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.

Ragtag Daily Prompt: Law

“Oh, no,” murmured Lady Natasha Rambovalina. “Here she comes.” For a woman who was nearly as wide as she was tall, Tata Sous-sus was amazingly fast and lithe on her feet. Walking like a woman with a purpose, she reached Lady Natasha in a few seconds, arm extended with a folded piece of paper in her hand.

“This is for you,” blurted Tata. “Read it now.”

“Would it kill you to be a little more discreet?” Asked Natasha as she snatched the note from Tata’s hand. “What’s this all about?”

“Just read it,” sighed Tata in exasperation.

It read: To my devoted servant- leave my Court now. -P

“What law have I broken,” demanded Lady Natasha. “Why should I leave Court like a thief in the night?”

“I’m just the messenger. I’ve no idea why someone would want you to leave.” Unspoken was the fact that the “someone” was Queen Pirouette.


Ragtag Daily Prompt: Thanks

“They’re fake,” said the Prime Minister who had a knack for appearing silently, seemingly out of the nowhere when you least expected it. With a slight gesture, a wave of the hand, he cleared the room of everyone except Tata Sous-sus. “Those beads are porcelain and I can prove it to you.”

“I’ll have you know that these pearls were a gift from my grandmother for my sixteenth birthday,” countered Tata who was in no mood to trade barbs with her perceived nemesis.

“Well, I’m sorry to report that your grandmama was duped.” Approaching Tata, the PM seized one of the white beads between his thumb and forefinger even as the strand was still wrapped around her neck. With little effort, he broke it and then beamed with self-satisfaction. “You see?” He said as he held the little pieces in front of Tata’s face for her close inspection.

Outraged at this violation of her personal space, Tata Sous-sus rose from her seat in front of the mirror, tore the offending strand from around her neck and threw it violently onto the floor. Her blood boiling with anger and hate, she began to stomp on this last gift her dear old granny had ever given her.

“What on earth are you doing!” Exclaimed the PM.

Thanks for dispelling the last vestige of love I might have felt towards my Grandma Rambova!”

The PM rubbed his cheek, feeling as if he’d been hit in the face with a big, old, smelly fish. Did that silly old woman just say that she had a grandmother who was a Rambova? Was it possible?

Ragtag Daily Prompt: Dudgeon

Winding a lock of her thin, wispy hair around a finger, Tata Sous-sus used her other hand to point at one of her wigs. Choosing her newest one which was shockingly black, she said, “How about this one?”

“Your ladyship!” Exclaimed her Mistress of the Wardrobe. “Do you think that’s appropriate for the investiture?” On that day, the Prime Minister was due to be admitted to the Brotherhood of the Golden Ass. The Golden Ass was the highest knighthood in the Kingdom, and a new member could only be accepted after an older one had passed away, thereby opening a new slot. For years, the PM had been waiting for this opportunity. To be upstaged by the Queen’s frumpy, old cousin was not an acceptable outcome for anybody (with the exception of Tata Sous-sus.)

“If I wear that wig, the Prime Minister will leave Court in a pique of high dudgeon,” said Tata Sous-sus calmly. “Isn’t that what we want?” Batting her eyes innocently, the Queen’s kinswoman drew a string of pearls from her jewelry box and wrapped it tightly around her neck. “What do you think?” She asked of no one in particular. Answering her own question, she said, “I think it looks fabulous!”

Ragtag Daily Prompt: Ogreish

“What in God’s name is going on now?” Shouted the Chamberlain over the cries and screams of GarGar, le comte des Deux Chats. His new valet and half a dozen palace guards were holding him down on the bed while a physician struggled to pour some concoction down his throat. The Chamberlain was amazed by le comte’s strength as he managed to wriggle a leg free and used it to kick the black-clad doctor under the chin. The poor man shouted something unintelligible as his flask flew against a wall with a crash.

“Get your ogreish hands off of me!” Yelled GarGar. This last outburst brought forth an unsuppressed giggle from the Chamberlain. “Such language…” he tut-tutted.

Ragtag Daily Prompt: Lick

One of Queen Pirouette’s earliest memories was when her father brought her a new pet. It was a faun. She was already the “mother” of an extensive menagerie of animals: horses, dogs, cats, tropical fish and even a parrot. She loved them all, but the faun was by far her favorite. She named it Faun, which was both accurate and easy to remember. She remembered how her parents had laughed when she told them its name.

How she wept a few days later when the men came home from a large hunting party. While them caught and killed the prey, it was the women’s duty to butcher and salt the meat. When she was ushered into the cookhouse to learn the art of meat preparation, she became distraught. She thought of her precious Faun, how he would lick her hands when she fed him. Now she was supposed to take a butcher knife and open up a doe that could easily have been the little one’s mother.

“She’s too tender-hearted for this kind of work,” said her nanny who shook her head as she tried to comfort her charge. “Let’s go pick some flowers, my little dove.”