Tidying up the Kingdom (Social Status, IB, DG) complete

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Re: Tidying up the Kingdom (Social Status change, IB, DG)

Postby Lyssa » Thu Mar 09, 2023 10:53 pm

Enjoying your story very much.

:D
Lyssa
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Re: Tidying up the Kingdom (Social Status change, IB, DG)

Postby animefan78 » Fri Mar 10, 2023 6:20 am

Knowledge is power

Mara was slowly beginning to adjust to life at the castle, a surprisingly rewarding life that she honestly could never have imaged before. The life of a maid was more exhausting than being rich man’s trophy wife, yet it was infinitely more rewarding than being Mrs. Crispian Bonner ever could have been. Here she was actually helping people, whether it was making sure the guards were well fed, or helping clean the stables, or trying to fix the crumbling castle. Her favorite, aka the one she messed up the least on, was taking food and drink to the guards. It was simple and straight forward not like working with the animals or worse cleaning the crumbling castle. A it was drafty and cold. B the cleaning just left her lost trying to remember what goes with what, and feeling a little stupid compared to her fellow maids. Not mention all of the different types and ranks of maids, she thought a maid was a maid, but no there were whole ranks of maids depending on the job. As Stella’s lady in waiting Bell was obviously the highest ranked maid, then there was Elizabeth who she was pretty sure was the housekeeper of sorts at least for the castle. Then there were maids specific to nearly every room in the place, but the kitchen had its own hierarchy of maids. Then there her own title as a between maid or maid who also served the staff. Which was confusing enough already before considering the divided loyalties of the place. Yet, she was smart enough to realize that not everyone on the staff was a supporter of Stella if the lack of flowers in their hair was any indications. Their gossip however sealed the deal because Stella said that gossip was just a tool to distract people who have nothing better to do from feeling jealous of those few of us still remaining with noble hearts.

“Hey anyone know why some idiot put seashells in the bloody treasury,” one of Sarah’s maids asked walking down the hall with a bag in her hand.
“I dunno,” her friend replied. “Maybe it’s some crazy heretical magic thing Stella’s doing,” she added with a shrug. “That or she’s just dumb enough to take seashells as payment.”
“Stella’s not that dumb, and how did money cowrie end up all the way up here. Those are only used in Alkebulan,” Mara thought looking up from her scrubbing floors.
“All I know is that I have to walk it out to the dump, and it is bloody freezing out today,” the maid said.

“I could take that for you,” Mara’s soft voice called out to them.
“Ugh it’s one of Stella’s maids,” the woman groaned.
“What do you want tweeny,” her friend added.
“Just that it’s cold out, I have to go there anyway, and as a tweeny I do serve other maids from time to time,” Mara said.
“And I care because….” The woman said.
“I will save you a trip out into the cold and snow,” Mara said as a particularly stiff draft blew down the hallway.
“Fine by me,” the woman said tossing Mara the bag before continuing on her way.
“I didn’t take you for a suck up,” one of the maids working with Mara replied.
“I’m not,” Mara said softly.
“It sure doesn’t look like it,” the girl said
.
Mara checked the hallway making sure the pair were long gone. “Look you know that I used to be married to Crispian Bonner,” Mara whispered waiting for the girl to nod. “The philandering piece of shit that is my ex-husband was also running a number of scams and illegal deals. One of them was studding horses, and on one occasion a rich prince from the southern continent tried to pay him in shells the translator called money cowrie.”
“Did he take it,” the girl asked.
“No, Crispian only thinks of two things coin, and women,” Mara replied. “So even a noble from a distant land trying to pay what was several thousand gold coins with a handful of seashells was too much for him. Of course, given who we are taking about I think the noble won out in the end,” she explained as the girl giggled.
“Go, get that to Stella, I’ll cover for you,” the girls said nodding towards the bag.
“Really,” Mara replied.
“Yes,” the girl whispered. “You are just taking out the trash and will be back.,” she said giving her a thumbs up.
“Thanks,” Mara said tossing the bag into the bottom of her bucket and heading out of the castle.

Break

“You look like the cat that just caught the prized canary,” Bell said as Mara entered the stables no longer able to hide the grin on her face.
“I need to talk to Stella right away,” Mara blurted out.
“And why do you need to do that,” Bell asked. “And for the love everything, do not say it’s complicated.”
Mara pulled the bag out of her bucket. “One of the maids still loyal to Lady Sarah was ordered to throw out a bag containing about a 100,000 gold coins, and I saved it from the trash dump.”
A perplexed Bell examined her fellow maid closely. “Mara don’t take this the wrong way but I doubt you could hold a bag of a 1,000 gold coins let alone 100,000 coins.”
“That’s because it’s not in gold it’s in money cowrie,” Mara beamed. “Which if I recall can be up to 500% the value of gold at least according to the merchants my ex-husband dealt with.”

Bell slowly walked over to one of the support beams and began to slam her forehead into it. “What, happened, to, normal, around, here,” she grumbled before finally stopping but not before the sound carried all the way to Stella’s office. The lady of the stables closing the large book on her desk before marching out.
“Bell, we talked about this, slamming your head into the wall solves nothing and only brings headaches,” Stella giggled exiting her office. “Oh Mara, what are you doing here, I thought you were on floor scrubbing duty today.”
“I am, but two of Sarah’s maids were ordered to dump these shells the general found in the treasury in the trash because they were cluttering up the place. That didn’t make sense to me so I offered to take them instead and I think they are money cowrie which are worth 500 gold coins each I think,” she said shoving the bag into Stella’s hands. “Please don’t punish me it just seemed a waste to toss money in the trash,” she said with a deep bow.

Stella remained silent slowly opening the bag and looking at the white seashells with a shape reminiscent of conchiglie pasta. Carefully plucking out one of the small off-white shells with a greenish top she began examining it looking for imperfections or signs of it being carved from rock. Her eyes glowing faintly as she scanned the shell picking up the faint remnants of it once containing life. “It’s a real seashell,” Stella said softly turning her gaze on Mara. “But do people really use these as money?”
“Yes, my former husband tried to cut a deal studding Rocinante to a Prince from Numidia on the Southern continent. I do not know all the details but the prince was impressed by a mighty steed, probably Sleipnir offering 500 such shells which was equal to 250,000 gold but my husband laughed him out of the room,” Mara explained.
“I see,” Stella said turning and walking towards Sleipnir. “Did a prince from the far south ever visit here?” she asked her smile growing as Sleipnir nodded affirmatively. “Excellent!” Stella said clapping her hands.

“Ok, so the shells are real and……” Bell blurted out only for Stella to place a finger to her lips.
“Would you ladies fancy a ride,” Stella replied.
“Sure, why not,” Bell said.
“Um, really, I mean the last time,” Mara said softly.
“Just remember what I taught you,” Stella said.
“Um ok,” Mara replied as the horses were readied. “Good horse, nice horse,” she repeated over and over as she slowly approached the horses while Bell giggled at the woman’s antics.
“Bell…” Stella sighed at her secretary sitting side saddle on a magnificent white horse as it trotted over to Sleipnir.

“Oh, come on you have to admit it is at least a little bit amusing to see one of the great ladies of the kingdom struggling with a horse,” Bell whispered.
“I’d prefer to be a fly on the wall when Sarah finally realizes just how corpulent she’s become. There is only one dress left in that closet of hers that she can even remotely fit into these days,” Stella replied in a moment of brutal honesty as they left the stables.
“And that is,” Bell said.
“The one I left behind when the black mage visited,” Stella replied. “Complete with shoes, hair piece and apron,” Stella added with a bit of a smirk.
“You didn’t!” Bell gasped.
“Didn’t what,” a struggling Mara called out with a death grip on the reigns of her horse.
“I may have left an old dress of mine with Sarah so she has something to wear when her current wardrobe fails her,” Stella explained as they road through the countryside.
“Oh… that actually makes sense,” Mara said. “Stella is nice even to her enemies even ones that are giant fakers.”

