“Why is no one seizing him?!” Lord Winston a Seelie Court noble shouted. Looking around the nobles were clustered in groups looking frazzled and clutching themselves and each other. The knights drew their swords and the crowd backed up. Cute and silly, cute, and silly, Rashell reminded himself as he felt himself slip slightly. Rashell approached the nobles.
“Lady Ambrosia, such a lovely broach, and that lovely emerald dress brings attention to your lovely complexion.” he flattered the sprite. Then he walked up to another lady of the court. “Lady Winter, leave silver really is yer best color,” Then eyeing the younger noble approvingly he winked at him. Rashell kept his smile painted on as he looked over all the nobles. They wouldn’t find it suspicious everyone knew he liked to view the latest fashions of the Seelie Court. The thought of him looking for concealed weapons never occurred to them and it never would. No weapons unless they had them hidden really good, or maybe they wouldn’t use something unconventional. He looked at Aileen and saw she was covered. Brigid, Enchanta, and Darcy had glued themselves to her side. If anyone tried to upset a hair on their princesses’ head, there would be hell to pay.
She stood there puffy-eyed and looking very much like a lost puppy. The Leanansidhe had flashed her a reassuring smile, which she had returned weakly. Angus’ male attendants hung about him as well. He turned to Winston. “I demand, sir, ta know what foul behavior which I have been accused.”
Winston puffed up his chest and said. “Where were you during the attack?”
Rashell blinked. ” There was an attack?” he asked.
“Aye, His Highness was stabbed by a serving boy.” Winston’s tone was accusing.
Rashell gasped loudly. “Oh, how frightful! Ya can’t trust anyone these days,” He paused. “Why last week I got a particularly evil look from me tailor. Turns out the man was not a loyalist.” He shook his head ” Can ya imagine not being loyal ta yer own king? Shameful really,” he deadpanned as he took a flask of wine from a serving tray “Appreciate it, honey sop.” he said to the serving boy.
However, not a drop touched his lips while he pretended to drink. The other nobles tittered. “Oh, Whiny Rashell Redtail, a traitor, really? Next, you’ll be saying our own princess is a traitor!” Lady Ambrose started laughing lightly.
“He can’t even do basic sums let alone plan a siege.” A younger lord agreed.
“Our Rashell has many talents thinking is not one of them,” Lady Winterleave interjected.
The other nobles all voiced their agreement. “Now this non-loyalist fellow he seems suspicious,” one of the other lords interjected. ” Oh yes,” And with those words he knew he’d been cleared of suspicion in their minds. Rashell stood there silently while the conversation turned to talk of how long they could hold out against the humans. The castle had enough food stocked up to last through a siege, but they were going to have trouble finding and smuggling in more supplies. Rashell privately thought they should all leave, but he doubted the goddess herself could uproot the stubborn young king from the house of his forefathers.
He discreetly kept watching as the prince conferred with his court. It was mostly the advisers and Angus arguing while the courtiers fussed, fretted. Then something was said that was so shocking, Rashell’s attention was jerked away from his duties and toward the offender. ” I think we should rethink the succession,” Lord Winston proposed.
The whole court fell silent. ” Do you?” Angus asked tensely. “No disrespect, me lord, but with your delicate health the situation is uncertain,” He pointed out. No one said a word but Rashell saw the signs of agreement in their faces. “I propose we change the law of the eldest inheriting the throne, and make Aileen our new queen” He went on smugly.
“Bollocks!” The protest burst from Rashell’s lips before he could think. Everyone turned toward him. “Ever since I arrived here, you’ve drilled inta me head, ideals of honor and the order of things. King Angus is the eldest and therefore the heir and ya would deny him his natural birthright?” Rashell couldn’t help himself he was struck by the unfairness of it all. The whole court had blacklisted Angus the moment his birth defect made itself known. He felt a sudden wave of frustration and hatred for them. Spoiled, the lot of them, cut off from the hardship, and terror surrounding them, they were so scared of their shallow little world crumbling to bits, around them that they clung to their precious order. They rejected all uncertainty and physical imperfection, and anything else that didn’t fit into neat little organized rows. Rashell felt disgust well up inside him.
“Mind your tongue!” Angus reminded him. He bowed his head
“I apologize if me conduct reflected badly on ya. Your Highness.” He, however was not sorry for what he said.
Lord Winston looked self-satisfied. Angus nodded. “All is forgiven, however you Lord Winston are far overstepping your bounds, you are not an adviser, you have no say in the matters of succession, you have all that you do because of the generosity of the Royal Family.” His smile faded and Rashell had to resist the urge to smirk.
Aileen turned and faced the court with anger on her face. “At least he was honest, you agree, don’t you? I’ve heard the nickname, and I’ve seen the sneers. Ever since my brother’s birth defect made itself known. You’ve charged, judged, and found him unfit to rule. Human monarchs have illnesses all the time, some die young, others outlive everyone,” Her glare sharpened ” You haven’t given King Angus a chance, you deem my brother weak which shows how little you know about strength.” Then she paused. “You’re dismissed, except the advisers, we don’t need this right now.”
