Saturday, October 24, 2015

Draft: The Tiger Queen, Part II

The Black Dog

“He’s in the kingdom, to be sure. Reports have him moving east,” said the black cat, referring to the Black Dog.

It had been days before rumours of the Black Dog and his crew came back to the King, whose search had largely been unsuccessful. He had found a rather nice inn he had never heard of, and one or two promising new recruits for the palace service staff (never enough pages and the like, given the turnover), but no Queen. It was positively disheartening. It had been a rather long time since they had spent any great deal of time apart; the King found that he did not like it, not at all.

“He’s a pirate,” said the crow. “What’s he doing moving away from the water? And why would he take the Tiger Queen with him?”

“Bit of a coincidence, though, with the Queen disappearing and the Black Dog showing up like that,” said the cat.

The King thought of the Black Dog, and their chance meeting some time ago, before he was the king, and before the Black Dog was a pirate. Briefly, they had worked together, the king intent on rooting out a robber-baron haunting the eastern provinces, the Black Dog intent on rooting out the ill-gotten gains of the baron’s hard work. Now the Dog was one of the most dreaded pirates on the Western Sea, a newcomer to be sure, but rapidly building a reputation as a scoundrel and a cut-throat, as well as a fearsome warrior and above-average tactician. His boat, the Canis Major, was a familiar sight in the worst of the Freeports, and the last sight of a great many merchant vessels. Already, tales of him and his crew were appearing in penny-dreadfuls, titillating parents and scaring children into eating their peas.

“I am not fond of peas,” said the king, slowly. His advisors paused and looked at him curiously, before resuming their discussion on the position and motivation of the notorious pirate.

The King did not relish meeting the Black Dog in battle, but would do anything for his Queen. He arose, said that they would head east. The search resumed.

Saturday, October 17, 2015

Draft: The Tiger Queen, Part I

The Queen Goes Missing

It was some years after the adventures in the Forest of the Faerie, and the subsequent wedding, that the Tiger Queen disappeared. The Brown King awoke one cold morning in the fall of the year to find her side of the bed empty, the fire burned down and her dressing gown gone. It was not unlike the Tiger Queen to quit her bed abruptly, and so the King did not worry so much, right away.

It was only after breakfast was finished and several cups of hot milky coffee consumed that the King really began to worry. It was unlike the Queen to pass up coffee, and the kitchens assured him that she had not been in that morning. He made inquiries; her maid, his butler, the guards and the clerks had not seen her. It began to seem highly unusual.

The king enlisted the help of the guards, the clerks, her maid and his butler in his search. They began with the royal chambers, moved on the surrounds, spread into the rest of the keep, the castle, and, with the help of the clergy, the groundskeepers and the local urchins, moved into the King’s Park, the cathedral and the town.

The Queen was nowhere to be found. It was past lunch, and the Brown King began to worry in earnest.

“Where is she, do you think?”, he asked his closest friends and advisors, the black cat and the crow.

“Haven’t the foggiest,” replied the cat, speaking over the crow, who was croaking out an “I couldn’t tellya.”

“Helpful bunch, you two”, said the King, sitting down and pulling the heavy bearskin cloak of his office more tightly around his shoulders.

“Eh, sorry, and all that,” said the crow. “Truth be told, we’re as upset as you are. We love her too. All the kingdom does, really.”

“She might show up yet. There’s still a lot of the feline in that one, and we do love to slip out and wander,” said the cat. Looking around, he began to groom himself.

“She’s never been gone this long, and she always says when she wanders”, said the King. “I suppose it’ll have to be a search, then. Better pack a lunch.”

The King would pack a great many lunches before he was reunited with his Queen.