Excerpt from The Eastie Threat

Book Five of The Western Lands and All That Really Matters

Copyright © Andrew Einspruch, 2018. All Rights reserved.

Chapter 4



“I’d flopping love to,” said Bënnïë-Änn Thëjëts that afternoon when Eloise asked if she’d be interested in taking on the role of first advisor. They were in the Queen’s Study, where it seemed like Thëjëts took up at least half the space. She was easily three times the size of most women, and two heads taller. Her taste in scarves and robes caused even the most narcissistic of peacocks to say, “Come on, that’s a bit much.” Her mass of long, frizzed hair was tortured into a shade of blue that gave robin eggs a run for their coin, her eyes were perpetually bloodshot from her propensity for hyperbolic emotion, and she was prone to gesturing with a manic earnestness that caused harm to nearby objects. “I was wondering what you were going to do. I heard that old Leccino Ligurian had been tossed in the flopping clink.”

“He’s under house arrest, not in a dungeon,” said Eloise. “Not yet, anyway.”

“Why flopping not?”

“I need him to spill his guts, not have his guts spilled.”

“And is Ligurian talking?”

“He’s talking, but not saying much.” Eloise put on a whiney voice. “‘I was blackmailed.’ ‘They have my mother.’ ‘I didn’t know anything about Flachberg.’ Blah, blah, blah.”

“I detect a lapse of empathy, Your Highness. Perhaps he was truly afraid for his mother.”

“I’m sure he was. But then maybe he should have, I don’t know, done something other than betray me and the realm. He could have talked to me so we could have come up with a plan or figured out diplomatic measures to exert or threats that could be made in response. There must have been other options besides leaving me ignorant to matters.”

“I suppose you’re right.” Bënnïë-Änn stroked her chin. “When would you like me to start as your first advisor?”

“Today. Now,” said Eloise. “Well, not now now, but now. I suggest you talk to Ligurian’s scribes. They can fill you in on the way things have been done in the past. Try to figure out everything he was doing, like my daily briefings and how he used the royal boxes.”

“Ah, the royal boxes. How he flopping loved those flopping boxes.”

“You know about them?”

“Sure. I know all about that kind of flopping first-advisory stuff.”

“You do?”

“Yes. I haven’t always been the Other Places Advocate. A long, long time ago, in what may well have been a previous life, I was an apprentice to a clerk who worked for One’s first advisor.”

“My grandmother’s first advisor? Who was that?”

“Martha Genädige de Pelecanidae.”

“That’s not a name I know.”

“You wouldn’t necessarily think of a pelican as being good at all that Court intrigue and diplomacy stuff,” said Bënnïë-Änn. “But she was a flopping sharp old bird. I flopping learned a strong weight of stuff from her. So, yes, I haven’t done it for a while, but I used to know my way around that office pretty well. I suspect I’ll be OK.”

“Good. Very good.”

“Would you like to set some priorities?”

Eloise thought about it. “I guess the obvious. Flachberg—what’s going on and what I’m going to do about it. And the Eastern Lands more generally.”

“Anything else?”

“Maybe you can figure out a system that keeps me in the loop with things that are not obviously relevant, but which might be later on.”

“Like an early warning system?”

“Something like that, yes. I can’t afford any more Flachbergs, and I need to know if there are more of them out there lurking.”

“I’ll see what I can come up with.”