OK, this took some doing.
If anyone has the patience to have a read, these are the first 950 words out of 2500 of my first attempt at fan fiction.
I am a published author, but only articles in travel magazines and such like. Making something up out of whole cloth (if that can be said about a pastiche) and actually showing it to actual other people is a new experience…
So, for what it’s worth, here we go:
Duc D’Ennui was not in the best of moods. This year’s parade of petitioners from his fiefdom was more tedious than any he could remember. As usual, those petitioners who had bribed his advisor most handsomely were first in line. Wearing close imitations of the latest court fashion, they queued up outside the feast hall eager to bleat their cases before his Grace. The very richest had invested in skilled orators to clothe their unreasonable requests in sweet sounding words. This meant that the early cases were snappy and sometimes quite entertaining. But as the day wore on, the petitioners became poorer, and their cases grew steadily less interesting and more confusing.
“Rights to the well is given to the hamlet of Vichy on Mondays, Thursdays and Sundays and any feast days beginning with a vowel. This is my judgement.” intoned D’Ennui. The Duc leaned back in his high seat as the latest petitioner was hauled out by rough militiamen past the assembled lords and ladies. The plaintiff’s final wail trailed after the group: “But what about leap daaaays……?”
The Duc was not at all sure if his judgement on the matter had been fair or even relevant. But it had at least been clear, and that was the most important thing. It meant that he was less likely to see the petitioner again next year.
Exhaustion and boredom were written in large letters on his face as the Duc turned to Monsigneur Snivelle, his closest advisor.
“Was that the last one for today?” The Duc asked hopefully.
Snivelle, a tall man in an even taller hat, looked shiftier than usual as he fidgeted with his scroll.
“Ah, well, sire, actually…. There is one more. From the villagette of Langue-Infirmiere.”
D’Ennui shrank further back in his chair. “Is it another dispute over a well? I have had it up to my whiskers with those.”
“Praise the Lady, no. But it is a weird one… It has been a long day, sire, I will tell them to return next year.”
But the Duc’s interest was slightly piqued. “What do you mean by… weird?” he queried.
Snivelle looked unsure “Ehm…. It is… You see: Langue-Infirmiere is in the far north of your lands, sire. Their dialect is rustic to say the least. And their customs are…. queer. But their envoy was so insistent after being turned away again last year, so I thought….”
Duc D’Ennui felt some of his energy returning. “What? Have they been turned away before? How many times?”
“Fourteen,” Snivelle blurted out before he could check himself. He was a wizard with numbers and a vizier of facts. But alas, a pauper in discretion.
“Fourteen?” The Duc was close to roaring. “Get them in here this instant!”
His advisor knew better than to argue with his liege lord, and the militiamen were even quicker on the uptake. They bustled in a broadly built peasant that looked thoroughly out of place in the great feast hall. He was clothed in what apparently passed for finery in the sticks: An oiled jacket with a dozen patches and a pair of trousers that may have been military issue at some point in time. He had a wide hat with an almost blue cloth band, but he lacked the sense to take it off as he was pushed towards the Duc.
His lord had a short fuse at the best of times and most of it had burned off earlier in the day.
The Duc leaned forward and demanded “So! Speak now and end this mystery! What have you waited fourteen years to say?”
One of the militiamen helpfully knocked the rube on the back of his head, doffing the offensive hat and efficiently making the owner bow at the same time.
As the man rose, the packed hall turned a little more quiet. Greasy hair and beard framed a pair of eyes so intense they almost burned.
Somewhat haltingly, the peon began: “Baunn-churr, mohn Dukk…” Then followed a string of words barely recognizable as Breton in origin. Those closest to the man looked at each other, unsure what to make of this. A snigger came from the back of the crowd.
Snivelle interjected before the mocking laughter could take hold, for once taking pity on someone other than himself. “Sire, if you’ll allow me. This man, his name is Rouen, claims that Langue-Infirmiere is being ravaged by a terrible monster.”
This seemed somewhat anticlimactic to the Duc. Monsters and rampaging beasts were the responsibility of vassal nobles, not a Duc.
“Baron Bravouille holds the fief.” D’Ennui said, sitting down and waving a hand dismissively. “Why has he not hunted the monster down in all this time?”
Rouen and Snivelle exchanged some words before the advisor cleared his throat. “Sire. He… He claims Baron Bravouille IS the monster.”
This raised a lot of eyebrows in the hall. Murmurs and a few laughs spread among the crowd.
Duc D’Ennui was growing very tired very quickly. “Explain to the peasant that making accusations against his liege is punishable by very slow execution. Then throw him out and tell him to pray Bravouille doesn’t hear about this in a good long time.”
Rouen obviously got the gist of the Duc’s words, for he started shouting frantically, and, to the astonishment of everyone, tore at his breast until his jacket ripped apart.
Snivelle had had enough of this buffoon and started ordering the militia to do something when he suddenly stopped dead. The rest of the hall was in some uproar, but quieted down as Snivelle raised a hand.
“My liege” he said as he moved slowly away from the disheveled Rouen, “There may be proof…”
End of part 1.