Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Day One-Fifty-Three: Another day, perhaps?

Come ON, diary! What the hell! This isn't fair! It's not even close to fair! My birthday has always been on the last day of the month, so why the hell are they still here?!

For the last two days, all I've been able to think about is today. About getting rid of good ol' mom and… pop… at the end of my birthday. And now that the day has come, they're saying it doesn't freaking count! WHY? MY BIRTHDAY IS ON FEBRUARY 28. IT'S IN FEBRUARY.

"You're a twit," says dad. "Can't have a birthday on a Wednesday. What kinda idjit are you? No, we always settled you for a Friday boy, and that's when you'll have your birthday. Don't care if it's March or April or November, it happens on a Friday. Now, where's that wife of yours…?"

Sigh. So they're staying until Friday, because apparently you can move a birthday in these parts, and they say they've been doing that since I was born. Robert doesn't remember, the putz, so I can't ask him for backup, but I KNOW that's not true.

Anyway. At this point, the timing of my birthday isn't the concern. Now it's the meal. Robert's at it again, diary, and this time he's picked an animal for his main course that's even more ambitious than an elephant, in some ways: a polar bear.

I might have mentioned a few weeks back that Queen Daena managed to kick a polar bear away from herself. That might make you think that a polar bear is a tiny little creature. That ain't the case, diary - they're enormous, furry beasts, several hundreds pounds of pure muscle. They're much more aggressive than elephants, to boot, and probably the only animals I'd rather not face.

Oh, and dragons. Wild dragons.

And sloths.

Maybe zombies. They live like animals.

Rats are starting to climb the list, too… always peeking at me from dark corners with those knowing eyes…

And water creatures from the moat? Okay, there are lots of animals I'd rather not face. Don't you judge me, diary, it's called common sense.

Point is, polar bears are damn dangerous. Robert wants to kill one - and, no surprise, he wants help, 'cause he can't hunt on his own. And since there aren't any OTHER guards to get killed on this little expedition (sorry, Philip, wherever you are), I guess that means I'M gonna bite the bullet this time.

Oh, and to add insult to injury? Dad's coming, too. He thinks it'll be fun. SUPER.

Maybe the bear and dad will eat each other.

I can only hope,

Dragomir the Son

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Day One-Fifty-Two: Tagalong


He won't leave me alone.

I don't know why, but my father kept 'running into' me at work today. Every time I took up a new post somewhere, he wasn’t far behind, and whenever he appeared he had some new insult to add to the pile:

"Guardin' a wall, eh? Damn fine work, I'd say, boy, damn fine work. That an important wall? Doesn't look too important. I might even say this is the dumbest lookin' wall in the castle. Lookit all those cracks. Not well-kept - probably is they want it to collapse on you, eh?"

"You still worshippin' those damned weekend gods, Dragomir? Goddammit, why? What's the point? Stupid religion, don't even know who they are. Gotta be more like me - I know MY god, my one and only god, and I can curse 'im nice and proper whenever I like. 'Gods be damned' sounds retarded. Goddamned has a proper ring to it, y'hear?"

"That wife of yours is a fine piece o' meat, Dragomir. Onea the only things you've done right, boy. Shame she's stuck with a sucker like you. I can take her off yer hands, if you want… might be the only way you'll ever pay me back for sirin' your sorry arse in the first place, yeah? Whaddya say?"

"You have an ugly face and yer a disgrace to the family. Still got that birthmark on your bum? Yeah, that's stupid too."

I've NEVER had a birthmark on my bum! Gods be damned, dad, I HATE you! Die in a fire!

It gets worse, too. When I was set up outside the Beefiary for a spell, I had the displeasure of running into my father again - and Captain Cedric. Simultaneously. The captain has always been like an Oswald clone in my life, so this… not good…

It started out okay, I guess. "Humph. Dragomir. Good job t'other day. 'n thanks for the meal."

"Why, what'd he do? 'm his father, by the way. Oswald. Sure sight better to talk to than 'im."

"He guarded some rocks for me. I'm the captain. Pleasure."

"My son useless, or what?"

"Yeah, mostly. Sack of dung."

"Sounds like 'im. Woulda thought he might have a job like yours by now, but I guess that was too much to ask, yeah?"

"Think it was. You've got quite the arm on you, Oswald - try me on a wrestling match?"

"You're on, cap'n. Nice to see a proper guard for a change, facial hair 'n all."

Then they both punched me in the stomach and went into the Beefiary to grab some chow. So much for bonding with the captain.

More happened, but I'm tired, diary. I volunteered for an overnight shift so I could sleep on the barbican. Maybe I'll wake up dead in the morning - and if not, only one more day, right?

One more day.

I have descended into Hell,

Dragomir the Son

Monday, February 27, 2012

Day One-Fifty-One: Meet the parents

I remember now, more clearly than ever: I left home for a reason. Uuuuuuughhhhhh.

As you may recall, diary - I might not have been clear enough on the point last week - my parents have come to town. Robert invited them to share in my birthday. They were the 'surprise' he's been talking about for weeks. And it WAS a surprise… just… not one I ever would have wanted.


I'll start with my mom. Mom is nice. Mom cares for me. Mom… mom tries to coddle me a little too much at times, and then she's critical at others. Stuff like "What's wrong with your hair, it didn't look like that as a child" and "What happened to your cute little voice" and "You got a little ugly since I last saw you, but that's part of growing up, and I still love you. I imagine living with somebody like this would make anybody a little ugly."

By which she meant Libby.

I have to give my wife credit, she's trying. She's trying awwwwwful hard. She hasn't once beat my mom to a pulp, which surprises me near to death, 'cause my mom doesn't make her dislike of Libby a secret at all. She's critiqued Libby's hair, her eyes, her clothes, her choice of work, and, uh, even her bust.

"A big bust is a sign of a slut, dear," my mom told me. "And your… wife… is entirely too large in that department. Why, when I was pregnant with both you and Robert, I never needed a change of clothing. No, I remained nice and small, let me tell you!"

How do you respond to that, diary? I have no clue.

My dad, on the other hand, likes Libby just fine. Maybe a little too much, 'cause he keeps making passes at her, and a few times I've caught him eying her butt. Dunno WHY people do that, but there you go, diary - I just know I don't like it.

Dad hasn't softened on me one bit, even if he approves of my wife. He hits me, he scolds me, he tells me I'm such a loser that I might as well come back to the farm and guard the eels. I'd do more good there than I ever have here. I haven't even tried to mention my writing, 'cause I'm afraid he might toss you in the moat or something, diary. (You've been hidden in my pants all day. Sorry 'bout that.)

Oh, and the worst part? They won't shut up about Robert. It's always Robert this, Robert that, Robert's done so well for himself, Robert tells us the king asks for his food personally, Robert was always such a talented boy, why aren't you as good at guarding as Robert is at cooking? Blah blah blah…

Things are bad enough that I enjoyed going to work today. Work is pleasantly quiet, and Barrel's been following me around. We're working on his flying. He does pretty good for a micro-dragon - I'd love to see him blasting around as a full-fledged adult again. Just have to make sure he doesn't get spotted by the folks… gods above only know what they'd say about THAT.

Gotta go, diary. We're all having dinner in the Beefiary tonight. I don't know if Robert is going to serve up his 'special birthday meal' or what, but, unfortunately, I think I have to endure two more days of torture.

Shoot me with a crossbow. Please.


Dragomir the Son

Friday, February 24, 2012

Day One-Fifty: NOOOOOoooooooo


Libby just hit me and told me to calm down, 'cause I wore a hole through this page of the diary. She also reminded me, as if I could forget, that we have GUESTS, hence the reason we're sleeping on the FLOOR tonight, and I need to keep quiet. GUESTS, DIARY. THAT WAS ROBERT'S BIG EFFING BIRTHDAY SURPRISE, GUESTS.

I'm huffing. If I'm not careful Libby will hit me again, and even worse… he… might… wake up… and do the same… and do it even harder…

Okay. Okay. Here we go. "What happened today, Dragomir?" I'll answer that question.

As you know, diary, last night I took Captain Cedric out to dinner, got him drunk, discovered his deep, dark insecurities, and then took on the job of watching over the ballot room for the vote. Remember the vote to see if a fortress would be built outside the castle walls? Yeah, that's finished now, and I did my duty.

This morning, I got up as early as I could, 'cause the vote was set to take place from 7 'til 10. Any male (or Eve) who tried to submit a ballot after that time would be ignored. A big polling station was set up in a tent outside the main castle, and everybody who could vote showed up and ticked off a 'yes' or a 'no' on a stone using a piece of chalk. (Castle doesn't want to waste that much parchment.) Then some of the castle's deliverymen would bring boxes of the stones back to the treasury for counting later in the day.

