#NaNoWriMo : Story for the Day: The Moustache
|Hilarious, and oh so unprepossessing|
Now that all was settled in Marridon, a new ambassador was selected and dispatched to convey the news to the Frewyn royal party. The ambassador was chosen from amongst the most diplomatic in the Chambers, and though few qualified for such a position, the son of Marridon’s adjudicator was the one most worthy of being the Frewyn liaison. He was a young man, upright figure in figure, slender in form and face, of quiet character and dignified temper who rarely spoke unless called upon to do so by his father. His prepossessing and distinguished air set him apart from his peers, and his expression might have been more perceptible were it not for his magnanimous moustache. Worn in the true Marridon style, his facial hair was kempt and sculpted and just luxuriant enough to overpower the chief of his aspect. It barely moved when he ventured to say a few words on the odd occasion, making it impossible to discern whether his words emanated from slightly parted lips or from another quarter entirely. There were some initial concerns in sending him to convey the Marridon report, apprehensions of his being too unspoken, but at last he was given the order to traverse the Dremmwel at night and in Frewyn he was by the following morning.
He incurred some scrupulous looks by the docksmaster, as did everyone who hailed from Marridon with their crisp suits and various dangling pocketwatch chains pouring from every supernumerary pocket, but once his documents were inspected, he was allowed to pass with a hearty greeting and a few chuckling assertions of how ridiculous a place Marridon must be once he had left the pier. It was wondered at that he did not come with an escort, but it was surmised that his abundant and tidily curled moustache was intimidation enough to ward off any outward aspersions and secure him entrance to the Diras castle keep. His gait was stiff, his manner composed, and when he reached the front gate of the keep, Mureadh, who was standing guard, was unable to decipher any movement of the mouth when he announced himself.
“Jaimison, Royal Consort,” was the name and title he supplied for himself, and then added in a muffled voice, “Official business from Her Grace.”
Mureadh raised a brow. “Marridon documentation, please, sir.”
All the requisite seals and signatures were examined, and once everything was found to be in order, Mureadh brought their visitor to the throne room where he was to wait for the king and queen to accept him. He had some unsettling feelings to check as he ventured to the royal quarter. He had never seen a man with such a voluminous pelt beneath a nose in his life. There were woodsmen aplenty in Karnwyl who had kept rather capacious beards for warmth, but to see one so carefully curled and trimmed gave him a most unnerving sensation.
“Are you bothered by the Marridon ambassador?” said a familiar voice as Mureadh entered the gallery.
He looked up to find Teague removing his hood and sidling him from the training yard entrance, smirking at his own vexation. “Is it considered fashionable in Marridon to have one of those? I don’t remember seeing one like that when we went to the races.”
Teague laughed to himself. “It might be. I don’t question Marridon customs.”
“You should. Maybe you should ask His Majesty if you can investigate why they find it necessary to wear those.”
“If we are going to Marridon again,” said Teague, the statement made more as a promise than a condition. He grinned at his friend and parted with him as Mureadh turned into the royal quarter, leaving him with the hoped that they would be requested to visit their northern allies if only to discover the origin of so absurd a style.
The odd ambassador had been seen by more than just Teague. Rautu had observed his coming from his perch atop the battlements, and though by his dress and manner of walking he knew that their visitor must be from Marridon, he felt it advisable to bring the news to his mate rather than the king, for Alasdair would come to know by another means and the giant so longed to hear his mate’s appraisal on the subject. He went from the battlements to kitchen where everyone was congregating for their breakfast. He spurned the injurious looks from Martje with a waft of his trappings at her and sat beside his mate, who was just beginning to butter her toast when Rautu relayed the information.
“Truly,” the commander exclaimed, her dark eyes sparkling. “I am all delight at the idea of meeting so exceptional a creature.”
“Do you mean the man or the moustache, kin?” chuckled Sheamas, who was sitting beside her.
“If there is facial hair worthy enough to be discussed, then I must see it to make my final judgment.”
