kitchen_maid: (Queen and Mother)
It is one of those gorgeous October days that Nature and the Fairies bestow when they are in particularly good moods. The sun is bright, the air is crisp, and the leaves of the Forest of Faraway shine ruby and amber and garnet and topaz just beyond the palace.

"So naturally," Amy says to Caspian as they walk to the long line of carriages waiting in front of the Palace, "we will spend the day in a cathedral and the throne room."

It really would be an excellent day for a ride. Or a picnic. Or a football game. Or really any of several dozen other events that wouldn't involve wearing two pounds of gold on one's head and a somewhat fixed smile on one's face for hours and hours on end.

Amy hands her dozing youngest son off to her brother as Perry helps her up into the Royal Carriage. Once she's settled, Caspian hands his nephew (and soon to be godson) back to his sister and, with one last slightly wistful look off toward the stables, heads for his own carriage.

It's a very long and very slow procession from the Palace to the cathedral -- in fact, it goes nearly a mile out of its way, in order to create enough space for all the crowds who want to cheer and throw flowers and feel a part of the day, as the King and Queen and their Family and Guests wave graciously from the windows of the ribbon-bedecked carriages. Though it must be said in certain carriages -- like the one X and Elle are riding in -- there is rather less gracious waving and rather more scanning the assembled throng for potential threats. (Other guests, like Thor, manage to do both simultaneously, quite handily.)

Royal Christenings in Ambergeldar are very grand affairs. Prince George has fifteen godfathers and five godmothers and while that is half the number his oldest brother has, it is still ten times the number of godparents of an ordinary infant. There are a great many prayers and invocations and hymns and chants and then the archbishop gives a very long and exceedingly tedious sermon. More than one of the grown-up guests spends a moment being rather jealous of the Lady Ingress, who is keeping a close watch on her brother, Portico, and the twin princes, Laurence and Caspian Malcolm, out in the cathedral garden. (It's the sort of close watch that involves a great deal of playing silly games and picking the last the of archbishop's blackberries, and rather more fun than listening to an overly long sermon.)

But the ceremony does finally wind down to an end, whes by the archbishop (whose holiness doesn't exclude just enough vanity to avoid wearing his spectacles for Grand Events) hands the newly christened and slightly fussy George William Humphrey Philip Algernon Scorpius Bruce over not to his father but to the closest dark-haired godfather, Bruce Wayne. Bruce doesn't quite mask his surprise, but he rolls with it, and Amy is fairly certain no one who doesn't know better has any idea that wasn't the plan.

She is also not entirely certain she and Perry are getting George back any time soon -- he promptly settled down once Bruce was holding him, and his godfather seems in no rush to hand him off.

To a wild clamor and clanging of bells (in the cathedral and every other church in Ambergeldar), the Royal Party and the other christening guests make their way back to their carriages and then along a different but still excessively circuitous route back to the Palace. And now the second part of the celebration begins -- a great reception in which dukes and dignitaries, lords and ladies, all file dutifully past Prince George's cradle and then offer their congratulations and gifts to the King and Queen. That done, they are free to find their friends and see what the Palace Kitchens have produced for the occasion.

(The Palace Kitchens have pulled out every stop, and it's a very impressive display, indeed. The only problem arises when an entire platter of apple pasties unaccountably goes missing. It is, surely, coincidence that X and Princess Susan disappeared briefly at the same time. And that it was just after the south-facing windows were darkened by the huge shadow created by Norman's landing in the garden.)

Thayet, by virtue of her rank, is able to jump to the head of the receiving line. She may have a harder time escaping Lord Aubrey, though, whom Amy has tasked with overseeing the founding of Ambergeldar's first university, and who has a thousand questions he'd love to get Thayet's opinion on. On the plus side, this is probably far more interesting than gossiping about court fashion.

Scorpius, too, will find someone waiting the moment he finishes his godfather duties -- Prince Merry wants to show him how well Millicent -- the mouse Scorpius Transfigured from a Quidditch magazine on a previous visit -- is enjoying her new life in the nursery. (She has her own little Mouse Palace in the nursery. Merry is very proud of it.)

It's easy enough to keep track of some of her guests from other worlds. Some she simply knows where they are likely to be found; Lord Terence the Court Magician never misses an opportunity to talk shop with Tom Riddle. And others are quite impossible to miss; Thor is tall, and is also being trailed by a somewhat giggly group of Court Ladies. (The Count Ladies are destined to be disappointed. Thor is, of course, perfectly charming to them, but he happily launches into conversations with the warriors of this land any moment an opportunity presents itself.)

There are others Amy cannot find easily, though, even from her vantage point on her throne. Meg Ford is decidedly not tall, after all, though she is less than successful at keeping to the edges of the room than she might be were it not for Parker Lee, who keeps dragging her back into conversations. And occasionally, Amy catches sight of Elle, hanging back and watching everything going on around her very intently.

The afternoon is just edging into evening when there's a great hubbub that starts near the doors and can only mean one thing: the Fairy Crustacea has made her customary appearance. There has been great speculation for weeks about just what sort of gift she might bestow upon George (her arrival is seen as a foregone conclusion by most of the court by now). His older brothers got Integrity and Fortitude and Perception. Intelligence has been a popular guess this past week (replacing last week's fashionable answer of Bravery), though there is a group quite convinced he'll get Generosity (much to the alarm of the Chancellor of the Exchequer -- Generous Princes can get very expensive).

The room falls almost unnaturally silent as the fairy studies the prince in his cradle and then announces, "My dear boy, I am going to give you something that will be far more useful to you than anything else I could bestow. You shall have an Excellent Sense of Humor."

It's quite clear that the Court is not sure what to make of this, but the King breaks into a wide smile. "A very useful and necessary quality in a prince," he says to his wife.

And either the seaweedy lady still looking into the cradle is very amusing, or her magic is just that powerful, because HRH George laughs. And that taken care of, Crustacea wanders off to see what's on the buffet table, where she runs into Captain Sir Malcolm Reynolds. And the fairy Crustacea, who is in charge of water, has always had a soft-spot in her heart for sailors, even when it's not water they sail on. (Or possibly it's just a soft spot for mild rogues. The two groups are far from mutually exclusive.) She says quite late by her standards, chatting with Mal.

All in all, it's one of those perfect October days.

July 22-24

Jul. 24th, 2013 02:34 pm
kitchen_maid: (Amy & Baby)
The newest member of the Royal Family of Ambergeldar (who arrived this afternoon with the usual fuss and an improbable amount of dark hair) has finally fallen asleep in his Royal Papa's arms. His Royal Mama is watching from across the room, propped up by an impressive number of pillow and no small amount of will.

"I think he's going to have your nose," Perry says, sounding quite pleased by the notion, and carefully settling his youngest son in the cradle in the corner.

"I suppose we'll see. More pressing, though, darling, is the fact that we have yet to come up with a name for him."

"There's still time," Perry says.

"Not really," Amy says. "Not a lot. He's here."

"Technically, we have until the christening."

"That'll be months, Perry. What do we call him in the meantime?"

"'Prince Whose Parents Are Out Of Names,'" Perry says, ticking the words off on his fingers. "I say, that's seven. We could use that."

"I'm not going to dignify that with a response," Amy says.