I, sadly, did not get to vote. I had to watch the treasury, making sure that ABSOLUTELY NO ONE went inside. Those were my strict orders from The Baron, who looked quite happy to see me standing guard. So I guess I'm not democratic yet. Some day, maybe…

All was going well up until the veeeeeeery end of the third hour. The majority of the votes were in the room, and only I had gone inside, mostly to shove the boxes back to make more space.

That's when I heard a voice, none other than Robert's, as he came around the corner. "Here you are, Dragomir! I've been looking all over for you. The hell are you doing?"

"I'm watching the ballot room, dummy." I rolled my eyes. "You do know there's a vote on today, right?"

"'course I do. Didn't think you were involved, though." Which means he has a terrible memory, 'cause he was IN THE BEEFIARY last night when Captain Cedric put me in charge. "Never mind that now! I've got your surpriiiiise!"

My heart leaped. Friday! Yes, it was Friday, and Friday was the day of the surprise. I'd completely forgotten, wrapped up as I was in responsibility! In my sudden glee I nearly ran off to hug Robert.

I managed to restrain myself, though, the murderous image of the captain suddenly clouding my enthusiasm, and I stayed where I was. "Seriously?! Now? Here? Awesome! C'mon, what is it? Show me, show me, show me."

"Not what," said Robert with a wink, "but who! SURPRISE!" And he stepped aside to let two people through.

Two people I knew. Two people I know. Two people who had raised me, and cared for me, and told me I would be a guard in the first place - two people who said writing was for utter fools, especially if those fools were meant to be guards.

Two people who were, and still are, and always will be, my parents.

I'm sure that, as soon as my dad came into view, the life in my eyes died. Just a little. No, hell, it probably died a LOT, 'cause the sight of that one-armed, farm-bred giant has always represented terror and disappointment in my life, ever since I first told him that I wanted to be a writer. "Dragomir," he'd said, "you’re gonna be a guard. That’s your damn name. Dragomir the Guard. We didn’t call you Dragomir the Fucking Poofy Writer Boy. Get your head out of your butt and beat your friends with a stick, you need to work on those flimsy biceps of yours."

Terror, diary.

Mom's okay. She brought cookies.

"Dragomir, my boy!" The old man scowled, towering over me even at a distance. "I see you're still a normal guard. After two goddamned years, you're still just a guard. Guess I shouldn't have expected anything else from such a mewling piss ant."

"Hello, dear!" My mother beamed, far more radiant than the bear standing at her side. "It's nice to see you're working. And as a guard, no less! Have you gotten my letters? I got a few from you, but they're so long in coming, and I hate waiting."

"Stop coddling the brat." My father smacked me, and down I went. "The hell is this? You're guarding a room full of rocks? Bloody twit. I think he went mad, Martha, he's guarding rocks."

"Well if he went mad then it's your fault, Oswald!" Mom hugged me. "You were always so rough on him, it's no wonder he's got a few screws loose in his poor noggin. That's a nice helmet, by the way, dear. A bit pointy."

"I'm not crazy!" I tried to pull away, but my mom is surprisingly strong for her age. "This is an election, and-"

"Don't be daft, people don't have elections outside the Imperium. Elections! What a twit. Why, when I was your age, democracy was downright illegal, and anybody who even TALKED-"

Aaaaand so it went. They jabbered on, my father beat me, my mother coddled me, Robert watched it all with a face that expressed his UTTER GLEE at the situation, and we got further… and further… and further away from the voting room. By the time I realized how far I'd gone from my post, I was halfway down the next hall over!

I managed to shove them away and told them I'd see them later, and Robert took them to meet Libby. I scurried back to my post -

- and, sure enough, The Baron was standing there. It felt like most of my innards had just seeped down into my breeches, 'cause I thought for sure that I'd be executed for such a huge foulup.

The Baron wasn't angry, though. He dusted some chalk off his hands and smiled at me. "Hello, Dragomir. It appears that your reputation as worst of the worst remains as constant as ever."

"B… B… B…" I stuttered, knees knocking off each other.

He laughed and patted my shoulder. "Don't you worry, Dragomir, you did fine. Your work here is finished, my friend; you can go spend time with your family. The counters will do the rest."

And he shooed me away, slipping two gold coins in my pocket.

So that went okay. And the vote went The Baron's way, so there won't be a fortress built outside the castle. He did admit that the queen SHOULD be under better guard, though, and I've heard he's recommending they look for a way to transplant her tree inside the castle grounds. I'd like that.

Bet Driscol the Count's right pissed at the development. Or lack of development. Take that, you wanker.

But that's not enough to please me, diary. Not near enough at all. 'cause now my parents are spending the night, in MY room, in MY bed, while Libby and I sleep on MY floor - though my father did offer to let her sleep with them. I'm glad she said no, I don't trust that old bastard.

My parents.


For three days.

Happy fucking birthday.

Life… just, why, life,

Dragomir the Son

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Day One-Forty-Nine: Confessions of the Pitch and Wasted

WOW. The captain is a damn liberal guy when he's drunk, diary, I kid you not. I learned more of interest tonight than I think I have at any other time in my life, and that includes the time I talked to the other-dimensional manifestation of Philip the Guard when I was visiting those ruins outside Goblinoster, during my epic journey to cure the castle of foulfungus.

Wait. I was trying not to think about all that nonsense. Hell, it's been so long that it hardly feels like that happened at all!

I wasn’t about to stupidly screw up with Captain Cedric, so I met him at 7 p.m. on the dot, in the Beefiary. He likes to sit on the edge of the eating area, so I knew exactly where to wait - and, true to form, he came in exactly on time. I greeted him, he grunted at me, and I shelled out some coin for fancier digs as Cedric ordered the best stuff they had. (I stuck with the cheap, free stuff.)

Thank the gods Robert's my brother and gives me discounts, 'cause Cedric ordered a lot. The dude's got quite an appetite when somebody else is paying, and he bought more servings of fresh, good-quality, imported vegetables (the home grown stuff sucks) than anybody I've ever seen in the Beefiary. And the way he ate! He's a monster.

The same can't be said of his drinking, though. I've never seen Cedric downing alcohol before, and at first he rebuffed Robert's offers of booze. (Robert was fascinated by this whole dinner thing as well.) Pretty soon Robert's golden tongue had a cup of ale in Cedric's meaty fist, though, and he was hiccupping like mad, talking away about his job. That was great to hear, 'cause when the evening started all he'd done was eat, eat, eat.

He was getting drunk WAY faster than I would've thought, though, and I quickly figured out why: Robert was lightly dipping the veggies in ale before he sent them out to Cedric, just lightly enough that Cedric didn't notice the change in taste. Hell, after one drink I guess he couldn't have tasted the difference anyway. Before I knew it he was singing and laughing, and everybody still in the Beefiary was watching our table.

It wasn't until about an hour after we'd started talking, however, that he got down to the juicy details.

"Dragomir," he said, licking one of his celery sticks like it was an ice cream cone, "you're married. Right? Got a… hick… got a nice filly with ya?"

"Yep, sure do, chief." I kept changing his title throughout the night to see if he would get mad. After a while, Cedric didn't care WHAT I called him.

"Good… good for you." He slapped his hand down on the table. "Love's IMPORTANT. It's a, a, a BIG DAMN DEAL. You know? Big effing deal. MORE BROCCOLI, YOU WHORESON!"

"On it, cap'n!" Robert called, clearly enjoying himself.

"Yeah. Where… where was I?"

"Love, I think, sport."

"Oh yeah. LOVE!" The captain roared the last word, throwing up his arms. "Love. Ever… ever since that… that FUCKIN'… kang… kang… that stupid… what the HELL are they called, Dragofuck?"


"Yeah! That son of a BITCH!" Cedric grabbed a potato and flung it towards the ceiling. It veered far from the intended target and bopped a passing peasant on the head. "That, that, that bastard! He took… he took my thing, you know? That's so BAD! Bit it RIGHT OFF. Do you… do you wanna see the scar?"

"Nooooooo, that's okay, boss."

"Right." He hiked up his pants again. "Point is, I'm… I'm not… I'm not much of a fucking man anymore, Dragofuck. Not… I mean, I… and I… and the poetry, it's just… you know, I write poetry, right?"

Bit my lip. "Nooooope, didn't know, tiger."

"I do. I do. I… I should bring it here, show… you…" Belch. "I like po... poetry. It's my SOUL on PAPER, you know? Helps me… cope… with so much shit." He started to cry. "Never gonna have a woman, Dragofuck, never. Love ain't… no, never, Dragofuck, never!"

I've been a lot of weird places, diary, and done a lot of weird things. Grew up on a farm; got chased by a bull; got attacked by a bandit, which I shouldn't mention here; guarded a bridge that dices people into bloody chunks; went on a huge adventure to save my castle; nearly got bedded by a zombie princess; endured captivity by the goblins; ventured into some ruins and saw a ghostly vision of a former guard; TELEPORTED back to the castle; and, uh, other things have happened too. You're getting the point - I've led an odd life, especially in the last few months.

