Monday, July 6, 2009

The King is Coming, The King is Coming!

The ladies gather chattering in Capitaine Malecki's residence. After their adventure and the excitement, the conversation is perhaps a little louder than usual. Even the fine vintages, including some fine old bottles of Chevert don’t seem to calm them. Some of the local battalion’s musicians gather outside to play a few pieces ... and to practice their regimental music. In all the noise, the clatter of hooves from a hard ridden horse and the challenges of the sentries are almost missed. Col. Enigma, who had been inside the house with the Princess Allisonia, however, has learned to always be on his guard when the Lady Pettygree is in the area.
Quickly pulling a pistol from his waistcoat, he steps beside a window and looks out past the drapes.
“Something’s happening,” Diana warns her friends, and in a moment, the cheerful party falls silent and alert ... a surprising number of other pistols appear from the voluminous folds of the ladies’ riding gear. The sound of the guards snapping to attention, and the command “Present ... Harms!” from outside, however, reassure them. Thus, when the door is opened, the young rider is not shocked by the sight of an unseemly number of gun barrels pointed at him. Rather, he minces inside in his silken brocade uniform, fluttering more lace than a rose bush has blooms. He pouts in attempt to appear serious, and bows to the assembled party.
“M’Lords and M’Ladies” (except it should be in stilted school French) the youngster proclaims, “I have the honor a message for Her Highness, the Princess Alisonia, and the Ladies Pettygree and Masquerade to be carrying.”
Even as the Princess begins a gracious reply, Lady Pettygree asks, “From whom does this missive come?”
“It is an urgent note from my Lord, L’Comte de Beauphaup, m’Lady.”
“The old fart’s private diplomat,” the captain declares. “What’s up, lad?”
“If my Ladies will read this missive,” the youngster responds, “I’m sure all will be made clear.”
Lady Cherish Masquerade quickly accepts the proffered envelope, breaks the seal and unfolds the stiff parchment. “Diana,” she exclaims, “King Basil could be here any moment!”

In Frankfurter, adjutants and notables are scurrying about in haste. L’Comte Bastille is interrupted in his interrogation of the new prisoners by an harried looking aide. The would be assassins are hurriedly stripped and locked away while the Gallians send their own swarms of messengers into the countryside and to the nearby encampment. Cloth merchants are raided for bolts of cloth to be used as bunting which swarms of apprentices and mechanics quickly nail over the main intersections.
At the palace, Moosart scrambles to get his little orchestra together while the Hurtshog consults with his diplomatic advisors and the StadtRadt leaders. “Can we put together a quick agenda?” is the question on everybody’s mind.
The consensus is that the presence of the lovely and widely admired foreigner noblewomen is a real boon, even if their presence was part of another nefarious plot by the occupying forces of Gallia. If they will participate, a reception and informal fete would give the city a night to spruce up. In the morning, a quick formal inspection of some show troops followed by the mandatory tours of the excellent ceramic works (and a good source of exquisite gifts for all the visitors) and the famous sausage works, followed by a tuba concert. Then a real ball to the music of Moosart’s musicians.
The guild syndics, of course, hope to corral the various diplomats with the party and obtain good contracts for the long lasting Frankfurter field sausages, artillery from the foundry shared with Offenbach, and similar condiments. Their primary anxiety is that the Hurtshog is going to try to intervene to make these contracts very favorable for the young King Basil, as his opposition to the Turkish hordes may open up new products for pork based products.

As the afternoon wears on, the convoy of the Grand Tour is delayed by numerous check points. The closeness of major armies for Gallia and Hesse Seewald involves numerous little challenges for the diplomats riding with the party. Finally, a couple of chivalrous generals from the opposing sides generate special passes and each contributes a ceremonial escort ... a fact grimly noted by some nondescript shepherds as the party passes through one of the many woods near Frankfurt.
As the now enlarged party exits the hills overlooking the fortress town and its surrounding encampments, two squadrons of cavalry approach. The first to arrive is a somewhat dusty but otherwise impecable Col. Enigma and a troop of hussars. With a lovely caracole, he brings his troop into the double file reception lines along the road. Riding up to the royal coach, he makes is bow and politely welcomes King Basil and Reich Duke William on behalf of l’Comte Bastille, Intendant of Frankfurter, and General Broglie of the nearby Gallian army.
While the hussars, whose escorting troops seem to gravitate towards the vivandiers from Monte Cristo, squeeze in beside the considerable force already present, a glittering troop of Frankfurter Guard Cuirassiers arrives at a more sedate pace. General Hottatrot rides forward to deliver a somewhat florid greeting, but winks at the ladies as he delivers it. Ritter von Meltzer, in command of the convoy’s escorting cavalry, however, notes that a considerable number of dragoons had peeled away from the Cuirassiers during their approach march and seemed to be carefully searching the fields and copses off the road.
“Is there some problem?” he inquires of General Hottatrot ... indicating one of these hunting parties.
“Rumors, my man, rumors only,” the genial general responds. “Just taking precautions against any eventuality ... we are rather close to some angry folks here!” he laughs.
*Ja,* King Basil thinks, *rumors, Das is richtig ... und rumors in Morea wenn Ich comt also*


Capt Bill said...

How wonderful, how exciting! Frankszonia promises to be one of the Grand Tour most interesting stops.

Fitz-Badger said...

Excellent writeup!