Ragtag Daily Prompt: Excrescence

Trying not to think about the enormous amount of bad luck of having so many women aboard ship, Admiral Crank took a large bite from the plug of tobacco, a recently discovered herb from the New World that was all the rage among the upper classes. While it tasted atrocious, and more often than not gave him a stomach ache, there was something about how the tobac (as they called it at Court) that made him feel tip-top. As long as he didn’t swallow the foam in his mouth created by this plant-based stimulate, but rather spat it out, there were no stomach aches, no nausea, no vomiting, no headaches. Instead, it made him feel as though he had the strength of ten men, maybe even twenty men. Spitting a big mouthful onto the deck, the “Angry Admiral” as his men called him, failed to suppress a chortle as the big glob of the noxious material landed on one of GarGar’s shoes.

“Er…a million ‘pologies yer Grace,” muttered the Admiral.

GarGar chuckled good-naturedly. “I can buy a new pair of shoes once we pull into the next port.”

“Surely you jest, m’lord,” said Crank. “You there! Boy!” Shouted the Admiral at a nearly toothless, old man. “Swab ‘is Lordship’s shoes.”

“Yes, Admiral,” said the sailor, falling to his knees with a rag that was somehow dirtier than GarGar’s shoes. Not entirely comfortable with the situation at hand, le comte des Deux Chats tried his best not to look at the goiter on the old man’s neck. Given that the excrescence was the size of a grapefruit, it proved an impossible. That poor man, thought GarGar.

Ragtag Daily Prompt: Tattoo

The new flagship for the Royal Navy pulled from its moorings. Crusty Admiral Crank stood on the poop deck in order to survey the activities of the sailors under his immediate command. To his right stood Queen Pirouette and to his left, le comte des Deux Chats, GarGar. The blessings of calm seas and low breeze meant that most of the crew were required to sit at the oars. That put most of the men below deck.

During the reign of Pirouette’s predecessor, slaves operated the galleys. The first act that came from the Queen’s hand upon her accession was to abolish the detestable institution; therefore, the rowers were all volunteers. The emancipation of tens of thousands of human chattel was immensely popular with the majority of her subjects (with the exception of the nobles, who with the wave of her dainty, royal hand had lost millions.) Jealous of her power and eternally suspicious of the nobility, Pirouette’s mind constantly turned on ways to weaken the upper classes.

“Let’s go below,” said GarGar cheerily. “I don’t think you’ve ever gone down there, my love. Have you?”

“No,” answered Pirouette. “I’ve been told that the smell is unbearable.”

“That was in the old days,” said GarGar. “Things are completely different nowadays.”

So down they went. As they descended the steps, the first thing Pirouette perceived was the time keeper with his big kettledrum. The grunts and groans of the men, along with the thump-thump-thump of the drum, created a hellish symphony. The first lieutenant roamed up and down the central aisle, his ceremonial whip hanging uselessly from his belt, bouncing against his thigh. From his expression, he appeared more than ready to use it. Catching the Queen in his flinty eyes, he immediately fell to his knees. The timekeeper stopped drumming. An audible sigh rose from the sweaty ranks as they folded their calloused and blistered hands into their laps.

With the exception of the First Lieutenant, all of the sailors below deck were stripped to the waist. For the first time in her life, the Queen saw a tattoo. It was on the shoulder of the burly timekeeper. Made entirely of blue ink, the design featured a mermaid with her scaly tail wrapped around an anchor. Six inches tall and four inches wide, it was impossible to miss. With so much room in which to work, the artist succeeded in fashioning a beautiful face for the ocean nymph. Unseen and imaginary forces below the surface of the sea caused her hair to split into numerous locks. With both hands, she held a trident, normally the sole property of Poseidon.

Ragtag Daily Prompt: Sonnet

“Ta-dah!” Announced GarGar who produced a shiny, red with a flourish. With a gentlemanly bow, he offered it to Queen Pirouette. With a broad smile, she curtsied and took the fruit from his hand. To her surprise, he discreetly pressed a small, folded piece of paper into her hand.

“You may want to wait until you are alone before you eat that,” whispered GarGar with a wink.

Taking his queue, Pirouette yawned and said, “We are feeling a bit fatigued. We shall retire to our private apartments.”

With that, the Queen exited the room, passing a sea of bowed heads. Court etiquette dictated that when the sovereign either entered or exited a room, courtiers were required to kneel, bow or curtsy to the point where their heads were lower than the King’s or Queen’s. Compared to the average woman, Queen Pirouette was very petite, so the tallest members of the Court were practically forced to lay flat on their bellies when she passed them by. It never ceased to amuse her to see these arrogant noblemen scrambling for the proper position in order to remain in Her Majesty’s good graces.

Once alone in her bedroom, Pirouette opened the piece of paper. With Ladies Abigail and Natasha looking over her shoulder, the Queen murmured the contents.

Can you imagine a moonless, starless Sky
tonight? I’ve seen it with my own eyes.

When Pirouette read these lines, it took her breath away.  It was as if some giant had come up behind her and given her a tight squeeze. There could be no doubt that the man was indeed GarGar. Queen Pirouette and he used to play a game. They would take turns constructing sonnets. GarGar might write the first two lines, but then Pirouette would write the next two. Back and forth it would go until someone completed the entire poem. This esoteric practice began early in their courtship but there were very few who knew the exact details of the game.

Ragtag Daily Prompt: Spectacular

To the Prime Minister’s chagrin, Tata Sous-sus was included in the party. As the nearest thing to a family member of the Queen, she felt entitled to board the ship before it set sail down the Great River into the Kingdom’s heartland. Standing at the prow, Tata practiced waving at the crowd below. Someone who was deeply disappointed that Tata wasn’t the Queen threw a rock at her. “Look out!” Shouted a crew member as the missile whizzed by her head.

“Perhaps you should go below until we set sail,” said the Captain gently. “Once the sun sets, there will be a fireworks display. I assure you. It will be spectacular.”

“If it’s all the same to you, I think I’ll just stay put until Her Majesty arrives,” replied Tata Sous-sus drily.