Of the origins of Nantrelor and its early history little is known to the outside world. Indeed, their own historians record what might seem mere folklore and legend. For example, they tell us that the first king of that land, a noble yet impoverished knight, by the name of Sir Brian Pengareth, received his crown from the Queen of Fae, as a reward for his virtuous deeds. Not to mention slaying a dragon or two.

The Pengareth dynasty still rule in Nantrelor, and although these days they too might smile at such quaint tales, there are many, even among the gravest scholars in the kingdom, who will assure you that is quite true. Your present chronicler, for reasons of her own, reserves her own opinion on the matter.

And the tale she will now relate is as true as she heard it, from the most reliable witnesses: no less than Queen Lucilla II herself, and her closest confidants, and if the reader will not accept their word as well as mine well, they had better go and read Dr Hans Vanderling’s epic History of the Byzantines. That will at least acquaint them with an excellent example of how history need not be as dull as some of our younger readers may sometimes think…

Here, then is Nantrelor, or a part of it. Well, you can’t expect me to fit a whole kingdom, even a small one like Nantrelor, into a single establishing shot now, can you? But that will be enough to show you the sort of place we are dealing with. It is, indeed, a small kingdom and rather cut off from the outside world.

And it must be said that they are lagging somewhat behind the times in there. At the time our present tale takes place it is the latter part of the 19th century and the industrial revolution is going at breakneck speed. Many are the wonders of science that are every day being brought to light for the world to marvel at, and many the ingenious new inventions that will, it is hoped, benefit mankind. The world is changing fast, and society with it. But upon little Nantrelor, so far, none of this has had very much impact.

We may also add that, if you are fortunate enough one day to visit that land (for tourists do occasionally find their way in although not, I am glad to say, in any great numbers) and you spend some pleasant time wandering its narrow country lanes, perhaps stopping at some wayside tavern in one of its picturesque little villages, you will not find many people who are in the least bit sorry about the lack of modern amenities.

Such is Nantrelor,  a happy land, for the most part. Although, as our story begins, it is a land still in mourning for the loss of its king.

This is Brelor Castle, ancient seat of the Pengareths. Many kings and queens have ruled here, for the most part wisely and justly. But few were more beloved that the late King Robert, taken from them far too soon and in the full bloom of manhood, leaving but one child, a daughter, as lawful heir. And now the heavy burden falls young shoulders.

The King is dead, long live Queen Lucilla, second of that name!

CHAPTER ONE

What more pleasant way to start the day than an hour or two fishing, especially on a crisp clear summers morning, and more especially if you have a well stocked moat ready to hand.

This is Viscountess Zenobia Trewarne, ward to the late king Robert and cousin to the Queen. She came home from school to attend the king’s funeral and stayed on as Lady in Waiting.

Alas, the morning’s tranquillity cannot last long, for that is that is Jenny, Her Majesty’s chamber maid, on her way with a message. She spends much of her time doing that lately, the castle being rather understaffed at present and Zenobia spends much of her time receiving such messages. She had hoped, at such an early hour, for some respite, but alas, it was not to be.

“Beggin’ your pardon M’lady. Her Highness’ compliments, an’ she wants the two of you for breakfast”.

“I always suspected it, Jenny. But she can jolly well have cornflakes like the rest of us and lump it!”

“Ha ha, oh M’lady, you’re a caution! But you know what I means, she wants you both to join her for breakfast. And dressed, so she says, though I can’t imagine as you’d turn naked otherwise”.

“Ah, well you know these aristocratic types Jenny: breakfast, lunch, dinner, high-tea, or whatever – it’s not so much what’s on the menu, as what’s in the wardrobe. If they didn’t have the right outfit for the occasion they’d starve to death.

“And if i had to depend upon fish, so would I. It doesn’t look as if I’m going to catch anything bigger than this today in any case, Jenny. Will you wake Sleeping Beauty or shall I?”

