Ragtag Daily Prompt: Scintillate

“Oh, my God!” Exclaimed GarGar. “This soup is atrocious!” He wiped his mouth with a cloth napkin, thereby, smearing his makeup.

Queen Pirouette took a dainty sip from her spoon. Not one to lose her composure, her reaction to the concoction was written all over her face. She suppressed the urge to gag. “For once, my dear,” she said, “You are right. Even a vulture wouldn’t eat this!” Twisting to one side in her chair, she motioned to her chamberlain. “Send the royal cook to me at once!”

When the hapless man arrived, he pulled his chef’s hat from his head and bowed very low from the waist. “Your Majesty! How may I serve you?”

“You can begin by explaining how you allowed something this vile to leave your kitchen!” Pirouette waved her hand over the bowl. “Here!” She handed him her spoon. “Try it!” She commanded. Hesitatingly, he took a sip. He instantly put his hand over his mouth, as if to keep from spitting out the noxious liquid. “Tell me, sir. Are you trying to poison us?” In a rare moment of pique, Pirouette raised her voice loudly enough to cause GarGar to start in his chair.

Never one to miss a beat, GarGar’s eyes began to scintillate. “Only the pure of heart can make a good soup,” he said, quoting the great composer.

Ragtag Daily Prompt: Fumble

Madam Rénard was without exception the kindest person that Queen Pirouette had ever known. Before she was even born, she’d been her mother’s lady-in-waiting and her father’s mistress. Shortly after Pirouette’s fourth birthday, Madam Rénard had been transferred from her mother’s bedchamber to Pirouette’s nursery. It was a fortuitous moment in both of their lives.

By the age of eight, Pirouette was an orphan. She’d never really known either of her parents very well, so their demise had little effect on the young girl. It was Madam Rénard who was the constant in her life. In adulthood she would understand why her father had loved her so. Madam Rénard always had a calm smile on her face. Her touch was always gentle, as was every word that parted her lips. She was no beauty by any standard, but neither was she ugly. Her broad face, brown hair and eyes, her plump body, all of these attributes conveyed comfort, ease and friendliness. Though she never had any children of her own, her maternal instincts were strong, even fierce.

There was a specific event in Pirouette’s life that she remembered in pristine, exact detail. It was just after her parents had died, and it was Madam Rénard who was charged with the duty of informing Pirouette that she was now an orphan. Madam came into the nursery where Pirouette was playing with some of the children from the nearby village. She clapped her hands and said, “Children, I need to speak with Pirouette alone. Cook has prepared cookies. Go to the parlor downstairs. They’re still warm from the oven.”

Of course, all of the children bolted out of the room. Madam Rénard fell to her knees and extended her hands toward little Pirouette. “Come child,” was all she said. Pirouette immediately complied, rushing into her arms. Smoothing the child’s hair, and kissing the top of her head, Pirouette could sense that Madam, unsure of what to say, had to fumble with her words.

“What is it, Madam?” Piped Pirouette. She looked up into Madam’s eyes. She could see tears brimming, and then slowly running down her cheeks. It was then that Pirouette began to tremble with fear.

Sensing the child’s discomfort, Rénard forced a big smile. “Not to worry, my child. Not to worry.” She soothed. “It is my unfortunate duty to tell you that both of your parents have died. You will never see them again.”

Ragtag Daily Prompt: Sleekit

As soon as the valet had shut the doors behind the Prime Minister, Queen Pirouette extended her hand and flicking her wrist with agitation, she indicated that he should bolt the doors. As soon as he had done so, GarGar emerged from behind a screen, where he’d been hiding during the entire interview.

“Well,” said Pirouette. “What do you think?”

“I think you’ve put the fear of the devil in the poor man,” replied GarGar with a laugh.

“‘Poor man!'” Taunted Pirouette. “Did you really just say, ‘Poor man?'” She rolled her eyes melodramatically. With another flick of her wrist, she deployed her fan with a loud Snap! Using it to cover her face from the nose down, she sashayed over to GarGar playfully. “What a kind and sympathetic man you are, my lord!”

