Saturday, May 4, 2013

The Queen on the Holly Throne--Part 12

Casawallan eyed the plate before him furtively, and wondered if he could pick up a single grape without being seen. The Chamberlain of the Right tapped his fingers nervously. No meal in the Moonlit Palace could begin before the Queen arrived. To be seen eating before she arrived was an act so gross, so unmannered as to ruin a man’s standing and reputation permanently.

Unfortunately, Casawallan had arrived early, in hopes of impressing people with his zeal, and he had not eaten, in hopes of impressing them with his appetite at the meal. And so now, he sat there, stomach grumbling, trying not to think about food, as people around him engaged in whispered conversation.

He glanced across the hall at his rival, Milun de Chambre, who was looking plump and well-fed as he always did. Doubtless he was not feeling any hunger pains at this moment. Indeed, the man had doubtless eaten before arriving, and could sit in pleasant conversation, allowing all to note his manners and graces. Casawallan suppressed a snarl. That oily bastard. Always one step ahead of him. As he watched him laugh at some comment from the lady seated next to him--Milun’s niece, he believed, or possibly a granddaughter--it occurred to Casawallan that the man was secretly laughing at him at this very moment. The way he always did.

Well, let him laugh. He’d had a long lucky streak, but it had to break eventually. And when it did… when it did… well, then Casawallan would move his pieces into place, and he would finish him, and put the Court of the Left in its proper place. After all, despite years of effort, Milun had never managed to truly defeat him. Always, always, Casawallan produced some last second stratagem that secured his survival and at least SOME prosperity for the Court of the Right. Eventually, all the odds would stack in his favor and that would be that.

Across the hall, Melun nodded cheerfully to Esmeralda’s remarks. “Mauve you say? How splendid! And what color shall the gloves be?”

“I am thinking a bright green,” replied his cousin.

“Great-uncle,” said little Pallas, tugging on Melun’s sleeves. “That scary man is staring at you.” Melun followed his little grand-niece’s hand.

“Oh, that’s just Casawallan. The Right Chamberlain,” replied Melun. He shrugged. “Don’t pay him any mind. I seldom do.”

Pallas nodded. “All right then.”  She squinted.  “Hmm. That was odd.   He just grabbed furtively at a grape.  Then dropped it.”

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