Perry settles onto the bed next to her and pulls her over so that her head is resting against his shoulder. "I see why your parents choose to have a theme. It does make things easier. I suppose we could do that."

"What? Name him after a gemstone? Prince . . . Peridot? Jasper?"

"No, I meant adopt a theme."

"I think we're four children too late for that," Amy says.

"Pity. We could have done colors," Perry says. "Gone right down the rainbow. Red, Orange, Yellow, Green, Blue, Purple."

"Thereby making your successor King Orange of Ambergeldar." She pauses, considering it. "That almost works. The Court Poet would never have forgiven us, though."

Nothing rhymes with Orange.

Perry kisses the end of his wife's nose. "We'll talk about it after you rest. It won't hurt him any to wait a little longer. He's too young to know, anyway."

* * *

"It's not like we have to come up with all seven," Amy says the next day. "I mean, we do, but we've already got a couple. We can use Scorpius and Bruce. They, did, after all, help save the kingdom."

"Yes. Which means we just need another five," Perry says, writing Scorpius and Bruce on the paper in front of him.

Amy is still in bed, and Perry has dragged a spindly and quite fragile-looking table over to use as a desk as he keeps her company. She's not sure it's meant for the sort of abuse it's taking as the King's Desk, but it's a particularly ugly table and she shan't mind in the slightest if it dies in the service of its country.

"I know you don't like the name," Amy says, "but we haven't used Humphrey yet, and he was your father. For that matter, we haven't used Algernon."

"My father didn't like his name. And who do you think started calling me Peregrine, anyway?"

"Yes, darling, but the populace doesn't know that. They just know you've already named three sons, and none of them are named after you or your father. We don't have to put one of them first, but I think we should at least consider putting one or both in the middle."

"I will consider it," Perry says, with the air of one making a great concession.

"Besides, it would be at least one more name we don't have to think of," Amy says.

* * *

Amy is watching the sunset over the palace gardens, with her still un-named youngest son in her arms. He is asleep. Amy suspects she will be soon. Perry is watching them both.

"We could name him West," Perry says.


"Well, Sunset seemed a little frivolous. So West. And then we could name the next one East. Or South."

"You're back to themes, then?"

"They're handy."

"What about North?"

Perry looks down at his wife and son. "Don't be silly, Amethyst. What kind of a name is North?"

"No directions, cardinal or otherwise," Amy says.

* * *

"Benjamin," Amy says, over breakfast.

"Benjamin isn't bad," Perry responds, weighing it. He writes it on the slowly-filling bit of paper he's been jotting names on since yesterday.

"David. Jonathan. Noah. Joshua. Jacob. Caleb. Samuel. Aaron. Moses," Amy offers.

"Shadrach, Meshach, Abednego," Perry says, setting his pen down. "Are you just going though the Old Testament?"

"We can go through the New Testament, too," Amy says. "Matthew. Mark. Luke. John -- no, wait, we've used John already. Bartholomew."

"Drink the rest of your tea," Perry says.

* * *

"What about Ambergeldan heroes?" Amy says, in the afternoon. "From history and legends and so on. We could take names from those. Ambergeldar must have some."

"Of course we have some," Perry says, just a little indignantly. "And you should know about them already, oh Queen of My Country for the Last Six Years."

"There has been rather a lot going on in those six years," Amy says, though he's right of course. "Tell me now."

"Well, there's the Founder of the Country. He stopped one day, right about where the throne room is now supposedly, and thrust his sword into a huge stone -- "

"Wait. What? Surely that's backwards. The sword went into the stone? Not out of the stone?"

"No, into," Perry says. "And years and years before that fellow in England got his start."

"But why would anyone try to put a sword into a stone? It seems like you'd run a needless risk of damaging or at least dulling the blade."

"I don't know, but he did. And the stone split in two and the inside was full of amber, which he took as a sign that he should found a city and name it Amber. So, well, he did. And here we are."

"I see," Amy says, after a moment. "Because this man somehow cleaved a giant rock in two with a sword, and it was full of amber, even though most of what we've got of that washes up on the shore?"

"Don't let science get in the way of a perfectly good legend, Amethyst," Perry says.

"Of course not, Algernon," Amy says. "So did this rock-splitting gentleman have a name?"

"Egbricht," Perry says.

"Egbricht," Amy repeats, thoughtfully. And then, "No, I don't think so."

"There is a reason we haven't carried on using it."

"And no reason to start now."

* * *

Amy picks up Perry's list of names. Well, it's not really a list, as that implies some degree of order, and Perry has jotted these down somewhat randomly, at whatever angle was convenient in the moment, all over the page.

Bruce. Scorpius. Humphrey (?). Algernon (???). Benjamin (with an odd trail coming down from the N probably made as he'd looked up from the paper to his wife). Geoffrey. Lionel. Francis (?). Allyn. Lysander. Frederick. Apple.

"Apple?" Amy asks.

"What? Oh, no. I mixed up the bits of paper," Perry says, reaching over to draw an untidy line through the word Apple. "They came to ask you about dinner and you were asleep and I didn't want to wake you. So I just scrawled some things down myself."

"And that's why we're eating apple and onion pie with trout and marmalade and cherries jubilee?"

"I didn't put much thought in it, all right? I've been a bit distracted. My wife just had a baby."

"You don't say," says the wife in question. "I suppose we could consider Marmalade," she adds.

Her very Regal husband sticks his very Regal tongue out at her, then frowns at the paper in her hand. "We need to name him something. The Prime Minister is getting prickly about Proclamations."

"Yes," Amy says. "And I'd like to know what to call him." But there's nothing written on the paper she's holding that she can quite hear herself saying every day for the rest of her life.

"I suppose -- " she begins, but Perry cuts her off.

"Let's just pick a name we like," he says. "He's the fourth son, it doesn't have to be appropriately kingly, because the chances he'll wind up on the throne are . . . well, far too bleak to be considered. Let's just use a name we like without worrying about who has already had it. And then we can stick Algernon in the middle somewhere for balance."

"All right," Amy says.

And an hour later, on a fresh bit of paper, they've got it.

George William Humphrey Philip Algernon Scorpius Bruce.

It has a nice ring to it.


Sep. 26th, 2012 07:36 pm
kitchen_maid: (Queen of Ambergeldar)
There's a bit of a breeze coming off the sea, which Amy finds quite welcome, just as she is happy to have the shade of the pavilion.

They've finished their tour of the ship, and a drowsy Susan has been taken back to the Palace for a well-earned nap. There's no such respite for her parents, though. They are hosting a reception for the many Important Personages who have come for the christening of The Princess Royal.

(And when it is over, there will be just barely enough time to rush back to the palace and change for tonight's Ball. Amy is very grateful that ships do not often require christening.)

There are just a few minutes of not-quite-downtime now, as she and Perry were the very first people to tour the ship, and most of the other attendees are not quite done. She's hoping there will be time to grab a cup of tea and maybe even a sandwich or some such before she's needed in the receiving line.
kitchen_maid: (Queen and Mother)
It is an absolutely perfect day for the christening of His Majesty's Flagship, a fact for which Amy is profoundly grateful, as this is not the sort of event that gets rescheduled or even postponed for nasty weather. And while Queens do not complain, Amy cannot say she was looking forward to sitting on an observation platform in a downpour.

