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Chatty Dabbler

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This is a collaboration between me and two others
they will be posting their parts eventually



THE WOODEN CROWN

The kingdom of Banend was known for one thing. It’s wood. No surprise seeing as the entire kingdom was a forest. But it wasn’t normal wood that made the kingdom so famous. While they had all kinds of trees, they were famous for two in particular, ironwood and goldenwood.

Ironwood, like its namesake,was hard and strong. So strong in fact, that the soldiers of Banend used it for armor . It was highly sought after by seaside kingdoms for building ships, and therefore one of Banend’s biggest exports, second only to goldenwood.

Goldenwood was the pride of the kingdom, so called because of its golden color. And when polished, it was so close to being gold that if you saw it shining in the sun, you might not be able to tell the difference. It was so valuable that it was in fact worth its weight in gold.

Banend had not started out as a kingdom. Once, it had just been a settlement of woodsman and hunters. But as they realized the value of the trees, they decided to become their own kingdom with all the trappings. They constructed a wooden castle, elected a king, and carved him a crown of the finest goldenwood.

The other kingdoms tended to look down on Banend even as they purchased their wood. After all, how could they respect a kingdom that was barely a century old? And how could they respect a king with a wooden crown? Even if it was worth its weight in gold it was still just a wooden crown with a few semi-precious stones.

Princess Sewen knew that the other royals saw her family as little more than tradesmen with toy crowns, but she didn’t care. Why should she? She was happy her kingdom was the way it was. Why, if she were a different kind of royal, she wouldn’t be allowed to play with the peasant children, or hunt, or climb apple trees to pick their fruit. She might have even been married off to a stuffy noble by now.

At age fourteen, Sewen was the King’s pride and joy. She had long hair the color of goldenwood. Brown eyes, swarthy skin, and a dusting of freckles like cinnamon across her nose and cheeks.

Sewen was the headache of her manners mistress since the day she could walk. She was forever taking off her shoes and climbing trees, ripping her dresses in the process. She was also very brave, and any of the peasant children could tell you that she would never turn down a dare. Manners Mistress would always complain to the king, and he would summon Sewen, shake his finger at her, then give her an apple.

At the moment, Manners Mistress was lecturing Sewen on her appearance as usual. “You call that bird’s nest in your hair a bun?” she scolded. “And your dress is ripped all over! Not only that, lift up your hem please.” Sewen sighed and lifted her skirt a little. “I thought so,” said Manners Mistress with a scowl. “No shoes! Why aren’t you wearing your new slippers?”

“In my bedroom,” said Sewen.

“Why aren’t they on your feet?”

“They pinch.”

“Those are beautiful slippers!” said Manners Mistress. “Made of the finest leather and the most intricate stitchery in the land!”

“Which is exactly why I can’t wear them,” said Sewen. “They’ll just get dirty while I’m running around outside. They’re too pretty to use.”

“You aren’t supposed to go charging around in the dirt with them!” said Manners Mistress.

“Well then what good are they?”

Manners Mistress’s sallow cheeks reddened. “They’re symbols of your status as a noble.”

Sewen rolled her eyes. “Well then, if a noble stops by I’ll wear them then.” She glanced out the window at the sun. “Oh, it’s time for my hunting lessons. Good day Manners Mistress.” She gave a brief curtsy and raced out the door.

“This conversation isn’t over!” Manners Mistress called out behind her. “I will continue this discussion with you tonight!”

“Yes I’m certainly looking forward to that,” muttered Sewen under her breath. She hitched up the skirt of her dark red dress and raced to the master game keeper’s lodge. She dodged around sheep and peasant children, and old midwives who shouted greetings as she raced by. Finally she came to where the city ended and the forest began, where the comfortable lodge of one of her father’s oldest friends resided along with his wife and son.

The game keeper was the first to spot her. “Hello princess!” he shouted out. “I was beginning to wonder.”

“I’m sorry,” panted out Sewen. “Manners Mistress kept me.”

The game keeper stroked his whitening beard. “Ah. I suspected as much. She doesn’t think much of your learning to hunt does she?”

Sewen put her hands on her hips. “She doesn’t think much of anything I do.”

The game keeper’s son came out. His brown hair falling gently to his shoulders and his leafy green eyes glinting with mischief. “Hello Princess. I was beginning to think that you had abandoned bow and arrow for needle and thread.”

Sewen gave an exasperated sigh. “You would think she’d have given up on me years ago. But she still thinks she can make me into a demure little pet princess like in those fancy courts she grew up in. Whyever did my father take her on anyway?”

“Well,” said the game keeper. “She did come highly recommended. I understand she’s highly valued as an etiquette teacher in the northwestern kingdoms.”

“Well why didn’t she go there?” complained Sewen. She grabbed a quiver of arrows and a bow carved especially for her. “Really, I don’t understand what father was thinking.”

“Now now don’t be harsh,” said the game keeper. “I’m sure he felt that, with your mother dead, you needed some kind of woman in your life to teach you things he couldn’t.”

Sewen’s expression softened. “I suppose so. But I still think that my mother was more useful than what Manners Mistress expects of me.”

“I’m sure she was,” said the game keeper’s son. “Now let’s get out there and bag some deer.”