Of Heroine and Steeds
A fetid wind howled through the petrified limbs of Vitalis trees aligned along the banks of the Stikke. Once, in happier times, the voice of these sentient trees would have graced surrounding honeydew-sweet hills and vales with songs of hope and glory. Now, all that there was was stony silence; the ash-grey trees stood as sombre statues, pale shades of their former selves. Four moons past, a basilisk had walked this land, turning to stone any foolish enough to gaze upon it.
And so came Heroin Deirdre Gaoth to the Forest of Timbre, astride a hazelnut charger, hunting trident in hand, a retiarius net hung from the pommel of her saddle. Yet, neither man nor woman living witnessed what befell on Plumberry Hill that fateful day.
And so it came to pass that, long before the waning winter sun began its slow descent towards the mountains of Mourn, Heroin rode from the Forest of Timbre astride a basilisk broken to the saddle.
None saw her as, in the early hours of the following morning, she rode into the Kingdom of Aristotelia, past ravines and dry river beds, stumps of trees and blankets of weed barely visible in the hazy light of dawn. She carried with her a bladed lance of extraordinary length and keenness, and a glinting bejewelled shield bearing the proud emblem of the Lords of Light. And no one there living witnessed her ride through the tree-lined avenues of this warlike realm's capital city, Pregoria.
And this was precisely as Heroin desired it should be.
A young lad, however, who had no important job and could only see things as his eyes showed them to him, cried out: "Queen Heroin is naked."
"Fool!" his father reprimanded in hushed tones. "Talk not of such nonsense!"
But the boy's remark had been heard by a bystander.
"The lad is right,'' he murmured, addressing the boy's father, a man who had no important job. ''The Queen is naked! It's true! And is she not a most glorious sight to behold? But hush, boy, or you will give the game away; Queen Heroin believes some nidget yarn that all hereabouts have been turned to stone by a gigantic mythological serpent, so that none may see her."
The bystander's gaze travelled first from son to father, then from father to son. After a moment he smiled and said to the lad: ''It is easy to see how Queen Heroin could be so easily fooled, for your old man is stood as hard as a rock.''
The Merry Rambling Songs of Ballbag Saggins: #2
There was a young Habbit named Moth,
Went down to yon market in Goff:
Where he bought three fat pigs
and some syrup of figs,
Then sat down on his throne to make broth.
He would fair dance a jig
After syrup of things,
Then sit down on his throne and make broth.
He would howl out of tune,
having dined out on prunes,
Then sit down on his throne and make broth.
He’d’ve penned a nice ballad,
On a diet of salad,
But his fortune was made selling broth.
Queen Heroin's Scōl of Faux Olde English
During her years on the throne of Aristotelia, Queen Heroin Siobhán Deirdre Ni Bhraonáin St. Joan le Baptiste de la Gaoth developed a realmwide system of free schooling intended to provide better education for poor, orphaned and bastard children. These ''Gratis Facultāts'' were, in theory, open to any who could not afford to pay a fee. An ''Anarchistic System'', offering apprenticeships for lower status occupations—such as farm labouring, masonry, fletching, household service and prostitution—it was a decentralized network in which skills and knowledge were shared; whilst the open structure of her ''Classless Rooms'' was intended to encourage self-reliance, critical consciousness and personal hygiene. Following her ''Act of Uniformity'', academies were set up to cater for those who had not been afforded the luxury of a ''Facultāt Ūnifōrmis'' under the former Caesarean ''Plebeian, Proletariat and Peasant Facultāt System''. Schoolmistresses (or, latterly, masters) would typically teach the three Ws (writing, warfare and wizardry/witchcraft) in village schools known colloquially as ''Hovells''. In order to regulate and protect the apprenticeship system, Queen Heroin passed ''The Statute of Spellbinders and Apprentices'' which, among other things, forbade anyone from practising wizardry/witchcraft without first serving a 7-year period in naked bog wrestling.
However, since they were more value to their families as cheap labour, the vast majority of poor children did not attend school. As a result, most ''Classless Rooms'' were populated by adult learners.
The reader should note that the monk responsible for transcribing the events which take place in this particular scene, one Arnold the Benedictine, chose to forgo the descriptive in favour of dialogue—either that, or he was a lazy little friar whose name will ever be associated with acts of treachery and treason in the (at that time undiscovered) realm of New Albion.