“It does,” Bell replied.
“Yes,” Mara beamed. “It’s the first and sixth principle of hospitality. By leavy Sarah some clothes she is showing her respect and courtesy,” she explained as Bell continued to give her a curious look as Stella smiled. “Everyone person regardless of who they are deserve a basic level of respect and courtesy. In the case of Sarah that means clothes that she can wear so she doesn’t have to walk around naked.”
“That’s not how I would put it,” Bell thought.
“Very good Mara,” Stella replied causing Mara furiously blush.
“And as much as I loathe Sarah, even I don’t want to see her running around stark naked like some over fed swine,” Bell added mentally. “As much as I like a good ride, why are we coming all the way out here,” she asked as they entered the Arduina.
“One I wanted to go for a ride, two this conversation requires a degree of secrecy, and three each of you deserve a reward for your hard work,” Stella replied.

“Ok,” Bell replied. “But please tell me we aren’t performing a blood sacrifice.”
“No, we are not doing something so monumentally stupid as ritually sacrificing animals to appease the gods,” Stella replied as they continued through the thick forest.
“But I thought that was a common pagan practice,” Mara asked.
“Not exactly,” Stella replied.
Bell sighed. “Let me guess, a bit of revisionism from the Nazoreans.”

“Sort of,” Stella replied. “In my rather limited knowledge, there are such things as blood sacrifices but those are uncommon, intricate, and notoriously dangerous.”
“Limited knowledge,” Bell and Mara muttered in trepidation.
“Yggdrasil is the king of trees and is more familiar with naturism than animism,” Stella replied. “However what I know more about is animal sacrifices which were more common.”
“Aren’t they the same thing,” Bell asked.
“No, animal sacrifices like the blot are done to appease the gods by offering them a tasty meal, blood sacrifices are far less benign. The only one I am familiar with is the all father Odin sacrificing his eye to the well of knowledge, and then committing ritual suicide to gain knowledge. So, trust me we are not messing around with that sort of thing,” Stella replied.
“Then what are we doing,” Mara asked with a slight tremor in her voice.
“You’ll find out, but I promise on the trees that it is nothing bad,” Stella replied.
“Why does that not fill me with confidence,” Bell muttered.

Break

“Fuck Stella, fuck her magic, and fuck that monster horse she road in on,” Sarah growled sitting in a cold damp cellar beneath the castle frantically flipping through an ancient tome if the fragile nature of the pages and binding were any indication. A book she’d discovered buried in an old section of the castle library normally kept under lock and key. The sort of book that would be a great bargaining chip with the mages, or get her paraded through town on a cart while being stoned to death. Despite the danger Sarah continued to read through the pages like she had for several nights since the utter indignity of being forced to wear that degrading barmaid outfit. Even if it was for just a bit of sexual play, sexual play she did all the work for and received none of the pleasure, it was still beneath her status as a princess. However it did do one thing and that was highlight her increasing lack of power, with the Chancellor hanging on due to the bishops impeding arrival which was delayed by some moron getting lost in the forest dumping him back in Germania after taking the wrong path through the Arduina. A fact that didn’t mater now as she stared at a well-worn page in the book.

Sacrifice of Odin

Unlike a blot meant as an offering to earn the good will of the gods, the Sacrifice for knowledge is not to be taken lightly. For this is not an offering of good will to the gods but a petition for knowledge of the arcane. Knowledge of the forces that created the world, knowledge of how the world works, knowledge of how to bend those forces to your will. Knowledge that must be earned by sacrifice. To ignore this is to walk with the wolves of Odin snapping at her heels.

“I am a princess, and those stupid spirits will do what I say,” Sarah grumbled skipping the rest of the warning to find the ritual itself. Which at first glance was surprisingly simple just toss an eye into a well, and the castle just so happened to have a hidden one in the dungeons.
“And there is no way I am plucking out my eye like some kind of masochist,” she said tossing a pigs eye into the well. “A pig’s eye is more than enough for a spirit of knowledge,” she said watching it sink into the well before turning back to the book.
“Next impale….” she said struggling to read the next part turning to the pig restrained in the corner. “A pig should be fine….” She huffed picking up a spear her arms struggling with the weight of the weapon. “Because there is no way I’m wasting a one of my prize cows or horses on some spirit,” she said stabbing the squealing pig in the flank. “Ugh why won’t you die,” she grumbled as the pig continued to squeal as she tried stabbing it again this time hitting it’s foot.

Break

The trio’s trek through seemingly endless wall of trees ended as they found themselves standing at the edge of a stream. It’s water crystal clear all the way to the bottom of its gently flowing current. “Bell, Mara, I present to you the Kormort,” Stella said motioning to the large stream.
“I’m afraid I am not familiar with that river,” Mara said softly while nervously fretting with her hands.
“Relax, I am just as in the dark as you are,” Bell replied.
“Indeed, you would be as this was nearly choked off by the Cuthberts in their quest to control the Arduina, and it was the same river that Sarah had her accident trying to jump,” Stella explained.
“Why are you showing it to us then,” Bell asked.
“The Koromort is the river that judges if you are worthy of seeing Ygdrassil,” Stella explained. “No, it’s more like the first spring which feeds the moat, but this is an off shoot of the moat so it works just as well,” she babbled much to their confusion.
“Lady Stella are you going to baptize us as members of your cult,” Mara asked.

Sliepnir gave a snort of laughter as Stella reeled back. “By the flowers no, you are free to believe what ever you like as long as you keep an open mind, and it is my gift to you. I know that you are worthy so you need not fear being judged, but certain protocols must be followed before meeting Yggdrasil, and the water will do wonders for your skin and hair. Think of it like going to a salon before taking your honeymoon,” Stella added.
“My what!” Bell yelped nearly falling off her horse.
“You thought you were sneaky, eloping to the coast to get married, so instead of throwing you a fabulous wedding I am sending you on an all expenses paid trip to see the continent, and I am not taking no for an answer,” Stella said to a frozen Bell.

“The answer is yes,” Mara giggled in Bell’s ear.
“Yes, but why,” Bell finally blurted out.
“One because I can, two because you work hard, and three you can take the money cowrie and pay off the countries debts with the southern city states,” Stella explained.
“Four, it gets you out of her hair for a while,” Mara whispered.
“Don’t think I didn’t hear that Mara,” Stella deadpanned.
“Meep,” Mara squeaked.

“Stella, thank you I don’t know what to say,” Bell said still in shock, she’d never even left the country. Hell traveling to Scheldt to get married in secret was more than she’d ever traveled before and now she was going to be touring the continent.
“You’re welcome and you earned it,” she said turning to Mara. “Mara, you have been working hard and the castle guards sing your praises making the rounds to make sure they are well cared for while on shift. Not to mention your recent discovery has helped the kingdom tremendously and I do reward hard work.”
Stella’s kind words and praise so stunned the noblewoman turned maid that she fell right off her horse into the creek with a splash. “Gah cold!!!!” she exclaimed as she broke through the surface of the water. “Wait it’s not…. cold…. Lady Stella why isn’t the water freezing.”

“Because I asked the healing springs to help out so you wouldn’t catch a cold from bathing in freezing water in the middle of winter,” she said before Sleipnir nudged Bell into the water with a splash.
“Princess could you not,” Bell sputtered as she surfaced.
“No,” Stella laughed before joining them.
“Now relax and enjoy yourself for once,” Stella said.
Bell dramatically rolled her eyes. “That’s the pot calling the kettle black.”

Break

“Finally,” Sarah sighed as the pig finally died after stabbing it more times than she could count flopping into a chair as she began to wait tapping her foot on the old stone floor as she waited for something to happen. “Great, if I knew I had to wait for some spirit to appear I would have brought a snack with me,” she grumbled staring at the wall.