“Well, I think I’ll leave that job to you M’lady, if you don’t mind. I know what that one is like if you wake her too early. Takes after her dad for temper, she does”.

“An’ if it’s fish you’re wanting M’lady, I’ll have Cook fry you up a nice fish supper this evening and have it brought out for you”.

“Oh, you’re an angel Jenny. And so is Cook. Give her I nice big sloppy kiss for me!”

“Ooh, I dunno as I should do that, M’lady. Most like she’d come after me with a rolling pin!”

“Hold onto the thought, Zenobia: A nice fish supper, sitting around the camp fire, under a clear summer night’s sky, fretted with heavenly fire… always supposing Her Highness let’s us go on camping out like this”.

“Wakey wakey, sleepy head. It’s not your hansom prince, I’m afraid, you’ll have to hold on a few years for him. It’s only me, your favourite cousin, so you won’t have me tied in a sack and thrown into the moat now, will you my dearest heart?”.

“Well, I suppose not Nobby, I feel more like chucking myself in. Is it really time to get up already? Seems like I only just went to sleep…

“Oh Nobby! The sun’s barely up yet! What’s the idea waking me up at this ungodly hour? Is that the act of a best friend? Or of a favourite cousin? I ask you now, is it?”

“Sorry, sweet cuz, but needs must. I was hoping for a quiet morning too, but then came a harbinger of woe, in shape of Jenny bearing ill hap in her pocket and a shadow athwart the sun of our merry making. In brief, we’re to attend Aunt Beatrice for breakfast. Properly attired, I may add, hair brushed and orderly, and faces, hands and (most particularly) necks well scrubbed. It’s hard cheese, I know, but what can we do?”

“Oh well, the holiday’s over I suppose. Not that camping out in the castle grounds was much of holiday, but it was a pleasant change. And at least I could look at the mountains, even if I couldn’t go and explore them”.

“It’s not fair, Nobby! Not fair on you, I mean. Just because I have to be a prisoner here, there’s no reason why you should be. You could have gone back to school ages ago and had fun with all your chums”.

“And leave you all alone here with Aunt Beatrice? No, Lucy, I won’t do it! Oh, she’d love to pack me off back to school, wouldn’t she? Couldn’t wait to get rid of me, and inflict some frightful old witch of a governess on you. But she can’t force me, and she knows it.

“Besides, I think I’d had my fill of school: all that jolly hockey sticks stuff, and everybody competing to be the most popular girl; hero worshipping anybody who biffs in a last minute goal and saves the match for the ‘good old coll’. You can keep it! And, as for chums, well my very best chum is right here in front of me!”

“So, please don’t feel bad on my behalf, Lucy. I came home for Uncle Robert’s funeral, but I stayed on because you needed a friend with you – not a lot toadying courtiers, or some horrid old governess. And if Brelor Castle really were a prison, and you were in it, I wouldn’t want to be anywhere else but right here beside you.

“Come on then, we’d best get our skates on, the sooner we’re ‘suitably dressed’ the sooner we can get a suitable breakfast. Believe me Lucy, the food’s better here than at school too. Think: bacon and eggs, with toast or fried bread, a few mushrooms, maybe, delicately fried to a golden blush”.

“Hmm, I’d say yes to that! But by suitably dressed I presume she means in the customary suits of solemn black “.

“Oh Lucy! Have you been reading Hamlet again? You should try Treasure Island for a change. Bloodthirsty pirates are far more fun than mad Danish princes who go foraging around graveyards at night picking up skulls”.


NOTE: I gratefully acknowledge elle0808, who’s wonderful Sims 3 world “Moon Valley” provided an ideal setting for this story. In the ancient Cornish speech the word for valley is ‘nan’ and moon is ‘lor’, so if Trelor means ‘Moon town’ then Nantrelor is the valley in which it stands. In the same tongue Brelor Castle would be ‘Moon Hill’ Castle.

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