Braving Brightvale: Part Two
Kinsley arrived back at her house completely exhausted. Her paws were sore from walking the nearly two hour long tour, which consisted of the history of every single room and corridor within the castle. Kinsley had no idea that even the archway leading into the bathing rooms was considered an architectural marvel.
Upon her arrival home, her mother Daisy had already prepared dinner and the whole family was waiting for her to be seated. “So, how was your first day? Tell us everything about it!” she questioned eagerly.
“Well... the morning was kind of boring...” she began. Truthfully it had been boring, but probably only because it was the first day. “I had a really nice tour of the castle grounds in the afternoon by a fellow apprentice, and that was much more interesting!”
Her father, Frederick, chuckled. “Perhaps you should become a castle tour guide instead of a castle advisor.”
Kinsley smiled. “It would be so interesting! The history of the architecture and the carpeting and the curtains and the books are all so rich, I can barely remember half of what Percy told me.”
“Ooooh! Who’s Percyyyy?” her younger sister, Malia, taunted.
She rolled her eyes. “He’s a fellow apprentice, and one of my new friends.” And with that, she launched into a detailed description of her first day.
Mr. Mufflecrump Merridew was positively flustered when Kinsley arrived the following morning. Apparently, he had forgotten to write up an agenda for the full court briefing that morning, and the briefing was to begin in less than half an hour. It didn’t help that he had to explain the rules of court to the young Xweetok at the same time, of course.
“Never stand up. Always keep your eyes on the person who is currently speaking, and always appear interested. If you are supposed to be taking notes, do not doodle or draw pictures. Do not write notes to anyone in an attempt to talk to them. Never whisper or communicate with anyone else at the table. Also, you are not to speak unless you have the floor. As an apprentice, I will tell you right now that you will never, I repeat, never have the floor. Is that clear?”
Kinsley nodded an approval, waiting for him to continue.
“Well, I think that is all.” Mufflecrump proceeded out of his office, barely looking back to see if his apprentice was behind him.
Court briefings were actually quite interesting, Kinsley soon found out. There was a lot of arguing, and she actually knew what they were arguing about because of the handy little agenda Mufflecrump had provided her with. She loved debating, so naturally she found it difficult to keep her mouth shut as her advisor had instructed her rather forcefully to do.
“But if we raise the tax on imported books, we will lose valuable business! Particularly with Faerieland, and we do not want Queen Fyora on our tails again.” The commerce and trade advisor tried to convince the others, his mustache ruffling when he talked. Watching him talk, she had to struggle to keep her laughter in, especially since Percy was sitting across from her, also muffling laughter.
King Hagan considered the argument. “Aye, I have to agree. ‘Tis not a good idea to break bonds with those who may be of help to us in the future. One must always think ahead.”
Advisors wrote down the King’s words of wisdom, and the subject effectively closed. Mufflecrump stood to announce the next order of business. “Your Highness, the next subject would be your thoughts on the meeting with the Meridellian advisors from yesterday afternoon.”
The esteemed green Skeith harrumphed in response. “It was not successful at all. If my brother honestly thinks that I am willing to help his corrupt government and kingdom with nothing in return, then he deserves each and every problem he encounters henceforth.”
Percy’s advisor, the war minister Gifford chimed in next. “Most certainly. I once tried to assist their head war general in the battle against Darigan and it was a near impossibility. Their troops were so poorly trained and illiterate! I had to draw each and every plan of attack in the dirt of the countryside road with a twig, because no one understood my explanations!”
King Hagan raised his hand to signal a change in the floor. “That is enough, Sir Gifford. If our neighbors in Meridell do not change soon enough, then neither will our choice not to help them. Next order of business, please, Mister Merridew.”
Kinsley scowled. Perhaps, she thought, if King Hagan taught his brother how to effectively run a kingdom, then the people of Meridell wouldn’t be so poor off! The people of Meridell had no real schooling or appreciation for knowledge, which she knew firsthand. Having lived there until a few years earlier, she knew all too well the harsh life which many Meridellians lived in because of all the scandal and corruption present in Skarl’s court.