“Patience brings wisdom into our lives,” a elderly male voice said from the shadows.
“You’re late,” an unimpressed Sarah said her voice dripping with annoyance while watching as a walking dichotomy stepped out of the shadows. From the grey hair, beard, and wrinkles on the mans face he was clearly old, but his body and stance were one of strength and vigor. What she missed was the wisdom hidden behind his one eye as the other was hidden beneath an eye patch.
“I thought patience was considered one of the heavenly virtues,” the man replied.
“Virtues are for the weak,” Sarah scoffed flipping her increasingly ratty looking hair back.
“Virtues are what makes a person strong,” the man replied.

“Power is what makes a person strong and why I went through the trouble of summoning a pagan spirit,” Sarah replied standing while the old man slightly raised a single eyebrow. “My name is her royal majesty Princess Sarah Cuthbert, and you will grant me the power to control the flames of rage.”
“You make demands of me,” the man said coldly.
“Yes, you are not my god, and I am a princess, what more do I need to make demands of some spirit I summoned, and can dismiss on a whim,” Sarah replied.
“I believe your religion has a phrase,” the man said.
“And what would a pagan spirit know about the glory of Nazarene,” Sarah scoffed.

“I know many things girl,” the man said his eye glowing slightly as he released a fraction of his power. The shear sight of the glowing eye enough to make Sarah take a step back. “I know that you are the last in a long line of people who tried to destroy a tree sacred to my people. A tree being healed by one you so despise.”
“Stella, you bitch! I will see you hang…” Sarah growled.
“Impudence,” the man said cutting Sarah off.
“Shut up old man, Sarah snapped only for a hand to lash out grabbing her by the throat slowly lifting her into the air.
“My name pike, is Odin, the wise high father of the Æsir,” he said calmly continuing to stare into Sarah’s eyes. “Called here by….”
“Me, so do what I say,” Sarah choked out.

“Had you shown even a shred of the self-sacrifice I had in my quest for knowledge I would had, but you sullied the spring of wisdom with a false eye from a pig, and doubled down on that by butchering a pig in a wasteful display. Knowledge of the world requires sacrifice Stella put her body, mind, and soul on the line braving the dark hell you sunk the remains of Yggdrasil into. What have you done while sitting on your throne of lies. Stella Selvan risked life and limb to save people that so derided her, while you ran screaming like a girl. So tell me Sarah the Sow why should I give one scrap of knowledge to a liar and a cheat who barely deserves the knowledge she has,” he said his words cutting deeply into her soul.
“I am a princess and….” Sarah whispered.

“Shall be punished for your deception,” he said magic flowing into her. “You sought to fool a great wise one in search of knowledge and power. knowledge is power and power you shall lose,” he said staring into her eyes as the spark of intelligence began to leave them. Literacy, mathematics, public speaking, dance, fashion, manners, all the courtly arts flowed out of Sarah’s mind. The process stopping only when she had the intelligence and knowledge of your average woman.

Break

“This now the strangest thing I have ever seen or done,” Bell sighed floating in the river staring up at the fluffy white clouds passing lazily overhead. The water’s current slowly unraveling her brown hair letting it trail out behind her. The dark brown motley strands slowly changing to a rich shimmering chestnut slowly being drawn out by the water.

“Really, a dip in a river is strange,” Stella replied treading water as her hair floated around her.
“I believe Bell is referring to the fact that we are bathing in a river, located in the middle of a forest that has a reputation for being extremely dangerous. A river that Lady Sarah believes tried to kill her,” Mara replied resting her head on a rock by the river bank while the waters soothed her aching muscles.
“That’s because Sarah is a dimwitted, impertinent, and salacious woman with the self-restraint of a toddler, who I personally believe is unfit to rule Heim, let alone a pig farm,” Stella said.
“Finally,” Bell and Mara said.

“Hu…. what do you mean…” a confused Stella replied.
“Do you have any idea how long we, and by we, I mean all of Tongeren, most of the castle staff, and now a good portion of Liege have been waiting for you to say that,” Bell explained.
“Bell you can’t be serious,” Stella replied. “My own rebellious thoughts of overthrowing the Cuthberts and returning Alfheim to it’s former glory is one thing…”
“Princess for once in your life please stop being so obtuse,” Bell replied.
“I am not obtuse,” Stella replied.

Bell swam over to Stella, looking her in the eye. “Lady Stella you are a true Calen Sage once lost to the annals of history. By your blood, sweet and tears you and you alone have brought new life to Yggdrasil the king of trees. I do not believe I am being truculent, when I say that the people of Alfheim would support your noble cause in purging the barbarian Cuthberts from the Arduina,” she said as Stella watched her secretaries eyes changed the muddy orbs turning a sparkling light blue. Growing brighter as the light of wisdom entered her mind. “And why am I talking like this …. Stella what did you do?” she asked grabbing the woman’s shoulders with a growing sense of panic.

“Um, all this was supposed to do was supercharge your hair and skin,” Stella replied pausing to look at the river. “But sometimes Yggdrasil and his springs like to go above and beyond,” she said looking at the water. “Now did you give Bell some extra knowledge,” she said narrowing her glowing eyes at the flowing water.
“The Urðarbrunnr and Hvergelmir lack that particular ability only drinking from the Mímisbrunnr can do that, and it’s power is still sealed beneath the Castle Heim,” Odin said.

Bell ducked under the water, while Stella wrapped her long ebony hair around her as the old man stepped out of the woods. Mara took a more direct approach hurling a stone at the mysterious old man. “Pervert, how dare you peep on the princess,” Mara snapped as the man caught the stone with a resounding thud as it impacted his hands.
“Good arm, I like this one. She will make a fine Valkyrie one day,” Odin chuckled.
“The name is a Mara, and how dare you peep on Princess Stella,” Mara shot back as the water from the spring of Urðarbrunnr responding to her desire to protect Stella. The swirling waters slowly burning away more of Mara’s soft fatty flesh.
“Mara, don’t argue with mysterious strangers who walk out of the woods,” Bell hissed while Stella expanded her senses while carefully examining the old man.

“Oh, great and wise Odin, what can this humble human do for you on this most blessed day,” Stella said.
“Stella is that a pagan god,” Bell muttered her words muffled by the bubbles she was blowing nearly fully submerged in the water.
“I don’t care if he is a god or not, turn around right now you naughty pervert,” Mara snapped soft limbs growing firmer as she fired off another stone only to be caught again by Odin but with a louder impact. The old spirit smiling at the woman’s tenacity and spirit.
“Yes, Odin is the chief deity of the Northmen,” Stella explained.

“Then he should have better manners than my ex-husband,” Mara growled launching two stones at the interloper hiding one in the shadow of the first one. The first impacted his hand while the second slipped past impacting his chest with a thud.
“It’s been a long time since anyone let alone a mortal has slipped anything by me Miss Mara Wagner,” Odin replied. “Such a feat is worthy of a gift.”
“Then turn around before the next one takes out your eye,” Mara growled moving in front of Stella.
“Hahahahahaha, you have truly found a shield maiden worthy of Vahalla Stella Selvan,” Odin chuckled turning his back to the ladies.
“Indeed Mara while Mara may be a bit impulsive at times she has a good heart,” Stella replied. “Now what brings the great wise one to see my humble self?”

“Sarah the Sow,” Odin replied.
“May I ask what that ill-bred swine herder did to up set you oh great wise leader of the Æsir,” Bell asked. “Oh, come on why am I talking like some haughty noblewoman.”
Odin laughed while Stella giggled at her friend’s exasperated antics. “Sarah, attempted the sacrifice for knowledge hoping to bypass the sacrifice by using a common pig as a substitute. Then in an act of hubris bordering on insanity she tried to command me to obey.”
“What might I do to appease you great Odin,” Stella said.
“You needn’t worry child, despite what the old laws of Hospitality might say Sarah’s sins are not your own,” he said causing the ladies to breathe a sigh of relief.

