Drawful the Awful Part IV – Counsel from a Council For a Counselor

Drawful the Awful is the ongoing series/novel in progress following the pursuits of the dragon, Drawful, who is awful at being a dragon, and his “kidnapee” the Princess Brooke. The full series can be found here.

While Drawful and the Princess Brooke were meandering out of the kingdom to their venue for dinner- really enjoying just as pleasant a stroll as they had been in the city park before Prince Chauncey’s arrival- King Nicholas, the father of Princess Brooke, was having his daily cabinet meeting with his board of counsellors and advisors.

Some mention of the King and his biography has already been covered. Yes, the King was and still is an accomplished and skilled warrior and fighter in most forms of combat, weaponry, and tactical battle planning.  The King had donated the carapaces, corpses and many of the artifacts he had claimed in his campaigns to the Kingdom’s museum that had been erected in his name as a space for research, study, archival of history, and learning.

It is also pertinent to understanding the good King Nick, to know that the museum had first been proposed by his adoring subjects as an edifice to his honor. When the first plans and proposals for the institution had been presented, the King had refuted them stating: “I have a crown, the people need no more than that to see that I’m their king. As their king, let this be for them so that there might be learning, wisdom and such from the history which brought us here.”

Because of this, the Museum name was changed from the “Repository of Trophies Conquered, Won and Hewn by the Great King Nicholas” to: “The Alabaster Kingdom’s Museum of Learning, Wisdom and Such.”

Thus, it should be no surprise that King Nick also made point of keeping the counsel of wise and learned men and women of his kingdom. Being wise, King Nick pointed out, first began with admitting that one did not know everything- in fact more so in admitting the opposite.

In order to manage the Kingdom, plan for its continued growth, management of resources, and the care of his people, King Nick surrounded himself daily with experts who provided him thorough expertise on various aspects of city planning, management and demographics through careful data, research and analysis. It was based on these intelligent men and women’s counsel and insight that the good King Nick based his decisions for his people.

King Nick did his best to make time to sit and listen to the counsel collectively for two to three hours per day, everyday. However, he also welcomed individual counsellors to make meetings with him throughout the day when he was on other activities: hunting, practicing his archery, training with the sword, spear or lance, or crocheting (the Kingdom’s chief physician, Dr. Stacia Costa, had recommended he take this up when his blood pressure had been a tad high due to stress the year before).

One counselor, however, had a difficult time joining the King for any such activities being far from any kind of outdoorsy or “hardy,” and due to the King’s crochet time largely being monopolized by Murray Paulsen, the Chair for Retiree Affairs.

The counselor in question was a wizard by the name of Haverly Lockwatch. Haverly was the King’s Chair of Public Relations and Communications, the King referred to Haverly as his “Spin Wizard.”

The King was not wrong in that moniker, though it was ironic: In using the nickname, the King was making reference to Haverly’s role with the media, however the title had actually first appeared in Haverly’s application for a completely different position in the Cabinet. Haverly had listed Spin Wizard as his official title among the First Order of Wizards and Warlocks (a hefty accomplishment for a man as young as he).

As it was, the King’s hiring department had misunderstood the term and presented Haverly the Cabinet seat in which he now sat. Although, it is more accurate to say that Haverly wasn’t so much sitting in the position as he was fidgeting anxiously while bobbing his hand slightly in the tentative pursuit of an opening to draw the King’s attention that he might take the floor for his update.

Haverly had been sitting for some twenty minutes with his palm open at his shoulder level, occasionally lifting it up and down in timid attempts as each other Counselor spoke over him. It was commonplace for these meetings to end without Haverly ever getting his slot on the agenda before the King. Thankfully, he was more than competent at the role in which he had found himself accidentally allotted.

When a King is intelligent, cares for his people, and is as competent as King Nick, Haverly’s job is only to tell the truth. Haverly would be adorably surprised to hear how difficult a job that might actually be for some, but then again, aren’t we all?

Luckily for Haverly, the King was just as eager to hear Haverly’s update, and even more luckily, the King was more skilled at commanding the room and turning the conversation to, “Haverly, my boy, what word is there on the Princess’ kidnapping?”

Haverly went momentarily rigid in his seat. The King’s ice blue eyes focused down the long table of the Cabinet room at him. All heads between the King and Haverly whipped in sudden focus on him and, surprisingly, their intent gazes actually melted him from his tension under the King’s much more daunting attention.

