Monday, 14 January 2013


Darlings! Today saw the first part of the funeral rights of Queen Janna, and I, your humble correspondent, will be following the whole process up to the burial in Sunward Gardens and reporting back with a close up view for all my lovelies out there.


The occasion begins in the Temple of Damerika, Goddess of earth and motherhood, who the Queen regularly worshipped. The Queen lies in her coffin, looking stunning and very peaceful in her gown. Whoever laid her out did a fabulous job, she could almost be sleeping. Flowers of the kingdom cover the coffin and were laid carefully all around.


For the ceremony, only the Royal family, the priestesses of Damerika and a small number of dignitaries are admitted. Oh, and little me of course. The priestesses light about a billion candles and sing some chants to lighten the mood or something. The High Priestess blesses the Queen's body and spirit and then she and the King commence the 'returning to the earth' rights in the ancient language of Abevorn, ensuring Queen Janna will be welcomed into Damerika's realm.


The ceremony took about three hours to complete. It was all very worshipful and sombre and, frankly, a little dull. If I hadn't had my puzzle beads and if the family of Lady Wolfrich hadn't turned up in those dreadfully unfashionable wolfskins they're so fond of, I really not sure how I would have kept myself entertained. 


The coffin is now being covered in black silk. It will be born to the Royal Carriage by the Queen's Brothers, Duke Tomithy and Duke Sengir, her brother-in-law, Lord Magnus, and his fellow Lord-Councillors, Lord Hawkcroft, Lady Wolfrich and the Duchess Summer-Mae. Ordinarily, Prince Mikael would have been one of the coffin-bearers, but with the foolish boy off lost somewhere, the Duchess Summer-Mae insisted on taking his place. Her pale yellow dress accompanied by an ebony headscarf is somewhat at odds with the monotone black worn by everyone else, but she is such a determined free spirit and does look rather stylish, so I say we should forgive her.


The King takes his place in the carriage ahead of Queen Janna's coffin. Curtains are drawn across the windows, presumably so the public cannot see their regent weep, even though I'm sure everyone could sympathise with tears at a time like this. Though for the womenfolk and more trendsetting menfolk, I recommend applying some sort of make-up waterproofing before turning on the waterworks. Both tar and pitch possess admirable waterproofing properties, while also serving as a more than adequate form of mascara.


The funeral procession gets underway. I shall be riding alongside the escort of Royal Guard. The guard look exceptionally spiffy in the black version of their uniforms. Their stoic and admirable devotion to duty means I have so far managed to pinch three bottoms without even a flinch, let alone a reprimand.


The procession moves through the City slowly, starting down Temple Street then turning north onto Market Street to begin a loop of the key areas of the Royal City and to give people a chance to pay their respects. The route has been marked with flags to inform the otherwise ignorant populace where they should wait. 


The crowds are eerily silent with many holding lit candles. A few peasants wave as we pass. Others stare on with tears staining their cheeks. I too find myself getting emotional, but manage to sniff it back before it blots my notes.


We travel from Market Street in the heart of the trade district, along Silver Street in the jewellery quarter and onto Spice Lane, which is rich with the amazing smells that it gave the street its name. Moving on past the premises of Isabel Taurmond, perfumier to Royalty, we smell the special scent created in memory of the Queen. Its delicate grace notes are clear and sweet over the less delectable smell of fish wafting in from the Southern Docks.


The procession moves slowly and when we enter the flower markets of Blossom Boulevard, we find locals have strewn blossoms over the road like a carpet.


People are still holding candles and generally looking glum and we turn onto Summer Boulevard, passing the cafes and bakeries, before finally making our way via Angel Row to head to the Dockmaster's Gate and an emotional exit from the City.


Oh. My. Gods. And. Or. Goddesses.

Can it be?

Honest to goodness, I do believe it is - riding in through the Dockmaster's Gate, accompanied by grizzled riders whose faces I do not recognise - it's... Prince Mikael!

He looks changed from the lanky youth we all know and have mild affection for. His skin is red and rough and covered in dirt and scratches. His clothes are equally worn and ragged - grossly unbecoming of the heir to the throne. What on earth has he been up to these past few weeks beyond saving up a heart attack for our dear Royal Costumier?

The funeral procession halts and Prince Mikael's uncouth party stops before it. The Prince himself dismounts so quickly he almost falls, but his fall becomes a stumble that carries him over to the Royal Carriage. There he drops to knees. A grubby hand is raised to touch the glass protecting the Queen's coffin from the world outside.

It looks as if Prince Mikael is about to speak, but the words catch in his throat. He hangs his head instead, his body visibly trembling.

I look to the doors of the carriage and their covered windows, half-expecting the King to step out to comfort his son, but they remain closed. A member of the public attempts to do what the King would not: a girl of no more than sixteen years of age breaks from the crowd and rushes over to the Prince.

She doesn't reach him.

A member of the Royal Guard urges his horse forward and clatters the girl to the ground with a strike from his shield. Shouts of protest go up from the crowd and the Royal Guard lining their street raise swords to dissuade further dissent.

But now the Prince is back on his feet, wiping at his eyes with the back of a forearm. All eyes are upon him as stops by the door of the carriage. Words are exchanged with those inside, but I don't hear them. All I see is the Prince's face turning from sadness to anger, then he storms over to his horse, re-mounts and sends it galloping on toward the Royal Castle, his companions in tow.


I don't think any of us were expecting that.

Except maybe the clairvoyants. And the soothsayers. And the oracles. But if they were expecting it, they certainly didn't tell the rest of us.

The procession is moving again. I don't know if the hush now descended upon the crowd is due to respect for the departed or shock at what they've just seen.


The streets were lined ten deep or more on the streets of the City in their stunning quiet vigil, but the sheer mass of people outside the gates is staggering. It's a mournful sea of faces. As we travel on, the crowd spontaneously begin to sing one of the old songs that the Queen always loved so much. That's the moment I may have blotted my notes a little.


Well, that's it, darlings! I will be sending regular updates on the Queen's final journey back to her birthplace, so keep reading the Herald and, more importantly, keeping reading me!

By Katar Bristicus

No comments:

Post a Comment