There was another awkward pause. “That’s an order!” Aileen snapped at the nobles; the whole court but the constant guard and the advisers hurried from the room. “Those those treacherous two faced...”
Darcy couldn’t finish. The wisest of the advisers, a large Griffin known as Alda, shook her golden feathers and spoke. “We knew Angus would face opposition,” she reminded them.
“Not from his own people,” Brigid interjected sourly.
“I can’t deal with this! First daddy and now...” Aileen broke off.
“Dry your eyes,” Brigid ordered. The princess did so and Darcy looked her flat in the eyes.
“You have to deal with it, Angus is king now and he’s going to need your support more than ever.” She said bluntly, but not unkindly.
“Look at us; the rulers of an orderly world and we’re a bloody mess.” Angus answered dryly.
“So what if yer not perfect,” Rashell looked them in the eyes. “I’ve served ya fer centuries ya know what I’ve seen strength, compassion, and a will of utter steel.” He sank to his knees and bowed pressing his head to the floor before Angus. All the other constant guards did so at the same time with the advisers following suit. “I’m not Seelie Court, I’m not intellectual. I know one thing; ya are the king, I want ta serve, and Aileen is the only princess fer me.” he paused ” And if I’m lying may all me clothes catch fire and burn ta ash.” he finished causing them all to chuckle.
Angus looked at him for a long moment. “Rarely have my feet touched the ground for fear of me scrapping my knee and bleeding.” Self-loathing filled his voice. “I’ve never entered a joust, or slain a dragon, or led my soldiers on the battlefield,” he paused ” Now I am king.” Angus seemed thrown back by the idea. The second adviser a Giant named Grrrrrr, wagged a huge finger. “YOUR HIGHNESS, A PRINCE IS NOT MEASURED BY WARS BUT BY CHARACTER!” he boomed.
“Yesssss,” purred the white cat, a third adviser, who approached Rashell. “A little lower ah yes!” he stated as the Leanansidhe delightedly gave him his daily petting his fingers caressing the soft fur. He was an enchanted prince who decided he preferred the life of a cat to that of a noble. “All the pampering without the stress of ruling that is the life of a cat.” he informed them. The cat exposed its belly as Rashell gave him a tummy rub.
“Honestly, Cat, show some dignity in front of the highnesses,” Alda huffed.
Angus cleared his throat. “Brigid has informed me of the Erlking and his human challenger.” Rashell stood silently crossing his fingers behind his back.
“It sounds like the kind distraction we need.” Cat offered as he settled on the Lenansidhe’s lap enjoying Rashell’s attentions. A big smile formed on Angus’ face as he reached into his satchel and removed a book from it. He flipped through the pages.
“The moment Brigid informed me, I made use of what was left of our library.” He flipped a few more pages. “I found the perfect weapon for the human to go after.” There was a touch of pride in his voice. He shoved the book into Rashell’s hand and dug through the drawer again pulling out a map. “Since our world has merely blended with theirs, things should be in exactly the same place, so to speak.” The prince continued.
“Very good, Your Highness,” Alda said. “Brigid informed me you and the human have some acquaintance.”
The Leanansidhe thought. “Some me lord.” he responded hesitantly.
“Your constant guard were handpicked by my father, not only to discreetly guard the Royal Family, but also to carry out any task we wish.”
Angus paused. Rashell and the others waited with baited breath until the prince made his proclamation. “Rashell will join the human’s quest offer your sword guide him, and slice a path for him straight toward the Unseelie Throne.” He felt an icy chill of dread run down his spine at the thought but if his soon to be king wished it, so be it.
“Your will is me command, Your Highness.” He promised.
“You’ll leave tonight when the humans are gone.”
“Understood, milord.“Rashell spoke bravely but his mind was in turmoil. Oh great Danu, please give me the courage ta face the Erlking, to stay strong and not ta cave. Protect, Show me the way ta deal with him, please I need your guidance.
“So tell me what is this Makulu like?” Angus asked.
Rashell looked at him. “Ta be honest, Your Highness, I don’t know what ta make of him.” The prince looked disappointed at the answer. “He’s either the bravest person I’ve ever met or completely mad. At first I thought he’s quite a loud one and he reminds me of a cock strutting about the barn yard, but there’s strength there that’s alluring.”
“Yes, but what does he look like?” Angus questioned.
“He’s tall and he has a strong build, and he wears black suits that look expensively tailored. He has a nice smile, very white, almost blinding.”
Angus smirked. “Sounds like you fancy the human.”
Rashell shook his head. “No, I can simply appreciate an attractive man when I see one.”
“You should meet with him, extend your hand in friendship, maybe make peace with the Unseelie,” Cat suggested to the prince his tail twitching.
" Make peace with those war mongers?” Darcy demanded coldly
" Darcy and I are prepared to carry out our sworn duty” Brigid said in her softest voice.
