While the rest of the court huddled in the throne room, le comte des deux chats, GarGar stood on the adjoining balcony surveying the crowds in the plaza below. The king sat on his beautiful, gilded, jewel-encrusted throne, dozing peacefully. Princess Pirouette stood out among those gathered because she appeared to be the only noble who wasn’t weeping and moaning, or praying loudly to God on high.
There must be hundreds of people down there, GarGar thought to himself.
Every time he waved to the assembled commoners, they would roar with approval. Some of them even carried makeshift placards with his name scrawled in lettering that was large enough for GarGar to see from his perch. It was unprecedented for a youth of his age to be so beloved of the people. While most found it disturbing, or perturbing or both, he was deeply moved by their devotion.
“If not for His Majesty’s incompetent government, we would not find ourselves in this predicament,” he shouted. At this the people broke spontaneously into song. It was Psalm Eighteen, I will love the Lord, my strength.
Every time the grown-ups gathered, talk would inevitably turn to the old tire swing that they played on when they were kids. With the telling of their stories, the swing was embellished with greater and greater attributes. At this point, it could take you to the very rooftops of the neighborhood. Upon hearing these stories, the children would roll their eyes.
“They’re just jealous because when they were little, they didn’t have Nintendo,” said Dominic sardonically.
The Palace had been on high alert soon after the wedding announcement. Fears of sabotage materialized when a bomb, expertly placed, exploded at one of the gates. The device was deployed shortly before dawn. Several severe burns were reported by the Royal Guards, but mercifully there were no fatalities.
As Princess Pirouette progressed into the ballroom, two musicians proceeded her. One played a lute, the other a flute. She wore a white satin gown, over which was draped diaphanous veils, giving her the appearance of a blissful cloud floating across an otherwise blue sky. Three paces behind her walked a tenor who sang:
Princess Pirouette! Pirouette is our princess!
Such pomp had not been seen at court in many a year. Without adornment, she wore no golden chains or diamond tiaras, but still she sparkled. All in her presence were struck dumb by her refinement and beauty.
Maxwell paused at the front door of the Snapjaw residence. Taking a moment to take stock of the new body he now inhabited, he was well pleased. As there was a cold wind blowing, he was especially happy with his thick fur coat. The sharp claws and teeth were an added bonus.
I think I’m going to like being a familiar, he thought to himself. Then he heard his master’s voice.
“Familiar? No, Max! You are going to be more than that to this woman. You will be her duende.”
I’m sorry, Master, but my Spanish is a bit weak. Could you please elaborate?
The first time Monica Snapjaw ever tasted Silopan tea, she gagged. The bitter fluid burned her esophagus as it made its way to her stomach. A single drop went down the wrong pipe, and she began to cough until she nearly vomited. The last cogent thought that went through Monica’s mind before the effects of the tea kicked in was, “What have I done to myself?”
It was Maxwell who showed her where to go in the forest to find the innocuous looking flower whose petals were needed to brew the concoction. Despite the egregious flavor, she managed to drink it all in one quaff. In short order, just as Maxwell had promised, Monica found herself hovering above her own rooftop, the wind making havoc with her long, dark hair.