Happy New Year!
I decided I needed to try something different, writing wise and the idea of a different take on a fairy story came to me, in a cheese induced frenzy a few days ago. So here is part 1, the other parts will follow over the next few days or so. Do let me know if you enjoy it.
It had been one heck of a night and Doris Oomboodle was, putting it as politely as she could, knackered. She slipped into her apartment and sat down in her comfy chair. She put her feet on the caressing footstool, whimpered as its tendrils eased each toe back into place and looked at the newspaper that sat on the side table next to her. The headlines in the Fairyland Times spoke of the excitement that, today, was the Big Day and today there would be all the Big Events to celebrate the Princess Simper’s eighteenth birthday. It wasn’t the headlines, however, or a catalogue of sycophantic gushings that interested her but the comment piece by lead reporter Scurrilous Tweeb that would appear, as usual, on page seven. That piece would determine whether she could enjoy the day or prepare herself to be reconfigured as some form of reptiloid life form, most likely a toad.
Her hand hesitated as she reached for the fat tabloid, every nerve gangling, when the door to her apartment burst open and the Lord Chamberlain, the much revered and almost loved Eric the Frown, burst in. His hair was wild, his eyes wide with some madness and his golden slippers of office nowhere to be seen. The Lord Chamberlain without his slippers. She looked away in embarrassment.
‘Have you seen it? Have you read it?’
He grabbed the paper and furiously flicked through the pages before folding it open and turning it so she could see page seven. Under the headline Blown To Smithereens there were three pictures that caught her eye. The first had a forlorn Henri Cochon next to small dune of sand; the next showed what looked like a supply of kindling besides which stood a furious-faced Tomas Cochon; the final picture was a mountain of rubble, atop of which stood René Cochon shaking his fist at the sky.
The Lord Chamberlain goggled at Doris. ‘What happened? What did you do?’
She sighed and pulled her feet away from the twigs that had been scraping her soles. She began to speak when a noise rose from the courtyard below, causing her to hurry to her window. Was it the Mob? Had they risen?
The old man, whose spectacular wizarding powers were matched by his extensive, duplicitous cunning slumped back; as he did so a gust of warm air caught him and cradled him, chair-like while a thousand free-floating knuckles kneaded his neck and shoulders. Balm jugs appeared and spooned themselves onto his forehead and into his ears until he waved them away. He said, ‘Tell me, what is to become of us?’
The silence between them grew as Doris took in the scene, trying to make sense of it. They were both reflecting on what might be about to happen.
The Magical Realms were changing, there was no doubt. Absolute Monarchies were falling to Wizardly Democracies will alarming regularity. In Fairyland, Prince Pompous had watched from across the Never-Never border as the neighbouring Enchanted Kingdom began to fracture under the ruthless rule of Queen Grim, the Wicked One. Refugees sneaked past the incantations and spell-traps with increasing regularity. He feared for his own realm.
The problem, as he saw it, was his uncle, the old King, Pompous the Second. He had presided over Fairyland for many seasons, but as age made the old chap cranky and his wand-work erratic, he spent his days trying to recall the spells of his youth, locked away in the Pearl Factorium.
Prince Pompous itched to take over. The now not so young pretender despaired at how Fairyland was changing for the worse. With little effective control from above, Fairytown became home for all sorts of card-sharps and spell-charlatans who had been thrown out of the other realms for their unmagical behaviours. The Magical Forest filled with odd-balls and ne’er-do-wells; golden apples were taken without thought for the health of the crop and the Enchanted Wood was starting to look threadbare as the mystical trees and potent foliage was unceremoniously stolen for new buildings that despoiled the Wood’s magical charms.
‘Eric,’ the Prince said to the Lord Chamberlain, ‘what are we going to do?’
The Lord Chamberlain shuffled his golden slippers. ‘Your father is in charge Your Gloriousness.’
‘I know, but if this situation continues they’ll be no Kingdom worth inheriting.’
‘We might introduce a ministry, Your Fabulousness,’ the factotum hesitatingly offered.
The Prince eyed the old boy warily. ‘Isn’t that the sort of thing they have in democracies?’
‘Surely, but it is not without precedent in a Kingdom. All we need is an Edict signed by the King setting up an all-powerful ministry to control things, which you can head. When you accede to the throne, you can end it and be all powerful again.’ He paused. ‘Unless you find it useful to keep it, of course.’
‘And why would I?’
‘If things go well, you take the credit; it things don’t, you have someone to blame.’
‘Alright, let’s give it a go.’
The Old King never knew what was happening and to begin with it all went rather spiffingly.
The Lord Chamberlain scoured the schools and villages and recruited a dozen clever but magically ungifted children to be trained to implement the King’s Edict. The ones who did well tended to be those who had been embittered by Fate’s small-mindedness in failing to give them any magical skills, and who grumbled about their lot. They saw the power they were granted, as the Enforcers of the King’s Will, as some sort of small payback; they might not be able to levitate their food or think their hair combed but, armed with their Self-Scribing Clipboards and their Hats of Authority, they went about their business unchallenged and, wherever possible, made life for many more miserable than it needed to be.
to be continued