So when I say that watching Captain Cedric blubber over a plate of alcohol-dabbed vegetables was the weirdest thing I've ever had to do, you better know I'm being truthful.

"All I got is work!" The captain knocked his plate aside. "Work, 'n that… that fuckin' dog! And he hates my… my guts, you know? I mean, sure, I hit him a couple times a day, but he bites me back so we should be square, yeah?"

"Yeah, I guess so, champ." I shrugged. The hell am I supposed to say to something like that?

The captain belched again, then hunched his shoulders and stared gloomily into his mug of ale. "Ain't… never gonna have me a wife, Dragofuck. I'm just a big screwup. Hell, I gotta… the vote tomorrow, 'n… here I am, gettin' all liquored up… gonna lose my job 'cause I can't… can't watch over…"

"Can't watch over what, slugger?"

Cedric dipped his head into his vegetables for a moment, deep in drunken thought. Then he straightened and pointed at me, a measure of comprehension on his face. "But… but you! You could! Hey, DragoFuck, do me a favour, yeah? Will… burp… will ya?"

He was leaning in so close that I had no choice but to agree. Gods did he smell bad.

"Tomorrow… y'know the big vote tomorrow? Gonna… I was supposed to guard… watch the room with all the… the ballots, 'n shit… but I suck with booze, I guess… could… could you watch it for me? Make sure… make sure nobody sneaks in and fucks with th'votes?"

I slumped with relief. I was half expecting him to ask me to keep him company in bed that night or something. "Yeah, sure, of course. Killer."

Captain Cedric wiped his tears away, and for the first and possibly ONLY time, he smiled at me, an expression that I found much scarier than his normal scowl. Then he called over another guard - Morris, a nice fellow, if a bit stupid - and authenticated that he was giving me his shift before passing out. We had to drag him back to his room, and we passed the time by discussing how he seemed to be much harrier than usual.

So tomorrow, I guess I've got a rather important post: guard the ballot room, which I've discovered is not far from the treasury. That's quite a promotion! Good for me, diary!

… still. Poor Captain Cedric.


Dragomir the Guard

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Day One-Forty-Eight: Pop the question

Woooooow. I actually did it, diary. I asked out the captain! And he said yes! I know how gay that makes me sound, but he said yes!

This isn't going to be a DATE, of course. I would never ask the captain out on a DATE. I mean, hell, I've never even asked LIBBY out on a date, and if she found out I was going out on a DATE with another MAN, then… well, she might do the same thing to me that the kangaroo did to the captain. This is just two guys, two manly men, sitting down for a meal. And we will chat and make merry and all that stuff.

But enough of that! You're probably wondering how I managed this incredible feat! How I, Dragomir, the man whom Captain Cedric hates the most, convinced his royal hardass-ness to sit down for a meal! And I will tell you, diary. Oh yes, I will indeed.

After following Captain Cedric around for a week, I got to know his habits pretty well. The little things, you know - like, for example, how Cedric loves apples, or how he likes his helmet to be nice and shiny when he's out on patrol, or even how he only adjusts underwear wedgies when he thinks no one's looking. Little things, diary, little.

So today, I set about making Captain Cedric as happy as possible. I showed up to my post on time, I was wide awake and alert whenever he came to check on me, and I even gave status reports. Like a proper guard and all!

The normal stuff isn't all, though. I had lots of little gifts and compliments on hand for Cedric, too - kept some apples in my pockets to share with him, told him how nice his helmet looked and asked for tips on keeping my own clean, and I even told him, nice and discretely, which corridors were empty when he looked put out by his pants. He always came back after 'checking' these corridors with a much more satisfied expression.

By the end of the day I found him in the Beefiary, by himself, chewing on some raw veggies. (And I made sure not to approach him until AFTER my shift.)

"You," he grunted, spitting the end of a carrot out of his mouth. "Whaddya want?"

I saluted him, even though I was off duty. "Captain! I, uh, I wanted to ask you something!"

"Oh yeah? What's that? Couldn't figure out how to buff grease outta your spikes like I told you?"

"No, sir!" And I showed him my helmet to prove that it was nice and shiny. "Actually, um, I was wondering if you… might…"

"Spit it out, guardsman, I'm busy." Which was bull, he'd been staring at the wall.

"Sorry, cap'n! What I mean to say is, do you mind if I eat with you tomorrow? In here, that is?"

The captain stopped chewing for a moment. For a brief second his expression was that of an antelope, caught in the torchlight; then his eyes settled into the suspicious glare of a wary sloth, and he stared me down with more intensity than the average elephant stampede.

"Eat?" he mumbled around his carrot. "You? Me? Why the hell would you do that? You know I hate your guts, don'tcha?"

"Yes!" I saluted again. "And I'm sorry for that, cap'n, and I wanna make it up to you! I've given you a hard time in the past, and I figured I could, y'know, maybe buy you a couple beers! And a meal, too - be happy to get you some of the lean cut yak tarts!"

Cedric paused again, no less intense, but looking more confused than before. "What you fishin' at? You want a promotion?"

"No, sir!" Not true at all.

"You want a favour?"

"No, cap'n!" Totally true. Mostly. (Maybe I could get a favour outta him? That would be neat.)

"You tryin' to get in on the votin' process?"

"No, sir!" No clue what he meant by that.

He paused longer here than at any other point, then lowered his voice to a hoarse whisper. "You one of them gays, Dragomir? 'cause I'm not gay, you hear?"

"No, sir!" Hopefully true. "I just wanted to get to know you, sir! And apologize for slacking off so much! You are, um, an inspiration to me, and I'm hoping you will help me become a better guard! Sir."

Captain Cedric settled back and considered my proposal, rubbing his chin stubble. I stood at attention for what seemed an eternity, not able to look into his eyes. Like I've said, he's a scary dude, and part of me figured he might somehow see all my past screwups if I let him search my soul too thoroughly.

Finally, he took another bite of his carrot. "You're payin'?"

"Yes, sir!"

A grunt. "Okay. Fine. Dinner, tomorrow, 7 p.m. If you're late, I'll take it outta your ass. Now get outta here, I have work to do."

He went back to staring. I ran.

And that, diary, is how you do that.

I'm kinda nervous,

Dragomir the Guard

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Day One-Forty-Seven: All the news that's fit to spew

You know, in all the excitement and poetry and stuff, I forgot about the vote over whether Queen Daena should have a fortress or not. That's coming up on Friday, and I'm eligible to participate! I'm a guy! I've never voted before, diary. Kings don't usually encourage commoners to vote.

Not everybody's happy about the vote, of course. The dudes of the castle are all cheery as hell, 'cause they get to have some fun, but the women are pissed, 'cause they figure they should have the same rights as the guys. I'm all for that, diary, though unfortunately the king's the one who has the final say. (I won't argue, either, 'cause he could restrict it to nobles only or something if anybody bitches, and if somebody does, it WON'T be ME.)

Oh, and Eve gets a vote, on account of her being Lord Knight. I guess even the king won't deny her the right. Truth be told, I doubt she gives a toss whether there's a fortress outside the castle or not, but I don't blame the higher-ups for taking precautions - you don't tell Eve 'no' and expect a favourable reply. (She hasn't moved out of her 'killy' phase, as I like to call it.)

Anyway. Enough about the vote. There are two other things about today that I'd like to share.

First, I went to visit Robert in the Beefiary. He was on duty, so he couldn't much talk to me - and I must say, the yak tarts he slapped on my plate were preeeeeetty sad lookin' - but he DID tell me that the surprise for my birthday is showing up THIS Friday, not next week. Awesome! Early birthday surprise! Things are lookin' thumbs up for Dragomir so far.

Especially since I didn't get caught in Captain Cedric's quarters last week. Which brings us to the other point!

The captain's been damn grumpy since his dog Percy redecorated Cedric's room with the contents of his chamber pot, even more so than usual, and we guards have taken to following the rules as much as possible so avoid his wrath. Even Bernard is white-lipped about Cedric, which is unusual, given that he's usually an obedient little lackey.

Well, after I was done talking to Robert I spotted Captain Cedric in the Beefiary, sitting by himself and staring at the wall. He looked as grumpy as ever, and I thought back to what Libby said the other day: he's probably lonely. Doesn't surprise me a bit, 'cause when he's not on official business, Captain Cedric spends time with NOBODY 'cept his dog, and Percy doesn't count.

I've learned that assuming something is true doesn't mean it actually IS true, though (like Robert drugging the dog when he actually just got it drunk), so this time I'm gonna try and take a slightly longer route to getting to know Cedric. I mean, he writes LOVE poetry, so how bad could he really be?

And getting in his good books can't be bad for my career, so….I mean, I'm labelled as the worst guard in the castle and I regularly get terrible assignments, so… I can only go UP, right?

Not today. Didn't have the nerve today. Tomorrow, though, maybe I can… yeah, maybe I can ask the captain out to dinner? That MIGHT work, he does like to eat…


Dragomir the… I'm not sure what I am right now, actually

Monday, February 20, 2012

Day One-Forty-Six: Speculation

… gentle rose, bobbing in the breeze…?

