13 March, 2018 by katelaity
At last the treaty between the two warring parties had been signed and stamped by various seals the two monarchs had upon them, with the astute assistance of the lady Judith who had the wit to anticipate this need. Along with quill and ink she had brought a small casket which bore a variety of waxes so that each could choose the appropriate colour according to whim or tradition.
I had supposed red to be the general thing for regals, but their waxes came in a proliferation of colours, many that I did not recognise, including one that seemed to be the colour of heartache, though I could not possibly explain how I knew that. I saw Tansy take great interest in the waxes, too, a sure sign that something was odd. But my stomach rumbling again gave me the desire to hurry up the proceedings in the hopes that the celebrations afterward—which had been only hinted at—would indeed include some kind of nourishment.
The final i being dotted and t crossed, the two monarchs gravely shook hands and then beamed happily at one another. There was a general outbreak of applause and hurrahs. The troops seemed to be as pleased as their leaders that the conflict was over. Now let the feast begin, I hoped.
We were near enough to hear the king confidentially beg the queen the secret to her success. ‘Whatever did you shoot at us that made such a great hole without actually exploding? Not even any kind of incendiary that I could tell. And how did you manage to carry it up to the cannon on your own?’
The queen smiled rather like one imagines a crocodile to do before it closes its jaws upon you. ‘It was a cheese ball.’
It was not only the king who goggled at her. ‘What?’
‘An old and rather pungent cheese that I sacrificed to the cause.’ The queen laughed with genuine glee. ‘I had saved that cheese for years. A rare vintage! But I suppose sacrifices must be made.’
The king bowed low before her. ‘I shall never again doubt your wisdom regarding cheese, now that you have revealed its awesome power to me.’
‘It is a lesson well-learned,’ the queen responded with an amiable grace. For a couple not long before at war, they seemed to be completely reconciled.
‘Rather makes you wonder how often this happens,’ Tansy murmured watching the two of them with barely concealed curiosity.
‘It’s a relief to know that there is more to the king than war and sleep. Now let us hope that the celebrations include food.’
Indeed the monarchs at last responded to the need for proper festivities. Their commands went forth to decorate the hall and to bring forth food and drink. The first was a bit of a challenge to accomplish. The castle had been neglected so long. The dark hallway needed candles and there did not seem to be enough at hand to light it. Then the king ordered his men to bring in a aged tree from the forest. His men set it upon stone pillars in the middle of the long room and then a very curious thing occurred.
The king spoke to the tree, his tone both respectful and coaxing. I could not hear the words, but it was clear to me that he was persuading something of the trunk. I could only see it as s dead thing, but he spoke to it as if alive. All at once there was a curl of smoke and then a flame, and then the whole of the tree burst into a merry fire that both lighted the room and chased away a good deal of the chill that set upon us.
I could not have been more astonished. It was not the sort of thing one saw, of course, but it was not the kind of magic one expects from the tales of these lands. Was it magic? Or was it some kind of knowledge of what lay inside the tree.
Chambers made notes in his memorandum book with obvious zeal.