“As she sought knowledge through deceit and trickery, knowledge was the price she paid as I removed all of her courtly arts and learning. Scant as it was such knowledge should not be wasted and I thought your emissary might put such knowledge to better use than that pathetic excuse for a woman,” Odin explained.
“Um, thank you…. I think… but I’m not a….” Bell stammered in shock.
“True, but that does not make you any less worthy in my eyes, and if you are not allowed to pass into paradise there will be a table waiting for you in Valhalla should you prove yourself worthy,” Odin stated.
“She is worthy, they both are,” Stella said as a statement of pure fact.

“High praise from the Gyðja of Ygdrassil. The norns themselves would be impressed by what you have done,” Odin said.
“You can thank me after I have restored the king of trees to his rightful place,” Stella replied her eyes burning with determination that Odin didn’t have to turn around to see.
“Such determination also deserves a gift of knowledge,” Odin said holding up a hand to stop Stella from protesting. “The final spring, Mímisbrunnr the well of knowledge lies somewhere inside Castle Heim and this well can only be broken by sacrifice, a sacrifice that signifies new beginnings, and one that can be undone by the test of time,” he said before vanishing.

“Foreboding much,” Mara said.
“It is what it is,” Stella replied as the forest began stirring again.
“Mara the next time you find the urge to throw rocks at ancient spirits,” Bell said.
“Yes,” Mara replied.
“Please don’t,” Bell said stepping out of the water the weight of her hair much more than usual. “And what happened to my hair,” she gasped half turning to see a chestnut hair trailing down her back nearly to her hips.

“It’s much better this way,” Stella said exiting the water, raven hair trailing down to her ankles. “Long hair is a symbol of health, wealth, femininity and social status,” Stella said. “Not to mention I think it is peak beauty,” she added pulling Bell’s hair into a simple but elegant ponytail using a flower as a hair tie.
“Who is Frigg, and why would she give us new clothes,” Mara asked putting on a dark blue dress with a white lace trim that displayed some of her thick but firm thighs. The midsection hugged her stomach that was firmer and lacking the ring of flesh that used to spill over her hip bones. Arms firm with just a hint of muscle as she moved while flaming red hair fell in delicate curls to the small of her back.

“Frigg is Odin’s wife and this is for you,” Stella said handing Bell a new outfit. A flowing white dress with a second more form fitting blue dress to be worn over top of it. That combined to create a graceful elegance that would be the envy of any noblewoman. While the men would be envious of her husband for having wife such an enticing bustline.
“That makes sense,” Mara replied.

“Lady Mara I envy your ability to remain as calm as the waters of a frozen lake after meeting a great old one,” Bell replied her voice surprisingly soft and soothing. “And please don’t tell me I am going to end up talking like a stuck up noble all the bloody time from now on,” she grumbled trying to reign in her flowing dress.
“No, but I would hope that my ambassador would do her best to display the grace and elegance the people of Alfheim are known for as she travels the world. The Cuthberts have turned us into the sick woman Europa, a farce that could not be further from the truth. So please show all that you come across that Alfheim is returning to it’s rightful place under the protection of Yggdrasil once more,” Stella said.

“And if they do not,” Bell asked.
“Then you have my full support to render a suitable punishment to correct their behavior,” Stella added.
“Princess it would be my honor to act as your ambassador,” Bell said kneeling before Stella.
Stella smiled gently touching a sprig of an ash tree to Bell’s shoulders. “Then rise Duchess Sturlson, emissary of Ygdrassil,” she said softly looking down at Bell before turning bright red at her own actions. “I can do that right, I mean I have the power to do that right,”
“Yes,” Mara and Bell replied.
Stella let out a sigh of relief. “Oh, thank goodness….”

Author's note- A bit of a long one here that I hoped you all enjoyed and as always let me know what you think.
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Re: Tidying up the Kingdom (Social Status change, IB, DG)

Postby Moximus » Sun Mar 12, 2023 9:36 am

Damn! To be honest... For most of those things, we had not seen her use any of the knowledge she lost. Aside from doing some reading, math and public speaking, I mean. And even then, she didn't really... do great public speaking... I don't know, she already acted like she didn't know much. But can she still read and count, or was it included in "literacy and mathematics"? (This could be interpreted as having studied literature and higher maths and including only those higher levels of literature and mathematics, or even down to the very basic abilities or reading and counting.)
(To be honest, I feel kind of sad for Sarah now... But I'm glad Mara got built.)
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Re: Tidying up the Kingdom (Social Status change, IB, DG)

Postby TF Fan88 » Sun Mar 12, 2023 10:38 am

I honestly can see it as being right in line with not respecting a god by only taking half measures. She mocked Odin's sacrifices for knowledge and he punished her for her willing ignorance by making her as ignorant as her average subject. No one said these gods were always fair but to Odin this was probably the perfect punishment
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Re: Tidying up the Kingdom (Social Status change, IB, DG)

Postby animefan78 » Sun Mar 12, 2023 11:05 am

Moximus wrote:Damn! To be honest... For most of those things, we had not seen her use any of the knowledge she lost. Aside from doing some reading, math and public speaking, I mean. And even then, she didn't really... do great public speaking... I don't know, she already acted like she didn't know much. But can she still read and count, or was it included in "literacy and mathematics"? (This could be interpreted as having studied literature and higher maths and including only those higher levels of literature and mathematics, or even down to the very basic abilities or reading and counting.)
(To be honest, I feel kind of sad for Sarah now... But I'm glad Mara got built.)


Fair point, I didn't really showcase Sarah as being particularly well spoken or intelligent which can be seen a diminishing this latest change. A change I used to mix things up a bit. In hindsight I should have shown those skills a bit perhaps a public vs private face to her. I was hoping everyone would enjoy the latest Mara stuff.

TF Fan88 wrote:I honestly can see it as being right in line with not respecting a god by only taking half measures. She mocked Odin's sacrifices for knowledge and he punished her for her willing ignorance by making her as ignorant as her average subject. No one said these gods were always fair but to Odin this was probably the perfect punishment


I do think the scene worked as intended just that change has less pay because I was telling the reader hey she is smart rather than showing Sarah as being smart. With the Norse allusions I have already made Odin made the most sense as a god of knowledge. Plus in the mythology he doesn't like it when people deceive him. I will be trying to play up Sarah's lack of knowledge moving forward.
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Re: Tidying up the Kingdom (Social Status change, IB, DG)

Postby Lyssa » Sun Mar 12, 2023 9:33 pm

Entertaining episode, your imagination along with all the details smoothly pushes your narrative along, and you deserve much credit in delivering such well-written material.
The camaraderie and banter between Stella and her companions is amusing to read, Stella reminds me of an older / wiser elder sister compared to the other females, if that makes any sense.
The thing I got from Sarah's intelligence being drained is that she'll no longer be able too adequately converse with her peers, and that she'll rely on her impulses rather than common sense.
The regal class would certainly ignore her and consider her an embarrassment before writing her off completely. The barmaid outfit rather than a ceremonial, princess style gown does render the picture of an average woman,
uneducated, peasant stock, and I really liked Sarah being referred to as corpulent.

This line caused me to crack an eyebrow --“That’s because Sarah is a dimwitted, impertinent, and salacious woman with the self-restraint of a toddler, who I personally believe is unfit to rule Heim, let alone a pig farm,” Stella said.
Very intriguing. Could Sarah's behavior and overt chunkiness correspond with her reputation, know as the sow by nobles and commoners alike?

:D
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Re: Tidying up the Kingdom (Social Status change, IB, DG)

Postby animefan78 » Tue Mar 14, 2023 7:40 am

Lyssa wrote:Entertaining episode, your imagination along with all the details smoothly pushes your narrative along, and you deserve much credit in delivering such well-written material.
The camaraderie and banter between Stella and her companions is amusing to read, Stella reminds me of an older / wiser elder sister compared to the other females, if that makes any sense.
The thing I got from Sarah's intelligence being drained is that she'll no longer be able too adequately converse with her peers, and that she'll rely on her impulses rather than common sense.
The regal class would certainly ignore her and consider her an embarrassment before writing her off completely. The barmaid outfit rather than a ceremonial, princess style gown does render the picture of an average woman,
uneducated, peasant stock, and I really liked Sarah being referred to as corpulent.