Sorry, diary. I just… can't… get over the stuff Captain Cedric writes in his spare time. Pardon my language, but it's FUCKING BIZARRE. (I wish I'd grabbed more.)

I joked a while ago that the captain might be a 'poetry-lovin' kinda dude', but I never… seriously… THOUGHT, that it might be true. And if it WAS true, hell, I woulda pegged the captain for writing stuff like:

Blood on my sword,
Blood on my boot,
Blood on my dog,
Blood on my blood.

Or something stupid like that. (Don't lookit me, I'm not a poet.) He's a violent man, is my point! Why's he talkin' about summer breezes?!

Well. I asked LIBBY that question, and even recited the poem to her, not telling her how I got hold of it. (She gave me a really dangerous look, diary, but she didn't hit me. I'm thankful.) And she, surprisingly, might have an answer:

"Well, it's stupid and I don't get it, but he might just be lonely. Now quit buggin' me, I'm trying to sleep."

Lonely. What a weird thought.

She's right, though. Captain Cedric… might be lonely. It makes perfect sense, when you think about it - he works all day, he doesn't seem to have any friends, and because he's missing his bits, he's PROBABLY not that popular with the ladies. I don't know why your thinger is necessary for pleasing women - I don't remember pulling down my pants when I met Libby, and we got married just fine - but I keep hearing it is, so…

Lonely. Maybe Captain Cedric just needs a girlfriend to calm him down? Might I have a new mission, diary?

I'll think about that later. Instead, I'll celebrate! My birthday is coming up, diary! Right at the end of February! Can't wait. After our 'chat' Robert promised me that his surprise would more than make up for him not properly drugging Captain Cedric's dog, and I told HIM that if he's lying again, I'll knock out his teeth. He's kinda portly from working in the kitchen all the time, so I KNOW I can catch him and follow through on that.

Birthday birthday birthday! Yay! Can't wait to see the surprise!

Better snuff out the candle before Libby punches me,

Dragomir the Guard

Friday, February 17, 2012

Day One-Forty-Five: ... gang aft agley

I think I know why Robert's plans don't usually work, diary: BECAUSE HE'S AN IDIOT. A SELFISH, GREEDY IDIOT.

I told you what was happening today. Drug Captain Cedric's dog? Sneak into his room while he's on patrol? Check out what he's been writing? Yeah. Everything planned out, careful and precise… except for one thing: I should NEVER have brought in another person to help. NOT FOR A SECOND.

So here's what happened. Day started off perfect. Followed Captain Cedric to make sure he was on his usual route (he was), then checked into the Beefiary quick to make sure Robert was on cue. He gave me a thumbs' up. I returned it, giddy, and ran off to keep following Cedric.

He did as predicted. Ate lunch, went back to his room, fed Percy his meal, and left to patrol. Robert told me that the draught takes a few minutes to kick in, so I waited fifteen minutes, hidden in a nearby wall niche that I've been using to spy on the captain. Just sat… and watched… and waited.

And, sure to form, Percy, strutting about the apartment on his chain, swaggered to one side and fell over.

That was it, diary! That was the moment! I waited another minute to make sure Percy wouldn't get up - I heard a little 'hiccup' sound, but that was all - then, after checking the corridors to make sure nobody was coming, I charged right in to look through Captain Cedric's quarters. I can't describe how excited I was!

Short-lived. Very, very short-lived. Because, as soon as I set foot in the door, Percy tried to bite me.

I yelped and jumped out of the way, 'cause Percy was stumbling to his feet, letting out a half-assed bark that sounded more like he'd spent too much time with his head stuck in a mug of ale. And he basically HAD, 'cause Robert hadn't given him any sleeping draught, HE'D LACED PERCY'S FOOD WITH BEER. THE DAMN DOG WAS DRUNK OUT OF ITS MIND.

Percy lunged at me, but I guess his depth perception wasn't so good, 'cause he clonked his head on Captain Cedric's desk and sent a bunch of papers flying into the air. I ran to the other side of the room and Percy followed, tongue lolling out the side of his head, his eyes spinning like a pair of wooden tops. He couldn't keep his legs straight, and for a second I felt sorry for the poor thing.

And then he went mad. I don't know exactly what happened, but something in the dog's brain must have gone off-kilter, 'cause just before he got to me Percy veered off - and he headed straight for Captain Cedric's chamber pot.

I don't like chamber pots. The idea of sleeping in the same room as your pee weirds me out, and while it's true that I do TEND to pee in the midst of danger, I TRY to change my breeches before I hunker down for the night. Unfortunately, Captain Cedric seems to be so… ENTHUSIASTIC about his privacy that he… also… uses his chamber pot for… number… two.

So when Percy grabbed hold of the pot and started swinging it around, well, you can imagine the horrifying mess. I won't go into details, but… by the gods, it was on everything…

I didn't want to run through the castle covered in poo, so I dove behind the desk and grabbed at the papers on the floor, hoping that I could find what I was lookin' for in a hurry and not have to hunt about, 'cause the operation was going to hell in a hurry. Fortunately, THIS paid off, and I managed to steal (yes, I stole, sorry, captain) something Captain Cedric wrote. I shoved the parchment in my pocket and hightailed it outta there before Percy got done playing with his chamber pot.

Then I visited Robert. He fully admitted that he sells the plant used for the draught to vendors, 'cause beer works just fine to knock out the king. And if it works for King Jeffrey, well, why not a dog?

We're going to have more words later. He's lucky I can't pick up weapons.

Anyway… despite the SEVERE problems, and despite the fact that Captain Cedric's screaming could be heard halfway across the castle (we live in DIFFERENT BUILDINGS), the operation was a success. So here, diary, is something written by Captain Cedric, copied word-for-word.

"Gentle rose
Bobbing in the breeze
I call your name
But lo!
You do not hear me.
In the summer winds
All things transitory
Are lost.
And there
In my heart
Is the crux of the matter;
For you
And I
Are not one
And ne'er shall be.


Even from my brief look at the papers on the floor, I could tell that most of 'em were the same kinda poems.

Gods… gods help us. All.


Dragomir the Gentle Rose, Bobbing in the Breeze

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Day One-Forty-Four: The best-laid schemes...

Alright. Alright.


I think I've got this down, diary. I am ready to go. I'm pumped, I'm primed, I'm prepped. You know why? Because I have a way to BEAT that dog, that's why!

Not literally, of course. But beat as in an intangible VICTORY!

Lemme tell you about Captain Cedric's dog. It's a big, mean, boxy bull terrier, those dogs with the weird heads, and its name is Percy. Percy doesn't like anyone, not even Captain Cedric, and he attacks anyone who comes near Captain Cedric's quarters… even those escorted by the captain. (Cedric usually cuffs Percy in the head to shut 'im up. They're quite the pair.)

Percy spends pretty much his entire day in Captain Cedric's quarters, sleeping. He's not a lazy beast, though - every now and then, I've noticed, he'll get up and run around Cedric's room, going in tight circles to give himself some exercise before going back to sleep. Guess even a cranky old thing like Percy needs more than two walks a day. Needless to say, he's ALWAYS THERE, and that's a problem for me, 'cause most of Cedric's personal writing must be in his quarters.

I've got a plan, though. A good plan. An excellent plan. And it involves Robert, my ever-loving-and-scheming brother - and when I told him what it was, he thought it was so funny that he had to help out. (I guess he doesn't like Captain Cedric much either.)

Captain Cedric feeds his dog every day. Makes sense, since the brute is still alive. And, I've noticed, he gives Percy food three times daily. The first and last time he uses his own personal food stores, but at LUNCH he fetches a bowl of meat from the Beefiary to feed Percy.

Now. It's long been rumoured that King Jeffrey has trouble sleeping at night, and Robert confirmed this - 'cause he puts the sleeping draught in Jeffrey's food at dinner. Which means that he's got the materials (a few plants, mostly) to MAKE the draught. Which meeeeeeans that he's probably got some extra… and will make me a dose of the draught.

And he has. And will. Tomorrow, Robert is going to drug Percy's lunchtime meal. While the dog's out for the count and Captain Cedric's patrolling the bailies, I'll sneak into his room, see what he's been writing, then sneak out again and fly back to my post. That way, if he suspects foul play, I'll have an alibi when he sees that I'm where I'm supposed to be!

Pure. Blissful. GENIUS.

Things could go wrong, of course. I'm not blind to the possible problems, 'cause something ALWAYS goes wrong. But I think I've got this all covered, diary, and since I only have to be in Cedric's room for a few minutes… hopefully… my chances of success are pretty high.

That's all for now. Wish me luck! I'm finally gonna see another writer at work!


Dragomir the Snoop

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Day One-Forty-Three: Court is now in session

Welllllllll, today didn't go QUITE as planned. The last half did, but this morning, not so much.