The guests and dignitaries have already left the palace, and most should be in their seats by now. The King's Carriage goes rolling out of the Palace courtyard, the windows open so that they can wave to the people gathered along the route to the shore.

Caspian and Marian have very good seats waiting for them. Marian still tips her head a little every now and again, when she gets a little surprised to have anything on her head, no less a small white sailboat made into a hat. Which causes her to flush, and stiffle a laugh and a bright smile any time Caspian, with his much larger hat, caught sight of these smallest movements of hers.

His smile is rueful back, but even the resignation with which he wore the hat (a really big hat, Jack might say) can't disguise the interest in his eyes. He straightens as they near the pier, waving when Marian nudges him and reminds him to, making him laugh as the absurd boat teeters in her hair.

The Royal Carriage rolls to a stop at the foot of the stairs that lead to the platform. There are ever so many steps, as the platform must be high enough to allow the assembled crowd to see the King and Queen, and to allow them to reach the top of the ship's prow when it comes to smash a bottle of champagne against it.

They make their way slowly up the stairs and then arrive on the platform to a great blast of trumpets and something of a gasp from the crowd. His Majesty is, of course, resplendent in the naval uniform he almost never has an excuse to wear, and Her Majesty's tiara has been selected as especially suited to catching the sunlight, but Amy suspects they are reacting to the fact that the Princess Royal is between her parents, holding their hands. She's wearing a blue dress decorated with gold braid that's meant to evoke (but not minic) a sailor's uniform, and her hair shines brighter than her mother's tiara.

Susan has appeared in public before, of course. The Royal Family attends services at the Cathedral and Susan goes with her parents to football games and so on. But she has never made an Official Public Appearance before, unless you count her own christening, and somehow, no one does. Her Appearance today has been the most closely guarded secret in Ambergeldar for several months -- there aren't a dozen people who knew she would be accompanying her parents.

Her uncle beams proudly, hands behind his back, and winks at the Princess when no one's looking.

Marian raises a hand to her lips, without making a sound, but the surprise and joy brightene her entire countenance. The three of them shining, beloved and beautiful.

The ceremony opens with a long Invocation by the Archbishop, followed by a longer Address by the Admiral of the Fleet. Amy and Perry sit with properly attentive expressions (though Amy will not remember more than a sentence or two of either in three hours' time). Susan squirms a bit, but only people who are watching exceedingly closely (and know what to watch for) will see the King slip his daughter a piece of toffee halfway through the Address.

Marian might be used to long stuff speeches back home, about crushing peasantry, but there is something almost insufferable about the droning on of so many on such a golden glorious day, in front of the huge mysterious ship, seperated from friends and enjoyment of it yet.

Caspian, for his part, certainly looks attentive, and indeed, those who do not know him well might suggest Her Majesty's brother had been most obliging throughout the speech. Those others who do know him might note that his eyes are firmly fixed not on the speakers, but on the ship herself, and that from time to time his fingers drum impatiently. He claps most politely, however, when it ends, and it would be impossible to say what he turns to say to Marian, drowned out as it is by the scatter of applause.

When the scattering of applause comes to an end, Perry rises to speak. He thanks a long litany of people (the Archbishop, the Admiral of the Fleet, the assembled guests, the men who built and will sail the ship), but otherwise keeps his remarks as brief as is possible without upsetting the people who have come to see the King.

He finishes by introducing Amy and Susan, despite the fact that there probably isn't a person watching who doesn't know who they are. Together, they approach the curtain that has been hung in front of the ship's figurehead and name.

The show of attentiveness Caspian put forth earlier is shamed by his true eagerness now, making Marian smile as he leans close again, hand sweeping through the air as he comments on the vessel. Around them, murmurs rise and fall, excited before being hushed.

Perry lifts Susan up (and she gives a very unregal giggle) and together they pull the cord that drops the curtain down onto the dock below. The figurehead's hair doesn't shine quite as brightly as Susan's, but it comes as close as paint allows.

Susan, still in her Royal Papa's arms, and Amy take the bottle of champagne offered by the Admiral and announce (Amy's voice carrying rather better than her daughter's), "We name thee The Princess Royal."

The bottle obligingly smashes, and there's a great cheer from the crowd.

It is a good round of surprises, perfectly concealed and revealed. Marian finds herself laughing and clapping with the waves of joyous celebration that ripple through the crowd.

All around them, people are smiling, laughing, applauding, and Caspian is no different. 'Tis a fine name for a fair vessel, after all.
kitchen_maid: (Queen and Mother)
Amy and Perry have a very long, very busy, very full, and very public day. The kind where you get home and your face is ever so faintly sore from the amount of smiling you've done. They were looking forward to having an hour for each other and the children, but the best laid plans of Kings and Queens are always subject to Problems Arising.

In this case, they returned to find a messenger waiting from Amber, with a letter from Prime Minister requiring His Majesty's Immediate Attention. Perry takes ten minutes to wash the carriage dust off his face, look in on the children, eat a sandwich, and then shut himself up in his study with his secretary the messenger and Lord Stefan. "No need to trouble you yet," he tells Amy. "I'll fill you in when I understand the gist of it."

Amy, therefore, has spent the last hour with her secretary, Duncan, overseeing the dispersal of the dozens of gifts collected on their tour of the town. Foods to the kitchens, toys the nurseries, flowers into water, odds and ends to various homes. Duncan has kept a neat record of what came from where, and he starts drafting the thank you notes that she will sign.

After an hour, Amy sticks her head around Perry's door, takes in the set of his shoulders and the expression on his face and decides to send word to the kitchen to delay dinner by at least an hour, and possibly an hour and a half. This will make for a late meal, but no one will want to start without the King. (Though they may have to, as asking for more than an hour and a half will throw the kitchen into a tizzy from which it can't easily right itself, as Amy knows from having worked in one.)

She pays her own very brief visit to her very sleepy children and then heads back to her rooms.

"The kitchen will delay dinner as you requested," Duncan tells her, when she arrives.

"Thank you. In the meantime, if you could ask them to send up some tea and . . . something. I don't really care what."

"Anything but lemon cakes, ma'am?"

"Yes, anything but lemon cakes," Amy says. "I'll take it on the balcony off my parlor. Thank you."

It's quiet and private and she can watch the sun start to set over the sea.

"Of course."

"Oh," Amy says. "And you might ask Lady Marian if she'd like to join me."

You learn, as a Queen, to take advantage of the openings in your schedule when they create themselves.
kitchen_maid: (Perplexed or Curious)
The day has passed in a steady stream of meetings and appointments and "just a minute of your time, please, Your Majesty." (It's never just "a minute." And if someone asks for "a few minutes," it's going to be at least half an hour.)

But when you move the whole Royal Family, with bag and baggage and a dozen guests, into a palace they've not visited formally in years, there are a lot of people who are going to want to meet with the Queen about things. Even if it's just to hear that, yes, Her Majesty is very pleased with the way things have been done or maintained or improved since last she saw them.

Sir Gareth, the Master of the Household of Silverhall Palace, takes up most of the afternoon. Amy likes him, he's a kind and genial but remarkably orderly and efficient man, but he does like to talk, and he is exceedingly fond of detail.

Amy sinks back in her chair with a bit of a sigh when he finally leaves. That's done, then. It should all be done.

