Tuesday, January 6, 2009

On the Road...

It is the middle of the night. A figure ,dressed in black and muffled against the recent cold, crosses the border. Her garments disguise her radiant beauty of appearance and the evil of her soul. It is none less than the Duchess of Saschen- Vindow herself. She quietly slips across the border in the rough direction of Stagonia. Travelling alone and light-except for a brace of pistols and extreme foolhardiness or courage some may say! She has resolved ,with utter clarity of intention, to go and meet her soul mate the King of Stagonia. The journey may be long and difficult but the Duchess is certain that she will survive upon her wits and enter Stagonia within the week


Prinz Geoffrey said...

Surely someone from the secret meeting will try and intervene, sounds like a fun scenario.

Herzog Ignaz said...

The band of chauffeurs who prowl this section of the borderlands take note of the caped figure skylighted by the crescent moon as it makes its way over the last ridge towards the farmed valleys below.

The rough figures reach for their weapons and look towards their leader, Schinderfranz, who warns them off with a sharp hiss.

"We're not going to touch her," the bandit leader intones, thinking back to the explicit instructions and threats of the Phoenix-sealed missive he received at the inn this afternoon. "This one gets our best treatment; in fact we're going be her chaperones on this little outing. Get the horses, boys, but don't let her know we're about..."

abdul666 said...

Monte-Cristo and the Duchess of Saschen-Vindow

Monte-Cristo pioneered the strict equality between women and men, and this not only in civic rights but in *every* field. In a few specially enlightened countries (such as Falkenstein?) etiquette –in order to prevent embarrassing mistakes- requires to have one’s wife on his right and one’s mistress on his left. But in Monte-Cristo (would someone really care about protocol here!) the statement would equally, or even rather, be to have one’s husband on her right and one’s lover on her left.
Thus the Palace never feels indifferent whenever a woman is victim of a man’s lust (directly or indirectly), is victim of the overwhelmingly sexist culture, or struggles to rise above the subservient condition imposed by the omnipresent machism.
Specially, Monte-Cristans worship the memory of Dyane-Adeline, their only ‘POPPesse’, and admire those (so far) few women with an important positive role in politics. As such, the Palace is seeing Madame de Pompadour as equal to the Dame de Beaute {«Et comme entre les belles estoit tenue pour la plus belle du Monde fut appelée Dasme de Beauté tant pour cette cause que pour ce que le roy lui avait donné à sa vie la maison de Beaulté lez Paris.»}, disparaged by many a right-thinking people but whose part in the resurrection of France was as determinant as that of Joan of Arc :
«Gentille Agnès, plus d'honneur tu mérites
La cause étant de France recouvrer
Que ce que peut dedans un cloître ouvrer
Close Nonnain ou bien dévôt hermitte.»

Thus –without departing from the policy of strict neutrality and non-interference- the Palace is watching closely (and appreciatively, so far) how the Duchess of Saschen-Vindow is grabbing actual power from the weak hands of his (less capable, obviously) estranged husband: for sure a rich and strong-willed personality, harbinger of 'interesting times'.
Monte-Cristo is not influenced (or at least, not negatively) by her bad repute -their Presipality itself being reputed to be a place of *Evil*, damnation, sin, debauchery, atheism, socialism, smoking, wrong example and general political uncorrectness, Monte-Cristan wait to judge by themselves and according to their own standards.
Besides, according to an old Monte-Cristan saying ‘A disreputable woman brings happiness to many a man, a reputable woman unhappiness to a single one’.
Indeed she appears as a shrewd and remorseless plotter –but such can turn to remarkable rulers, for the greatest good of their people and country. Ruthless –but women have to do their best with what few means the prejudiced culture leaves to them. For instance, to seize and keep power one needs the support of the Army: but in our continent and time a woman cannot become a charismatic field commander, and has to resort to feminine ways to gain the fanatical devotion of officers and soldiers alike. Of course, later she’ll better have other ways to keep this devotion burning.
(Then, that one of her secret letters could at all be found reveals sloppy workmanship at underling level: revulsing to Monte-Cristans, who see themselves as learned practicioners of this kind of trade.)
Furthermore, all Monte-Cristans are a priori very indulgent towards women’s intrigues and acts, specially if unconventional / unseemly: men by an old tradition of gallantry –a leftover of bygone sexist times, but Monte-Cristans are an eclectic bunch that keeps what is good in everything they discard; women by warmth for other ‘liberated women’.
Here the alliance between the Duchess and the new King of Stagonia currently a source of amusement: these two are playing cat and mouse, and Monte-Cristans see in the Duchess a tigress masquerading as a kitten. Ludwig de Vile on the other hand appears to have inherited very little of his mother’s real gifts and brightness: Louys followed her doings with some attention, and his judgement is not uneducated –his interest in some ‘specific matters’ increased when the Presipapal College of Heraldry gave substance to the old tradition that the Black Company ‘medic’ at the origin of the Monte-Cristan ruling bloodline was closely related to Elizabeth Bathory –a half-sister of the Blood Countess, actually, but twice because of an incest. In the same time he approved with a chuckle the nickname given to the son by a Monte-Cristan agent in Stagonia (under a carefully unattractive disguise), of ‘demi-flan’ (‘half-planchet’) because ‘he only got the other side of the coin’.
Yet the Palace was disappointed by the clumsiness of a recent rash address: the Duchess has potential but is in dire need of some coaching in public relations!