Don't worry, though, diary! Nothing BAD happened. It's just, ah, well, I didn't get to follow Captain Cedric around much, 'cause all of us guards got called to stand watch over an emergency meeting of court. Why they needed ALL of us I don't rightly know, but that included me.

The whole topic of the fortress to protect the queen is pretty hot lately, mainly 'cause Driscol's been trotting it out for discussion every chance he gets. Now, today, he decided to propose it to the nobles - and that had The Baron spitting mad. The old guy kept insisting that the redirection of troops and building supplies would be impossible, and anyway, it was impractical to build a fortress, like, a couple hundred feet from the front of the castle.

Then DRISCOL went off on a big tangent about how we should be protecting the queen! She's the monarch, he says, and who are all of us to deny her the safety of walls? It was irresponsible of The Baron (notice he doesn't blame King Jeffrey) not to build out and cover the queen in the first place, and since it's too late now, well, we're all obligated to give her a fortress of her own.

He also insists that he'll oversee the building of the fortress from start to finish. THAT I find weird, 'cause nobles don't usually care 'bout that sort of thing.

Then THE BARON exploded again, saying that he was listening to the queen's wishes, and that Driscol should be ashamed for going against her. She's strong, we all know it, and she likes the way things are. How can Driscolattackt the monarchy in such a blatant fashion? It's uncouth and foolish, blah blah blah. Lots more arguments between the two followed, and after a while I got sleepy.

Fortunately, the same went for a lot of other people in the room - and that includes our beloved King Jeffrey, whose once bald scalp now bears a crop of gentle peach fuzz. After a solid twenty minutes of arguing he threw his sceptre at Driscol to make him stop talking, and the count shut up at once.

"This is dull," he started, "and you're dull. Both of you. But we guess we must rule on this, so here's our decree." Yeah, he's started referring to himself in the third person. It's kinda annoying.

The king rose and stretched out his hand, looking at everyone in his hall. "We have decided that there shall be a vote. Nobles and commoners, men and other men, candle makers and smithees and pencil-pushers, all shall gather next Friday to decide whether or not to build a fortress outside our castle. The side that receives the most votes shall be the victor. Thus we have decreed; thus it shall be. Change the name!"

And one of the king's lackeys ran over to a giant chalkboard at the side of the hall, wiped out 'Castle TooEarlyForThis' and changed it to 'Castle DemocracyIsCool'.

Then the king sat again. "Now everybody get out. We're doodling a tiger on our throne, and you're all distracting us."

That was the end of the meeting. A lot of people were milling out of the court in the aftermath, so things were pretty hectic, though I caught sight of The Baron for a brief second, and boy howdy did he look pissed. Had a vein poppin' out of his forehead the size of Libby's ponytail. He's normally so chipper!

Well, that's that, anyway. There's gonna be a vote. Sounds like we're living in the Imperium now, diary. How weird.

The rest of the night went like yesterday. Followed Cedric, learned his patterns, took some notes, schemed. Will carry on like that tomorrow.


Dragomir the Snoop

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Day One-Forty-Two: Follow the leader

Spent today tailing Captain Cedric, diary. Good lords above, that guy gets around a LOT in one day. He actually works! I'm a little impressed!

I figured (rightly) that the easiest way to keep out of trouble was to stay on his tail, and I was right. He didn't once see me, 'cause he's always looking AHEAD, and never behind. Should've thought of that ages ago - I coulda been goofing off behind his back ever since I got hired. Maybe I can attach a rope and a sled to him and just slide along in his wake while he's patrolling or working or whatever. He'd never catch on.

From what I can tell, the captain's routine is pretty much this:

- Gets up at 5
- Feeds his dog
- Takes his dog for a walk
- Has breakfast
- Patrols the outer walls
- Checks the guards on the barbican and the walls to make sure they're not sleeping
- Patrols the bailies
- Patrols the nobles' quarter
- Has a quick lunch
- Feeds his dog again
- Patrols the bailies again
- Checks on his guards all around the castle - he runs at a sprint, so it was damn hard pressed to keep up, let alone get back to where I was SUPPOSED to be… guy's a machine
- Checks on his guards AGAIN, because he's… well, he's an efficient dickhead, is what he is
- Does some paperwork back in his quarters - couldn't get a good look inside, 'cause I didn't want to annoy his dog
- Delivers the paperwork to the nobles' quarter and gets chewed out by his bosses - that was fun to watch
- More or less repeats everything he did earlier
- Has a late dinner - I noticed that he got tipsy pretty quick
- Visits the library after work
- Checks on his overnight guards one last time, this time while taking his dog for another walk
- Goes to bed

In short, his life is one big round of WORK, WORK, WORK. Just following him was the most productive shift I've ever had working at this castle. Didn't get to goof off ONCE, which, I must say, is a damn boring day. (Originally I'd planned on chatting with the seamstresses while they made dresses in the bailey. They're nice ladies.)

I'll have to follow him again tomorrow to make sure he does the same thing… and then again on Wednesday, just to be sure.

Maybe Thursday, as well.

Man, what the hell am I gonna do about his dog? Even if Cedric's gone, it'll eat me. It spends most of its day sleeping in front of the entrance to his chamber. He doesn't even need a proper door to keep people out. Gotta figure out a way to get past the pooch…


Dragomir the Snoop

Monday, February 13, 2012

Day One-Forty-One: Dragomir's dire plan

I'm nervous, diary. Downright petrified. But determined, I am.

I've decided to stick all that stuff about the kangaroo on the back burner for now. What can I do with what I know? Ask the thing? It'll beat the crap out of me. Besides, I'll look like a right twit interrogating a kangaroo.

(To be honest, I have my doubts that it IS a kangaroo. I get the feeling everybody's just been calling it a kangaroo 'cause it hops around and stuff. The queen was right, it does look like a boxer.)

And there's other stuff going on right now that I'll try to ignore, as well. Mainly the big kerfuffle about creating a fortress outside the castle. Yeah, Driscol went ahead with proposing that in the king's court. I didn't hear much about it, but apparently The Baron's in a right tizzy over the proposal. We'll see what happens.

These things don't terrify me. No, what terrifies me is my PERSONAL decision: I'm going to sneak into Captain Cedric's quarters.

You probably don't quite understand, diary, what it's like to KNOW that there's another writer nearby, somebody who sweats and toils over his craft as much as you. I HAVE TO KNOW WHAT HE WRITES. And if the captain won't tell me, I…. I guess I have to find out on my own.

But he'll murder me if he finds me in his quarters. I will die a thousand times, and if I'm lucky he won't kill me ANOTHER thousand times.

But fear is the mind-killer, and I refuse to give in to fear. (Seriously, AM I quoting somebody when I say that? I swear I am.) I have to know. And I guess I'm willing to put my job on the line to find out, because some things are more important than earning a wage.

Or keeping your body intact.

Or… well, this is freaking me out so I'd better stop.

I don't know how the hell I'm gonna sneak in, though, so I'll spend the week watching Captain Cedric and learn his habits. Then maybe I can figure out a way to get past his freaking dog…

More on that later, diary, I have to take a night shift this week. Try to stay away from Libby - I caught her trying to read you yesterday, and I swear she understood a few words. (Has she been hanging out with Robert the Librarian, or something?) If she finds out how many times I've called her a douche, she'll kill me.


Dragomir the Snoop

Friday, February 10, 2012

Day One-Forty: Convo Redux

Hum. Some answers today, diary, and more questions - along the lines of something I hadn't ACTUALLY considered.

I wasn't satisfied with the end of yesterday's conversation with Queen Daena, and since the shelter was slated for completion today, I only had one more chance to talk to her about the captain. This time, though, I was interested in the kangaroo, and its relationship with the captain. If you can call it a relationship.

I'm sure I've mentioned this before in passing, diary, but Captain Cedric… well, he changed because of the kangaroo. He got into a scuffle with it one day, and the scuttlebutt is that it maaaaay have robbed him of his manhood. Ripped off his armour and - so I hear - bit the thing clean off.

(And Prince Logan says he still has the thing in a jar in his room, according to an earlier entry. GROSS. I NEVER THOUGHT ABOUT HOW DISTURBING THAT IS, AND HE'S MARRYING MY DAUGHTER?!)

So that explains why the captain is so irritable all the time: he has no thinger. It's an unfortunate set of circumstances. And I figured, if I knew HOW the kangaroo came to be in Castle AnotherLongName, maybe I could use the circumstances to warm up to the captain? We could plot out a way to get rid of it, or something. I dunno.

Not the best plan, maybe. But on my last visit to the queen's tree, as the builders were busy setting up the last wall, I asked the queen what she meant about the kangaroo.

"Oh, that?" She laughed. "A funny story, actually. Would you like to hear?"

I would. I did.

"Well." She poured herself a small cup of tea from the tray set up at her side. The tea looked half frozen, so I think it was more slush than liquid. "As you know, my husband commissioned the building of this castle… eight years ago, I believe it was. I was just leaving my teens, at the time, and heavy with child. And by the time the castle was finished for our inspection, Logan had just been born."