There's a knock at the door. Amy automatically straightens back up in her chair before she announces, "Enter."

"Your Majesty." Her secretary, Duncan, appears in the doorway. "Your next appointment is here."

"I thought Gareth was the last, Duncan."

"No, Your Majesty."

Amy looks at the clock on the far side of the parlor. It's half four. She probably shan't get any time at all to herself today.

"Very well," Amy says, with a bit of a sigh that draws no reaction from Duncan (who is, after all, quite accustomed to working with Her Majesty. "Show him in."


Sep. 23rd, 2012 09:28 pm
kitchen_maid: (*Ambergeldar)
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.
kitchen_maid: (*Ambergeldar)
The King and Queen have a great many parlors at their disposal, ranging from the very grand to somewhat very grand.

And then there is this one, which is generally reserved for the use of the family and their closest personal friends. It is a comfortable, sunlit sort of room, where one may find the children's toys and the Amy's embroidery and Perry's carving projects.

It is also where Amy has instructed her staff to lay out a breakfast for her friends this morning. They were all shown back to their rooms for what was left of the night before after their adventures, to at least attempt to get some rest.

Amy herself is a bit busy at the moment catching up on Official Matters: giving reports to the Deputy Captain of the Palace Guard and the Court Historian, seeing to the palace's new ghost (she's settled him in the Northwest tower, which is, she assures him, a perfectly lovely place to haunt), and reassuring her husband that yes, darling, she really is perfectly all right. She'll be along when she can.

In the meantime, everyone is free to make their way into the parlor in their own time. When they arrive, they will likely find company, and definitely find a table laid with everything the kitchens could find to send up: bread and jam and marmalade, cakes and pastries, eggs and bacon and sausages, a giant bowl of fruit, tea and juice and milk.
kitchen_maid: (Golden Woods)
"Where are the others?" Amy asks, following X out into the small square room between the ballroom and the exit, Bruce close behind them.

"Meg is with the ghost. On the other side of the lake. She is providing a distraction," X says. "Parker and Scorpius -- "

"-- are getting the hell out of here," Parker puts in, as she and Scorpius come all but skidding into the room and stop just short of colliding with Bruce. "Y'all coming?"

While this plan is sheer elegance in its simplicity, they quickly hit a snag. The dock has fallen into to the water and the boats are drifting out into the middle of the lake.

"It wouldn't be hard to swim out and get them," Bruce says, stepping into the lake to do just that.

From the castle behind them, there's another BONG of the clock. The previously still water begins to move, and then swirl, and then to drain, turning the entire lake into a giant, rushing whirlpool.

"Bruce," X says.

Bruce, who had made it as far in as his ankles, steps quickly back onto the shore.

They stand watching the lake for a moment.

"Swimming will be stupid. Now," X says.

"What do we do instead?" Amy asks. "Fly?"

Scorpius looks back to the castle. "I have an idea," he announces. "I'll be right back." He turns and runs back down the path.

"Are you crazy?" Parker yells after him.

"I will go," X says, stopping Parker and following Scorpius.

"What's going on over there?" Meg yells from the other side of the lake.

She's standing on the shore, straining her eyes to see across in any detail. She and the ghost came out to investigate after the first clock chime, and watched the dock collapse.

He's beside her now, ringing his hands, and repeating, "Oh, dear."

"Hush," Meg tells him.

"But they were supposed to wait here," he says, hovering just above where the dock isn't anymore.

"Well, they didn't," Meg says. "Now, if you've got something useful to contribute, let's have it, and otherwise, shut up." She turns her attention back to the group on the other side of the lake. "Parker? Laura? Are all of you all right?"

"We're fine. Amy is, too," Parker yells. "Stuck, but Scorpius has an idea. We'll get back to you!"

Scorpius ignores both the ballroom and the corridor in favor of opening the storage cupboard. Brooms, brooms, where are the -- ah. There are three, which he grabs from in amidst the mops.


The room shakes slightly and one of the candelabra falls into the tapestry behind it.

"We are leaving," X says. "Now."

Scorpius manages to keep hold of the brooms as X propels him out the door.

"The castle is on fire," X tells the others. "It is better not to go back."

Scorpius drops the brooms on the shore, pulls out his wand, and begins casting spells.

"Brooms? You went back for brooms?" Bruce asks.

"We're going to fly out," Scorpius says. He's even better than half sure it'll work!

Parker looks down at the brooms in utter confusion for a second, then grins. "Awesome."

"Right," Scorpius says, setting the brooms in a line on the ground. He holds his hand out over the closest one and orders it, "Up!" The broom jumps promptly to his hand, and he almost sighs in relief. The spell should be working, then. It's not fancy or sophisticated -- no one could use one of these brooms to pursue a Snitch -- but it should be enough to get them across the lake and through the woods.

He hastily gives instructions in Basic Broom Flight and then assigns Bruce and Amy to one broom, and X and Parker to another. The most complicated part of this is going to be collecting Meg on the way out, and as the only person here who has ever flown a broom before, he keeps that job for himself.


Behind them, there's a massive shattering of glass as the fire blows out the windows in the ballroom.

"Ladies and gentlemen," Parker says, "welcome to Air Ambergeldar, with nonstop service out of here."

On the other side of the lake, Meg has been trying to follow the activity of her friends with rather limited success. And now . . .

"What on Earth?"

Three things come zooming across the lake at her, above the surface of the whirling water. It takes her a moment to work out what exactly she's seeing, and another two to believe it.


With a groan and then a crash, one of the trees at the edge of the woods falls toward them, crushing the little building by the lake.

"Hang on," Scorpius calls. "I'm coming to get you."

There are other crashes coming from the forest now as trees fall into each other, followed by the eerie metallic clangs and twangs from their leaves.

"It is better to be quick," X advises.

Right. No time to stop, then, or land. Scorpius steers his broom away from the others, diving a bit and then leveling out just above the ground. He's never tried to pull someone onto a moving broom before, but years of Quidditch mean that he's good on a broom, that he can see how this is going to work even before he does it.

He simply sweeps Meg onto the broom in front of him, and she simply lets him (which is good, because if she hadn't, she could have upset the whole metaphorical apple cart).

"Are you all right?" Scorpius asks, directing the broom back up to join the others.

"I think so. Thank you."

Behind them, the ghost is yelling something about requisition forms and incident reports and running along after them, through the air.

Meg turns, and more importantly leans a bit to look at him and the broom shifts a bit to the side. "Er--don't-- try to just hold still," Scorpius says, correcting their course.

"Sorry," Meg says.


"How many of those do you think we get?" Parker asks. "The chimes?"

"Twelve, probably," Amy says. "Traditionally, spells break at midnight, and everything goes back to the way it was."

"I don't think we want to be here when that happens," Bruce says.

"How many do we have left?" Parker asks.

X and Meg answer at the same time. "Five."



Amy looks down at the crumbling forest before them, stretching as far as the eye can see. "I don't remember the way out." She doesn't think she ever actually knew it.

"I got it," Bruce says. He detonates the the small black devices he attached to the trunks of trees at regular intervals as they'd made their way through the woods.

Just off to their left, there's an explosion, and flames rise from one of the tree trunks. A second later, further on, there's another explosion, and then another, and another, like beacons on hills, until there's a bright path of burning trees leading back to Amber.

