I never would have imagined that working at the Herald would result in bagging big scoops so soon, but I heard a great story in the office today! I was tidying up Master Wilshire’s grammar when I heard the news, and since I’ve only recently begun working here as an editor, perhaps you can imagine my surprise when the man himself told me I could try my hand at tackling the tale.
Of course, as he said it, he was juggling scribbled notes, had a quill poking out of the corner of his mouth, and was covered in dust from the road. Honestly, I don’t know how he gets around so much without falling over!
But of course – you’re here for the real story. Yes, I am thrilled to officially announce that King Zultra I is engaged to be married to the Lady Asta Westergard of Avilon in the Kingdom of Zygethia! They visited the office to share the delightful news, and were generous enough to answer a few questions for me.
As I welcomed them into the little office and offered tea, I wished I’d brought sweet biscuits this morning, but who would have guessed I’d be entertaining such an ambitious ruler today? They were quite gracious as we got down to the business.
Victoria M. Xildithas: “Let me be among the first to congratulate the two of you on your engagement. It is so lovely to see a couple coming together in such momentous times. May I ask how you met?”
King Zultra I: “I met Asta mingling around the Council of Nobles. A mixture of her personality and the fact she was a Countess made her an appealing match. Mostly it was her personality, but a County seat helped; as after all, it helps the creation of our nation to incorporate another County and to secure a good lineage.”
VMX: “A practical match as well as chemistry, then?”
KZ: “Yes, a bit of both if you would say that.”
I turned my attention to Lady Westergard for the next question.
VMX: “And what was your first impression of King Zultra?”
The good Lady didn’t disappoint with a quick smirk and straightforward answer.
Asta Westergard: “He put me off at first, I thought he was too eager, too enthusiastic. For all his talk, there wasn’t much to show or so I thought. He grew on me, though. There’s a great deal of support behind him, planning as well. I believe he truly wants what’s best for his people. A fine quality.”
VMX: “Well honestly, dear, can you blame him for being enthusiastic? Brains and land – also fine qualities in a lady.”
“But, that does bring us to a more serious point.”
“It is no secret that, to put it politely King Zultra, your kingdom has its detractors. Have you experienced any threats directed at you or your betrothed, or that might put the wedding event at risk?”
KZ: “Our excellent security services and Royal Army will ensure the safety of not just us two, but any important foreign guests as well. Only appointed guards may carry any weapon, and there will be numerous soldiers stationed throughout the event. Up to 3 companies are expected to be added to the garrison (each company consists of 70 men), and I will be calling for the best Huscarls to be sent to the event to act as an elite guard.”
“It would be foolish to strike at our wedding.”
VMX: “I see, so I’m taking that as confirmation that there have been threats, and that you are amply prepared for them.”
KZ: “No one has threatened yet, just taking precautions as we all know there are people who oppose us.”
VMX: “Lady Astra, I cannot help but be impressed with your grace and resolve at talk of such security measures for your wedding. Surely most young ladies don’t imagine their special day bristling with guards – how do these measures impact your view of an ideal wedding?”
The Lady sighed, and took a sip of water before answering.
AW: “If at all possible, I’d prefer to rule through adoration. I suppose any potential kingdom enjoys its opposition, and it is what it is. I hope we can make more allies than enemies, but in the end, guards will always be needed, even and especially at a royal wedding. If only to protect the guests from a bolt meant for another head.”
VMX: “Yes, I can see that already the responsibilities of rulership weigh on your mind – more so than the colors of dresses or the state of decor. I must say, I believe that bodes well for your people, and your intentions to care for them.”
“Having said that, though, let us move on to a happier subject: Do the two of you have a Royal Tailor yet? Any ideas on what lovely things you, and the wedding party will be wearing?”
AW: “Green I think. The colors of both county and family. I’m not sure Zultra has decided his colors yet. I guess that also means we’ll have to double check everything for poison.”
VMX: “Yes, I can see it – a lovely shade of forest green or spring green. A unique color for a wedding. An indoor wedding or outdoor?”
KZ: “I want a nice Red and Gold outfit, with a nice belt, trousers, and red cloak.”
VMX: “A man who knows what he wants – surely you’ll be dashing in such bold colors.”
KZ: “This will be one of the few times I will wear nice clothes, I mostly wear some of my day-to-day armor mainly chainmail and tabard or if it is hot I just wear my colors: red and blue.”
VMX: “I am thrilled to hear it – after all, a warrior king is surely wonderful, but the people deserve to see their Majesty’s many aspects. Besides, anyone would have to clean up at least a little to hold a flame your betrothed there.”
“So did you say – will it be an indoor or outdoor wedding?”
KZ: “I would imagine the ceremony to be outside and the feast inside and outside, as I will have many guests.”
VMX: “Of course, and I imagine there will be a grand feast. Any ideas about the menu yet? Do you have a fabulous Royal Chef up your sleeve?”
KZ: “I love a good hog roast.”
AW: “I hope that the chefs and hunters of Avilon will rise to the challenge.”
VMX: “I predict a gorgeous spread of game with a succulent pig in the center. I’m sure it will be quite the envy. You mentioned many guests. Can we get a sneak peek at any big names who’ll be arriving? I’m sure it will be quite a parade of dignitaries.”