This line caused me to crack an eyebrow --“That’s because Sarah is a dimwitted, impertinent, and salacious woman with the self-restraint of a toddler, who I personally believe is unfit to rule Heim, let alone a pig farm,” Stella said.
Very intriguing. Could Sarah's behavior and overt chunkiness correspond with her reputation, know as the sow by nobles and commoners alike?

:D


Yes it does make sense with Stella being seen as the big sister of sorts as that is how I am trying to write her.

I do want to focus on Sarah lack of intelligence in the next few chapters and that was the whole point of the barmaid outfit. Yes, Stella was doing a bit of foreshadowing and truth telling there.
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Re: Tidying up the Kingdom (Social Status change, IB, DG)

Postby animefan78 » Mon Mar 20, 2023 4:25 pm

Cattle Thieves

Still basking in the afterglow of Lady Stella’s praise at her work, Mara couldn’t stop herself from smiling even as she braved the cold and snow to deliver snacks to the men guarding the castle. Stepping high like Lady Bell told her to she easily trudged through the snow proudly carrying a large tray of scones in one hand delicately balancing it on her shoulder while carrying the coffee in her other hand. Not to mention she was no longer an in-between maid, and was officially a parlor maid with the job of serving the guards food and drink when they requested it so they didn’t have to march all the way back to the castle. She would have skipped like a giddy school girl if she hadn’t just bobbled slightly. “Come on focus Mara you’re a real maid now.”

Much to her relief the guardhouse was empty, which when she thought about it was rather odd, since the gate was wide open and anyone even goblins could march right through. “Where is everyone,” she asked looking around for the guards. “Even if it’s a shift change there should still be someone here,” she said poking around the gate house. Not to mention they were not following proper protocol for emergencies. If something happened that require the guard house to support another part of the wall the drawbridge should have been raised, the doors shut, and the portcullis dropped. And certainly not left wide open for just anyone to stroll in like they owned the place. Not that they had to worry about goblins charging in after what the maiden of flowers did to them the last time, or the honorable hard-working people of Tongeren. No the real problem were those evil two faced money grubbing jerk faces from Liege, who were just the worst, and Mara knew all to well, she used to be one. But not anymore, now she was a loyal hard-working citizen of Heim or was it Alfheim like she’d heard Stella and Bell say a few times. Either way it was above her paygrade and not something she could really do anything about, much like the abandoned gates. However, that was something she could do something about placing the scones and coffee off to the side before taking a position in the middle of the gate house.

“I thought you said that the coast would be clear,” a man whispered to Crispian as the pair led a small heard of cows and several horses up to the gate.
“I did and it is,” Crispian replied.
“Then what is that maid doing there,” the man said pointing to Mara as they approached.
“It’s just a maid, don’t worry about it,” his partner in crime replied.
“Don’t worry about it are you mad, what if she is one of Stella’s maids,” the man said as panic began to set in.
“She’s……. oh……. Fuck…….” Crispian cursed spotting the flower in Mara’s hair as they approached the inner side of the gate.
“Shit, what do we do now,” the man hissed.
“Shut up and let me do the talking,” Crispian snarled.

“Good morning,” Mara called out with a wave.
“…Morning…” the nervous man stammered.
“Do be careful out there today, the wolves were howling last night, and there have been some sightings on the edge of the forest,” Mara explained.
“Did we ask for your help,” Crispian huffed.
“No, I suppose not,” Mara replied as something about the man’s voice tickled the back of her mind.
“Then be a good little servant and stay quiet and out of the affairs of your betters, like a good little gutter snipe,” Crispian growled.

Mara fumed, she was a proper maid thank you very much not some lady of ill repute doing any and all manner of depraved acts in the shadows. “My good sir I will have you know that I am a parlor maid in the service of Lady Stella, not some silly Sarah,” Mara replied as the tickle grew stronger as the small herd entered the gate.

“I don’t care what the help thinks it is,” Crispian replied.
“Well I do when you taking a dozen of Lady Stella’s prized dairy cows outside the walls on a day when we know there is wolf activity in the region,” Mara huffed glaring at the well dressed herdsmen. “And where did you get those horses….”
“Shut your pie hole you stupid bint, before I shut it for you,” Crispian growled, Mara’s eye’s widening as she finally realized what was bothering her about the voice.
“Please do, it will make finalizing the divorce so much easier,” Mara said tilting her head up to look him in the eyes.

“Mara!” Crispian recoiled in shock nearly toppling off his horse.
“Wow, I’m impressed you remembered my name considering what happened the last time we tried to share a bed together,” Mara replied stepping between them and the draw bridge.
“At least they knew how to pleasure a man,” Crispian snapped back.
“Oh fuck we are so screwed,” his partner cried out.
“She’s still my wife and she will do what she is told,” Crispian growled.
“Or what,” Mara replied.
“I’ll become a grieving widower,” he replied only for Mara to laugh in his face. “What’s so funny.”

“I hit the god of the Northmen, the great and wise Odin with a rock, what makes you think I am afraid of a weak philandering degenerate of a man,” she replied holding her serving tray at her side and a fire burning in her eyes.
“You’re bluffing Crispian said a shiver of fear running down his spine while pressing his horse forward.

Acting on instincts she didn’t know she had Mara used the shiny serving tray to reflect a beam of sunlight into Crispian’s face covering her next move. A move that involved throwing the tray harder than she thought possible cutting the rope holding the portcullis in place dropping with a resounding crash. The horses startled horsed rearing up slightly, while arms stronger than Crispian remembered pulled him down from his mount.

“You son of whore,” Crispian growled drawing a large dagger as he clambered to his feet.
“The correct term is daughter, and my mother bless her dearly departed soul was no whore,” Mara corrected him eyes locked on his dagger.
“Crispian what the hell we need to get out of here,” his companion yelled.
“No, I have a lot riding on this deal and I am making my cut,” Crispian snarled thrusting the dagger forward as Mara jumped back.

“Well, shit, Lady Bell was right I really do need to be less impulsive,” Mara thought nervously as she looked for a weapon to defender herself. Throwing rocks at a surprise mystery guess while Princess Stella was there was one thing, but challenging her husband was another entirely. “But he was stealing and that’s not very hospitable,” she thought dodging another thrust. “Which means….” she thought as Crispian’s horse kicked a row of shields knocking one into her waiting hands. “Take the thief into custody,” she said giving a nod of thanks to the horse.

“Hahahaha, you think you can beat me,” Crispian laughed. “Do you remember the number of times I dominated you in the bedroom.”
“How rude,” Mara huffed using the shield to bat away his dagger, landing a follow up punch in his stomach. The flower in her hair approving of Mara’s actions using the brief contact to leech a bit of Crispian’s strength and vitality as recompense for his treat of his wife.
“A lucky shot,” Crispian grumbled.
“Perhaps, but you never were much for physical activity outside of those that should remain private,” Mara replied standing a bit taller, as Crispian’s strength slowly trickled into her.

“Like you are one to talk,” Crispian snarled thrusting again. Mara spun out of the blade path using the spin to deliver a devastating kick to the back of his legs. Her new found strength sending him tumbling to the ground. Her shield knocking away the bar for the inner portcullis trapping them inside the gate.
“Yes, I was just a simpering sycophantic woman chasing the coattails of a woman unworthy of the title of Princess,” Mara replied slowly marching towards him, her figure continuing to improve.

“Sarah Cuthbert is the princess of Heim,” Crispian snarled lashing out with the dagger. A heavy leather boot snapping the poorly made blade off an overly ornate hilt. Crispian catching a brief glimpse of muscular thighs as Mara’s skirt rode up slightly from the kick.

“Sarah the Sow was mistakenly named regent by the Nazarenes in an effort to destroy that which they do not understand,” she replied glaring down at him. “A mistake that will soon be rectified,” she said leaning forward just in time to miss a poorly timed slash at her neck. The blade merely slicing her hair off at the base of her neck. Reflexes Mara didn’t know she had kicking in as one leg rising up to pile drive the man in the chest throwing him into a cow.