“You mustn’t be cruel to the per wee sleekit!” Mocked GarGar, intentionally butchering a Scottish brogue.

Pirouette slapped GarGar playfully. “What would the ambassador from Scotland say, if he heard you!”

Ragtag Daily Prompt: Obfuscate

It was time for the Prime Minister’s weekly appointment with the Queen. When he reached the top of the long marble staircase, he had to pause to collect his breath. After a minute, he nodded his head, and the Chamberlain knocked on the double-door twice with his white gloved hand. The doors immediately opened, and the PM entered. There he found his young Queen standing beside the fireplace with her hands primly folded in front of her.

“Welcome, my lord,” she said stiffly, her mouth frozen with an obviously artificial smile. She extended her hand. Taking her hand in his, he bent over and kissed his own thumb which was placed over her wrist. This was in keeping with protocol. To actually kiss her hand was unthinkable! “Please, my lord,” she continued. “Take a seat.” She motioned to a chair that was opposite from the fireplace by about ten meters.

He shook his head. “No, thank you, ma’am. It is only proper that I stand during our interview.” This was a formulaic conversation that was repeated ad nauseam every time he came to her sitting room.

“Very well, my lord,” she replied. “If you will forgive me, I will sit now.” Queen Pirouette sat on a beautifully upholstered straight backed chair. Over the coarse of forty minutes, the PM gave an abbreviated rundown of all the business of government that had unfolded during the previous week, including legislation pending, foreign affairs and accounts of spending. When he had finished, the Queen nodded and then said, “Thank you, my lord. If you would be so kind, I would like an update on my aunt. It is my understanding that she was moved from the North Tower without my authorization.”

The Prime Minister had come to the interview prepared to be questioned on this subject, but he was surprised that she had brought it up so quickly. Taking a handkerchief, he passed it over his brow, as a stall for time, and then spoke. “I assume, of course that you are speaking of her ladyship, commonly known as Tata Sous-sus, your cousin. For security purposes, she was removed from her place of confinement to a secret, undisclosed location. This was primarily for her own safety. Intelligence reports, received by my office, indicated that her life was in danger; therefore, I took the liberty of moving her, knowing full well of your love for her and desire for her well-being.”

Queen Pirouette stood up and approached the PM who was more than twelve centimeters taller than her. When she reached striking distance, she poked him in the center of his chest with her forefinger. “Listen to me, little man,” she said, restraining herself from shouting, her voice trembling with rage. “Your ability to obfuscate is legendary. How dare you move her without even notifying me, much less asking for my permission. She was arrested under my authority. Her disposition is entirely under my discretion. This is not the first time you have overstepped your bounds.” She poked him again, this time even harder. “But by God, it is the last!”

Ragtag Daily Prompt: Pocket

Tata Sous-sus sat quietly in the carriage waiting for the coachman to spur the horses. For December, it was an unseasonably warm day. She opened her breviary, earmarked for that day, and began to recite the prayers. It was the feast day of Saint Juan Diego, and Tata recited the novena to him with extra vigor. Out loud she said, “Holy Saint Juan Diego, pray for me!”

“Excuse me, ma’am?” Said the footman standing outside the carriage door. “Would you require anything?” He asked, doffing his hat as a sign of respect.

Tata Sous-sus shook her head, as if to clear the cobwebs from her mind. “Tell me, good sir.” She said. “Do you know the time?”

From the pocket of his waistcoat, the footman drew a watch on a chain. Peering intently, he said, “I believe it’s a quarter past one, ma’am. We should be leaving soon, I expect.”

Leaning back in her seat, Tata pulled a lace kerchief from her sleeve and pressed it against her eyes in an effort to staunch back tears. All in vain, for the tears began to flow. Dear God! She thought. Take me from this terrible place!

Ragtag Daily Prompt: Revelry

Before the representatives of the Empire entered GarGar’s tent, he insisted that his men lift him from his cot and place him in an upright position. The pain in his leg from the musket ball was more intense than anything he’d ever experienced. Even so, he wanted to present to the enemy an adversary who could at least stand on his own two feet. Grabbing his valet, Gaston by the collar, GarGar hissed into his ear, “Bring me some brandy now!” In a matter of seconds, Gaston presented GarGar with a glass. GarGar wolfed it down in one quaff.

