Duke Reynard's castle was a good month's ride from the Palace, but royal
messengers could commandeer fresh horses at every inn and require board at
every noble's manor house, so she had made it in eighteen days. Of course,
the messenger knew that the message wasn't really all that urgent, just the
Queen demanding presents and jewels from her least favorite Duke, but it
pleased her that the royal command could make knights of the realm give way
to her on the road even for a trivial message like that. What she didn't
know was that she was the fifth messenger to come this way this summer, and
everyone was getting pretty sick of the royal messengers and the Queen's
whims. Duke Raynard was not noted for his patience.
She arrived at the Duke's castle to a fairly frosty reception. The Seneschal
showed her all due courtesy, but didn't exactly jump up to summon his master
to answer the message. He informed her that he would deliver the message,
because his grace was on the tourney field. Since the message hadn't been
marked as for the Duke's eyes only, she had no real reason to object. He
showed her into an antechamber where he said she could await his grace's
reply. So there she sat. It wasn't exactly a dripping dungeon, but it was
hardly opulent, either. And it was boring.
She got up to complain (she was good at complaining). To her surprise, she
found that the door was locked. Her shouts drew no response. Suddenly the
room looked a lot less like an empty antechamber and a lot more like a
dripping dungeon with a few rugs and chairs strewn about to disguise its
The door burst open. She got up to register her strongest protests about her
shabby treatment, but the men who charged in were not courtiers or nobles.
They were common soldiers, and very rough ones at that. They seized her,
stuffed a bit in her mouth as if she was an animal, then trussed her up and
threw her to the ground. Her outraged protests turned to screams as they
stripped her. Soldiers on dungeon duty didn't often get such a beautiful
prisoner to play with.
Afterwards, they collared her and led her out to the Duke. She fought every
step of the way.
The Duke's guards pulled the struggling Queen's Messenger over to a sinister
black chopping block. She began to panic. Surely the Duke wouldn't actually
decapitate a Royal Messenger and risk the displeasure of the Queen? Her
fears were made worse when the Duke spoke.
"Pull her britches down, and fasten her to the block. I have a use for that
He walked behind her, muttered something about handing him the bottle. She
struggled but the straps binding her to the block were very strong. When she
felt something cold, wet and sharp touch her back she screamed into her gag.
For a moment she thought he meant to slice her open with a knife... then she
realized that he was making strokes upon her back. He paused to dip the
quill back into the inkpot, then proceeded to scribe his message on the back
of the messenger.
Finally, he spoke to her directly.
"My dear, you have made a real plague of yourself these last few months.
Your mistress has set you and her other messengers up above her nobles, and
we are no willing to accede to the vain and willful demands of a spoilt
brat. You will convey our reply to her latest proclamation back to her with
my regards. But first, my seneschal has reminded me that I ought to
establish the providence of the message in order that there be no mistake.
You may inform her that she may go to Hades. Daughter! My seal!"
And searing agony landed upon her exposed backside as he dripped molten
sealing wax all over her posterior! The Duke's daughter's slender fingers
pressed the ducal seal firmly into the soft wax. The Duke ordered the
messenger to be strapped over her horse and led back to the Queen. Then he
went to arm himself for the coming civil war.