in the Oubliette
|The Queen bids the tall Gargoyles to be at ease and come closer. Slowly and with much grace, they mount the steps until they stand in front of the Throne. "Gracious Queen," says the Blue One in a deep, melodious voice that sends several of the Ladies into an instant swoon, "we bring greetings and gifts from the Golden One". With that, the kneeling Gargoyles fling open the six boxes to reveal a treasure, chains and spangles of gold, and a breathtaking array of jewelry beautifully crafted from the finest metals and precious stones.
"Small gifts in appreciation of your agreement to hear what we have come to say."
The Queen smiles and accepts the gifts graciously, trying very hard to remain "queenly" and not to show too much joy at the beautiful jewels, something her daughter, the Princess Royal who is standing next to her mother's throne has a hard time doing as the gleam in her eyes nearly out-twinkles the diamonds as delighted little squeals escape her throat.
"We suggest retiring to more suitable quarters," announces the Queen, who then proceeds to direct the captain of her guard to show the two visitors to a smaller audience chamber that is suitably outfitted with tables and comfortable chairs. Meanwhile, their retinue is whisked away to the kitchens, as befitting their more lowly station, where they are served a delicious repast by a very wary kitchen staff, tastes carefully by equally wary Gargoyles. Old fears and prejudices run deep!
The two Gargoyles stand until the Queen and her most trusted advisors enter through another door, she takes her seat at the head of a small table, and directs her visitors to sit down.
"Now," says the Queen, "keep me in suspense no longer. What have you come to tell me?"
"It is a longish story, Your Majesty, and we beg Your Royal indulgence," replies the Red One.
"Then let's not waste any more time and get started," the Queen says matter-of-factly.
The Red One nods his head and defers to the Blue One, who begins by telling the Queen that it has come to their attention that some of their brethren are being held captive in a secret oubliette in the Royal Dungeons. But all they get is the Queens vehement denial, because after all, the peace treaty between her Royal House and the Gargoyles has never been violated since it was entered into centuries ago, the superstitions and fears of the peasants notwithstanding. The Gargoyles assure her that they are aware that she knows nothing of this. After all, they themselves had no facts until recently, only stories and legends. More than one Gargoyle had gone off over the years, gripped by Wanderlust, and not all had returned safely.
"What is going on here?" wonders the Queen, "what's the story?"
"The story is of how the Gargoyles came to be imprisoned in your castle in the first place, Your Majesty. It is the story of a long-ago war, of treachery and dark magick, the story we believed to be nothing more than legend."
Turns out this Gargoyle legend was born long ago, a thousand years at least, when famine, pestilence and then a desperate border war had plagued this land. The ruling King, Ottomar, a distant ancestor of the current Queen, had tried valiantly to stave off the invaders from a neighbouring Kingdom. But in the end, the enemy managed to lay siege to the castle and all seemed lost. That's when help arrived from an unexpected quarter.
|Fast-forward by several days: The Queen's Audience Hall. Her Majesty upon her Throne, trumpets blaring, Ladies and Knights assembled along the edges of the red Audience Carpet. The huge double doors are flung open, the trumpets are quiet.|
|Her Majesty's Throne Room|
|Enter Gargoyles. A huge Royal Blue and an equally huge Fiery Red enter the Hall, followed by a contingent of six smaller, very young Gargoyles in more muted tones of deep green, ochre and brown, each of them carrying a small golden box, beautifully ornamented with precious and semi-precious jewels, one with diamonds, one with rubies, one with emeralds, one with yellow topaz, and so on. The Red One, being the more rambuctious of the two, unfolds his huge wings and gives them a good airing, eliciting startled "Oh's" and "Ah's" from the Lords and Ladies. The Queen just raises one of her eyebrows at this gregarious display; Her Majesty is unflappable. When the Gargoyles reach the steps leading up to the throne, even the Red One remembers his manners and they both bow deeply before the Queen, as the smaller ones fall to their knees, setting the boxes in front of them.|
|Lady Shaishana had been at it again, and the Queen was rapidly losing her patience. The last straw had to be when Her Majesty got wind of a planned bungee-jumping caper off the drawbridge into the moat. Sure, it was young Maiden Keirah who came up with the idea, and Wench Val, the Ale House publican, jumped right on the bandwagon, all excited about the prospect of playing human yo-yo. Now Lady S., she thought it would be even more fun if the Royal Knights had a go at it, too, but the Queen, this woman with eyes in the back of her head and the uncanny ability for sniffing out trouble, decided to put the brakes on Lady Shai's enthusiasm. She ordered her Knights to their rooms and locked them in. This didn't sit well with Lady S., who didn't fancy herself that easily beaten and, if truth be known, really wanted to see the knights with wet clothes clinging to their handsome bods :). So she pulls a key out of the folds of her skirts. Just the kind that would unlock the Knights' chambers.
