Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Katherine of Carpenchia: Episode 5



......well, you're gonna have to wait a little.

Yeah, I know, I'm evil. *grins wickedly*

For now, we'll be switching back to Katherine and Celina's POVs. :) Hope you enjoy!


Katherine lay sprawled out on her bed for what felt like the seventh time the past two days. Somehow, being a Queen was a lot more headache-inducing than the romanticized tales advertised.

A knock sounded at the door, and Katherine sat up a bit. At last, Elsie. The girl had been missing for the most of today - although she supposed she was off gathering information. "Come in."

But instead of Elsie, it was Celina who entered, golden curls spilling perfectly over her shoulders and down the front of her evergreen-silk gown. "You must go down to the Council," she said, "the meeting starts in but a few moments!"

Katherine moaned and lay back on her bed. "No."

"Why not?" asked Celina, leaning concernedly over her friend.

Katherine sat bolt upright with the anger that suddenly flooded her. "Because no matter what I do," she spat, "no matter what I say, I am always a mere child to them, a baby not fit to be off her mother's apron strings! Except," and here her voice turned bitter, "her mother is dead, and so they must deal with what they have, no matter how insufficient and tiresome and naive it might be. 'Why cannot the child be just like its mother,' they say, 'as beautiful and wise and clever as its mother - how could such an incompetent and worthless duckling be born of such a swan? Why cannot she be as good a Queen?' - and so they take it upon themselves to shepherd me like I don't know left from right or morn from night, when really I could if they would only listen! Those old idiots, I refuse to go down to them."

"It is your duty," whispered Celina softly, soothingly. "The troubles you speak of will only get worse if you do not attend the meetings of the Council of Ladies. Please, just an hour. I promise it won't be so bad. And if you never give yourself a chance to show them your potential, how will they change their minds? Plus," she added, "Lady Elfrea will be there and in charge of the meeting, and she has always liked you. She will try to make things go as smoothly as possible. Please?"

A long silence. "Fine," Katherine huffed, "but no more than an hour, and expect to be ready to weather a storm of complaining afterwards."


The hall where the Council of Ladies met was huge and imposing, with white silk curtains, elaborately-carved furniture, gilded ceilings, and beautiful paintings. The Council of Ladies was the highest council when there was a Queen in charge - just as the Council of Lords was the highest when there was a King. The head of the Council of Ladies was a woman not much older than Illiandra had been, but stern and impressive all the same, with piercing blue eyes and a hooked nose. She ruled over the Council firmly and effectively, but could not always control the arguments the other Ladies got in - especially when Lady Marella was around. Thankfully, Katherine noted, Marella seemed to be absent today. Where could she be? Katherine hoped Caihanna and Elsie had dug up some dirt on her.

Elfrea called the meeting to order. "Here meets the third meeting of the High Council of Ladies of the Realm of Carpenchia under the reign of Queen Katherine i'Fartha Del'Tavinrone II in the Year of the Sea Serpent," she declared. "First order of business - increasing amounts of common folk falling below the poverty line. Would my Queen Katherine like to start the debate with her position on the issue?" 

Katherine nodded fervently. This time, she would show them her stuff. She had a plan all worked out; it had taken hours of work and research this morning, but she was confident and ready to present. "Thank you, Lady Elfrea," she said. "I believe we should ra-"

"What I think," interrupted the Lady Lirisse - a beautiful young maiden, vivacious and pretty, but only as long as she kept her mouth shut - "is that we should raise taxes on the poor!" She adjusted her dark locks with a slender white finger as her high voice announced her position.

"NO," snapped the Lady Arabelle, a middle-aged woman with a harsh voice and a famous temper, "what we need to do is cut funding from the poorhouses."

"I believe the Queen Katherine had something to say," admonished Lady Elfrea, but she was quickly out-shouted.

"No, no, no," exclaimed Lirisse, shaking her head. "If we raise taxes on the poor, it'll give them incentive to work their way up to the top and above the poverty line - where the taxes are much less!"

"Ridiculous," snapped Arabelle, "cutting funding to the poorhouses will take their excuses right out from under them!"

"What I think-" began Lady Roanne. But no one cared.

"No, look-" tried Katherine.

"You know NOTHING of these matters!" snapped Arabelle.

"Nothing!" agreed Lirisse.

"ENOUGH!" yelled Elfrea, tired and cranky. "Let's hear what Lady Roanne has to say, shall we?"

The Council reluctantly conceded.

"I think," said Roanne, pointing to Arabelle and Lirisse, "that you're both wrong."

Screeches went up all around Katherine and the shouting began again, until a young, scrawny messenger boy managed to work his way up to Katherine's chair and yell loud enough to get the attention of the Council.

"I have news," he breathed. "Avaldor - they've declared war!"



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