Thus for the time being Louys would welcome the Duchess in Monte-Cristo. Such a ‘dangerous’ woman? Dangerous she is, and dreadfully so. But with 366 wives (that is, 366 currently on the rolls, but with in addition numerous veterans whose ‘retirement’ is purely theoretical, and a corps of eager candidates), Louys feels better prepared than most to deal with women, specially with dangerous ones.
The Duchess would find no real obstacle in a wife, or a mistress, or both -even when, (as in Ober-Bindlestiff?) the two go together well. But against a well-knitted sorority of 500+ wives cum mistresses cum learned courtesanes cum experiences spied cum skilled assassins… at most she would gain honorary membership, perhaps after some exotic, if not altogether unpleasant, hazing.

When the Duchess arrives to the Presipality she will be greeted with our famous Dobitchus. This delicacy was brought to Monte-Cristo by one Preskovich, a sergeant among the Croats of the Black Company. Avowable ingredients include a rare Boldoravian ersatz of chocolate and that Bordurian ‘butter’ alchemically obtained from sunflower seeds. At the last stage the confectionery is hand-rolled under the armpits, hence the peculiar crust. Dobitchus are traditionally followed with Klug, a cake of chestnut flour, the same two ‘balkanic’ ingredients, garlic and –in Monte-Cristo- gloubi-boulga. This pastry is prepared several days in advance: the cracks appeared during the cooking –probably because of the turpentine- are filled with schpozis; their fermentation exalts the overall pungency («Mais... Mais qu’est-ce que c’est que cette matière? Mais c’est de la merde?» «Non, c’est Kloug.»). The whole is rinced down with Schlovetniz, a very strong spirit akin to Slibovitz but owing most of its taste to the pregnant toad macerating in the bottle for at least three years: then you make a wish (to survive, generally).

Unless, of course, the Duchess prefers to try our latest gastronomic venture: fresh snail caviar –highly recommanded to the sophisticated elite.


Prinz Geoffrey said...

What meddling lord would have the courage to attempt to abscond the duchess on her trip only to find she is secretely being escorted by Herr Schinderfranz' men. What wild ride and battle there might be and narrow escape or ransom to her husband or Vile? Who would dare? Could be the event that throws all of Europa into war.

abdul666 said...

It would not be surprising to discover, among Schinderfranz's men, a freshly recruited young boy - who may be older than 'he' appears, but a girl....


Prinz Geoffrey said...

Surely, someone could do a proxy fight for this, we need an antagonist trying to capture the duchess, across with the narrator's permission.

abdul666 said...

What a woman!

Leaving aside for the moment the question of her 'evil' nature, this action may be judged foolhardy: the Duchess is probably too impulsive to be a good ruler.

But... her acts belong to the 'stuff of legends', are of the kind that popular tales and folk songs are built around, to be transmitted orally for generations before being recorded (and 'frozen') in written form.

Nobody knows her future, but she may turn to a larger-than-life character, remembered in ages to come when we all other are forgotten...


Herzog Ignaz said...

What appears superficially foolhardy can in fact represent only the immediately visible workings of an ingenious and nefarious plot.

Let us reserve final judgment on Her Grace until we have a fuller understanding of her actions and intentions.