Haverly stood and cleared his throat. There were no assigned seats at the table, aside from the King’s at the head of course (although more than once the King had arbitrarily taking seats in the middle as was his wont).  Haverly, for his part, took the lowest seat so as not to offend anyone who might place some kind of import on their proximity to the King.

“My liege,” Haverly began, to which the King smiled affably, but waved his hand in a gesture genially dismissive of such honorifics and general window dressing nonsense. Haverly paused trying to find what his next words should be if he was skipping over all that preamble.

“You have an update on my daughter?”

Haverly started at the insight of the King. How had he known Haverly’s point in trying to wedge his way into the meeting minutes had been just for that? Haverly opened his folio and checked the notes he had. While he scanned them to be sure of the details once more, he kicked himself and thought that the King wasn’t psychic, the King was a father. Of course he wanted an update on his daughter.

“Well, sir, I wanted to hold off on any statements to the media until Drawful had left the Kingdom.”

The King glanced out the window. The sun was already visible just a hand over the treeline on the western horizon. “I thought I heard he had arrived just after lunchtime?”

Haverly put his finger on the item third on the list of his dossier’s report on the dragon’s work thus far. “Yes sir, it seems he took the Princess to the Park in the Western District.”

“Holed up there for a while, eh?” The King sat back bemusedly and shook his head at some memory of a more terrible dragon. “Probably did some good taunting of the townsfolk, putting fear in the masses and laying forth his challenge for any suitors, eh?”

Haverly pursed his lips and hesitated, then decided to read directly from the dossier. “At one thirty five the Princess and Drawful were seen entering the park. At one fifty five, Drawful, using some of the per diem funds provided to him, purchased ice cream cones for the two to share.”

“The two? Two who?”

“The two of them.”

“The Princess?”

“And Drawful.”

“Drawful?”

“The dragon?” Haverly clarified for the King.

“The dragon eats ice cream?” The King asked in disbelief.

Haverly surveyed the table then shrugged at the King. “I suppose so. Says here he enjoyed the cone with Princess Brooke while discussing songwriting.”

The King’s face, hard with age, was stone set as Haverly persisted. “A Prince did arrive to challenge Drawful not long thereafter.”

The King’s brows raised excitedly and he sat forward hungrily. “Which one?”

“The Prince Chauncey Billups from the Kingdom Anathema.”

“And he was unsuccessful in challenging Drawful? You mentioned the Princess had left the Kingdom with the dragon.”

Haverly nodded, “seems so, he raced off carrying on about some enchanted sword he needs. I can do some research on the sword in question once I get the name.”

The King didn’t pay much attention to Haverly’s word about the sword. King Nick had collapsed back into his chair in a fit of relief. “Thank God, that King Lando from Anathema is a complete bore.” The King seemed to remember the setting very quickly and cleared his throat, “hopefully the Prince isn’t too badly harmed.”

“Actually, there was no fight, Drawful just exchanged some words with the Prince and then he ran off.”

The King blew an impressed breath and hooted mildly. “Just when I thought this dragon was a joke? Scaring off a battle ready Prince with mere words?” King Nick bobbed his head absently, and pouted. “Although, Prince Chauncey was an entitled little louse when I met him at his coming of age just a few summers past.”

Haverly shook his head at the dossier. “It seems it was more of a private conversation.”

“Private?” The King asked.

“Yes, the dossier just says ‘Drawful and the Prince entered into private exchange for some time before the Prince became inclined to leave on a corollary quest for a sword.” Haverly shook his head. “Never fails. You think it’ll be simple, then you get one side quest thrown at you after another.”

“Private?” The King repeated.

“I’m sure there was a villager asking the Prince to recover a lost sheep on his way out, no less. You take one, and the side quests just keep coming,” Haverly continued muttering.

“Haverly!” The King snapped his fingers sharply to snap the wizard from his reverie. “How does one have a private conversation in a public park?”

“Wings.” Haverly continued when the King’s only response was to raise an eyebrow urging him to explain. “The Dragon created a private space of sorts by using his wings. No one could hear what they said to one another.”

The King exhaled weightily and his expression was grave. “This dragon sounds like another layabout product of this generation just like that last Prince.”