After the meeting, Kinsley had time to talk to Percy during their lunch break. “So what did you think of the meeting?” he asked.
“Well, I have to admit, I quite enjoy the debate aspect of it.” She huffed and rolled her eyes. “However, let’s just say that some of Hagan’s political ideals are slightly... different from my own.”
The Bori shrugged his shoulders. “I suppose so; I thought King Hagan’s opinions would be much more youth-oriented than they appeared to be.” He paused for a moment. “Oh, and what was the name of the advisor you are assigned to? Murtlecroots Malardey? Muffinsmoots Morningdew?”
The Xweetok burst out laughing, drawing the attention of every advisor in the room. “Muffinsmoots Morningdew? Do you have sludge in your ears or something?” She could barely regain her composure and was sure Mufflecrump would chastise her for the outburst at a later time.
“Wait, what is it, truly?” Percy was now desperate, obviously embarrassed. He was leaned over the ivy green table that stood between them, trying to whisper as quietly as possible.
“It’s Mufflecrump Merridew! Although I have to say—Muffinsmoots may be my new name for him.” Glancing sideways at the green Acara she had for a mentor, who was incidentally eating an imported Sutek muffin, only caused Kinsley to howl with laughter again.
“Hmm... Mufflecrump...” He mulled over the name for a bit. Obviously, it was not as exciting as he had originally thought.
Kinsley combed her pink hair with her paw nervously, because Mufflecrump Merridew stood up from his place at the advisor’s lunch table. He briskly walked over to the apprentice’s table, a stern look on his face.
Mr. Merridew leaned over the table and attempted to subtly reprimand her. “Kinsley, my dear, please do not try to draw attention to yourself by making any more loud exclamations of joy. The court will talk and you can easily lose your placement on the grounds of unprofessionalism. In fact, perhaps it would be better if you went back to my office and began copying down the transcripts I instructed you to do yesterday.”
The Xweetok excused herself from the table, slightly humiliated, but still sniggering about the newfound nickname.
After the first two exciting days of the apprenticeship, the work soon turned routine. Each day generally went as such: mornings were either spent watching Mufflecrump (now known to Kinsley and Percy as Muffinsmoots) do paperwork, or spent in a briefing with the king’s other advisors. Lunch was usually the most interesting part of her day, since she was allowed to be seated at a separate table with Percy where they could talk of all the interesting things they’d seen that day.
Afternoons, on the other hand, were a mixed bag—some days Mufflecrump would have no work for Kinsley and she would be allowed to run errands for some of the other advisors, which gave her time to explore the castle some more. Yet other days were spent in hour after hour long meetings with other advisors or foreign dignitaries, discussing everything from the latest Brightvale fashion to income taxes placed on merchants.
The one subject which Kinsley was still waiting to be brought up again, however, was the subject of Meridell. There seemed to be a general air of dislike when it came to her home kingdom, and she was genuinely interested in sharing her opinions—something which ‘Morningdew Muffinsmoots’ wanted to hear nothing about.
So when it was finally brought up again during a meeting between Sir Gifford, Percy, Mufflecrump and Kinsley, the Xweetok was practically unable to contain her desire to speak. Of course, she was not allowed to share her ideas, so she simply saved them for her afternoon chat with her Bori friend.
“I can’t believe Sir Gifford hates the Meridellians like that! Honestly, just because they are less educated does not mean they are any lesser than us. He acts as if they are all wild Grarrl from Tyrannia, running around without clothing and eating rotten omelette from a plateau!” Kinsley was trying to talk as quiet as her angered voice would allow.
Percy had a puzzled look on his face. “Hold on... you’re saying you don’t hate Meridell? I thought everyone in Brightvale pretty much felt the same.” He took a bite of his sandwich nonchalantly.
The miniscule Xweetok’s mouth dropped open. “Ex... excuse me? Are you saying that you feel the same way as your advisor and every other ignorant Brightvale citizen?”
“Um... yes? I can’t stand Meridell,” Percy said coolly.
To be continued...
Coming up Next: Chocolate chip cookies, a creepy stalker and a chase scene?! Stay tuned!