"Oh, that is better than breadcrumbs," Amy says, delighted.


The first of the marked trees stands on the edge of the clearing with the large, moving tree in the middle of it. On the plus side, the explosion seems to have taken out most of the biting leaves. The tree itself, however, has abandoned any pretense of allure, and reaches its branches out toward the brooms.

"Climb!" Scorpius yells, directing his own broom further up and out of the tree's reach, and hoping that the spells on the brooms hold.

They stay high, above the tree tops, flying as quickly as the brooms (and their pilots) can manage. Below them, trees continue topple as the spell breaks ever further down.


There are three burning trees left before them when the bird flies up and across their path. It circles X and Parker's broom, with a click-whirr of its wings.

"Go on, shoo," Parker says, reaching out to swat it away.

X maneuvers the broom away from the bird, coaxing just the tiniest bit more speed out of it. The bird clicks its beak twice, and follows them.


"That's eleven!" Meg says.

"And that's the stairs," Bruce adds, as they're coming up on the last of the marked trees. It has, in fact, fallen across the path, either from the explosion or part of the general collapse. This, handily, has created an opening in the trees that they can descended through, with minimal being whipped in the face with tree branches.

"Take point," X tells Bruce, veering to avoid the bird again. "I will take rear guard."

Bruce and Amy descend through the trees and head up the stairs, followed closely by Scorpius and Meg (who are, in turn, followed by the ghost, still ringing his hands and muttering about paperwork).

"Let's blow this popsicle stand," Parker says, as she and X bring up the rear. They fly down through the trees and up the stairs, crossing the threshold of the trapdoor a split second ahead of the final, distant BONG.

The bird, still following them, explodes in a shower of gears and cogs and springs, and the trap door has vanished before they hit the floor.
kitchen_maid: (Golden Woods)
In contrast to the candlelit ballroom, the corridor is dim, lit weakly by a few (generously spaced) torches. There are door down both sides, all closed, and placed almost randomly along the way. The hallway runs away from the ballroom at an angle, and either the lighting or just its sheer length make it impossible to see where it ends.

It's clean, completely free of dust and cobwebs, either because the spell has kept them from accumulating or because someone (or something) has tidied recently.

It is almost perfectly silent, save for the quiet hiss of the closest torch.
kitchen_maid: (White Dress)
By the time they reach the far side of the lake, there is no sign of Amy on the shore, save the boat she had crossed in, tied up to a dock that's the twin of the one they departed from.

There is, however, music coming from the castle in front of them, and it's easy enough to see through the windows of the brilliantly lit ballroom.

The path from the dock leads up to a grand, and apparently unguarded, doorway. Still, it's with a fair amount of caution that they make there way up the path and into the castle.

The door opens onto a small square room, lit by towering iron candelabras in the corners. Tapestries hang on either side of the door in the center of each wall. The door to the left is obviously the ballroom -- it stands ajar, and the host of clockwork guests and serving people move easily around, unconcerned about their observers (at least at the moment).

The door to the right conceals, improbably, a small storage cupboard, with brooms and mops and buckets. Parker, who has opened it, closes it again with a bit of a shrug.

That leaves the door straight ahead, which leads to a long, torch-lit hallway. "That way, I think," Scorpius says, nodding at it, after un-shrinking Sir Harold's book and consulting something in it.

"You go. We will keep Amy safe," X says, to Scorpius and Parker. There's a beat, and then she adds, "Yell if anything is trying to kill you."

"Oh, that's a given," Parker promises. And on that dreadfully encouraging note, they start down the corridor.

Bruce and X move into the ballroom. Around them, clockwork footmen and serving girls carry trays of glasses and plates, clockwork musicians play notably mechanical music, and clockwork noblemen congregate in corners and along the edges of the brilliantly candlelit room.

In the middle of the room, Amy is dancing with a clockwork figure, around and around and around.
kitchen_maid: (Golden Woods)
Despite all the time they lost in the woods, their party still reaches the edge of the woods just in time to see Amy stepping into a small boat. The boat's other occupant is somewhat hidden from view by a large hat with an even large plume, pulled low over his face. The moment Amy is settled in the boat, he begins rowing her across the lake.

The water is dark, and utterly still, save for the ripples caused by the boat and the oars. It's not a large lake, and on the far side, a second dock waits in front of a castle.

The castle is made of dark stone, and its windows glow with an almost thick, heavy golden light. It rises, all jumbled towers and jagged parapets, toward the dark "sky" above them, and it's impossible to tell just where the castle leaves off and the sky begins.

But that is a problem for later. First, they must get across the lake.

There are a dozen other little boats moored at the dock before them, each with a pair of oars, and room for a rower and a passenger.

There's a small structure next to the dock, one which looks like it cannot contain more than a single room. Unlike everything else they've encountered, it looks . . . aged. Neglected. The windows are dusty, the wooden sides are dingy, here and there shingles are missing. No smoke rises from its small chimney.
kitchen_maid: (Oh Dear)
Amy knew when she married Perry that she was never going to have what you might call a surfeit of privacy.

On the other hand, this is the first time since she was a very small girl that she's tried to fall asleep with an audience keeping watch over her.

There's a faint sliver of light through the doorway that Amy keeps opening her eyes to watch. X, Parker, Meg, Scorpius, and Bruce are in the breakfast room, just on the other side of the ever-so-slightly ajar door. ("You do not have to worry. I will hear you," X had said, when Amy had expressed surprise at how little the door is open. "Heartbeats are difficult to muffle. It is okay.")

Amy rolls onto her other side, which at least means that she can't see the light through the doorway.

On the other hand, she can now see the side of the bed where her husband isn't. Perry has removed himself to the seventy-third best bedroom. He would much prefer to be here, but he found it quite impossible to refute the logic of Parker and X.

"Helloooo, you're the King," Parker had said.

X had been slightly more diplomatic. "We will bring her back. You know I do not lie. And people will need to know where to find you. If there is an emergency. While we are gone."

Perry probably isn't sleeping any better than she is, Amy supposes. On the other hand, Perry probably isn't even trying to sleep.

Amy sticks her head under the pillow, but there's not enough air.

She rolls over again, takes a deep breath, and starts counting backwards from one hundred.

Come on, Amethyst. Just fall asleep.
kitchen_maid: (Her Majesty The Queen)
"Rise and shine, Amy," Perry says, tapping one finger against the end of her nose.

Amy groans, rolls away from him, and pulls her pillow over her head. "It can't be morning already," she mumbles, and Perry laughs.

Yesterday had been very long and very full, what with the earthquake. There doesn't seem to have been significant damage, even where it was at its worst, which was several leagues away from Amber. A few things fell off shelves in the palace, there was a bit of a mess in the kitchens, but all in all, nothing too significant happened.

But it had taken some time to determine all of that, and there had been a great deal of reassuring people that had needed to be done, and then rooms had had to be be found for her guests who had stayed to help, and ultimately, Amy had gone to bed quite late. Still, she hadn't expected to be this tired when she woke up.

Amy sighs and pushes the pillow away.

"Did you not sleep well?" Perry asks.

"I had odd dreams," Amy says, around a yawn. "About dancing all night with a clockwork Prince, till my shoes were worn out." She sits up, stretching. "Not that there is all that much difference in the clockwork sort and most of the real ones I've known."