“Grab her,” Crispian yelled using the distraction to grab Mara’s arm and pull her down. Instead of recoiling she leaned into it drive her shoulder into Crispian’s chest. He hissed in pain not expected her to slam down on him. The pile of limbs rolling until Crispian was on top of him in very familiar position. “How do you like me now whore,” he panted struggling to push through pain and fatigue. “Now if your good little slut….” he said placing his hands on her chest.

Old Mara would have screamed for help, long before this, however she wasn’t Mara Bonner anymore, even Odin said so. No, she was Mara Wagner, and these reprobates were stealing from her Princess, a crime she would not allow. Placing one foot on Crispian’s side she grabbed the opposite arm as she spun. A muscular calf slamming down across his neck as she hugged the arm to her chest. The last chest he would feel in a long time bucking her powerful hips up. She would later deny smiling as Crispian screamed in pain, or licking her lips in delight as his arm snapped from her new found strength.

Her smile was short lived as rolled to the side to dodge a downward strike from his partner in crime. “You bitch you shattered his arm!”
“That was the point, dingus” Mara thought rolling out of the way of his frenzied strikes. A wild strike gave her a second to rock backward pushing up with her hands as she performed a sloppy but successful bridge up. Her husbands horse kicking her shield into her hand. “My thanks,” she said to the horse and the battle was on.

Still seeing her as a maid the man frantically swung, Mara raising her shield. Muscular arms hidden beneath her dress tensing holding the metal shield firm as steel clanged on steel. Panicking the man swung again, and again Mara’s flesh held firm never once wavering as she waiting for the right moment to strike. The moment came with a wide tired swing, instead of taking the hit she pushed out with her arm turning into the blow as she batted the sword aside. Hips twisting as her lead foot stepped into the blow, back leg rising up. Her quads clearly visible as she lashed out her foot a blur before impacting the man’s ribs cracking them with a text book round kick. Letting the momentum carry her as the man stubbled backward she stepped forward into a side kick her heel cracking the man’s jaw on impact.

“Ok, how in the tree did I do that,” Mara said to herself looking at her simpering mess of an ex-husband, and his unconscious accomplice. There was time enough to deal with deep personal introspection later right now she had a bit more cleaning to do. “Now if they so much as look at you the wrong way I want you to kick them,” she said to the cows placing Crispian and his accomplice in the middle of the herd. She took a slight nod from the cows to mean yes, before raising the portcullis and waiting for the guards to come back. Which didn’t take long given the commotion of dropping the gates and the ensuing fight. What would take much longer would be sorting out just what had caused the massive lapse in security in the first place.

Break

“I didn’t do anything wrong, I didn’t do anything wrong, I didn’t do anything wrong,” Mara repeated in her head over and over as she was led back to the castle by several guards.
“Please tell me she didn’t try to punch out wandering spirit or god again,” Bell sighed watching as Mara was marched past the stables her head held high despite her situation.
“Bell, it seems that someone tried to steal a dozen prized dairy cows, and a pair of Svaðilfari ponies,” her husband said leading the animals back into the stable.
“THEY DID WHAT!” Bell snapped long hair trailing behind her as she rushed to the animals.
“Yes, it appears Crispian Bonner, and his accomplice tried to sneak them out during a changing of the guards while the gatehouse was left wide open,” he replied.
“They left the gate wide open!” Bell gasped.
“Indeed, but not for long as Mara arrived shortly after they left and stood guard catching the thieves,” he explained. “A problem my men are currently rectifying as we speak.”

“Good,” Bell replied. “But why is Mara being taken to the castle,” Bell said pointing to the red head being marched away.
“It appears I have yet to root out all of the Generals men,” he growled.
“No, we are short handed as is, please secure the gate and walls, I will deal with this personally,” Bell replied.
“Are you sure that is wise,” he asked.

“Not really, but we are not ready for the true Princess to tear down the castle brick by brick,” Bell replied. “Snori dear, if you would please excuse me I need to intervene before Mara does something rather reckless again,” she said pecking him on the cheek.
“Of course dear, but might I remind you not to do the same,” he replied.

“My dearest husband, I am not a hot head ruled by the passionate flames of her blazing heart full of love for the people of the land. Rather I am a consummate diplomat who always strives for a peaceful solution to the problem at hand. To suggest that I would do anything otherwise wounds my pure maiden’s heart.” She said holding a hand to her chest in a show of dramatic surprise. “I am simply going to enter that drafty old castle and using my impressive linguistic skills to discover the truth of the matter before delivering the appropriate punishment for the crime of stealing livestock,” she added unable to hide the smirk forming on her lips.

“Of course, my beloved, my mistake you would never do anything so outlandish or unladylike,” he replied struggling not to laugh knowing what his lovely wife was going to do.
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Re: Tidying up the Kingdom (Social Status change, IB, DG)

Postby animefan78 » Tue Mar 28, 2023 11:40 am

A new Maid?

Sarah had a problem, and if she was being honest, it was multiple problems, but the most important one was staring back her as she gazed at her own reflection with a pair of muddy blue eyes. A reflection she could barely recognize, a reflection that had already caused her brain to reboot several times. A single finger poking her breasts that looked like a pair of overly inflated souffles. Next came a belly reminiscent of brioche bread overflowing it’s pan, with a soft skirt of flesh piling over her hips. Hips that felt as wide as a closet door while her limbs felt like stuffed sausages packed full of fat. Her dull, hair was light brown at best didn’t even touch her slumping shoulders. Despite the focus she placed on her continually diminishing looks, the bigger problem, yes bigger than her drooping chest and belly was her mind.

Ever since waking up after her nightmare of an encounter with Odin, her head felt like it was in a drunken fog, but without the sleepiness or dizziness. Which made it hard to speak like the refined lady she believed herself to be. “Ha, me breasts the biggest in Heim, why they made me regent,” she boasted proudly thrusting her chest out proving that her vanity and obsession with her appears was still intact. “True princess, when bishop returns,” she swooned stumbling to her closet in search of clothing fit for a noblewoman like herself.

Sadly, her beliefs were not anywhere close to reality as the so-called regent began searching through her expansive wardrobe for something suitable for the leader of a country. The rainbow of color confusing her eyes as she struggled to figure out what to wear. “This should be easy,” she thought fully aware that she is or now was a fashionista, yet the actual knowledge was sorely lacking. A major problem that actually didn’t really mater given that the vast majority of the outfits were far to small for her now. A large run appearing in the white tights as she tugged them up her thighs. “Cheap cotton,” she grumbled tossing away the silk tights in favor of a black pair. Which faired slightly better actually making it up to her flabby waist, at least until she bent over the ripping of fabric reverberating through the closet. While barely able to turn around and see her pale flabby posterior exposed to the elements, she was able to feel its exposure to the cold. “Well, this will make some things easier,” she thought thinking of all the trouble it was to use the chamber pot in cold weather before continuing to dress.

“Not a midget,” Sarah groaned tossing aside dress after dress made for a woman more than half a foot taller than she was. Now a mere 5’3 after her malnourished bones crumbled under her hedonism. Not that it would have mattered, with most of them sporting waists that were half the size of her own. However, it did save many items from the fate as the shorter dressed torn apart by Sarah’s sheer girth. A grave affront to the spiders who made the closet their home feasting on the many moths draw to the feast that was the closet. Clothes they protected out of friendship for the woman who secured their safety from the humans of the castle. Clothes that this foul-smelling woman was destroying or carelessly tossing aside. Clothes this woman did not deserve for she lacked the flower marking her as one of the maidens chosen. Now normally spiders were solitary creatures however some had social structures much like bees or ants, following the orders of a queen, which in this case meant the queen who saved them and gave them a place to live peacefully. Their chelicerae chittering away as the interloper continued to rub her filthy hands all over their clothes. Sarah wrapping a long delicate silk shawl around her chest in an effort to contain it. The white fibers immediately darkening as the oils from her filthy skin soaked into it.

