.  Pausing only briefly to deliver a titty twister to the heavily tattooed Lady Dunham, to her delighted squeals and those of her almost husband, Matt.

“Next!”

“A delegation of  burghers from the Province of Leighland,” the chamberlain sniffed.  That was it, he was done.

Duke Brian lifted a dejected eyebrow at the chamberlain, before sighing and focusing his gaze on the delegation. “Ah, I see the problem.”

The delegation shuddered at the monster’s gaze.  Except for their leader who after a perfunctorily kneeling rose to his full height. “Sire we account ourselves.  Rightfully I think, honest men.  Hard working working men as well.”

“Clearly you have no business being here,” the Duke muttered.

The court tittered at the outlanders, obsequiously.  

“Shut the hell up!” Duke Brian screamed at his court.  “Okay,” he turned to address the man leading the delegation.  “Obviously you didn’t know who you were supposed bribe or your introduction would have taken a half hour.”

“Uh...Sorry?” the leader offered.

“Don’t worry about it,” the Duke replied. “It speaks well of you.”  The Duke changed course. “What do you for a living?  You look useful. I dont’ run into that too often in my job.”

“Er...Miller, Your Grace.  I’m a Miller,” the Miller replied.

“So why aren’t you milling.  Instead of wasting your valuable time, here of all places?”  The Tyrant seemed morosely curious.  "I'm not going to pay you, to not mill things.  That policy died when I took over."

Trelvis pursed lips in disgust.  Everyone knew that that had been a very valuable program for some reason.  Ending it had severely harmed the kingdom in some way. Everyone knew that as well.

“Its about our taxes,”  The Miller began hesitantly.

“Uh huh,”  Duke Brian was suddenly disinterested again.  “Let me guess you want your tax burden reduced because..."  The Duke hesitated, he was hauling something up from the well of his memory.  “Wait a minute you are from Leighland Province?”

Trelvis noticed a very well dressed courtier in the back of the room drop to the floor and scurry crablike out of the room, slipping only once upon the wax as he did so.

“You do have a reason to have your taxes reduced,”  the Duke said in a voice of wonder.

“We do not ask for that your Grace,”  The Miller stood straight.  “We pay our way.  We don’t let others bear our burdens.”

“You really don't’ have any business here,” the Tyrant muttered in a daze.

“Your Grace.  We have already paid our taxes,” the Miller said with some pride.

Duke Brian looked up suddenly startled.  “With what?  Your dam was smashed in the spring flood. That’s where you do your milling, right?  And your foundry work, come to that.  You ran a loom off it as well.  You can’t make up this year’s lost income at this point.”  The Duke was quickly calculating “and I know how much it cost to repair that damn thing.  I saw the Army Corps of Engineers estimate myself.  I also know how much you actually had to end up paying to the security contractors, I sent in the Army’s place.”

“Thank you for that sire," the miller was genuinely grateful.  " It was much appreciated,”

Gratitude was so alien to Duke Brian, he had to ignore it.  “You couldn't have had any money leftover for taxes after that.”

Out of the corner of his eye, Trelvis saw Princess Perseverance hustling to the entrance of court.  She dropped the skirts that she had been carrying in a bundle, smoothed the enraged features on her face into an uncomfortable and somewhat alien smile.  Adopted a demure pose and slowly began to enter the No-Longer-Exactly-White Room, waiting up just a bit for her husband the Earl Earl catch up to her panting and red faced .  A well practiced warm friendly and not at all fake smile appeared on his very red puffy face.

“Your Grace,” The miller stated with pride.   “Our taxes were advanced here, already.”

The Tyrant locked eyes on his older, just arrived half sister and her husband, “advanced by whoooom?”  He drawled in a low flat voice.

“Brother, if I may...” Princess Perseverance began.  

“His turn to speak Sis,”  He turned back toward the miller, “Don't answer my last question.   I believe you were about to plead for debt relief.”

“We shall pay our debts sire.  We always do.  But...well a balloon interest of forty percent is...”

“Is illegal,” the Tyrant reared back upon Emerald (as was) Throne, tiny shards of cheap green glass flaking off it as he did so.  

Duke Brian mastered himself, then shook his head in confusion.  “How did you even get in here? I know, I was never supposed to hear about this.”

“Correct,” Trelvis heard the Earl Earl drawl under his breath.

“Uh well we asked a certain gentleman...” The miller began.

“Shut up!” Duke Brian said in a stentorian tone of voice.  

Trelvis sighed,of course the Duke didn’t want the name of a traitor made public.  Such a Pity, Trelvis and his friends would have made that bastard's life very difficult indeed.  He would have been dealing with an unending stream of unwanted pizzas being delivered to his house, as well being kept up at all hours of the night by used coach salesmen beating down his door.  If Trelvis and his brother officers had had their way.

“The interest rate on your tax advance is reduced to zero.  You have ten years to pay back the principal.”

“PLlAGUUPP!!!” Trelvis didn’t think humans like the Princess Perseverance should have been able to make noises. like that.  

“Brother...” she said through gritted teeth.

“It is Sire, during business hours Sis,” the Duke replied.  “I will have a few questions in private about...”

Qwee a’loo na ah vheey!”  A deep baritone voice thundered from the end of the courtroom.

The entire court dropped to a kneel and scuttled in a half circle to face the sound of the new voice.  Including with what appeared to be deep and malicious smiles Princess Perseverance and her husband Earl Earl.  

Lord Trelvis being a quadruped was slower than the rest. Startled at hearing out loud and in mixed company the ancient battle cry of his people.  When he had completed his turn, he gasped at the sight of the man who had just roared his defiance at the Regent.  

A very young man he was, thick of blackbeard and round of of belly.  Hairy.  Most hairy as well.  And was as bare of chest as Trelvis was himself, although that was hard to tell at first due to the hairy thing.  Around his vast waist was a kilt of jet black and upon his legs, chaps covered with thick black fur, unless those were his actual legs, again the hairy thing.  His feet were shod in klompen carved to resemble Trelvis’s own hooves painted and polished to a black shine just as bright.  

Trelvis gasped at the masculine beauty that was Crown Prince Branadoc, The Horse Botherer.

The Prince’s only full brother, the Tyrant Duke Brian buried his face in his hands.  Clearly ashamed, Trelvis was certain, to be seen before the majesty of the true heir to the throne of their father,

“Christ Bran,” he heard the Evil Duke groan, “not now.”

2 comments:

Cataline Sergius said...

Nah, I'm sticking with fall on their butts.

Subversive Saint #249 said...

Intriguing.