King Nick was grousing here about a particular young Prince who had arrived from the Kingdom of Libertania and shared his vision for running the Kingdoms remotely via some magical device a wizard had created for him that fit into the pocket of his finery. The Prince proposed this would leave he and Brooke free to, “pursue other passions. Like, I want to open a chain of vegan restaurants, and travel more because we’re still young. You know, it’s a new generation. Running a Kingdom doesn’t have to be our whole lives or even a full nine to five job.”

Haverly considered what to say in response to the King’s concerns. Certainly, the dragon did not seem to be the fearsome monster the King had anticipated. Haverly had already done some digging into Drawful the Awful and found that Drawful may have benefitted from the same misunderstanding of his name and moniker as Haverly had as “Spin Wizard.”

This is to say, Haverly seemed to be the one person in the Alabaster Kingdom who was aware that Drawful was not awful in the general sense, he was awful at being a dragon. Haverly had been surprised at the King’s immediate endorsement of the Dragon’s suggested plan of action when the Raven had arrived with the letter, without any sort of background check.

Haverly hadn’t gotten a word in edgewise amid the King’s fervent excitement and planning for the Princess’ “kidnapping” but now he had the opportunity. He opted to point out: “Sir, I have only proposed one bill of law in my time on your council, and I feel it might be worth reconsidering if the dragon is being found wanting as an evaluator of potential suitors.”

The King raised the eyebrow again for Haverly to continue. “Sir, I proposed a bill some months ago regarding the restrictions on suitors for a Princess?”

There was suddenly, between Haverly and the King up and down both sides of the table a lot of fidgeting, darting glances and clearing of throats. “Yes, I recall the bill.” The King was immune to the anxieties his counselors felt at Haverly’s having brought it up- whatever the reason might be. Indeed, the King Nick had expected this exchange for some time.

“And sir? Perhaps we could put it to a vote to offer the Princess more options? Widen the field? Increase the chances for success?” Haverly could tell he was “uptalking,” or turning every statement or suggestion into a question. The simple reason for this was because he was damned afraid of the King’s objection, and was already rueful of having broached the topic of the bill at all, far less it being voted into law.

“We have.”

“We what?”

“We have, Haverly.” The King reiterated.

“Reintroduced the bill? There hasn’t been a vote scheduled, has there?” Haverly looked around the table in panic, wondering if he had missed the vote in that meeting for his very own bill, but no one would meet his eyes between he and the King. Once more the counselors collectively began suffering coughing fits which made them fidget out of making eye contact with the young wizard.

The King was patient and stated plainly. “We voted on it in a closed council meeting.”

“Closed council? Who-”

“Everyone but you.”

“But shouldn’t I have been present to make a statement on the bill?”

“We thought it a bit of  conflict of interest,” the King commented mildly.

Haverly was impressed at how placid the King was throughout all this, especially with the twenty some fidgeting counsellors between them both. “So the bill didn’t pass?”

“It did.” Haverly was dumbfounded as the King continued. “-and the Princess was made aware of its passage.”

Haverly might have, at this point, asked why he hadn’t been viewed as a prospective suitor since the bill’s passage (if he were completely daft). Thankfully, he did not ask this. Nor did he ask why the Princess or any of the other counsellors had not approached him as a prospective suitor (because, again, he was not completely daft).

What little hope he had clung to in his heart of hearts that had made him bring the bill up once more was now doused by a deluge of despair. The King, for his part, looked slightly more sympathetic than pitying (only slightly though). “Haverly, I am sorry, my boy. Part may be that your dedication and tireless work here on the council makes you seem consistently indisposed and seemingly unreachable as a consideration by the Princess.”

Haverly nodded stupidly. He did have a tendency to work long hours, although that was always in the hope of managing to run into the Princess at castle meals, or about the halls, which did happen every few days wherein they had progressed to exchanging brief pleasantries when they did meet. He had hoped the bill’s passage would be a more than suitable topic for their first actual conversation.

Haverly’s eyes were shining, and his throat was tight with sadness which made him hope the council meeting would be adjourned for the day as soon as possible. The King’s tone softened and he offered his best comfort he could manage for the young wizard: “The bill was passed, and if I can be honest Haverly, I do like you. As it is, I have given you the best help a father can possibly offer to a young man hoping to woo his daughter.”

“What help was that?”

“None at all.”

 

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