“Would you shut up you infernal annoying spiders,” she thought however “Pesky bugs,” came out in a rough barking shout to no avail as the spiders chattering continued to grow as they got to work covering the higher quality items with silk. “Bloody webs,” she growled in revulsion turning away from the web covered dresses searching for something the stupid bugs hadn’t defiled. The spiders inadvertently guiding her to simple black dress that would be perfect for a poor specimen of humanity. While they didn’t want to give up one of the maiden’s dresses they did realize she had more than outgrown the simple maids dress.

“Regent,” the guards called out from the doorway to her room.
“Eek!” a surprised Sarah squeaked.
“Regent are you alright,” the guards said
“Guards how dare you disturb me, and if you wanted a peek all you had to do was ask,” her mind came up with. However, “Wha do ya want?” came blasting out of her mouth.
“We have caught a maid attempting to steal a dozen cows and two horses from the castle,” the replied.

“Mara Wagner is a highly trusted member of Lady Stella’s staff and did no such thing,” Bell’s voice echoed as she swept down the hallway. Long chestnut strands trailing behind her lifted by an invisible breeze as powerful strides quickly closed the distance.
“Bell,” Mara thought her eyes widening in surprise.
“Be that as it may,” one of the guards stated.
“I need not hear from men who were derelict in their sworn duty to protect the castle from those who wish to destroy Heim be they external or internal,” Bell said silver eyes locking their steely glare on the hapless guardsmen.
“Now you listen here you dolled up milkmaid, we are….” The leader said.

Bell stepped into the man’s personal space looking him right in the eye. “My name is Duchess Belldandy Sturlson, Princess Stella’s emissary at large for the kingdom of Alfheim. I highly suggest you release Lady Wagner this instant.”
“We don’t take orders from you,” the guard said trying failing to hide the fear seeping into his voice.
“No, you do not, but you do from my husband who will see to it that you enjoy the pleasures of the manning the walls under his watchful eye and that of his new pet. I believe he calls him Fenrir,” she replied with a devious smile growing on her lips. “And we are still haven’t solved the biting problem or his obsession with small round objects.”
“She’s all yours,” they yelped practically pushing Mara into her before running off.

“Oy shut ye trap you bloody wankers,” Sarah grumbled sticking her head out of the door. “God dam it, that is not what I wanted to say.” She thought angrily.
Bell’s eyes slowly panned downward to the fat slob of a woman glaring at her and Mara. “Can’t you see I’m busy you scrawny harpies,” Sarah said rather annoyed with the pair of women a maid and former maid no less both of whom shed yet to realize were objectively prettier and more noble looking than her. “Go screech somewhere else, bunch of doxies,” she said waving them off as her brain struggled to keep up.
Bell looked at the sad sack of a woman mouthing off to her, the one of the three Duchess’s of the springs of Yggdrasil. Any lingering fear she had of Sarah the Sow left her as she inhaled for a deep calming breath.
“Piss off,” Sarah muttered turning her back to them releasing a noxious cloud of gas from her posterior in their direction.

Lips pursed Bell exhaled, her breath like a stiff breeze forcing the noxious air back from whence it came. “She actually read up on the arcane arts and never bothered to use them, insanity,” was an afterthought as she stepped into Sarah’s chambers. “I’ve seen hovel’s cleaner than this,” she thought as her eyes focused on Sarah. “You will quiet that incredulous tongue of yours this instant,” Bell said stepping into the room her tone even and measured with even Mara snapping to attention behind her.
“I told you to,” Sarah growled.
“Quiet yourself or I will,” Bell commanded.

“Who the fuck does she think she is marching in like she owns the place. Doesn’t she know that I….” she thought while reality metaphorically slapped her across the face in the form of Mara looking criminally cute in what she assumed was a maid uniform. A dark forest green skirt with a white lacey under skirt swished about her firm thighs with a sliver of creamy skin between the bottom of the skirt and the dark tights she was wearing. Slim ankles on display in a pair of boots that were stylish and functional. Sarah’s eyes panned back up thick eyebrows rising and falling as she panned over the woman’s hips, waist, and bustline enhanced by a green and red cloth corset and suspenders drawing her eyes to the woman’s perky chest hidden behind a crisp white shirt. Short red hair tamed by a simple maid’s headband that along with a small apron on her waist was the only thing that marker Mara as a maid. Shocked by what she was looking at the first thing she thought blurted out of her mouth. “Who da hell you think you are, I’m….” Sarah screeched.

“I said silence,” Bell snapped cutting her off. “I know exactly who you are Sarah the Sow, a pig-ignorant woman whose salacious behavior has made a mockery of the once great Kingdom of Alfheim. A mockery my princess is slowly starting to correct….”

Sarah could barely process what was happening but the sheer gall of this hairy hussy dismissing her guards, barging into her chambers, and reprimanding her like a child was to much. With her legendary anger, and equally legendary lack of emotional control unaffected by her ongoing changes. Bell easily spotted the regent’s curling lip, clenching fists, flared nostril’s and narrowed eyes, all telltale signs of an impending outburst. Mara less accustomed to the outbursts simply noted the deep heaving breathes of someone about to yell.

“I know I am not Stella, but I wonder if I can do that eye trick of hers,” Bell thought not wanting her eardrums blown out as Sarah’s rage began to boil over. A fleeting thought a simple line in a book Sarah had skimmed over said that mana was the energy of life and had a tendency to glow when concentrated. “Ah so that’s how it works,” Bell thought focusing on her eyes trying to push an invisible something towards her eyes. Touched by magical springs and ancient spirits Bell’s own inner power began to flared to life with slight silver glow forming in her eyes. “Sarah Sow formerly Cuthbert, calm yourself this instant,” Bell’s rich powerful voice filling the room. Mara snapping to attention while Sarah sputtered. “Your being named Princess Regent was a mistake, a mistake my Princess, the true Princess of Alfheim, the Maiden of Flowers, guardian of Yggdrasil will soon correct. As her emissary it is my role to establish cordial relations with our neighbors both near and far. A task I can not complete while you are allowed to scurry about. It is time someone took you to task to see what a counterfeit princess is capable of offering Alfheim the Kingdom of Trees.”

“Glowing eyes, she’s like Stella,” Sarah thought, the smartest thing her mind had done in days. The faint silver glow freezing her in place. Her functional, yet regal white and blue dress with a gold trim that ran gently along the woman’s curves. The gentle swelling of Bell’s chest that was a fraction of the size of her own, but it was perkier and firmer. Drawing the eye while not being lewd, her waist trim lacking the skirt of flesh she herself had. Womanly hips and strong legs neither thick or thin barely visible through the slit in the dress. Subconsciously taking a step back unable to handle Bell’s sheer presence and beauty that made her feel invisible unable to match the duchess’s radiance.

“Mara be a dear and please open the drapes,” Bell said never once taking her eyes off of Sarah.
“I think I am going to enjoy this,” a smiling Mara thought throwing back the ratty looking drapes letting sunlight illuminating the former princess’s chambers for the first time in weeks. If she was smiling before she certainly wasn’t smiling now at the sight of the sheer filth and decrepit state of the room. “My flower, I have seen cleaner outhouses,” she thought looking at the moldy half eat slop her boot was currently pressing into.

“Clean it,” a squinting Sarah barked looking at Mara.
Mara curtseyed. “As you wish Regent,” Mara said moving to clean up the desk first.
“Mara Wanger you will do no such thing,” Bell said stopping her with a wave of her hand. “She who hast created this monstrosity of decadent depravity shall clean up the mountain of filth her wanton desires have built.”
“Yes, Duchess Sturlson,” Mara replied but not before retrieving several papers from Sarah’s desk.

