20 February, 2018 by katelaity
I should have thought that sorted the matter but of course, with royalty nothing is sorted that easily. Much of the work fell to our little group for we had inadvertently become the queen’s retinue, I suppose—not that we voted on it, of course. Nor were we well-prepared, but Tansy as usual was up to the task once he figured out what was needed.
The black queen led us to the great hall and directed the Lady Judith to begin making the preparation for the reception. Which is to say that they gathered as many cushions as they could find and spread them about the chosen chairs to prepare for the dignified ceremony of surrender.
For that is what we discovered her majesty expected to occur.
We lacked any sort of musical instruments, which did put her out considerably. ‘It is always nice to have the blare of trumpets to accompany a procession. Even a pipe and tabor would be helpful.’ Searching the nearby chambers however we were unable to turn up anything useful. Chambers suggested possibly banging some of the tableware together to make some kind of racket but the severe look the monarch gave him quickly dissuaded him from that notion.
Then there was the matter of her banners: sixteen. Tansy argued persuasively that while we might be able to carry more than one banner each, the likelihood of the procession looking dignified at all would be undercut by the potential for comic error. ‘We do not wish to mar the dignity of the occasion,’ he told her with a bow that seemed to satisfy her vanity if not her requirements for pomp.
In the end she chose three, so we might carry them, and we arranged the others behind her throne so they gave the impression of her vast power even if immobile. The lady Judith took the seat beside her, bringing a low table of parchment, quills and ink within reach. It would fall to her to write out the articles of the surrender between the two monarchs after the negotiations had been completed.
‘I expect it may take some time,’ the queen said with a pleased air.
I exchanged a look with Tansy. I was not too certain that we would be quite so pleased about that. I was beginning to remember stories of folk like that Thomas Rhymer who found that years had passed while they spent a day or two in the fairy lands. I hated to think of our club memberships being auctioned off as we were assumed dead!
‘Is that the total sum of your concerns?’ Tansy asked looking at me as if I were somehow ridiculous.
‘I should be sorry to grieve my family,’ I said, stung that he had not assumed that to be true. ‘I am rather fond of many of them.’
After convincing the queen that a search through the wine cellar would be more fruitful once we could commandeer some of the king’s men for the task. I didn’t fancy lugging up great bottles of wine and wheels of cheese from the depths of the stone steps. Indeed the steps alone were enough to make me shake in my boots, for they had every appearance of one of Mrs Radcliffe’s stories and I feared meeting a horrible spectre of some lost era who would shrilly demand recompense for her untimely demise or some such thing. At least that was what I expected from that sort of location.
At last the queen decided our impromptu preparations were sufficient, given the reduced circumstances of the castle. ‘Go forth and bring my defeated enemy to me!’