Unfortunately for her, the Queen's Chamberlain was on full alert and the end result was a day in the dungeon for our intrepid Adventuress. Where she promptly picked the lock with one of her hairpins, grabbed a torch from the wall ... and off she went, exploring the subterranean passages. Little did she know she was about to uncover a secret that had been hidden for a thousand years!
| Under cover of night, a troop of Gargoyles landed atop the highest castle tower and offered assistance to King Ottomar. The times were unenlightened, and King Ottomar was no friend to the Gargoyles; his suspicion ran deep. But the castle was in dire straights and he finally realised that taking the Gargoyles up on their offer was his last hope. And all would have been well had it not been for the treachery of the Castle Wizard, Orion, who was kin to the Wizard from the invading castle.
With the help of the Gargoyle warriors, the war was won and the enemy finally beaten back across their own border. King Ottomar himself was severely wounded, and it took the lives of of some of the best Knights on both sides, as well as the life of the enemy King. His second son, the new King, an unreasonable and hot-headed upstart (who had murdered his own brother to become King) pretended to be absolutely brokenhearted and screamed for vengeance, squarely blaming his father's death on the Gargoyles, thus diverting attention away from his own evil deeds. His advisor, the Castle Wizard, in cahoots with his Cousin at King Ottomar's castle, came up with a brilliant plan to teach those hated flying creatures a lesson. He knew of several spells that would imprison a Gargoyle in their daylight-stone form forever, or at least until such time as the spell determined. But where should they keep them? Would not other Gargoyles come to look for them? That could be risky; as indeed it later proved to be as Gargoyles stormed the enemy castle to searched high and low for their brothers. But they could not sense the far-away magick and finally left without having found hide nor hair of their missing brethren.
|Click on Lady Shaishana to read about her adventure in the Secret Cove
Click on the Gargoyle for a brief history of Gargoyles
Story and page design copyright Valkyrie Grant.
The writer would like to thank Lady Shaishana for her friendship and for the inspiration for
this story, which came about during their friendly banter in and on-line chatgroup.
Lady Shaishana Doll by Lady Shaishana. The Wench Doll is a present from Lady ThistleWing.
Gargoyle from the Blaufalke's Bonepage
|To Legends and Fairy Tales Index|
| For the Wizard had this idea: Using his dark powers, the small contigent of Gargoyles that still patrolled King Ottomar’s borders were bespellt and their stone forms imprisoned in a freshly-dug oubliette in King Ottomar's own dungeon. There to remain as statues until one day, a Maiden pure of heart would find them and awaken them.
A Maiden pure of heart? In Ottomar's dungeon? Never did the two dastardly Wizards think this possible. Neither did the Queen, and she was quite surprised when she learned that it was her own favourite rascal, the Lady Shaishana, who had broken the spell over the Gargoyles. But truth to tell, Lady Shaishana may be a little too full of the joi de vivre at times, always up to something that brings yet another grey hair the to head of her Queen. But spell-related determinations are not made on the mortal plane, and whatever power had guided the spell was aware of the Lady's good heart and knew that she never means harm to anyone.
Thus it came to be that the imprisoned Gargoyles were released forthwith and reunited with their overjoyed brothers. As for the secret they had alluded to when Lady S. found them? Well, not knowing how long they had been in the dungeon, they wanted to warn the King about the treacherous Wizard. That one falling flat (the Wizard had long ago destroyed himself with his dark workings), they instead gifted Lady Shaishana with a map, said to lead to a fabulous treasure.
So if anyone's looking for Lady Shaishana next week? You might want to take her story of that new job with a grain of salt. Surely the girl and her dragon will be out treasure hunting. The only question now remains ... will she manage to drag poor Asti, her loyal Castle Wizard, out of his newly-refurbished tower to join in the search?