Monday, 21 January 2013

Queen's Funeral Procession - Week 1

After leaving the hoards of silent and singing mourners outside Royal City the funeral procession made its sombre way south along the King's Highway. The size of the towns and villages we passed through gradually diminished until eventually not a single house could be seen and endless plains stretched all around us.

Gods it was boring. I saw a vole lying dead in the road and I'm sure it died of boredom. And if it hadn't died of boredom, it would have died when the funeral carriage ran over it.


The monotony was relieved as we approached the town of Wayward. Here, people had laid out flowers and tributes at alters and came out of the fields and their homes to watch the procession pass. It was a ragged and unwashed, but otherwise impressive sight.

We stayed at a local tavern and the King was escorted directly to his rooms. The coffin was put under guard as the rest of the party retired into the bar to eat and drink. The mood remained melancholy throughout the evening and only worsened as I found myself retiring to a cold and empty bed before the clocks had struck ten.


As we left Wayward, the streets were once again lined with flowers and people. The hothouses must be empty kingdom-wide to produce such an array of blooms at this time of year.

So far we have not had problems with outlaws and bandits, which is hardly surprising given the size of the escort and the array of weapons they have at their disposal (a fact which makes these lonesome nights even more melancholy). The high-point of this stage of the journey for me came from throwing stale food at the prisoners hanging in cages at the occasional crossroads, but their banter was not a patch on those suffering public incarceration in the Royal City.

I am increasingly of the opinion that everything is better in the Royal City.


We passed through more villages, hamlets and spartan farming settlements before diverting from the King's Highway to re-supply at the town of Hollamby. Homage was paid to the Queen along the way through the local tradition of well dressing, usually reserved to celebrate the changing of seasons. I suppose in a way it's appropriate. For those unfamiliar with this odd practice, it’s a means of celebrating and worshiping the deities of the season by decorating wells with flowers and ribbons. On one occasion, an entire well had been decorated with individual petals. As we passed by, a gust of wind caught up the petals and sent them spinning and dancing around us in a quite wonderful display.

Throughout the journey, the King has remained in his carriage or in his rooms at all times. He has granted audience to no one, dashing the petty hopes of many a minor dignitary. Everyone assumes he will still meet with the Queen's family in private prior to the funeral, but who's to say he'll accede to even that on current form?


In the meantime, we have two more weeks of travel ahead of us, most of which will be spent labouring across the Steppes' interminable plains. In seven nights we should have arrived in Sunward itself, and a week after we will be arriving at our final destination - Suward Gardens. The thought of it all makes my beloved Royal City seem further away than ever and the actions of that horrid assassin even more despicable than I had first realised.

Katar Bristicus

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