— Today, class, I doth hath a very special treat in store for thee: Thou art to be tutored by none other than Her Regal Majesty the Queen Heroin! If any amongst thee wouldst carest to maketh notes, thou wilt find chisels and blank tablets on yonder table. And now, without further ado, I place thee in the hands of Queen Heroin.
— That be'eth quite enough of that, Egbert of Grimdyke!
— Sorry, Miss.
— Class, I give you M'Lady Heroin.
— Thank You, Rowena; and may I say what an absolute joy it is to come among you.
— And we shall have no more of that, Horace of Swilling!
— Sorry, Miss.
— I really must apologise for the unruly behaviour of my students, Queen Heroin.
— No need, Rowena; ’Tis only to be expected. Now, class, if you would be so good as to turn to the page in your tomes which doth display an illustration of an æppel, and repeat after me... ''Ã''.
— No. Not quite. Almost there. Let us try that again, shall we... ''Ã''
— Close, but no cocket.
— ’Tis bread, Harold of Dimdale.
— Sorry, M'Lady.
— Perhaps you might enjoy a slice of clapbread?
— Not really, M'Lady. No.
— No, I didn't think so. Now, class... listen very carefully and repeat after me... ''Ã''
— H'm... Perhaps we ought begin with something a modicum less difficile. Please turn to the page in your tomes which doth display an illustration of an orb, and repeat after me... ''Ö''.
— No, ''Ö''.
— No, Ô.
— H'm... Mayhap we will experience more success with a tapestry book? You there... What be thy name?
— Cuthbert of Prattling, M'Lady.
— And what role in my realm doest thou perform, Cuthbert?
— I looks after moo-moos, M'Lady.
— I thinks 'e do mean oxen, M'Lady.
— Indeed; that much I gathered. And what be thy name, good subject mine?
— Gilbert of Phlegm, M'Lady.
— And what is your appointed lot, Gilbert?
— I be a drover of swine, M'Lady.
— Just the two, M'Lady. A boy an' a girl.
— I was referring to your being a swineherd.
— I've been called worse, M'Lady.
— Yes, I'll wager that you have. Now, Gilbert, I will show you a tapestry. Please tell me what it is that you see.
— That be a nice juicy pear, M'Lady.
— Full marks for observation, Gilbert; but I would thank you for not being quite so forward.
— Sorry, M'Lady.
— Can any one of you here tell me what it is that this tapestry depicts?
— Cīcen, M'Lady.
— Fowl, M'Lady.
— Cock, M'Lady.
— That it is, Oswald. That, it is. Though this be not the time for show and tell, ’tis a most splendid cock indeed. See me after class, eh, there's a good boy.
The Song of Sam Aegipan: Sat on a Goatskin Hoof (or, Down by the Shuffling Gate)
I’ll give three shiny groats fir thy snuffling goat,
Cried out Sam, then he tooted his flute.
Though doth irk me to speak of, I’ve nay joy fir weeks,
An yon young snuffling goat looks reet cute.
I once knew a sheep; she were going reet cheap,
Thus I yet had the groats fir one boot.
She left me, one morn, fir a ewe with one horn;
Who knew size were important t’ sheep?!
Now I needs me an heir, some young devil-may-care
Who can uphold the family tradition:
Which be, roaming the woodlands, pan flute in hand,
Taking wildlife in artful positions.
Oh, what would pa say?—his bone flute once held sway
Over goddesses, centaurs and stoats.
So I lean on the gate, on the old Shuffling Gate,
Shelling out my last groats on a goat.
Though ’tis human to err, I’ll admit I’d feel silly
If yon goat be not doe, but a billie.
— Ben of Allúnn
In the Shadow of Vole d'Mort
When Professor Fumblepaws suggested she take up the lucrative position of senior lecturer at The Hardwÿk Institute for Would-be Warlocks and White Witches, Heroin had grasped the opportunity with fervent hands. Having only recently put an end to her feud with the half-pint ponce—he of the sorcerous bone, and founding member of the Order of The Penis—only to then find herself yet again imprisoned, this time by the goblin of Fyä, in the deadly shadows of the Chamber of Secretions, she was enthused by the prospect of being able to use her magical expertise and feminine wiles in far more convivial environs.
