This is the ninth of ten parts of Fred’s Yuletide Escape. Chapters average 1000 words, although this is the shortest at under 600 words. If you missed the start, you can find it here.
King Fred of Marsh has decided to take off for a little adventure before his Yuletide duties start. He planned to spend the night at the Inn of the Seventh Happiness, however, he was kidnapped and driven off to a pirate encampment, where the pirate captain told him they want amnesty and a home of their own, and sent a ransom demand to Castles Buckmore and Marsh. Fred took advantage of a storm to run off, and met his brother George, who was looking for him in his flying machine. They lifted off just as the pirates came over the hill chasing them. Now read on…
Chapter 9: A place of their own
“You think we should give in to them? I am surprised.” Prince Lupin looked as astonished as he sounded.
“I don’t see it as giving in. I think it makes sense. They want a castle they can live in, make their own community. We want to get rid of what some people consider a danger to law-abiding people. Surely if they’ve at least got a base, we can start to rehabilitate them?” Fred had done some thinking about the subject, despite his tiredness and distraction.
“What if they just use it to regroup, then attack everyone around them, return to their pirate ways,” asked George.
“Well, we won’t have to chase them all over the countryside like we are at present,” replied Fred.
The six people present considered that. Baden got up to refresh their glasses while the others thought.
“Do we need to make them think they’ve won a hard-fought battle over this?” The way Lady Nimrod asked questions turned them into suggestions.
“How could we manage the funding, though?” asked Nerys, Queen of Buckmore, Lupin’s wife, and Kira’s sister.
Fred shifted in his seat. “I know we don’t have that much standing in security, but I feel Marsh has to be involved in this to some extent. It was Ludo who brought this mess on the realms in the first place.”
“Oh, I expect they’d have found someone else if Ludo hadn’t been around, Fred. You shouldn’t take this on yourself.”
“I’ve never been much good at this business of the castles having security to support their communities,” George said, “ but I think my royalties from the strawberry juice power plant have made a big difference to Marsh, haven’t they?” he said, looking at Prince Lupin, who looked at Baden.
“Well, yes, George. It’s a steady stream of credits, even though it’s relatively small. It has big potential in relation to Marsh’s other securities.” Baden said.
“Could I apportion some of that to the pirates’ new castle? Would that make a difference?”
“That’s very generous of you George, but I don’t think it’s necessary,” said Lupin.
“What if all the castles gave a small amount of security to the venture,” said Fred. “I think it’s called a levy, or something. Then everyone would share the cost of setting it up, and it wouldn’t be a burden on any one castle. We all share the problem.”
“Do you think the Kings’ Council would agree?” Lupin was more than sceptical, but he kept his tone light.
Fred looked glum. “Only if you persuaded them,” he admitted.
“But if I’m willing to give up some of my royalties – if you’re ok with that, Fred, since it’s Marsh earnings – well, wouldn’t it set an example.” George was encouraging. “Surely enough would come in, even if not all. We could establish the castle and sort the rest out later.”
“Like whether they have representation on the Kings’ Council,” suggested Nimrod.
“It would make sense,” said Fred. “It would make it interesting, too!”
Fred, George and Nimrod laughed, Baden and Lupin looked thoughtful.
“When did we last establish a new castle?” asked Nerys.
“Miles, of course, at Fortune,” Lupin told her. Miles was Nerys’s brother.
“No, before that. Miles was in the line of succession, even if it was the female side. This wouldn‘t have that precedent,” she said.
Everyone fell silent. There hadn’t been a castle established in their lifetimes, possibly not even in their parents’ lifetimes.
“Well, it sounds like an opportunity to me,” said Nimrod.
(c) J M Pett 2013
Come back for the final part tomorrow, Saturday. Can it all be sorted out before Solstice?