The commander was just taking a slice of cold meat for her plate and having it stolen by her mate when Alasdair entered the oven room. Smiles and Your Majesties were shared all around, nods of recognition and morning pleasantries were returned, but where he would have been then assailed with invitations to join them for breakfast, these supplications were replaced by sounds of awe and marveling coos. Alasdair had trotted to the table in true kingly manner and presented himself with a mock bow to display his new jerkin. Its fine gold trimming, intricate embroidery and meticulous stitching exhibited the very paramount of Carrigh’s powers of tailoring and fit Alasdair’s slender form with excellent panache.
“You look rather splendid,” said the commander, remarking the stateliness of Alasdair’s dress.
Alasdair made a little flourish and the short tassels on his golden pauldrons shimmered. “I thought I should dress for the occasion.”
“To welcome the new ambassador or to compete with his mustachioed countenance?”
Alasdair seemed bemused.
“My mate has imparted that our visitor has a rather plentiful tuft adorning his upper lip.”
“Oh,” said Alasdair in a disheartened accent.
“Mureadh did not tell you?”
Alasdair took a moment’s consideration. “No, but he did look somewhat disconcerted when we came to see me. I had thought it was because of his general dislike for Marridonians and their faithlessness.”
The commander half smiled. “I believe Mureadh could overlook their fondness for science if only their facial hair was not so obtrusive.”
Both Alasdair and the Den Asaan made a disquieting flinch, each of them considering a piece so terrifying as to shake Mureadh’s immoveable constitution. It was decided that the item so long talked of must be seen, and in a few minutes they were all in the throne room, Alasdair, Carrigh, the commander and the Den Asaan, bowing and saying what was proper with due decorum, the king addressing the ambassador with restrained trepidation and the two women conferring with the Den Asaan behind him.
Carrigh noticed that Alasdair’s speech was uncommonly retracted. He was ever the first one to be forthcoming in his conversation, to ask every question, to make every gracious invitation, but here his responses were short, his voice was low, and his looks were besieged. She looked to the commander for insight into Alasdair’s unusual agitation and found the commander pressing her lips together, her cheeks reddening by the stifling of a laugh. She gave her a conscious glare, to which the commander replied, “Your husband’s only fear in the world other than rice pudding is his unmitigated horror of facial hair.” Carrigh hemmed and concealed a laugh with the back of her hand.
As the ambassador conveyed his message, Alasdair was under complete distress . He studied the copious mass riding the Marridonian’s upper lip, making its slight bobs with every phrase, and his eye twitched. He did his utmost to regard the ambassador’s pale green eyes, but the sight of so disagreeable an aspect impeded him from ignoring it. Its waxed tips and its combed centre were enough to be an affront on Alasdair’s shaven appearance. Nearly everyone in the court was shaven, and he had been so unused to see so protracted a moustache that he found it difficult to remove his attention from it. Alasdair was in a fit of dread. He must look elsewhere to recollect himself and therefore a tour of the keep was proposed, Alasdair and the commander leading the way, Carrigh taking the side of the ambassador behind them, and the Den Asaan following their steps, wishing to be as far away from the odious pelt as possible.
“By the Gods,” Alasdair exclaimed in a hushed voice once he and the commander were out of hearing, “He could hide his purse in that.”
The commander turned aside to laugh and then turning back said, “I had rather thought you should consider it a pet, once he was too fond of to part with and therefore attached it to his face never to be parted from his dear friend again.”
Alasdair, still in astonishment, shook his head and pulled at the fitted collar of his jerkin. “I felt as though the moustache were talking to me.”
“How do you know that it wasn’t?”
Alasdair gave her a vehement glare.
“Very well, Alasdair,” she said laughingly, “I shall not tease you any longer. All your terror is in his unwillingness to shave. Perhaps you should declare today a national holiday in Marridon’s honour.”
The commander grinned. “You should forbid every man and swarthy woman from shaving-“
“No!” said Alasdair in a fierce whisper.
She snickered at the king’s renewed consternation, and as they turned from the main hall into the peristyle, Alasdair went ahead to make his introductions to the nobles talking their early morning walks, leaving her at liberty to rejoin her mate and deride their visitor accordingly.