As a former student of Saint Trinny Ün Sussanah, Heroin was aware that appearance counted for everything. She therefore took great care in choosing appropriate attire for her first day in charge of a class at such an esteemed academy of learning: There had been a time, not too many years into her past, that she found herself a prisoner of acne balm. However, that period of her life was now naught but a painful memory and, from her cocoon of dappled adolescence, she emerged into the world as a stunning butterfly.
And so it was that—with a good deal of pride, and just a modicum of coquettishness—she reclined against her desk at the head of class Huffenstuff, dressed in her favourite basque of scarlet satin, thigh-length skirt of tanned leather, and ankle-boots of white rabbit fur, supremely confident in her ability to obtain the complete attention of her students; even that of solitary female student Hormone Stranger, a young lady who, it was rumoured in the hallowed halls, preferred the handmaid's bathing chamber to the gladiatorial shower.
Heroin raised a hand to her lips and produced a gentle cough.
''My name is Heroin Deidre-Snakebane,'' she said, her words delivered as coolly as an autumnal breeze. ''I have been placed in charge of your house that I might offer you the benefit of my vast experience in both the employment of magic and hand to hand combat. However, before commencing with my tutorial, I believe that it would be in order to first ensure that all of your equipment is in good working order. To that end, I would like all of you young male apprentices to step up, in alphabetical order, and show me your wand.''
She scooped up her nobbler bones, which were so richly and beautifully etched in runic symbols, and arranged them into patterns in such a manner that, when placed beneath the light of a waxing moon, proved professor Einekleinenachtmusik's theory of relatives – being that, in the eyes of each and every man who had survived long enough in combat to take a woman as his bedded wife, believed mother-in-laws ever irksome.
Some moments later, with a sigh that spoke of his shyness, and flaming cheeks to match his scarlet robe, Able Aardvark rose slowly to his feet. With a shuffling gait, he made his way to the head of the class.
''Hold it out where I can see it,'' Heroin said authoritatively. She stood in stunned silence for a moment and then raised an eyebrow. ''Oh dear!'' she continued. ''What a disappointment! Next.''
''Briainn Blessed, Miss.''
''H’m... Or not, as is the case,'' suggested Heroin wryly. ''Next.''
''Don Ferret, Miss,'' whined another would-be warlock.
''Oh dearie me! Oh blessed be! Really, I would have expected much bigger things from the students of Hardwÿk. Which of you is next?”
''Little John, Miss.''
''Of course you are. But why is it hanging so limp and twisted?''
''Hormone broke it, Miss.''
''Did she now! What do you have to say for yourself, Hormone?''
''I never touched it, Miss.''
''That, I can well believe, my dear. Indeed, who in their right mind would wish to go anywhere near such a spindly, misshapen thing? Next.''
An overly brash blond-haired boy thrust himself to his feet and swaggered to the front of the class.
''I’m Allmouth Wilde-Horseboy,'' he said, and gave a crafty wink.
''Mmmm… Indeed you are!'' purred Heroin. ''But... gracious me!'' She furrowed her brow. ''Someone really must teach you how to hold it correctly. You are all fingers and thumbs! Report to my private chamber after class.''
“YES, MISS!” exclaimed Allmouth excitedly. However, in his haste to turn and swagger back to his seat he knocked over a pile of text books which sat on the corner of Heroin's desk.
''Save your energy for later,'' she said. ''I shall gather up the tomes. Return to your place.''
With a grin as wide as his young, handsome face, Allmouth made his way back along the central aisle.
Heroin bent low to gather up the books.
''Oh dear,'' she said, as realization of her negligence dawned. 'It would seem that, in my eagerness to prepare myself for this morning’s class, I have forgotten to put on my panties.''
''Ooops,'' groaned Dick Small, a spotty and bespectacled child who sat at the very front of the class.
''Eeeuuuw!'' squealed Hormone Stranger.
''Oh, good heavens!'' declared Heroin. ''Whatever next?!'' She tut-tutted loudly and then asked: ''Hormone, dear, I wonder if you would be so kind as to pop along to Professor Snake’s office and ask him if he would conjure up a sign which reads: Caution, Slippery Surface.''
Last edited by Messiah
on Tue Mar 19, 2013 8:06 am, edited 8 times in total.
Writing for an audience of one.