It is May Day and I am drawing close to putting the third book of the Arcanum Faire trilogy to bed. The action of all three points to one thing: Opening Day for the renaissance faire at Arcanum, Ohio. And that day is May the First, or Beltane. To celebrate and give you all a taste of what I have in store, here is a behind the scenes look at the two queens preparing for their first parade.
Enjoy, and Merry Beltane!
Eleazar had been pleased to find the Faerie Queen underneath two stilt-walkers in a travel trailer, but there had been considerable wear and tear on the merchandise. Titania received last moment make-up and wardrobe assistance from Amber, Crystal, and Ivy, and they were doing magic with concealer, rouge and body glitter. As she was being made presentable, her Faerie court, in wings and bits of stylized armor, formed up on the gravel track behind the jousters’ stables.
Queen Elizabeth and her own court jockeyed for position ahead of them. A dozen lords and ladies in velvets, brocades and pearls tried to look cultured and elegant in spite of the dust and rising heat.
The Teufelkindern Landsknecht unit squared up in their tercio formation to lead the parade and escort the queens. The arqubusiers looked away with guilty expressions as the battered knight from their ill-advised black-powder demonstration cantered up on his butterscotch steed. He had little time to notice them.
Queen Elizabeth waved her fan and shrieked at the horsemen:
“No, no, no, no! You— go back there!” She gestured to a position behind Faerie Court. “I am your Queen and there is no WAY that I will march behind the horses!”
“Relax, Peggy. Nothing’s going to muss up your embroidered slippers,” said Lord Pumpkinpants. Eleazar couldn’t remember the actor’s name, or his persona’s, but his globular pantaloons were certainly the largest in the Faire.
“And I was supposed to have a carriage!” she shouted to no-one in particular. “What the HELL happened to my carriage?”
Eleazar rushed over to calm the raging queen.
“Milady.” Eleazar quickly was reminded of her position by the flames in the Queen’s eyes and the flare of her nostrils. He bowed low. “Your Majesty. There was simply no way we could acquire two fitting carriages before the festivities.”
“I only need one carriage,” the Queen said regally. She had always refused to accept the unorthodox arrangement of two courts royal courts.
“Extra wide!” Titania hooted. The Fae felt no need for courtly behavior, especially when hungover.
“I will kick your bony elfin ass from here to Pennsic!” Elizabeth snapped.
“Can you lift your leg that high?”
Queen Elizabeth snapped her fan shut, rendering it a sandalwood truncheon she was known to use frequently.
“Come at me, Tinkerbell!”
Titania closed with Elizabeth, but two of her court grasped her to prevent regicide. Eleazar stepped in between the two hotheads of state, though unwillingly.
“Ladies! Ladies! My most august royal personages. You have your champions to fight for your honor upon the list fields.”
“I’d rather pull out her cheap red hair with my own hands,” The Queen of All Faerie snarled.
“Like you’re a natural blonde,” Good Queen Bess retorted.
“I need you both to behave like the magnanimous historically-inaccurate potentates that you are.” Eleazar realized there was too much naked steel and horseflesh around to allow this conflict to continue.
“She started it,” Elizabeth muttered.
Titania made a response that was all vowels and exhalations.
“Or I can summarily declare this faire to be a democracy and fire you both.”
The prospect of losing a paying position as royalty quickly enough put cold water to hot tempers.
“I can save it for the jousting field,” Elizabeth said.
“I can, too.” After a surly moment of thought, Titania added: “My Oaken King will pop open your champion like a can of Spam.”
The other Queen slapped her closed fan across her palm with an audible crack.
“Sir Pepin will squash him like a bug.”
“That’s the spirit!” Eleazar cheered. “Now, off to your neutral principalities, just like Switzerland.”
The queens glared at each other and returned to their positions in the parade. Eleazar began creating space between , first by wedging in the merchants and artisans, which was then vetoed by Titania as a diminuation of her prestige. Finally, a second honor guard was improvised from Vikings and assorted re-enactors to escort the Faerie Queen and to act as a buffer between the courts.
As the procession ultimately made its way onto the Faire grounds proper, Eleazar wondered if there existed a Renaissance World Peace Prize he should be nominating himself for.