"I do believe I've just been insulted," Perry says, as he pulls on his dressing gown. "I was a Prince once, you know."

"Yes, but I never knew you as a Prince. You were already a King when I met you, man-of-all-work."

Perry laughs again, and then stumbles slightly as he makes his way around the foot of the bed to her side.


"I'm fine. I just tripped over your shoes."

Amy frowns, standing. "My shoes? I didn't leave any shoes there."

Perry holds up a pair of Amy's shoes. She recognizes them at once. They're dark green, meant to match her third best ball gown. Amy frowns more. "Those are dancing slippers," she says. "I certainly didn't wear them yesterday."

Perry turns the shoes over in his hands. The soles have have been worn through. "I don't think you were dreaming, Amy."

"How is that even possible?" Amy asks, taking one of the shoes and sticking a finger through the hole in it.

Perry has already gone into the breakfast room, calling for his secretary. "Alfred? Alfred!"

Amy follows, still in her nightgown.

Alfred, whom Amy has never known to not appear within seven seconds of being called for, steps into the room. "Your Majesty," he says, with a bow, and then notices Amy and amends, "Your Majesties."

"Alfred, get the Court Historian. Tell him I need to see him immediately. Bring him here. There's to be no delay."

Alfred's eyes widen just a little. It generally takes nothing short of a national emergency for the King to allow anyone to interrupt breakfast with the Queen.

"At once, Sire," Alfred says, bows again, and goes.

"Perry, what is going on?" Amy says.

"Old family story," Perry says, "about worn-out dancing shoes. It was great-great-some-number-of-greats-grandparents."

Five minutes later, when Amy is starting to worry that Perry will wear out his own shoes with pacing, the Court Historian, Sir Harold, comes breathlessly into the room. Like the King and Queen, he is still in his night clothes.

Perry hands the shoes over to Sir Harold, and Amy fixes everyone tea that they will then all ignore while it grows cool and Sir Harold recounts the story of the worn-out shoes.

Some years ago (the correct number of greats turns out to be eight), the King of Ambergeldar had twelve daughters, each more beautiful than the last.

"The usual, if not Ordinary, way of things," Amy says, and Perry shushes her.

The twelve Princesses had all slept in the same room, and were locked in it at night, but every morning, their dancing shoes had been found worn through.

The King, who had apparently been very opposed to that kind of cobbler's bill, had offered the hand of one of the daughters and the throne of the kingdom to whomever could solve the mystery. Many Princes came, but none could discover the secret. Finally, a soldier returning from the wars arrived at the palace to try his hand at learning what happened to the Princesses' shoes.

He had was armed with an invisibility cloak, and he had been warned by a wise woman not to drink the wine the oldest Princess would offer him, which contained a sleeping potion. When they believed him to be asleep, they dressed for a ball, and then the oldest Princess opened a trapdoor in the floor and one by one, they descended into the floor. The soldier threw his invisibility cloak over himself and followed them.

They crossed three groves of trees, once of silver, one of gold, one of diamonds, until they came to a lake. There, each Princess boarded a small boat rowed by a Prince, and the soldier jumped into the last boat with the youngest Princess. They crossed a lake to a ballroom, where they danced all night, till their shoes had worn through, and then returned home.

The soldier collected branches from the groves, took them to the King as proof, and married the oldest daughter. The spell was broken, and they lived happily every after.

"Of course," Sir Harold says, "the story as it's told doesn't line up with historical fact. The King in question had only four daughters, not twelve. Though the oldest did marry a soldier, who was the youngest son of a very low-ranking nobleman, and hardly the sort who would be expected to marry the heiress to a kingdom. So it does seem at least possible that that was a reward for some service to the King. If Her Majesty encountered something similar last night, then ... perhaps there is more truth to the story than we have suspected."

"But that was ten generations ago," Perry says. "Decades. Centuries. There have been any number of Princesses in this palace since. Why didn't anything happen again until last night?"

"Maybe the earthquake shook something loose," Amy says. "There has to be magic involved. For one thing, we're on the third floor; we'd have noticed by now if there were a stairway leading from this room though the floors below, I should think. Maybe the earthquake was enough to start the spell going again."

"But you are not now a Princess any more than I am now a Prince, Amethyst."

"Well, you said it yourself, dear. Decades. Centuries. Maybe magic ages just like everything else. Spells get broken, but broken things leave pieces, don't they?"

"So there's a literally broken spell under my palace that my wife got caught in last night?"

"Maybe," Amy says.

"Perhaps Lord Terence . . . " Sir Harold suggests, a bit timidly. Amy can't blame him. Perry is hardly looking his least intimidating right now.

"Unfortunately, the Court Magician is attending a conference in Forestia," Amy says.

Which is at least a week's ride away, so even if they sent for him this instant, it would be a fortnight before he would be back, and that would hardly return him a day earlier than he plans to, anyway.

"So there's a literally broken spell under my palace that my wife got caught in last night, and the only person I've got who knows anything about magic is gone for the next two weeks?" Perry says.

"Algernon, let's be calm about this, please."

"I'm not going to be calm about this, Amethyst," Perry snaps, and then takes a deep breath, and picks up his cold tea. "All right," he says. "You're right, of course. We'll be calm about this."

"Perhaps the Royal Dragon could be dispatched to retrieve Lord Terence," Sir Harold suggests, even more timidly.

"Norman is visiting his mother this week, I fear," Amy says. "He's really a quite devoted son."

"Besides, I'm fairly certain there are diplomatic ramifications in sending a dragon into the capitol of another nation, even taking into consideration that the Crown Princess of Forestia is the Queen's sister and we normally enjoy an excellent relationship with them," Perry says. He glances over at Amy. "See? Calm."

"You're doing very well, dear," Amy says, before turning her attention back to the historian. "Sir Harold, if you would please excuse us. Perhaps you could come to my parlor around ten o'clock? We may have more questions for you. And, of course, any additional information you can find in the meantime would be greatly appreciated."

"Of course, ma'am," Sir Harold says, and bows his way out of the room very quickly.

Amy sits down next to Perry and takes his hand in hers.

"The first thing we need to do is get Susan out of this palace," she says. "She is a Princess."

"Agreed. You can take the children and go to -- "

"No," Amy says.


"I have to stay, Perry. We have no idea who or what that spell will latch onto if it can't find me. And we can't empty this palace the day after an earthquake. We'll cause a panic. No, I have to stay."

"Amethyst, I can't let you -- "

"I'll be fine," Amy says. "Get Stefan and Rosalind to take the children to visit Wrennford for a few days."

"And I just let you go dancing every night until Terence gets back, then?" Perry pauses, studying his wife for a moment. "And you're smiling at me like you know something I don't, Amethyst."

"Parker's friend Scorpius is a wizard. Maybe he'll have some ideas. And frankly, I can't imagine there are many threats that X wouldn't have some ideas about how to handle. We'll ask them. And then we'll decide what we're going to do."

"And if they think you should leave?"

"I'll take it under advisement," Amy says. "But first, breakfast and proper clothes. As regal as you look in your dressing gown, I think perhaps we will both feel in real clothes. And then we will meet with our friends and come up with a plan."