“Everyone is dismissed, except Rashell.” Everyone walked, flew, or trotted from the room. Angus sighed and took a drink of water from his goblet a servant wiped his brow and was too dismissed. “I apologize for putting you in this position given your history with that fiend,” he said.
“It’s me duty ta serve the Royal Family, use me as ya will,” Rashell responded.
“Sometimes I wonder if I’m any better then him,” Angus admitted. “Yet I’ll order it just the same.” He paused as if fighting his own revulsion. “I need you to do whatever it takes, exploit the Erlkings unsavory tastes if necessary.” the Seelie Prince ordered flatly.
“If....I have ta,” Rashell said trying not to sound small. Not because Angus was asking this but because of the reminder that the young prince knew far too much of his personal history thanks to the late King Briar. Him and a few Seelie Soldiers in hopes that he’d reconsider wanting Rashell as a protector if he knew all the ugly details. It was all that loathsome bitch Fox’s fault, she happily filled in the details Briar didn’t have which she only got because she had a human servant trick Rashell into talking in his sleep. From then on Rashell changed his sleeping spot every night. He made a servant sleep in his bed and mumble falsehoods for a while until the human was caught and Fox cursed him only to babble nonsense and punished Rashell by making sure Redtail Manor became his personal prison.
“Now, I expect the Royal Party Planner to plan a celebration that will honor my father’s passing into his next life.” He declared, forcing a smile.
Rashell brightened. “I can see it now; a fifty layer cake in the center of the banquet table in the shape of Awen. A quartet of nymphs with their reed pipes and flutes maybe a few violins. All of the late king’s favorite dishes served with his favorite Moonlight sake.”
Angus froze. ” It should be subdued, my father was, rather, what’s the word?”
Rashell snorted. ” Stuffy?” he suggested.
The new king glared at him. “Proper” he corrected.
“What’s the point of being young, beautiful, and hard ta harm if we can’t indulge ourselves?” Rashell argued.
“My father believed too much indulgence lead to chaos,” Angus responded.
“Ya know why the Wild Hunt is insane? Too much fun repression.”
The young king looked at Rashell. “Is that an actual phrase?” he sounded amused.
“It’s me word, fun repression is not natural fer our kind. We’re meant ta dance on the hillside yell silly things ta the wind!” Rashell’s eyes shown.
Angus looked sad. “Those things are not for a king.” he said knowingly. The Lenansidhe knew this. It was true while the citizens of fairie could be irresponsible and have fun the monarch must always act responsible and keep themselves in check.
“I’ll make you a deal keep my father’s funeral simple a feast with light music, few decorations and I’ll let you go wild for my coronation.” Angus promised.
Rashell would of hugged him if he wasn’t the King “Are ya serious?” he questioned.
“No phoenix shows since they are not house broken. Honestly ,where do you come up with these things?” Angus shook his head. ” I’m going to visit the kami , i wish you to accompany me” he added. Rashell nodded...
“Are ya excited about danceing with Dragon’s” Rashell asked him as they walked through the palace gardens.
" Don’t remind me, any noble would gladly put a kaiken in my back, yet I must share my Dragon dance with their sons” Angus gripped.
" If ya bring their families honor the nobels maybe content enough ta let ya live another year” Rashell reminded him.
" My non clotting blood says not to take that gamble” Angus answered sardonically.
" The Hollyhocks are deep in debt so they couldn’t hire an assassin” Rashell revealed.
" You get that from one of your party guests or bed partners?” Angus asked him with a chuckle
" Speaking of honor will you send the ladies to avenge your Father?” Rashell asked
" the Unseelie scum have a use for now” The prince stated.
" Is war the best thing for us ?” Rashell mused
" You’d have me spare my fathers murders?” Angus snapped
" S......sorry” Rashell stammered now he had made his King mad.
Luckily they arrived at the entrance to the Shinto shrine of the earth God. the two of them bowed in unison before going to the actual shrine. Rashell placed the basket of fruit he had been given down glanceing at Angus carefully hopeing for a hint his temper had cooled as the two of them washed their hands in the stream.
Once they arrived Angus put a hand on his shoulder Rashell felt warmth well up inside him and felt relieved at the other boys forgiving touch but did not reach back Angus was no longer a prince, it would be improper to cross the boundaries between King and shield.
" Daimyojin, in this time where chaos rages outside our very doors. We humbly ask for your protection. Keep us together in unity and may my constant guard, Rashell, a soldier of order return to this court successful in his mission against the barbarians of destruction, order is absolute!” Rashell kept silent lowering his head so no one would see his silence then he rose with Angus in perfect tandem
Later Rashell went to the front hall Rayquan was completely gone there was a paper on the ground the faerie boy picked it up a finger was crudely sketched pointing upward toward the sky. ” The lenansidhe he scowled and strode off angrily almost hopeing some mugger would attack him, at least then he’d have something to punch.