lb_lee: A happy little brain with a bandage on it, surrounded by a circle and the words LB Lee. (creativity)
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The rabbess came to the cellar door.  Normally ignored, the doorway was currently occupied with Princess Judith's castle guardsman, who sat philosophically studying the ceiling.

Where there was a guard, there was a royal child.  Praise be.

"Is she down there?" The rabbess asked, pinching the bridge of her nose.


"The princess.  Who else would it be?" She snapped.

"She might be," the guardsman drawled with a noncommittal shrug, "but then again, she might not.  Can't really give an opinion on her current whereabouts, me."

The holy doctor pressed her lips into a thin line. "Don't tell me that she swore you to silence on such a trivial matter."

"She might have, but then again..."

The rabbess sighed.  She would never speak ill of the royal family, but she had dosed enough unwilling royal children with medicines over the years to wish that more of their royal powers were bestowed at a later age.

"Let me pass," she said.

"Princess warned me of poisoners," the guard remarked.

The rabbess had spent the better part of an hour ransacking the keep for the witch brat; she was in no mood to be trifled with by some slack-jawed lazy man of the spear who thought he had wit. "For god's sake, man," she hissed, "I'm the castle doctor!  There's a chill going round the castle, and she'll get it her own self if she doesn't take this." She held up a jug of medicinal tea--her personal fortifying mix.

The guard raised an eyebrow. "The chill's been around for weeks.  She hasn't taken it?"

"No," the rabbess said coldly. "The little brat has yet to swallow it down." Her stained shirtfronts could testify to this.

"She's but four.  Speak more kindly of the royal family, eh?"

The rabbess looked at him disapprovingly, but he scratched the back of his neck and didn't appear to notice.

She'd heard of the guardsman, of course.  Scuttlebutt had it the man was unbecomingly worldly, but she could see that for herself.  It was also said he had some appalling vices, but she liked to believe herself above gossip.

More importantly, word had gotten around that he was the only member of the royal staff Princess Judith liked--which, at six months' post, had been unprecedented.  Her last guardsman had been assaulted by a fleet of rag dolls.

The rabbess got an idea.

"The princess is fond of you, isn't she?" She asked.

The guard shrugged. "She don't dislike me."

"Perfect." She held the hug out to him. "You can get her to drink this, then." Let someone else get a mouthful of tea to the face, for once.

The guardsman eyed the jug doubtfully. "All of it?"

"All of it," she said firmly, and thrust it into his chest, forcing him to take it.

With a look of resignation, the guard took the jug, and handed her his spear. "Here," he said with a smile, clapping her on the back, "you do my job for a bit too."

The rabbess hrmphed down her nose at him, but he'd already vanished down into the cellar.

It was dark down there, and the guard barked his hip on a barrel of hydrated lime. "Princess?  I realized you hoped the rabbess would break her neck, but you don't want a new guardsman so soon, do you?"

In the corner, a soft glow appeared.  A moment later, a doll, hands covered with wax drippings, hopped onto a barrel, wielding a candle.  The guardsman worked his way around barrels of lime and sacks of sand and gravel to where the princess lay crouched between two stacks of flagstones.

Even at the age of four, she had an impressive glare.

"That looks like poison," she accused.

The guard shrugged apologetically. "She caught me.  Nothing I could do.  Told you you should've let me in the cellar with you."

She distrustfully eyed the jug, then him. "You're going to make me drink it, aren't you?"

"Well now," the guard said, "I can't make you.  Bad habit, forcing little girls who outrank you to drinking something they don't like." He popped the cork and held the jug under his nose, then held it away with a grimace. "Ugh!  No, I can't blame you for spitting this stuff out."

She nodded emphatically. "It tastes worse," she informed him.

"I believe you.  I'd spit it on the rabbess myself, if I were you."

She giggled, then looked at him suspiciously. "Why don't you have to drink it?" She accused.

"Not important enough, I expect.  More guards than princesses around, you know.  I know this stuff tastes dreadful, but it's to keep you well." He held the jug out, but she wouldn't take it.

"You don't have to drink it," she said reasonably.

The guard scratched his chin. "You're right; doesn't seem fair, does it?" She shook her head. "Here.  If you drink this all down but a little bit, I'll take the rest.  We can suffer together."

The princess squinted at him. "The rabbess said I had to drink all of it."

"One sip won't make much of a difference.  Though if you'd rather have it all..."

She quickly shook her head, then said, "You drink first."

"No deal, Princess.  You're just trying to trick me."

"No!" She cried, sounding honestly wounded. "I promise, if you take the first sip, I'll drink the rest."

"You promise, you say?"

She nodded. "By my royal honor."

"I would never doubt a promise made on your royal honor.  Why, if you broke that, it'd be shameful.  All right, I'll drink first." He raised the jug. "To the princess."

He drank.  He made a face.  He swallowed.

"Erlech, that is foul!"

The princess laughed and clapped her hands.

"All right, your turn.  I've done it, now you have the rest."

The princess took the jug and drank deeply.  She grimaced.


Her throat moved.  The guard gave her a look.

"That might fool the rabbess, but not me.  Swallow."

This time, she did, glaring at him balefully.

"Thank you, I know it's disgusting.  You're tougher than I am; I could never drink all that stuff."

She drank the rest and handed the jug back.  The guard smiled. "Good job.  Toughest princess in the world."

She beamed.

The guard left her to play in the cellar and returned up the stairs, where the rabbess still held his spear.  He lobbed the jug to her, forcing her to catch it.

"There you are, all gone," he said, taking his spear back before it clattered to the floor.

The rabbess looked skeptical. "She drank it?"

"Not a drop left.  Aye, she drank it."

From then on, the guardsman was the princess's primary servant.  The royal family knew a good hire when they saw one.

Date: 2010-10-11 07:10 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]

One note: "With a look of resignation, the guard took the jug, and her her his spear." I think you mean "handed her"

Date: 2010-10-12 11:19 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
Indeed you are right. Thanks for catching that! *fixes*
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