There was a flourish of trumpets, announcing the arrival of the Imperial delegation. After taking a deep breath, GarGar said to his officers, “Watch and see how we humiliate these devils.” Just then, the tent flap flew open and several men in full armor entered. They all bore the crest of their master, the Emperor. “Welcome, gentlemen!” Said GarGar expansively. “Please make yourselves comfortable. “We have wine and brandy, whatever you may desire. Please, do the honor of sitting.” GarGar gestured to a row of folding canvass chairs. GarGar snapped his fingers, and several servants bearing trays with goblets and pitchers appeared. “Please! Sit!” Reiterated GarGar.

The man who seemed to be the leader of their delegation was the first to sit, but when the servant approached him with a tray, he knocked it out of the boy’s hands. “Sir! We have not come here to indulge in any revelry! We are here to discuss terms. Shall we begin without all these-” He gestured around the tent, “Without all these pleasantries?”

“Very well, my lord,” said GarGar smiling. “I have here a document that you will sign. It is an unconditional surrender. If you fail to sign, you and everyone amongst you will die.” GarGar tossed the document into the man’s lap. “Read it and weep.”

Ragtag Daily Prompt: Malfunction

The Queen’s Privy Council had been in session for three hours. At noon, Her Majesty was scheduled to give a speech to a Synod of Bishops, so she rose from her seat and called for an adjournment. The men sitting around the table all rose, bowed and made a hasty exit. “My lord, le compte,” she said to GarGar, “would you be so kind as to attend me?”

GarGar grinned and bowed. He caught a few glares from the other men in the room, but he discounted them. Jealousy is a green-eyed monster, he thought to himself. “Yes, ma’am,” he said. “I am at your service.” Pirouette suppressed a smile. “Thank you, my lord,” she said in return. After the others had left the room, Pirouette took GarGar’s arm and leaned into him. “I need to talk to you in my bedchamber,” she whispered. Wide-eyed with surprise, GarGar simply nodded. With his hands, he made a symbol that meant, “When?” He and the Queen had developed a secret method for communication in order to keep their conversations private, even when they were in a room full of people.

Pirouette, still holding him by the arm, whispered again into his ear. “There has been a malfunction in my spy network. I suspect sabotage.”

Ragtag Daily Prompt: Twitch

Despite the excruciating pain in his wounded leg, GarGar insisted that his men bear him to the battlefield on a cot. When the soldiers saw him coming from afar, they cried their approval, lifting their rifles in the, and some even discharging. From the top of a slow incline, he examined the enemy’s position using his lucky, gold-plated field glasses.

“Save your bullets for the enemy!” Shouted GarGar, who nevertheless smiled and waved. “We will fight together! Or, if need be, die together!” This was why his men loved him so.

Two of his men hoisted him up, placing the inner crooks of his arms behind their necks. As soon as GarGar was in a vertical position, the blood began to race into his legs. The pain was nearly unbearable, and caused him to twitch from head to toe. He bit his lip to keep from crying aloud, but it was futile. “Set me down!” He hissed through gritted teeth. And then, more calmly, “Have pity on your poor general.”

Ragtag Daily Prompt: Grunge

Crawling on his belly, GarGar could feel the wind of the musket balls as they whizzed overhead. He knew he had to keep moving, despite the pain in his right leg. The canon ball that had fallen near him had knocked both him and his horse off their feet. Oddly, the world grew silent as he sailed through the air- now more shouting, no more screams, no more reports from the guns, big and small.

He rolled onto his back in order to catch his breath. Looking at his uniform, he was displeased by the grunge it had collected from all the smoke and dirt. I’d never pass inspection looking like this, he thought. He somehow managed to pull his sword from its scabbard and waved it in the air in the hope it would catch the attention of one of his officers. When they see it, surely someone will rescue me!