“You all know me as a consciencious woman, and I intend that to be the case into my reign,” said Charlotte. Though not yet officially invested as Queen of Anjion, she posessed the Privy Seal and the full backing of the Estates of the Realm.

More importantly, with her parents both the only child of only children, and her brother dead in a shallow foreign grave, Charlotte was the only claimant to the throne who was not also a noble from the hated rival kingdom of Burgevy.

The garden party, amid the magnificent topiary that had been the passion of Charlotte’s father King Gordon, was the first chance for nobles from the First Estate to meet and speak with their young new queen.

“The military adventurism of my brother Sebastian is at an end,” Charlotte continued. “My ministers have just inked a proposal for a lasting peace between the Malmidites and ourselves that will include the return of hostages and the bodies of the dead in return for a small indemnity.

“Truly, yours is an enlightened reign to be,” said the Earl of Salaman. “We, the nobles of the First Estate, stand ready to advise her majesty on all matters of import.”

“Ah, yes, that,” said Queen Charlotte with a delicate smile. “It’s come to my attention that there has been quite a bit of jockeying for…influence…in my court. I want it understood that the final decision in all such matters will rest with me.”

“Surely her majesty would be more comfortable with a firm male hand on the rudder of the ship of state,” said the Marquis D’Undine. “We would not seek to have the full weight of administration resting on such delicate shoulders.”

“Of course you would,” said Charlotte mildly. “Which is why you are going to trim this entire garden this afternoon.”

“I…I beg your pardon, majesty?” stammered Marquis D’Undine.

“With your sword,” Charlotte added. “My father, King Gordon, found his greatest inspiration in statecraft from his topiary and flowers. I trust it will be just as inspiring to your lordship.”

“Your majesty, I must protest,” said the Earl of Salaman. “Asking a member of the first estate to do such a thing with his sword of state? That is unheard of. Uncalled for!”

“You are quite right, my lordship,” said Charlotte with a quiet curtsey. “You will assist the Marquis in his cultivation, and I will assign a few of my Life Guards to oversee your efforts and ensure that you do not neglect your education.”

Before any more protests could be uttered, Queen Charlotte was away, moving with a brisk step.

“If they protest or try to escape, see that they trim the black poisonwood next. Without any gloves. The blisters will serve as a reminder of their lesson today.” In a singsong voice, Charlotte continued: “Now, let us away to the piano for a jaunty tune.”

Inspired by the song ‘Queen Charlotte’ by Hiroki Kikuta, released under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International license.

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