KZ: “King Dragor will be coming. All Nobles will be invited. I personally will be inviting every friendly and neutral foreign dignitary to our wedding. Got anyone you want to invite Asta, dear?”
Asta looked at the self-proclaimed King with a wry smile.
AW: “I think you listed just about anyone, though I’d like to add that the gentry won’t be forgotten either. It’s them we have to thank of course.”
KZ: “Indeed they will be invited”
VMX: “My, this will be a grand event. And did I overhear correctly – you’ll be inviting those of us at the Herald as well? This will be an event we just can’t miss. And if I don’t get to taste what the hunters of Avilon bring in, I must say I’ll be sorely disappointed.”
KZ: “You of course are invited, but we do require all those that attend to hand over all weapons and to look smart.”
AW: “I can’t have you being absent when the assassins make their entrance to kill us, can I?”
The Lady gave me a wry smile with her answer, and I couldn’t help a little joke of my own.
VMX: “Well King Zultra, I will not be handing over my quill! But besides that, you have nothing to fear from me.”
KZ: “Assasins can try Asta, but I will personally make sure they do not succeed.”
I fear my poor humor may have missed the mark, and gone flying over the good King’s head.
VMX: “Well, I certainly hope that few would have the absolutely bad taste to do such a thing on your wedding, but of course scoundrels have no sense of etiquette.”
“Now, I’ve probably taken up too much of your time already, and you’ve been very generous with it besides – just one more thing: Is there anything else you’d like to let me and the people of Elyria know? Any other upcoming announcements, or anything of the sort?”
KZ: “Our wedding will be the final foundation laid down for the making of Zygethia. It will be a marvelous event.”
AW: “I’m sure it’ll make for a great event when the time comes.”
VMX: “I absolutely agree, and I’m very much looking forward to seeing how the plans go – I hope you will update me on menu and style changes!”
KZ: “What do you want to see on the menu?”
VMX: “Oh! The game sounds lovely, but I might suggest to not forget that roasted root vegetables go so very well with game and wood herbs…and a pastry chef is just a must, don’t you think? Little bites of sweet cakes and honeyed biscuits?”
KZ: “We will have pies, desserts, pastries, and I love some freshly made Cider. The Brewmaster Guild will provide Darkfall Stout as well, strong stuff – it can knock you out in one pint!”
VMX: “Well you can be sure I won’t be imbibing any of that! But the rest sounds stunning!”
KZ: “Thank you, I want everyone to be jolly and very…drunk.”
VMX: “That’s certainly a recipe for a wild wedding night, King Zultra – I urge you to drink responsibly.”
AW: “So would I.”
KZ: “Do not forget to report on the big military parade just prior to the wedding, the gift the Royal Army will present to the crown.”
I skimmed my notes, but couldn’t find mention of a gift.
VMX: “Let’s see, you mentioned the Royal Army will be on the security detail…3 companies of 70 men…Huscarls. I’m sorry – I must have missed it. So the Royal Army will be holding a parade just prior to the wedding, as a royal wedding gift?”
KZ: “Yes on the same day. We will try to have an entire army march through the capital.”
VMX: “An entire day of celebrations. Oh! That reminds me of another question. You mentioned earlier thanking the gentry and remembering the people’s role in your Kingdom.”
“I wonder though, what about the peasants, the farmers, widows, orphans – those people, because surely all Kingdoms have them. There is precedence for sending the leftovers from a royal feast to those less fortunate – will you be doing so with your wedding?”
KZ: “I will be inviting a selection of commoners to the feast; obviously not all can come.”
VMX: “Of course.”
AW: “I couldn’t send them the remains! Food, music, and entertainment will be available throughout the capital cities.”
Lady Westergard gave me a horrified look, and I must confess I felt a pang over my unclear wording. Shaking my head quickly to let her know I had misspoken, I said:
VMX: “Of course I don’t mean half-eaten plates. You know such events often end up with entire pies or chickens untouched.”
“But it’s clear that you plan to be very generous to all the people on this day of your celebration.”
KZ: “Yes, we will make charitable donations.”
VMX: “It really does sound like an exciting day. I do wish both of you a glorious wedding, and an even more successful marriage besides.”
King Zultra chuckled as he added:
KZ: “And lots of children as well.”
VMX: “Yes, of course – beautiful, intelligent children.”
What a day full of surprises! A royal wedding, my first interview, and advising a king on the menu. As I thanked the noble couple for their time and walked them to the door, I pondered how much can happen in a single day. What might happen on the day of King Zultra and Lady Westergard’s wedding?
Is there really enough food in any Kingdom to feed that many people? Would the wedding march become a funeral dirge? Would a Warrior-King have the opportunity to bare the soul of white knight? Or perhaps – could I dare to hope that two lovely people might walk down the aisle together and make a commitment not only to each other but also to the good of their people?
Yes, dear readers, what a difference a day makes. As I was thinking these long thoughts, a note slid under the office door. Reading it quickly, I couldn’t help but grin – it looks like the rumor mill is really grinding today. You can bet I’ll have my ear to the office door.
Until next time, Elyrians, remember: If you can’t be good, be good at it.
Victoria M. Xildithas
*Edited by: Bradford J. Wilshire*