Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Fiona

Barcelona, 14th August 1713

That morning, a crowd had gathered at the port of Barcelona to follow the anchorage maneuver of a just arrived light frigate fleeing flag of the Order of Malta. Once finished the ship captain's process with the port authorities, the only descending passenger was a beautiful young lady, who was dressed in a long vest of military appearance, the same color as the English infantry uniform -a colour quite well-known in Catalonia, after 6 years of uninterrupted British contribution to the defense of the Principality, and such circumstance naturally increased the initial public expectation. The young woman gently broke through the crowd, until she found an officer of the Stillness Company, whom she addressed to in a nearly perfect Catalan language, with just a slight British accent: -I must meet Lady Elisenda Folc de Cardona, Countess of Prades. Would you mind to let me know her address? I'm bringing to her an urgent message from Vienna.

-Er... at... at Montcada Street, milady. -Overwhelmed, the policeman offered himself to accompany the lady to the given address. After hearing the brief conversation, excitement among people grew almost explosively, and news spread all around the city as a burning powder trail.

At her late-Gothic palace in the luxurious Montcada Street, Lady Elisenda was nervously pacing up and down her deskroom. Just a short time before, she had been to the Army Headquarters, where she had hold a bitter discussion with General Villarroel. On hearing news of the abuses committed by King Philip's troops in Tivissa town, the young lady had got enraged (Tivissa was precisely the head town of her County of Prades). She had planned to select the fifty most resolute women in her Regiment, and lead them in a horse ride towards the ravaged county, to somehow relieve the population and the prisoners taken by the Spaniards. However, she had been prohibited doing so by General Villarroel himself: -By no means. I will not authorize your suicide, Milady! -No matter how influential she might be, General Villarroel was the supreme military authority, and she had no other chance than bending to his will.

Then a secretary interrupted the broodings she was committed to: -Milady, a foreign lady has requested the mercy of meeting you right now.

Lady Elisenda received the woman in the tea room. She got immediately curious at the appearance of the girl, whose stylish suit was clearly reminiscent of a military costume. She happened to see a similar expression in the glance of her guest, and then Lady Elisenda recalled she was wearing a quite similar dress -albeit hers was in the colors of her Daughters of Minerva Regiment -royal blue with violet facings. An unconscious bond of empathy between both girls had been established.

-Tell me, who are you and where are you coming from? -Lady Elisenda asked.

-Milady, my name is Fiona McGregor and I'm coming from Vienna. I've been commissioned by His Majesty Emperor and King Charles for delivering to you an urgent message from Him -and then lady Elisenda was shown an envelop. It was stamped with the Imperial seal.

Surprised, Lady Elisenda took the visitor in the deskroom and ordered not to be disturbed under any concept. Once both women were alone, the countess opened the envelop. The letter was signed at hand by King Charles himself, and required her assistance to Vienna before the end of September, with no explanations beyond an enigmatic "matter of utmost importance to the becoming of the Catalan Nation and peace in Europe". Then she realized there was a second stamped envelop inside the first one, and she hurriedly opened it. There was another manuscript of Charles, whose content made Elisenda to draw a slightly melancholic smile at first. That second letter was shorter than the first one, but its content resulted to be far more revealing. After reading it, Lady Elisenda could not repress an exclamation:

-Oh Karl!! ...you shouldn't do this... Not me...

7 comments:

Bluebear Jeff said...

And now, of course, we want to know the contents of the second letter.


-- Jeff

abdul666 said...

A several weeks journey in the offing... Lady Elisenda will have to entrust competent drillmasters with the training of her Daughters of Minerva.
And nothing -except perhaps the content of the second letter- can remain secret for long: let's hope the Lady's travel will not be fraught with pitfalls.

abdul666 said...

Maybe Carles VI del Sacre Imperi Romanogermànic-cum-ex Rei Carles III of Hispania asked her to be the Regent of Galatea (or whole Corona d'Aragó?) -under an Austo-French double protectorate, Andorra-fashion?
- Or to be the god-mother of his future child? Though according to our best astrologers no heir is to be expected before some 3 years, and then, unfortunately (or fortunarely for Maria-Theresa)...

Now, the two possibilities are not mutually exclusive, when you think about it?


Will Fiona accompany Lady Elisenda? She looks a reliable, reassuring travelling companion?

Soldadets said...

"Only for her eyes", Jeff ;)

Through revealing its content, I might risk introducing suspicions (otherwise absolutely false, as everybody knows) on the impolute past of Emperor Charles, that could lead to a serious misunderstandig with his beloved Elizabeth-Christina, thus leading to a completely odd background to your own SYW-time setup!!!

As a Catalan popular saying says (in a quite politically unappropiate way, I'd add), "estira més un pèl de cony que un parell de bous".

:D:D:D

Soldadets said...

Jean-Louis,

"Princess Elisenda"... doesn't it sound beautiful?

Jokes apart, I was actually musing for a while with the possibility of descendance born from Elisenda-Charles relationship (love?) prior to his wedding to Elizabeth-Christina.

But I gave it in the end for several reasons: First of all, I thought that an eventual child born out of Charles marriage (and besides, elder to Maria-Theresa!), would have been a too radical global deviation, not in Catalan History, but that of all Europe -even in case the Habsburg-Cardona stem renounced any right to the Imperial Crown... I believed that the Catalan/Galatan entrance in History should be a bit more humble than this :S

Soldadets said...

About Fiona,

She's intended to fulfill some of the role needings you detected by Lady Elisenda's environment...

As it will be progressively seen, Fiona meets many features with the women enlisted in Lady Elisenda's Regiment, with the difference of belonging to a slightly higher social class.

Besides, I've imagined her as British, as some kind of link/homage to the Nation whose soldiers sacrifice allowed the 'real' Catalans to keep their dreams alive for a good while... I believed my Imagi-Nation's History shouldn't neglect it.

abdul666 said...

Understood!
Another interesting and promising -to say the least- female character: your 'What-if?' Galatea is specially rich in such, and this is... original and refreshing.

Btw,a *girl* borned from from Elisenda-Charles relationship would be slightly less embarrassing than a boy: her illegimate nature balancing her seniority over Maria-Theresa. Yet I fear Elisenda would have to choose between only two possibilty: either to 'renounce' and leave her to another noble woman pretending to be her mother; or very soon having her taking the veil in a secluded Order. Both would equally break Elisenda's heart, so better indeed to avoid the problem.