Her beauty began and ended with her luminous eyes. Queen Pirouette possessed the unique ability to captivate even the most seasoned louche and hold him prisoner. Such was the case with the Imperial Ambassador. During his journey to her Court, many along the way tried to warn him of her uncanny charms, but he shrugged them off. One of the reasons he was chosen for his post was his supposed immutability to feminine wiles. A confirmed bachelor with absolutely no history of romance or scandal, His Imperial Majesty considered him the perfect candidate. Once in her presence; however, he melted just like all the others.
So now the search was on for two individuals: le comte des Deux Chats and Madam Blukovsky, the woman who claimed to possess unearthly powers. The Queen’s agents, exhausted by her demands, in all honesty had given up hope on finding Monsieur le comte, GarGar. Instead, they were focusing most of their effort on digging up the elusive Madam.
It seemed as if nobody in the entire kingdom had even heard of this Blukovsky woman. To add to the mystery, her sole point of contact with the Queen was a handwritten note of unknown provenance. Instead of finding her, it was clear that the only option was to set a trap.
The search for Madam Blutovsky was on. Agents of the Court for Religious Conformity, as well as a cadre of the Queen’s secret police, began in the slums of the capital. From there, they fanned out, knocking on doors, peering into windows, questioning merchants, but to no avail. In their defense, these officials had little to work with- no physical description or address. All they had was the hand-written note. From whence had it come?
“Well, we know that we’re not looking for a woman with a halo,” said the Chief of the Secret Police to the Chief Judge of the Court.
“How was the Queen supposed to contact this woman?” Asked the Judge.
In reply, all he got was a shrug.
At the gathering of the Queen’s Privy Council, the Prime Minister always sat in the center of the broadside of the conference table; however, today he sat at the head where Her Majesty was wont to sit. In front of him was a thick pile of papers which he began to pass around to the other councilors. A collective sigh rose from the others. It was most unusual for Queen Pirouette to be absent from these discussions.
“Gentlemen,” said the Prime Minister, “shall we begin?”
“Without the Queen?” Asked le comte de Ploo.
“Her Majesty is indisposed,” replied the chief minister.
Entering the Prime Minister’s office, Lady Abigail curtseyed primly with her eyes downcast. In her hand, she held a note that Queen Pirouette had scrawled on the back of Madam Blukovsky’s unwelcome offer. While the Queen’s most trusted advisor was busy with state policy, Her Majesty’s best friend nurtured a secret crush for him. Her heart always skipped a beat when the oblivious politician gave her the slightest glance. Holding her breath, she handed him the Queen’s instructions.
Taking it in his hands, he read aloud, “My lord, please have this woman arrested and delivered to the Court of Religious Conformity.” Confused, he looked at Abigail inquisitively.
“Turn it over,” said Abigail.
Pirouette pulled the small piece of paper that was hidden in the strange envelope with a nervous hand. She’d set her candle on the floor, so she went down on her knees to hold the note closer to the dim light. It read:
Most Gracious and Noble Queen- Your servant in all things grieves, with the rest of the country, over your profound loss. Will you allow me to assist you in your search for Monsieur le comte? God, in His Mercy, has granted me certain powers that allow me to perceive the hidden and explain the most profound mysteries of the Universe. I shall await your Majesty’s most Royal response. Yours in Christ, Madam Blukovsky, Necromancer and Seer
Without giving it a second thought, Pirouette held a corner of the note to the candle flame and watched as it was consumed by the fire. She held it away from her person and let the ashes fall to the floor without even thinking of cleaning the black shreds. “I must remember to have this heretic arrested,” the Queen murmured.
There was a quiet knock on Queen Pirouette’s bedroom door. “Your Majesty?” Queried Lady Abigail Hoffenhoff. “I’ve brought you some broth. We are all worried.”
In the darkness of her bedchamber, Abigail’s voice was like a trumpet blaring in Pirouette’s ear. She couldn’t find the motivation even to reply to her best friend and chief lady-in-waiting. While she appreciated her friend’s concern, she didn’t want any intrusion. All she wanted was GarGar, her lost love. Without word of his whereabouts, her mind was wandering into places that she never knew existed. Hellish scenarios played out in her imagination. Am I going mad? She asked herself.
“Your Majesty,” persisted Abigail. “I have a note here that might interest you. I shall slide it under your door.” With a single lit candle, Pirouette examined the envelope on her floor. It was embossed with strange patterns that were exotic, yet familiar.
Never in all of her brief little life had Pirouette felt such grief. If her beloved GarGar were a hostage or prisoner of war, then she would know how to bring him home, safe and sound. On the other hand, if he was just a corpse, rotting in a field, providing food for crows and vultures, at least his caloric contribution to the ecosystem would be of some value.
For many days, Queen Pirouette had sequestered herself into her private chambers. Black curtains were draped on every window. It was the not knowing that was crushing the young Queen. How does someone simply vanish? Especially someone as well-known as le comte des Deux Chats? The only person granted entrance into the Queen’s bedchamber was her friend Abigail, whose rank as the Queen’s chief lady in waiting made her the second-most important person at court. She would gently knock on the door, just twice and then enter unannounced. Despite all attempts, Abigail was unable to to tempt Pirouette to eat. She consented to the occasional cup of tea, but besides that, Her Majesty was refusing all sustenance.
The last thing poor, young Pirouette felt was hunger, at least physical hunger. Her heart ached for news- any news- that might dispel the fears that her fertile imagination conjured up.
Queen Pirouette had been in her office for several hours reading reports, dispatches, letters and proposed legislation. When she got the next document in the pile, she read it over twice and without a word, let it drop to the ground. Lady Abbigail Hoffenhoff, her chief lady in waiting and best friend, scooped it up and gave it a perusal. Her reaction was until the queen’s. She put a hand to her mouth and passed it to Lady Granville, the queen’s personal secretary. When Lady Granville read the contents, she suppressed a cry and passed the parchment on to the Prime Minister, always present, nearly always silent. The letter had been written by le comte des Deux Chat, GarGar’s aide de camp.
Glorious news Majesty, it read, the enemy was met today (that is, two days hence) and because of the ingenious military tactics of le comte des deux chats, victory was secured. Bravely he led the cavalry charge against the center of enemy lines. While it saddens me to report that there were heavy casualties on both sides, the enemy left the field in disarray. Thousands of enemy combatants were captured, as was all of their artillery. The joy of this victory; however, has been tempered by the fact the exact location of Lord GarGar, des deux Chats, is at present unknown. Every effort is being made to find out whether he is a captive of the enemy, or of he has fallen in the field of valour. As his aid de camp, I swear that I will spare no effort in order to locate him, and it is my sincere wish the his lordship will be found in good health and high spirits. Your devoted servant, Emile du Par.
Pirouette rose from her desk and calmly said, We wish to be alone. My lord, Prime Minister, give me that letter.” He bowed and extended a shaky hand holding the letter. Once the doors closed behind the Queen’s retinue, she could feel her body trembling uncontrollably. Before she could summon a thought, the door knocked and Zippy, the Queen’s fool, tumbled into the room and then outstretched his arms, “Ta-dah!” He said proudly. Grabbing a letter opener, she threw it at Zippy and shouted, “Get out! Get out before I have your head separated from your neck!”