I wasn't sure why the queen had to go THIS far back, but, whatever.

"I knew, even from birth, that Logan would be… lacking… in normal friends. His father's a lunkhead, as you know, and given that the idiot gene seems to travel down the male side of his family, I knew that Logan would be a capricious, spoiled, moronic little thing. I adore the boy, but at the time, I KNEW that would be true."

If you're reading this, Logan: her words, not mine. It gets better for you anyway.

"I quickly learned that Logan was actually a clever, inventive little thing, not at all like his father… though he still had difficulty adjusting to other children. He was never one for normal playtime." She smiled. "Whenever he did try playing with noble children, they'd wind up stuck on a roof somewhere, hanging on for dear life, and he'd be responsible. Or so I've heard, anyway - I've seldom been privy to castle life firsthand. You can see why."


"But he needed a friend, and though the old man cares deeply for my son, The Baron was no substitute. A capable, loyal tutor, yes, but NOT someone who understands 'fun'. Logan needed a buddy, pardon my language laxity… and up until now, he's never had one."

"You mean the kangaroo?"

"No, you fool. I mean you." The queen's smile was amazing. "That child adores you, Dragomir. Even if he provides you with no end of trouble."

And that, I have to admit, was pretty damn weird. Me, buddies with the prince? I guess he talks about me more than I figured. (Kinda young to be a buddy, isn't he?)

"But that doesn't answer your question, I suppose." The queen sipped her tea. I don't know how she can drink slush with such calm. Guess she has practice. "The kangaroo. Well, if the prince couldn't have a friend, he at least needed a pet. And so I caught him the kangaroo."

"You CAUGHT it for him, your majesty?"

"In a manner of speaking." She queen's smile turned from radiant to sly, and I knew in that instant that she was Logan's mom, no questions asked. "It attacked me."

Given what I've seen of the kangaroo's attitude, yeah, that sounded about right.

"I was nodding off one evening about three years ago when I heard a noise to my right. I came instantly awake, and before I knew it the beast was in front of me, huffing and snorting and drooling. I thought for sure it would try to bite me, but-"


"But," and she paused to sip again, "it attacked me with its fists. Or whatever passes for fists on a kangaroo. Paws? Given how it was rolling its wrists, they certainly LOOKED like fists… I'll stick with fists. At any rate, it turned into quite a tussle, and I must admit that NO opponent has EVER given me as much trouble as that kangaroo."

"But I won!" The queen raised her cup in salute of herself, and I gave her a little 'huzzah', to which she bowed. "I won, and pinned it between my legs. Was about ready to crush the life out of the beast… when it stopped struggling. It just gave up. And so I let it go, because I really don't like killing anything, and expected it to run away."

"It didn't, though, did it?"

"Obviously not. It flopped back, bobbing up and down on those little claws, and before I knew it the kangaroo was bowing at my feet! I felt like the master of a martial arts dojo, having just beat up one of my students! And after that, it wouldn't leave my tree! It lingered nearby, occasionally hunting for animals, but spending most of its time punching the air like a… a, I don't know, a boxer!"

That was one of the strangest things I'd ever heard, can't lie. The more I think about it, though, the more it sounds like the prince's kangaroo, violent behaviour and loyalty to royals and all.

"So you introduced it to Prince Logan, your majesty?"

"Well, I couldn't help it, could I? He comes out to visit several times a week, and during the next visit the kangaroo was there, going through its usual motions. It nearly beat up his guards, as well - I just barely managed to restrain it with words."

"And you gave it to Logan?"

The queen chuckled. "Not quite. I think he earned it, actually, because once he got a good look at the creature, Logan challenged it to a game of tag. He's always been a speedy devil, and I think the kangaroo's rambunctious nature led Logan to believe that it might be able to keep up. And it did, let me tell you - though it never caught him. Came close, but nobody can beat my Logan."

"It's been following him ever since? You weren't worried it might, I dunno, bite him or something?"

"No, no. It's tame around the two of us. Very loyal." She cringed. "I suppose that doesn't extend to everyone else. Poor Captain Cedric, I've heard what it did to him. I'm surprised he kept his post afterward - I wouldn't want to remain in the same castle as a castrating kangaroo."

So that was that. The tale told at last. It answered many questions, and brought up a few more things that aren't important enough to write about here, as this entry has been MASSIVE already - though it DID create one more important question before I left, for which Queen Daena didn't have an answer.

"Your majesty, you said Prince Logan challenged the kangaroo to a game of tag?"

"I did, yes. It was quite a sight, too - it chased Logan up and down trees, across the surface of the moat, over the barbican, trying to touch him. I was very impressed."

"I'm sure you were, m'lady… but… how did the kangaroo know how to play tag?"


"That's an excellent question, Dragomir."

(I'll stop there. Robert says suspense is GREAT for writing.)


Dragomir the Guard

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Day One-Thirty-Nine: Convo

Sigh. Nobody knows anything about Captain Cedric's writing - though I did learn something ELSE today that's piqued my curiosity, and it has something to do with the captain.


In the most painful way possible.

Because the snow's so bad the builders haven't had much time to work on the enclosure, and they usually have to wait for lulls in the blizzard outside (yeah, shitty weather, eh?) before they can run out and start piling up their little stones. So today we were only out there for about forty-five minutes, and in that time I had a brief chance to talk to Queen Daena. Here's what happened in a nutshell:

Me: "Woof! Quite the day out, eh, your majesty? You warm enough?"

Her: "Oh, hello, Dragomir. Yes, I'm fine, thank you. Quite warm in this coat, and the constant exercise always helps. Did you have a pleasant evening?"

Me: "Sure, sure. Wrote a bit, grabbed a couple bites to eat, guarded the latrines. Not very excitin' by a monarch's standards, you know, but it's a living, you know? Oh, and Libby sends her regards. And this pie!"

Right, forgot to mention: Libby makes pies every now and then. Robert's been teaching her. She wants to expand from makin' things outta wood but I don't think she's quite found her match yet.

Her: "Oh. Well. Thank you. What flavour is it this time?"

Me: "Dunno. I didn't wanna check by stickin' my finger in, she'd beat me. Whatever it is, I'm sure it's awful, like usual."

Queen: "Er. Yes. It's so unfortunate. The poor dear, she never seems to improve…" (She at least had the grace to test the filling through the top hole.) "Egh. I believe that's mashed yams. I'm sorry, Dragomir, but Libby has no sense of taste whatsoever. You really need to convince her to stick with her woodwork, it's far better than this."

Me: "I know. Here, if you want I'll leave it out for some woodland critter to eat. Better that than tryin' to take a bite out of you, eh, your majesty?"

Her: "Quite right! Quite right. I had to kick a polar bear this morning, the poor dear; it's a shame I didn't have this pie then. He could have gone away with at least a small meal."

I've totally gone off track talking about Libby's terrible pies. I'll skip ahead a bit.

Me: "I have a question, your majesty, if you don't mind."

Her: "Be my guest. I am nothing like that dreadful Driscol! I'm sorry for that again, by the way."

Me: "No, no, that's okay, not your fault at all, ma'am, and I'm just a guard…. anyway… do you know Captain Cedric at all?"

Her: "The captain of the guard? YOUR captain? No, I'm afraid not. He usually sends out other guards to watch me. I've heard he's not much of a conversationalist, so I'm glad he does - I like a good chat every now and then."

Me: "Er, yeah. He's… not so good… at the talking. I guess that means you don't know what he writes?"

Her: "He writes? Two guards that write? How delightful! You must share notes with him all the time."

Me: "No, ma'am. That's the… point, sorry to be rude. I wanna know what he writes about. He won't tell anyone. Especially not me, 'cause he hates me guts."

Her: "Oh, surely it's not as bad as all that."

Me: "He threatened to castrate me the other day for nodding off in front of the latrines, your majesty."

Her: "Well. I suppose that is a BIT severe."

Me: "A bit."

Her: "I'm sorry, Dragomir, but I know next to nothing of the man. Perhaps I would see more of him if Driscol's plan went through, however…"

Me: "Plan, majesty?"

Her (wrinkling her nose): "Yes, that infuriating blowhard came out here and proposed that a fortress be built out here to keep me protected. What a waste of materials and time! I rebuffed him, of course, but I think he intends to officially raise the matter in court…"

Me: "You COULD use some more protection, your majesty. You're awful exposed out here."

Her: "Oh, flim-flam. I'm fine. I can slug it out with anything that comes near me, haven't I proved that by now? I'll miss out on so much of the world if I'm cooped up in some posh dungeon. Why, if I hadn't been exposed to the outside world, my son wouldn't have a pet now. He's been so much happier with that hoppy tagalong."

Me: "Wait, you mean the k-"

Bernard: "Dragomir! Y'lazy oaf! Come help, the fellas need liftin' power! We need t'go inside, it's whiter than the queen's butt out here right now! Sorry, your majesty."