And, knowing their friends, it will no doubt be an excellent one.
kitchen_maid: (*Ambergeldar)
It's a lovely day for a football game in Ambergeldar.

Of course, while the game is called football, it bears only a marginal relationship to the American sport by the same name that Parker Lee once explained to His Majesty with the pieces of a chess set and some improvised diagrams.

(For that matter, it doesn't look much like the Canadian or Australian versions, either. Or the sport most of the rest of the world calls football and the Americans insist on calling soccer. No one has gotten around to inventing any of those yet.)

Amy has been meaning to bring Parker to a game for ages, but it the timing has never quite worked out. So Amy was delighted to run into Parker at Milliways earlier, and cheerfully invited her and her friends for this afternoon's match.

"We're up there," Amy says to Scorpius, pointing to the Royal Box. It's a fabulous view of the field, as it sits atop the central tower that stands in the middle of the field, and which the players navigate around the structure as the game progresses. The box is covered, but open on all sides, and while there are chairs, they aren't often used -- there's a lot of drifting from edge to edge to follow the game.

Scorpius eyes it with a grin. "Oh, nice!" It reminds him a bit of the Ministry's Box at the World Cup with the best views. A spot he's never sat, but has always been curious about.

Princess Susan leads the way across the bridge over the moat that surrounds the field. (One of Perry's many innovations -- and the game is played in any weather that doesn't involve lightning or the moat's being iced over.) She has ribbony pompoms in one hand (one for each team as the Royal Family is not supposed to Take Sides) and Parker by the other hand.

There are great cheers as the Royal Family as their guests cross the field to the central tower. The field is far from level -- there are places it has been carefully build up or dug out a bit. Each team's home field has its own topography, and it's very much a home team advantage.

Parker, as the person credited with introducing the sport of football to Ambergeldar, is given the honor by His Majesty the King of signaling the start of the game. Wearing a bemused grin and following Perry's instructions, she stands at the edge of the Royal Box with her back to the field, and throws the ball over her shoulder to the waiting players below.

The players kick, throw, or carry the ball toward their goal. And while that is for the most part the ends of the field, "You will want to keep an eye out, especially near the edges of the box," Amy says to Scorpius who is eagerly checking out the field and its unique topography. "It's called a Regal if they can get the ball into the Royal Box, and it's worth ten points. It doesn't happen often, but it does happen."

The excessive celebration penalty has not yet reached Ambergeldan football, and celebrations after a goal can last for several minutes, involve the entire team, their cheerleaders, and the occasional participation of the assembled crowd. The visiting Newmere Knights are known for the minuet they perform with their cheerleaders after every touchdown.

They're in the middle of one such celebratory turn around the endzone, and the crowd is being quite vocal in their amusement and support, when it suddenly becomes apparent that enthusiasm and high spirits are not the only things rocking the stadium.

X goes stiff partway through the game, the fine line of a frown drawn between her brows. Something is not right. Whether it's a distant sound, a faint hint of flickering movement far in the distance, or a hint of vibration she can feel through her boots -- maybe later she'll be able to separate out the input. But in the meantime, she's opening her mouth to say something about the incoming trouble just as she realizes it's already too late.

"Papa, everything's moving," Merry says, tugging on his father's hand. Susan drops her pompoms and buries her face in her mother's skirts, twisting her hands into the fabric.

Perry looks out over the field, and back toward the palace, and off to the Forest. He announces, in his most Kingly of Algernon voices, "Stop the game."

"Is everyone all right?" Perry asks, once the world does not seem to be shaking beneath their feet. "Amethyst?"

"We're fine," Amy says. "Aren't we, Susan?" Susan nods.

"No one is hurt," X says quickly, nostrils flaring as she scents the air to be 100% sure. "Up here. I do not know about on the ground."

Bruce had sized up the tower when they first climbed it. His first thought as the earthquake struck was that this was not a safe place for children to be.

"We should get down to the ground," he says. "Right now. There might be another one, and it could be worse."

"I have to agree," Parker says. "We should get into an open area." Spend your college years in southern California, and it's amazing how much earthquake safety becomes second nature.

Perry picks Merry up as Amy gets Susan to let go of her skirts and takes her hand instead. Amy and Susan in the lead, the group makes its way back down to the playing field.

The crowd around them is still working out what happened, the earliest stages of shock and confusion. They're also incredibly loud -- Merry clamps his hands over his ears the moment Perry sets him down. The guards who were stationed just inside the door to the tower have moved to try to protect the Royal Family, but it's obvious they're both not sure what they're protecting them from, and that they're going to be of limited use against this large a crowd.

And Norman, the Royal Dragon of Ambergeldar, who is excellent at crowd control, is off visiting his mother this week.

"Parker, would you mind?" Amy asks, transferring Susan's hand from her own to Parker's, and then stepping over to speak to her husband.

"What do you need me to do, Algernon?"

"Can you handle things here, Amethyst?" Perry asks, as they both look around the stadium. There are a lot of literally and figuratively shaken people in the stands around them. "I need to get back to the palace."

He needs to go be the King.

"Of course, Algernon," Amy says. "If you'll check on the twins."

Perry squeezes her hand for just a second. "First thing."

"I'll be happy to assist Her Majesty," says Sir Allyn, who has made his way over to the group. The knight had taught Perry in his squire days and now serves as the coach of the Amber Dragons.

"Thank you, Sir Allyn," Perry says. He beckons his secretary and the head of the palace guard over, and the three of them set off for the bridge over the moat. "I want riders going out immediately, on all roads. We need to know how how much damage has been done where. And . . . "

Amy watches them for a second, and then turns to Parker and X. "Would the two of you and your friends mind looking after the children for a bit?"

"Yes," X says, in response to Amy's question. "You do not have to worry."

"Thank you." Amy leans down for a moment, to address the prince and princess. "Merry, Susan, I need the two of you to help me with something. Will you take my friends and show them around the gardens, please? Keep them company until I get back?"

They nod. "Yes, Mama."

"Thank you, dears." Amy hugs each of them briefly, and then nods to X and Parker.

She moves off a moment later toward the edges of the field, with Sir Allyn beside her and two guards bringing up the rear, calling "Would everyone please remain calm?" in a loud and rather Queenly voice.

Scorpius looks down to find a very wide-eyed future King of Ambergeldar staring up at him. Merry is supposed to ask him to come to the gardens, but . . . well . . . everything was moving and Mama and Daddy have left and this is all rather a lot to have to deal with, even for a Prince, especially one who is feeling decidedly sniffly at this moment.

From his never-ending pockets, Scorpius pulls out a -- Well. A copy of Quidditch Quarterly. (It has moving pictures at the very least? No? Right -- ) He transfigures it into a small brown mice to distract Merry. (A pet mouse, not a nasty disease-carrying one! Right. Maybe he should have gone with a toy mouse, but -- ) "Do you want to hold her, Merry? Maybe we could find her something to eat?"

Merry nods, and reaches out to take the little mouse. "We could probably find something in the garden." Mice must like things in gardens, mustn't they?

Susan takes X's hand. "We're supposed to show you the gardens," she says. "They're very pretty. You'll like them."

X leans down out to scoop her up and remove her from the field. "My legs are longer," she explains, very carefully. "We can move faster this way. So your parents will not worry as much."

"All right," Susan agrees.

