Musings of The Little Prince: A Cousins Tale

Inside, Architecture, Indoors

image: Pixabay

Yaqub despised being called “The Little Prince.”  His older brother was the one still called by the child’s name, Razi.  It was Yaqub who was taller.  It was Yaqub that was more athletic.  Yaqub was cunning, and a leader of men, but Razuli had been the heir.

But for how long?  It would take some doing, but it would be done.  It had to be done.

The Little Prince was inpatient.  But first things first.  There needed to be a fall guy.  The Chamberlain seemed the obvious candidate.  The head of the Guard was too much a sycophant to be accused of assassinating the monarch, but the wily Ali Mamode with his clear political ambitions, he was a believable patsy.

Now that that was settled, how to carry out the deed and yet be far enough away to avoid being suspected himself?   A fall?  No that wouldn’t do.  It was too similar to how he had assassinated his father.  Poison?  Yes, that seemed a good approach.  It would need to be a rare one, however, hard to trace and harder to cure.  Something natural.  Yes, that was it.  Snake venom?  No, how would a snake be found in the new Sultan’s chambers?  What would be believable?  A spider?  Yes, perfect.

Now how to get a spider into his rooms.  One a dinner tray?  No, the servant might spot it.  Among his laundry?  No, there is no way to assure the creature would bite Razi and not someone else – or even bite at all.

No, a jab would do. Place it on his fork, or maybe . . .?  That won’t do.  The food tasters might succumb first.

His pens!  His imbecile of a brother always licked his pen nibs.  All Yaqub needed to do was place the poison on the nibs when his brother was preoccupied, and then leave.  Then hide the poison in the Chamberlain’s chambers, and be sure to be seen at some official event outside the palace when the Sultan fell ill.

Oh, the simple plans were always the best.  He smiled and stretched before ringing the little bell beside his cushioned chair.  A servant quickly responded.

“Wine,” The Little Prince commanded. “One from the Sultan’s cellars!”

 

Padre

(369 words, 29 minutes)

Christine’s Daily Writing Prompt: The Little Prince

Blessed of the First: A Roseman Tale

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Benedict Blessed had been a captain in the Provost Marshal’s Office during the late Dunes War.  He was tall and athletic and had a strikingly similar build and features to those of King Hector.  Because of this, he was assigned to the sovereign’s protection team.  There were several occasions in which the pair traded armour and identity when traveling through uncertain crowds.

Officially Blessed had been the king’s standard-bearer, a duty he excelled at.  He was at the king’s side in every major battle of the war, and he has impressive in his dedication to the protection of Hector’s life.

At the close of the war the Provost Corps was scaled down, but Blessed’s immaculate record recommended him to take a key role in the formation of the new Constabulary Service.  When it came time to appoint a commander for the First Precinct with its remit to protect the Palace and Parliament the only name on any officials lips was Blessed’s.

Since the formation of the service this man of duty had made the “Firsts” a showpiece organisation.  Spit and polish coupled with a reassuring air of public confidence marked his men as “elites.”

Blessed himself had grown up in the west of the kingdom, the eldest son of a country squire.  He became an able horseman, and achieved a substantial local following in swordsmanship competitions and in the joust.  All this served him well in the war, and in his later role as a Watchman.

What he had not been prepared for was the Moorland killing.  Things like that didn’t happen in his district.  He was well aware that murder and robbery were everyday occurrences in the Alleys and beyond, but not in the Parliament Square.

Though he would never admit it, he was actually relieved when the Cruikshank and his “Lasts” joined the team.  They were not what he would say “model watchmen,” but there was something about them, the way they seemed not to trust the world that made him feel they might just make a difference.

The case had begun to bog down now, and Lord Oldbridge had told him personally to distance the “Firsts” from the investigation.  He would remain officially in charge, but if it all fell apart the Commissioner assured him, the blame would fall elsewhere.  In fact, Oldridge ordered him to find an excuse to hand the case to either Magononni or Cruikshank.  This really disturbed his sense of honour, but in the end – “orders were orders.”

With all this running through his mind, Blessed spurred his horse through the gates of Gross Nordstadt.

 

Padre

“The Washer Woman:” A Sisters Tale

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Gwendolyn Davies-Drake had a matronly figure, and calm demeanour which gave her the impression of being older than her years. She was in fact closer to thirty than she was to fifty.

She was born in the valleys of the west, where her father scraped out a living in the mines. Life was largely hand to mouth, so when a “hiring agent” came to the village, her parents reluctantly agreed to send her “into service” in the capital.  She was a mere girl of only thirteen at the time.