Did I mention Bernard's an idiot?

Her (shaking her head): "Please go away. And you, Dragomir, should probably head indoors. That wooden scarf doesn't look as though it keeps out the cold."

The weather WAS getting pretty damn bad, so I said my goodbyes to the queen and scurried away. Always feel bad leaving her out there… though my sympathy never goes out to the royal guard that's forced to stand watch as well. Take that, y'putz.

Still. The conversation left me with three very important questions to answer:

- Is Driscol the Count actually going to petition for a fortress to be built outside the castle? How will this affect the queen?

- How is the queen responsible for Prince Logan getting a pet? Did she CATCH his kangaroo while she was out here by the tree, or something?

- And is the queen's butt actually white? It's stuck in a tree at the moment, which means it's technically THE TREE, so her butt would be brown, but… like, does she still have a human butt INSIDE the tree? 'cause THAT would be… white…

Okay, maybe only the first two questions are important.

Losing track of the whole what-does-Captain-Cedric-write thing,

Dragomir the Guard

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Day One-Thirty-Eight: Bosses are also the pits

Man, and I thought Bernard was a jerk. I found a bigger one, diary: Driscol the Count. What an a-hole!

I usually take for granted that nobles are gonna be mean to me. If you saw the abuse they heap on commoners like me, you wouldn't blame me a bit, diary: it's always "Get out of my way" this or "Kiss my feet" that or "Clean out my latrine right now, I don't care if you're a guard, just do it - and do it with your tongue, that will amuse me".

(True story. I won't share how it ended.)

So, really, I shoulda known better than to interrupt Driscol when he was talking to the queen. I shoulda known what was gonna happen. But Queen Daena is so nice to me that, well, I guess I figured I was safe? Stupid, stupid Dragomir.

The building of the queen's new enclosure for the winter continues, and Bernard was off with one builder getting some fresh mortar, so I got to stick close to the queen for a while - and I was there chatting with her when Driscol the Count came strolling up with his entourage and waved me away. I didn't LEAVE, really, but I did step back a bit.

"Greetings, your majesty. I trust you are having a good day? I apologize that you're forced to speak with such riff-raff." He threw me a dirty look, and when he turned around again I gave it back.

The queen smiled. "This young man isn't riff-raff. But a good day to you as well, Driscol. What brings you to my humble tree?"

Driscol bowed, then flicked a few flakes of snow out of his fur coat. Such a picky bugger. "I wanted to see how the enclosure was progressing. Is it to your liking?"

"I suppose." The queen didn't look content with her stone home. "I was perfectly happy with my tent, you know. My kicking keeps me more than warm enough. I take it this extension was your idea, Driscol?"

He puffed himself up. "It was, your majesty. I know you enjoy the outdoors, but a person of your stature must be better protected - both from the elements and potential attackers. It would have been remiss of me to let this travesty stand. I hope you will not begrudge me the desire to keep my lady safe and sound?"

I wanted to say "Then why didn't you do this a couple years ago?" but I bit my tongue.

"No, no, of course not." The queen sighed, looking grumpily at the walls slowly rising up around her. "I will miss looking at the sky, though. You will, I trust, remove most of this after the winter has ended? It will get terribly dark without sunlight, and I'll have trouble reading."

This was the place where I should have bit my tongue again. Some dimwitted part of me decided that I should try and score some points with Driscol, though, and I honestly did believe (and still do!) that Queen Daena was being an itty bitty bit reckless. So I spoke up.

"Queen Daena, the count is right. You need-"

Aaaaand that was the end of my opinion, because RIGHT after that Driscol slapped me in the face.

"Insolent worm!" he cried, lashing my cheek with his knuckles. He's a lot stronger than he looks. "Don't you dare talk in the midst of your betters! I am speaking to the queen, not you, so you shut your gods-be-damned mouth!"

And I, stuck in a snow bank, my legs dangling over the edge of a half-finished wall, didn't know how to respond.

The queen did. "How dare you! You help that man up right now! Dragomir, are you alright?! I should have you whipped for this, Driscol! Apologize!"

Driscol had no intention of apologizing, I could tell by his expression, though after a moment of hesitation he did help me up. As he was doing so, though, he whispered something in my ear: "I'm on to you, dog of The Baron. Watch your back."

And he left, after bowing to the queen.

She kept apologizing to me, and I assured her that it was alright, that I was used to this kind of treatment from the nobility, but I was pretty damned shocked. Yeah, nobles are jerks to us guards, but Driscol… he wasn't mad at my job. He was mad at me, he was targeting me.

The last thing I want is an enemy in the aristocracy of Castle I'mTiredOfSnowIWantSomeDamnSunlight. As a poor little guard, I'm pretty damn vulnerable, you know?

Sigh. And here I figured I might get the chance to ask the queen about Captain Cedric. Maybe tomorrow.

Dog of The Baron? What the hell does THAT mean?


Dragomir the Guard

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Day One-Thirty-Seven: Co-workers are the pits

Man. Bernard is such a dick.

I realize now that I've called a lot of people dicks or douches or assholes or whatnot, diary, and I apologize - but they've all got it comin'! Each and every one of 'em has proven themselves worthy of sitting on my shit list. Nobody's ever nice to me!

… well, yeah, that's not true. MOST people are nice to me. I just talk about the people who are jerks. Weird how that works - the folks who do right by ya get ignored. Maybe I'm just a big whiner.

But the point stands. Bernard is a jerk! He's never liked me, and now that I have to spend all day near the stubby bastard, he's even worse.

Lemme tell you how it works. We're shuttling supplies to the queen's tree, remember, and because there are four builders on the job, we have some trouble keeping track of 'em all. So a royal guard keeps watch over the queen and the workers who are busy with the enclosure while Bernard and I walk back and forth from the castle with the lads fetching the supplies. It's not far to the queen's tree from the castle, but the weather's bad and they're wussy enough that they need the company, I guess.

That means I spend a lot of time with Bernard, and I'm constantly exposed to how much he doesn't like me. I don't even know why, either - what'd I ever do to him?! Hell, if it weren't for my BROTHER getting Philip killed about a billion years ago, Bernard wouldn't have this job!

He doesn't care, though. He's always calling me a lunkhead or a piss ant or a jerk whenever I try to talk to 'em, and he always follows the insults up with his stupid horse laugh. I hate that laugh, diary, it grates on my nerves.

And try to ask him anything? Fuggedaboutit. He's closer to the captain than me (probably explains WHY he doesn't like me), so I figured he might know something 'bout the captain's writing. So I asked him. You know what he said?

"Don't give a rat's butt none, Dragomir. Writin's for turds, and the cap'n ain't a turd, so he must not write. You're prob'ly lyin' or somethin'. An' I bet YOU write, so that makes you a turd! Har har har!"

And he picked his nose, which I'd find gross if I didn't do it myself on occasion. Gotta keep that thing clean somehow.

Sigh. Gonna be a long week - and I'll probably spend it with the captain on my mind. That's not abnormal, really, though NORMALLY when I think about the captain it's how I can avoid him while I'm screwing around. Weird feeling, diary.


Dragomir the Guard

Monday, February 6, 2012

Day One-Thirty-Six: Shiny

Back to the grind, as they say, diary. I am guard, hear me snore.

I gotta say, though, I have a different perspective on my position. Not because it's changed - how can you change standing around? - but because the captain has changed. The captain is a writer. He writes. I am also a writer, and I also write! That is a coincidence I could use to my advantage, diary.

I asked Robert about it last week, and he said that the captain often comes into the library after his shifts (unlike me - I usually go in DURING my shifts) to read. He doesn't talk with Robert much, and he's even worse than me about sharing what he's written, though Robert says he goes into the library almost every day without fail, scribbling away in a little pad of parchment.

I'm so damn curious, diary. I want to know what he writes. Is it a diary, like me? Or is it a novel? Maybe some non-fiction thing? Or could the captain be a sweet poetry-lovin' kinda dude? Robert couldn't say.

So I went to the source. Figured that the captain would open up to a fellow writer, if no one else, and be honest about his work. I was soooooo wrong.

"Listen to me, you little piece of snot," he started, after hefting me into the air - he's a buff guy, diary, "I don't know how you found out. I also don't care. Well," and he paused, "actually I guess I do. How the hell'd you find out?"

"Robert. Can you let me down, please, cap'n?"

"Shut up." He rubbed his chin. "Which Robert? The candle guy?"

"No, the librarian."

"Yeah, that makes sense." He spat. "Never shoulda showed him that… well, nevermind. You!" He tightened his grip, and I'm fairly sure my face went blue. "You just shut the hell up about writing. As far as you know, I don't write squat. Got it?!"

"Y… y…"

"Good enough." He tossed me on the ground. "Stop wasting time. You're on escort duty this week. The weather's shit 'n the queen needs more cover. You're gonna take the builders out with Bernard, make sure they don't get eaten on the way. Not that you could do a hell of a lot, you useless wimp. Go it?"