X looks over the top of Susan's head to Bruce. Neither of them says a word, but a moment later, the group is moving, with Bruce in the lead and X (and Susan) bringing up the rear as they head to the garden.
kitchen_maid: (*Ambergeldar)
In light of the fact that she seems to be bringing more and more visitors from Milliways, Amy has cleaned out the wardrobe that holds her Door to there. Her warmest and heaviest cloak still hangs off to one side, and a number of crowns rest on the shelf above, but Caspian will not have to pick his way across his sister's shoes or avoid getting caught in the trains of her dresses.

Amy keeps hold of his hand as they step through -- she's still being very careful about that after Mal wound up miles and miles away, and no doubt will be for some time to come. Even if the Door has gone back to behaving itself, it's a simple measure, and much better to be safe than sorry.

Her dressing room is a bit cramped now that there's an extra wardrobe (all those shoes had to go somewhere, after all), and not at all the best first view of Ambergeldar.

But then, it's not Caspian's first view of Ambergeldar, is it?

(Which was, of course, a pantry in the kitchens, back when his sister was a kitchen maid. Years ago. But he's seen many non-storage views of the kingdom since then.)

"Welcome back," Amy says.
kitchen_maid: (Amy/Perry - With You I'm Happy)
" . . . so you knighted him with the butter knife, in the middle of tea?" Perry asks. "Amy, darling, I'm not entirely certain that can actually be considered bestowing knighthood."

Amy sets her hairbrush down and looks over her shoulder at her husband. "I'm the Queen of Ambergeldar. Of course it counts. Besides, the alternative involves your having to wear ermine . . . "

"Hmmmm," Perry says, thoughtfully, coming up behind her. "Perhaps we should conduct all knighting ceremonies with butter knives in your parlor in the future."

"I knew you'd see it my way," Amy says, cheerfully. "Now, what are we going to do with your cousin and his . . . Blanche?"

Amy had formally received Princess Blanche after tea with Mal. There was really no getting around it. Unfortunately. She's not someone Amy is especially looking forward to having stay in the palace.

"Pack them off to his mother, Her Majesty my aunt, as soon as possible," Perry says, decidedly. "And in the meantime, avoid them as much as we can." He pushes her hair to one side and leans down to kiss her neck. "I'll put the Chancellor in charge of their visit."

"He'll want to throw a ball," Amy cautions.

"He can try," Perry says, sounding very king-like for a moment. He settles his hands on her shoulders. "Now. How did Mal wind up Lorlisfax Bridge?"

Amy shakes her head. "The door from Milliways brought him to some dwarves' cottage. It's never done anything like that before, Perry. And I've been coming and going -- with guests, living and dead -- for years."

Perry frowns. "Well, I won't bother to suggest you not go back, but if you're going to, do be careful, Amy."

"Always, Perry."

Perry studies her for a moment and then nods. "Very well."

He lifts his hands from her shoulders, but leaves one held out to her, so she can take it as she stands.

"Maybe we could have a whole separate order," Perry says, thoughtfully, and it takes Amy just a second to realize he's gone back to knights. "The Order of the Butter Knife. It makes as much sense as anything. Don't they have one named after a stocking or something in England?"
kitchen_maid: (Happy)
Amy ran into Marian when she took Mal -- er, Captain Sir Malcolm Reynolds -- back to Milliways after his visit.

And, after hearing about the goings on there, had invited Marian back for a short visit to Ambergeldar. (She would have invited Marian for an extended visit, especially as Marian cannot get back to her own world, but Marian has security duties, and Amy respects that. Still, even security members need breaks.)

After what happened with Mal, Amy gives Marian a letter of introduction, just in case she winds up in Loddingtop or some such place. And she takes the very simple and practical precaution of holding carefully and tightly to Marian's hand as they step out of the bar and into Amy's wardrobe.

"It's not, I fear, the most exciting first view of the kingdom. Do mind the shoes."

It's not the most convenient thing, having a doorway in your wardrobe. Things will get in the way of coming and going.

Once they're safely into Amy's dressing room, she lets go of Marian's hand. "Welcome to Ambergeldar."
kitchen_maid: (Small Smile)
It's a beautiful day, out by the lake.

Amy makes her way, slowly, along the shore.

It's every so hand to have Milliways in her closet when she wants to walk.

At home, there'd be fifteen courtiers all asking if Her Majesty was sure she should be walking in her delicate condition.
kitchen_maid: (Amethyst Regina)
"No sign of him?"

Amy has tracked Lord Stefan down to Ochre State Room (which, it must be admitted, is hardly the most attractive of the Palace's formal rooms).

The Commander of the Palace Guard (and, more importantly, Perry's best friend) shakes his head. "Not yet, Your Majesty. We are still looking. It is rather a large palace, after all. Especially as we are having to search the rooms that are usually closed off."

"Keep looking."

"And if we don't find him?"

"We'll figure that out when we're done searching the Palace," Amy says.

After all, she can't even be certain he's in Ambergeldar.

"As Her Majesty wishes."

"And stop calling me 'Your Majesty.' There's no one here but us."

"Yes, Amy."

But she's wrong about that, because just then someone standing in the doorway clears his throat in a terribly apologetic manner.

Amy turns to the unremarkable young man waiting there. "Yes?"

He bows, rather awkwardly. "I beg your pardon, Your Majesty, but I, that is, well -- "

"Out with it, man," Stefan says.

Amy waves a hand to shush Stefan. This is hardly the first person she's seen get tongue-tied trying to talk to a Queen. "What's your name?" she asks the stammering young man.

"William, ma'am. I'm one of the King's clerks."

"And what do you want, William?"

William takes two steps into into the room and holds out a small piece of paper. "This just arrived by pigeon from Sir Lionel, the Mayor of Lorlisfax Bridge, and I think it might require your attention, ma'am."

"I'm sorry, William, whatever it is will have to wait. Leave it with my secretary, and I'll look at it as soon as I can."

"Begging Her Majesty's pardon," he says, rather quickly and a bit more forcefully than is, strictly speaking, usually recommended when talking to a Queen, "but I really think you should look at it now. I heard the guards talking about a Captain Reynolds, and um, I think this might be about him. Ma'am."

Amy crosses the room very quickly, to take the paper, while Stefan tells William, "Next time you open with that information."

Amy skims down the note very quickly.

"He's in Lorlisfax Bridge," Amy says. "Or he was."

"However did he get to Lorlisfax Bridge?" Stefan asks.

"I don't know. Sir Lionel just says that he helped them apprehend a dangerous criminal, and asked for directions to Amber, and then urges that we receive him and his companion most gracefully should they present themselves at the Palace," Amy says, handing the note to Stefan.


Amy shrugs. She can't imagine Inara has wound up in Ambergeldar, but then, she can't imagine how Mal wound up in Lorlisfax Bridge.

"William," she says, "would you be so kind as to ask the stable to saddle my horse? Lord Stefan, you and I and whatever guard you deem necessary are riding out immediately."

"Yes, ma'am," William says, and bows and goes.

"Amy," Stefan says, "don't you have to ask Perry's permission to leave the Palace?"

"Technically. Do you really imagine he's not going to give it to me?"

Stefan shakes his head slightly. "I'll meet you in the stables in ten minutes," he says.

"Make it five."

"As Her Majesty wishes."
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