She was put to work in the laundries on the estate of Lord Westland, where she learned the skills necessary, though she despised the long hours, steamy air, and heavy loads.

It was when she was fifteen that she met Godfrey, a gardener on the estate. He made her feel special and she soon fell head over heels in love, despite the fact that he was 8 years her senior. Their liaisons were generally innocent, but soon came to the attention of the housekeeper, who had them both summarily sacked for “the impropriety.”

They wed almost immediately, and tried to find work where they could. Godfrey soon began “to make ends meet” through some petty crime, which led to his capture and hanging when she was still just sixteen.

Her time in the laundries had taught her a useful trade, and despite the lack of a good reference she found occasional work in some homes of the middling sort. It was in one of these that she again fell in love, this time with the second son of the master.  Though the union was discouraged, Dawid insisted upon it, and his parents relented. Their time together was again short, however, as the Black Dunes War led to his conscription. He died after only three weeks on the front, which led to her abandonment by her in-laws, though his valour did leave her a meagre pension as his widow.

Ever able to land on her feet, Gwendolyn used her funds to set up her own small laundry. Business was modest, but it provided a roof over her head, and ample soup for her belly. It was when she was nineteen, that one of her regular customers – Archie (and sometimes Henry) Drake began to woo her. He was charismatic and handsome, though he remained somewhat mysterious. She once again entered into matrimony, and with his “funds” built up the business through both his “connections” and by clever advertising. With her skills and his drive, the enterprise began to boom.

The secret of the success, however, was far more shady. Drake had an agenda, and soon won her cooperation in maximising profits.  His “associates” provided him with base metal buttons with gilt plate, and ribbons of “witches satin,” which were then exchanged for the precious metals and silks of the garments of their well to do clients, a deception that was never discovered.  Gwendolyn had learned from the mistakes of her first husband, so seldom played the same “mark” twice.  The gold and silver also never remained on the premises for long, but were quickly fenced through Drake’s brother, “a legitimate” pawn-broker.

She became quite adept at counterfeiting fine clothing, and purloining items left in pockets, that had not been declared on the work ticket. Life was comfortable and she began to become accustomed to some of the finer things. Then she suffered yet another bereavement.

When she was twenty-three, Drake held one too many queens in his hand at the tavern. His slight of hand was not near quick enough to evade the notice of the Ranger sitting opposite, nor were his reflexes a match for the Ranger’s sword hand.

“Life goes on,” so they say, and Gwendolyn took over the entire operation herself, becoming known in the “Community of the Alleys” as “The Washer Woman.” She then came up with some embellishments of her own.  She would plant items into some garments, then seek redress for theft from the unwitting customer who had them in their possession.  These were invariably settled amicably without the intervention of the magistrates.

Soon her wash house became the centre of many aspects of the “Alleys'” activities, and Gwendolyn emerged as the “go to” point for the “laundering” of ill gotten gains.

Padre

 


The Sisters Tales are presented in the correct order on the “Themed Fiction” page of my blog.

 

 

Thilda Feathermann: A Sisters Tale

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Thilda Feathermann was the only child of the fletcher, Augustus Feathermann. He however was no mean artisan, but a master of his craft, a true bow-wright. He had developed a composite bow that was so easy to pull, that even archers of moderate skill amazed others with their prowess. His work became so recognised that he became the official fletcher and bow-wright for none less than the Royal Hunt.

It was probably because of this reputation, that the Ralulee raiding party singled out Thilda’s village at the beginning of the Dunes War. She was only eleven when the attack came, and it happened so quickly that it was mostly a blur in her memory. Her father was in his workshop, and her mother had just sent her from the yard to the corn crib to fill a basket to feed the geese. Suddenly the geese became agitated and Thilda looked through the slats to see what was the matter, only to see a Ralulee cut down her mother. Her father stepped into the doorway of his shop and in quick succession buried arrows into his wife’s killer, and the warrior next to him. He then took down two more before he was overrun. The Ralulee then nailed him the the wall of his workroom and set the building alight.

Thilda was still hiding in the corn-store when the Royal Horsemen arrived.  They found the frightened girl, and did the best to comfort her, while others buried her parents.

She was sent away to a girls’ academy in the capital, where she never felt she fit in, and bided her time until she was able to leave.

She wandered the city streets for most of her 17th year, and became one who others didn’t mess with, as she was tenacious in a scrap. Though only about five and a half feet in height, and of medium build, she still packed quite a wallop. Her father had taught her not only how to fletch an arrow, but how to use one as well. In fact, her archery skills were so keen, that some said they were practically elvish.