I got it. He left, and after I caught my breath, so did I - we'd been standing in the middle of a corridor, and my pride was pretty damn wounded after being stripped down in front of a couple dozen people. (You'd think the captain would wanna be secretive about his writing, maybe take me off somewhere to talk. Go fig.)

So that's that. Starting tomorrow, I'm gonna be helping shuttle supplies from the castle to the queen's tree. That's fine - I like visiting the queen. And my birthday's coming up, with the big surprise, so maybe this week won't be bad at all!

… still wonder about the captain's writing, though. What's he got that's so important he needs to write it down? Hmmmm.


Dragomir the Guard

Friday, February 3, 2012

Day One-Thirty-Five: The end of the library saga

Well, all is forgiven. Kinda.

Even though Robert the Librarian said I was banned, I knew I had to apologize. He may have been WAY off base with his attitude towards me… wrecking… his library… but he's still done more for me than I can ignore. So I went back.

As soon as Robert saw me, he had his pole in his hand, and if I'd taken another step inside the library I think he woulda called for the royal guards to take me away to the dungeon. I managed to keep him from flying too far off the handle, though, by immediately promising that I didn't come to work.

"Oh, good," he said, and he let his pole drop a bit. "I'm afraid you're not welcome to do that. Ever again. I don't understand - how did you become such a force of destruction once you started working here?! We didn't have any problems before!"

I shrugged. "I dunno. Bad luck, I guess…?" Or the fact that you're kind of a jackass…? And Robert wonders why I don't let him see you most of the time, diary.

Robert thought about that a moment, then shook his head. "No… no, I don't think so. I believe it stems from you being a worker rather than a patron. Patrons dirty the library. Why, you put books back in the wrong spots on several occasions during your previous visits, and I simply reordered them after you'd left."

"I did not. I was always careful to stick them back where I found 'em."

"Did so."

"Did not!"

"You did. But see, we're arguing again." Robert took a deep breath. "The point is, we are better off not working together. Is that not correct? You are a guard, and I am a librarian. Let us maintain that cordial relationship."

I couldn't argue with him. I do like Robert, and when you aren't working for the guy he's quite pleasant. So, yeah, no more working in the library for me. In exchange for that promise, he's agreed to let me visit the library again… though he told me to wait a week before coming back. Needs time to get over what happened.

Dunno why. The whole place looked exactly as it had before I dumped the shelf. How does that man do it? There's not a single scroll out of place, as far as I can tell… though I'll grant that I didn't get past the doorway…

Oh well. Back to guarding next week, I suppose. Do what you're born to do, right…? Sigh. At least I'm feeling better.


Dragomir the Guard

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Day One-Thirty-Four: Dropping rates of literacy



Okay. So. Lemme lay it down for you, diary, since I've been damn careful not to take you anywhere near the library. Gods only knows where that lunatic would put you. Probably brand you with a number and shove you in an obscure corner, far, far away from anywhere I'd EVER think to look.

When I came into the library today, Robert smiled at me. Tiny smile, barely restraining his fury. His eyebrow twitched about a dozen times while he spoke, so I knew he was still pissed.

"Dragomir, I have decided that your… unique… talents… lie elsewhere. You were not meant to deliver books. Or sort books. Or… perhaps… touch books. And that is alright! Not everyone is blessed with my unlaboured appreciation of fine literature. And so, I believe this is your ideal task for the day."

And he handed me a duster.

I'll admit, I'm not much of a reader. I read you, diary, but I don't often bother with other books. I prefer to write. Then, when I'm done writing my own books, I'll read 'em. Other stuff? Meh. But to hint that I don't APPRECIATE books? That I'm no better than anyone else in this blasted castle who takes books for granted?

Two words that I overheard while delivering books yesterday: PISH and POSH. BOTH OF 'EM, ROBERT. THAT'S RIGHT, I HAD TIME TO FIGURE OUT WHAT THEY MEAN.

But, whatever, I figured. This will give me a chance to avoid yelling and beating. I do this, I'll be fine. Perfect opportunity: dust the library all day, and slack in the process.

But that didn't work either.

Did for about an hour, I'll admit. It's not too hard to make a swishing motion with a duster, and even though I've never really done it before, I managed. Anybody could manage.

Until I knocked a book off a shelf.

Robert wasn't even in sight. He was somewhere on the other side of the bloody library. Before the book even hit the floor, though, he screamed 'PICK IT UP' at me. How does he know? Is he one with the freaking room?!

I did. I put the book back where it belonged, and Robert didn't yell again. But after that I was nervous, 'cause it felt like his eyes were always on me, so I started to mess up. Dropped three more books in five minutes with my clumsy duster, and he knew about it each time.

And I guess third time's the charm, 'cause after the last one he came charging across the library at me, that bamboo pole in his hand, little flecks of snot flying out of his nose. He looked like that freaking bull that ripped my dad's arm off, diary, I kid you not! And I got so flabbergasted and confused by the sight of a little old man about to beat the life out of me that I wheeled around…

… and, uhhhhhhhh… miiiiighta knocked one of the bookcases over. Don't judge me, I was scared! You know my bladder by now!

Books went flying, scrolls crunched under the weight of the falling shelf, and Robert, Robert, he… he was a demon… his face went white as he watched the furniture fall, and when it hit the ground his eyes went bloodshot red… told me, between frantic beatings with the cane, that I was NEVER to come back to the library AGAIN, that I was FIRED, FIRED, FIRED, and for the sake of the world, I was never to procreate.

When I pointed out that my daughter was lord knight of the realm, he threatened to shove his pole up my bum. So I left.

I guess I'm done in the library, diary. It's not even Friday.

Am I really banned? I hope not.


Dragomir the Catastrophe

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Day One-Thirty-Three: Off the beaten path... and then back on, technically

Gods-be-damned, diary! I HATE this man! What is it about people named Robert that makes them such utter douche bags?!

Robert was so horrified by my work yesterday that he decided to give me something else to do: deliver books to people. I'd wondered how the library gets so messy when NOBODY comes in, and now I know. People don't want to come near the place because they don't want to be near Robert - that's my hypothesis - so they send for him to deliver stuff.

Does that mean he leaves? Hell no. It means he usually has a page to shuttle stuff around the castle. The page was dismissed so I could get a week of work. Wish he'd kept the damn page and just let me rot, guarding an empty hall somewhere.

(Oh, and he said that it would be "a good chance to stretch my legs and get back on my feet", all smiles and sunshine. I know what that really means, old man. You don't fool me!)

So he gave me a stack of books, arranged free transit for me through the nobles' quarter to anywhere I wanted to go, and sent me off. And for a little while that was okay, since a lot of the nobles were working and not home.

But then I had to deliver a book to the queen. That's where everything went wrong.

I had to thank the queen, diary. She helped fill out my diary while I was stuck in a coma. I'd be such a jerk if I didn't thank her! So I did, a stack of books in my hand, and we chatted.

For a while.

Almost an hour.

What? Don't you judge me, diary. She's such a nice lady. Made me really happy to deliver news to her of things going on in the castle (which isn't much - everybody just looks really tired). I felt quite useful, which is something I WASN'T getting out of delivering Robert's poopy books.

But then I got back to the library. Here's what Robert said, or at least I think he said this, 'cause he was talking so fast that I couldn't much understand the words:

"You're late! Dragomir you're late! You don't dawdle as a deliveryman! Look, see? There are more books! More demands! You're making the library very upset indeed, and I can't tolerate such behaviour! You cannot dawdle! You must not tarry! The entire system of the library hinges upon timely delivery! If there is no time then there is anarchy, and I will not live in a library - nay, a world - ruled by anarchy! Blah blah blah…"

I added that last bit, 'cause after a while I nodded off. He couldn't even hit me hard enough to wake me up. It's nice to see there are SOME non-superhumans living in this stupid castle.

So he sent me off with another bundle of books, for a bunch more nobles, and he warned me not to be a MINUTE LATE in delivering 'em.

… but then Barrel found me.

It's tough to resist a tiny dragon that wants to play, diary. And Barrel did save me from that hole… thing… whatever… so I owe him too! I bet he woulda written in you if he'd had proper thumbs. So I held up a stick and he did loops around it, practicing his flying, 'cause he's still not that good at it.

Did that for an hour. And, uh, I went back to the library… without delivering any books.

"Dragomir! My boy! My gods! What have you done! The nobles wanted their books, and, and, and, my sweet humble deities, they didn't get them?! This world! Oh, a pox on this cruel, chaotic world that does not stand for the PROPER DELIVERY of BOOKS! I wish I could slit my wrists at the thought of it but I CANNOT, I am the LAST BASTION OF BLAH BLAH BLAH"

And this time he beat me with his bamboo walking stick and that, unfortunately, DID hurt.

What an asshole.

Please just let me guard something,

Dragomir the Downright Shitty Librarian