kitchen_maid: (*Ambergeldar)
Amy ([personal profile] kitchen_maid) wrote2012-09-23 09:28 pm

Journey

Technically speaking, Their Majesties the King and Queen of Ambergeldar are overdue to go on a proper Royal Progress around their kingdom.

There is a very simple reason for this: His Majesty is not overly fond of being out on Progress. It means spending a lot of time staying with various Nobles who are all Honored by his presence and also who are trying to outdo any other Nobles who he has stayed or will stay with, which means rather a lot of Terribly Impressive Entertainments most of which are not very entertaining, most while privately resenting the bother and expense.

Besides, he likes the Palace at Amber. It's home.

He's been putting it off on reason of the Queen's Health for years now, as one does not take a woman in Delicate Condition rattling around the Kingdom, especially not when she is potentially carrying a Future Monarch, and even if Amy's reaction to the term "Delicate Condition" is a rather indelicate snort. But the twins are old enough now, and Her Majesty is not Expecting, and so it's time to face the fact that he cannot simply hide away in the Capitol any longer.

The previous Protocol Officer would have insisted on a very long, very grand, very overdone tour designed to stay in every manor house in the Kingdom. Fortunately, the previous Protocol Officer is still properly cooling his heels in the Royal Dungeons after taking part in some very improper High Treason. The King likes the new one better -- he's sensible and reasonable and has never tried to have Her Majesty kidnapped. The Queen selected him for the job.

And he has come up with an alternate suggestion.

And so, one bright, late summer morning finds the Royal Family preparing to depart for the first of several trips the Protocol Officer has proposed. All will involve visiting the King's various palaces around Ambergeldar, and Nobles will only be called upon to provide hospitality for a day or two en route. Each will be tied to an Official Occasion, which will be celebrated very grandly.

The towns and villages will get to see the King and Queen and Princess and Princes, and the palaces are scattered well enough that all the various regions will be properly visited. They will start with the christening of the new Flagship of the Ambergeldan Navy, and therefore with Perry's favorite of his other homes -- Silverhall Palace, just outside the town of Westershore, on the coast.

And the whole visit should take a couple of weeks, rather than months and months on end.

All in all, Perry is very pleased with the idea, though he has put his royal foot down about one thing – the entire court is not accompanying them. The courtiers at Amber are all perfectly familiar with their Monarchs; the whole point is that it's the rest of the country's turn.

So it's a very small party (by Royal standards) that goes rumbling out of the Amber Palace courtyard in dozen or so carriages -- the Royal family, the head of the Royal Nurseries and the four nursemaids who each have primary responsibility for one of the royal children, the King and Queen's secretaries, the Queen's lady-in-waiting Rosalind (and her infant daughter), the Protocol Officer, and the Court Magician, all under the watchful eyes of the head of the Palace Guard and his men.

And, by special invitation of Her Majesty, her brother Caspian and their friend Lady Marian, who have an only partly explained habit of popping up at the Palace unexpectedly and without transportation or luggage.

It's a very informal party, once they're outside the gates of Amber. They stop every couple of hours to rest or change the horses and to give the passengers a chance to stretch their legs for a few moments. The carefully assigned seating is quickly abandoned -- people drift from carriage to carriage at each change. (The Queen rides in almost all of them, at one point or another, before they reach Silverhall the next day.)

Luncheon is a cheerful and casual affair, eaten on blankets spread in a meadow the road passes through. Formality is utterly dispensed with.

This is the Royal Family as almost no one gets to see them. Perry (as he is not the King at rare times like this) carries Merry on his shoulders, chasing after butterflies they have no hope of catching. Susan giggles as her Uncle Caspian tickles her, and then drags him off to help her feed most of the picnic apples to the horses. The twins crawl about on the blankets and are swept up in their parents' arms when they wander too far and returned to their starting point. Amy and Rosalind get into a laughing debate about the order of the steps in a dance they're trying to teach Marian for the Ball that will follow the Christening of the ship. ("She's got them wrong," Rosalind tells Marian, quiet and amused, "but she's the Queen, and we'll all do it her way, anyway, so you might as well learn it that way.")

It's warm in the afternoon, and the children drift off for naps -- the twins and Rosalind's daughter Winifred under the watchful eyes of the nursemaids, Merry with his head on his uncle's lap, Susan settled up against Marian. Lord Terence dozes, Nurse Marta snores.

In the first carriage, the King (as he is no longer Perry) and the Queen and their Secretaries and the Protocol Officers review schedules and plans and arrangements and they myriad of other details for the coming three weeks.

They reach Greyway Manor late in the day, and the children are promptly carried off to beds. The adults have time to retire only briefly before they are expected in the Earl's Banquet Hall.

"I thought you told him not to go to any trouble, darling," Perry says to Amy, surveying the elaborately set dining table.

"Well, we tried," Amy says.

"This," Perry mutters, as the jugglers come in with the soup course, "is why I hate Progresses."

He says it again when the minstrels arrive with the fish course, and when the dancers appear with the salad. "Yes, I know," Amy says, as dessert brings acrobats. "This is why you hate Progresses."

It takes an age to take their leave of the Earl the next morning, after far too few hours of sleep. They finally manage to get back on the road only an hour after they intended to depart.

"Don't worry," Amy tells Caspian and Marian in the two hours she spends visiting in their carriage, "we're not doing anything like that tonight. In fact, my advice would be to have dinner sent up to your rooms."

The scenery outside the carriage windows gradually changes -- landscape growing flatter, different plants appearing. They first see and hear the gulls in the afternoon. As the sun begins to sink toward the horizon in front of them, they can first smell the salt tang of the sea.

The carriages reach the palace at dusk, and one of the pages goes running up to the roof to raise the Royal Standard high above the turrets and crenellations.

The King and his family are in residence at Silverhall Palace.

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