“Not a maid,” Sarah snapped.
“Yet you are no princess either, but I will not have you parading around in the rags you call undergarments,” Bell said marching into the closet easily spotting the dress she knew had to be in there. “Stella’s old maids dress,” Bell thought with a smile. “And complete with apron and cap, excellent,” Bell said softly thanking the spiders for their work.
“Grrrr…” Sarah growled as a dress smacker her in the face.
“Get dressed,” Bell ordered.
“You can’t……” Sarah growled.
“I can, and you will, or I will stuff your slimly corpulent figure into that dress like the sausages you enjoy so much,” Bell said glaring down at Sarah.
“Stella would never…….” Sarah whimpered. “That stupid flower lady is to kind…..” she thought.

Bell ‘s hand grabbed Sarah by her flabby chin fingers sinking into the soft flesh as she leaned over to look Sarah right in the eye. “I am not Lady Stella, and I was supposed to be on my honeymoon with my husband but here I am cleaning up the quagmires you created. So, I suggest you put on the dress and get started before I am forced to do something rather rash.” She said waiting a moment for her words to sink in. “Do you understand me?”
Even Sarah had enough brain cells left to realize that Bell was more than willing to carry through on her threat of stuffing her into the old dress far below her station. Not to mention the fear of what small scraps of beauty and power she might lose. After what felt like an eternity she nodded before Bell released her.

“Handkerchief, my lady,” Mara said handing Bell a handkerchief to wipe the dirt and sweat from her hands. The duchess smiling as they watched Sarah tug the dress over her flabby body, that was nearly a perfect fit, and Bell had no doubt that it would soon fit the woman perfectly.
“Thank you, Bell,” she replied whipping Sarah’s filth from her hands. “Now put on the apron and head dress,” she commanded.
“Not a maid,” Sarah spat spittle spraying across Bell’s face.

Bell calmly used the handkerchief to clean her face before speaking. “Mara put her apron on.”
“With pleasure,” Mara replied. The former princess’s sputtering obscenities and flabby limbs were no match for a woman who just took down two full grown men.

“No, no, no,” Sarah sputtered trying to escape Mara’s grasp. Sputtering spittle, and flabby limbs were no match for the woman who had just taken down two full grown men. Not even her greasy skin could help in escaping the vice like grip Mara had on her arm.

To say that the red head took great delight in pulling the shapeless black dress over Sarah’s head would be a rather dramatic understatement. The dress preventing Sarah from seeing what was happening, but it didn’t stop what was happening with powerful hands pushing through her flabby arms so hard it felt like Mara was grabbing her bones. “What is happening, I am a princess, I know I am, right I have to be,” she thought remembering those fun heady days before Stella ruined everything while Mara shoved her arms into the sleeves of the dress. “Stop I say,” Sarah screamed as the dress was yanked down over her floppy breasts and bulging belly.

“Sorry but Duchess tops Sow and this is the least you deserve after selling out Liege,” Mara whispered in Sarah’s ear as she forced the apron over her neck. Delighting in yanking it tight around Sarah’s waist.
“Not a maid,” Sarah yelled trying and failing to stop Mara from placing the maid’s headband in her greasy hair. “You can’t do this!”

“I believe we just did,” Bell said not bothering to glance up from the papers Mara gave her. “But given that this is your first time, I will be lenient. The first thing you should do is put all of the food in a bucket for composting, then use a separate bucket for the trash,” she said looking over the documents.

Regent,
Your loan payments are past due and if we do not receive the payment in full soon, we will be forced to repossess Castle Heim.
Bank of Florence
Princess Regent,
We humbly ask that you pay our salaries at the rate we agreed upon.
Guards of Heim
Sarah the Sow
You moron why did you order a giant statue of yourself to be placed in Liege after what you did. We should be rebuilding the city not creating a monument to your deflated ego.
Master Stone Mason
Sarah,
Even my patience has limits nor do I appreciate being lied to. You solicited funds for a pilgrimage you had no intention of making. I will be sending a representative to discuss this matter with you.
Master of the Order of Solomon’s Temple

The remaining letters were a cavalcade of failures, blunders, and while Bell was far to elegant to utter such a word, fuckup would certainly describe what she was looking at. “Sarah had all of the grace and intellect in the world and she did not have the sense to not write like the spoilt child she is,” Bell thought reading Sarah’s correspondence. However, the real troublesome part were pages that looked to have come from some sort of ledger.

Loan (Castle used as collateral) 72,720 gold coins
To be delivered Silk dress 52,525 silver coins
To be delivered wig 1,750 gold coins
To be delivered heels 420 silver coins
Make up 1,500 copper coins
Sale of 12 cattle 1,000 silver coins
Sale of two pack horses 20 gold coins

“That utter moron she put the caste up as collateral for a loan with the bank of Sienna, they will send mercenaries to tear this place down just to spit her and send ever other lender a lesson. Plus, she didn’t even include the stable and grounds which is easily worth as much or more than this crumbling pile of limestone. The fashion is probably gauche overpriced garbage,” Bell thought looking at the list of hastily scribbled notes. As damaging as the top numbers were the few at the bottom truly caught her attention. “Maid come here,” Bell said looking up from the ledger to see Sarah working under the watchful eye of Mara.
“The minute you leave I will have you drawn and quartered,” Sarah thought her soul burning with righteous anger as the upstart and her amazon forced her to do the work of a poor servant woman. To focused on dreams of torturing them to miss Bell’s disapproving
“The Duchess asked you a question,” Mara replied.
“The duchess can screw off,” Sarah shot back.
“That is not how a proper maid talks to her mistress,” Mara replied grabbing her arm.
“Hey lay off,” Sarah squealed as she was drug before Bell.

“Explain this,” Bell said pointing to the last two entries in the ledger.
The letters and numbers Sarah knew she should have been able to read appearing like a confusing line of runes in her mind’s eye. “Odin you rat bastard,” she thought as the realization of her illiteracy and lack of numeracy slammed into her once more.
“I’m waiting,” Bell asked glaring at Sarah.
“I um….” Sarah stammered. “Shit, did that idiot get caught…..” she thought finally putting together the guards bringing Mara to her and Bell coming not long after.
“Crispian Bonner and his compatriot have been caught and the animals returned to the stables. I also know that the only way the gate would be empty would be if one of three people ordered it. One my husband who is firmly in Princess Selvan’s camp. Two the General and while he has rather questionable taste in women, he is not a complete fool. Three, the regent which means you. So did you, or did you not order the gate house cleared?” Bell asked once again pushing energy into her eyes as she looked down at Sarah.

“Of course, I did you moron,” Sarah snapped.
“Then you agreed to the sale of a dozen cattle and 2 pack horses,” Bell replied.
“Yes,” Sarah replied. “Crispian said it would bring in lots of coins.”
“Then you are a fool,” Bell scoffed.
“Not a fool,” Sarah protested.

“Only a fool would sell a dozen dairy cows for the price of 6 beef cows and even then Crispian criminally underpriced them. The dozen cows he was trying to steal are easily worth 2,400 hundred silver coins at minimum. While the horses were not pack grade animals but purebred Svaðilfari ponies each individually worth at least as much as the cows if not more to the right buyer. Leaving aside your attempt at stealing animals from the royal stables, trying to sell them for a mere 220 gold coins rather than the 1,440 coins they are actually worth. A mere 15% of their true value. It is a miracle the kingdom isn’t even more debt with your lack of fiscal responsibility,” Bell explained.
“I am not a moron,” Sarah screamed Bell stopped any further debate by snapping the ledger closed.
“We are done here, Mara,” Bell said turning on her heel and leaving.
“Yes, Ma’am,” Mara replied following her out.

Author's note
A, for all of you who are still enjoying this story I hope this chapter delivered.
B, The story is now in the ending stages with less than 10K to go until the end.
C, Thank you for the support.
animefan78
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Re: Tidying up the Kingdom (Social Status change, IB, DG)

Postby JackassOfAllTrades » Tue Mar 28, 2023 3:42 pm

That was great. Really good stuff.

I'm still hoping for a big, climactic showdown between Stella and Sarah before this is done.
JackassOfAllTrades
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