She made a few coppers from time to time in small scale competitions, but largely turned her hand to whatever opportunities came her way. But she truly “found her way,” when she was eighteen, and met Gwendolyn, “The Washer Woman,” a skilled confidence artist. Thilda was just the type of companion Gwendolyn was looking for, someone to put up a fight if a con or petty theft got out of hand, and one didn’t draw too much attention to herself.

What was even better in Gwendolyn’s estimation was that this “fighter” was pretty enough to get her way around men, without being so remarkable in her looks as to have them always hanging about. Yes, her shoulder length brown hair, and dark brown eyes could be seen as attractive, but not beautiful. But, this “average” young woman was anything but. She was force to be reckoned with. Together they would be the first of “The Sisters.”

Padre

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The Sisters Tales

Please see Seymour de Klod: A Sisters Tale and No Man Shall Pass

 

Seymour de Klod: A Sisters Tale

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image: Pinterest

It was the opinion of many that Seymour was born eleven pennies shy of a shilling, while others believed that he had been hit on the helmet a few too many times. Whatever the case, Seymour de Klod was a fierce warrior, if a bit slow on the uptake.

He was a big lad, well over 6 1/2 feet in height and a strong as an ox (or two). He wore rather well dented armour, and preferred an axe to a sword. He was also surprisingly swift for his size.

During the Black Dunes War he had made a name for himself. This didn’t of course stop his comrades from thinking it hilarious to have him bring his lantern close to the camp fire so they “could check if the fire was lit yet,” something he dutifully and proudly did each night. On one occasion he had almost single-handedly sacked and torched a Ralulee village, only to a half hour later turn to his comrades and ask, “Hey guys, is just me or do you smell smoke?”

His prized possession was the talisman he wore on a leather thong around his neck, and which looked exactly like a copper curtain ring. The peddler had assured him that it gave 100% protection against both vampires and trolls during daylight hours. And as he had yet to be bothered by either, he was sure that the 30 gold pieces he paid for it was a shrewd investment.

Another of his amazing traits was that he was virtually immune to all enchantments and hypnotisms. It was not that his constitution was so great (which it was), but rather that the suggestions took too long to sink in to be of any usefulness.

When the wars had ended he found himself an “axe for hire” and took to body guarding, and the settling of the occasional “labour dispute.” Then he fell in with the “sisters.”

Their leader Gwendolyn, had convinced him that they had grown up together in the orphanage. And as there was something familiar about her (they having met two weeks before),  he immediately “adopted” her as his little sister.

 

Padre


 

See another Sisters Tale No Man Shall Pass 

and  Thilda Feathermann: A Sisters Tale

 

The Little Company: Boss Little

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Source: Muzzleloading Forum

The Little Company’s founder was Captain Obadiah Little.  He was a Maine-man and second son of Judge S. P. Little. His family connections had secured him a place at the Military Academy at West Point where he finished at the middle of his class, and one place ahead of his friend and roommate Thomas Jefferson Mason the son of a Virginia planter.

In their final year Obadiah made the acquaintance T. J.’s younger sister, Sarah. The two struck it off well, and they were wed soon after his commissioning.  Again family connections came into play, and he was posted near her family home at Fortress Monroe.

Events in the West soon intervened however, and Lieutenant Little was sent Illinois as part of an expedition against the Black Hawks. He was a capable officer, and one who fostered loyalty in his men. It was in Illinois that he contracted the gut sickness, however, and nearly died. On his recovery, he was deemed unfit for regular service, but was offered a commission as Captain in the Madison County Militia, a position he readily accepted.

Sarah joined him in Illinois, and was accompanied by George Mason, a slave of about seventeen years of age. Obadiah was no abolitionist, but he was a man beholding to the law. As such he had his wife transfer George to a forty year indenture, as was the Illinois way.

They were happy together, and set up on sixty acres which was put to corn. It wasn’t a big farm, but it was easy enough for him and George to handle.  He had his Militia pay as well, and could be looked to for some occasional lawyering as well.

Two years on, his beloved Sarah died in childbirth, and left Obadiah in no fit state to do much of anything. He resolved that there was nothing in civilisation worth staying for, so resigned his post, and headed West.  He freed George of his indenture, but found that he was not so easy to get rid of. Nor was his corporal “Stubby Greene,” so together they formed the Little Company, and headed for the Oregon Trail.

Padre


 

See also: The Little Company: Stubby