In this instalment of The Sport of Queens, Joan the Mad unleashes her insanity for the sanest of reasons…
Cleopatra looked at the Mighty Queen Nzinga and shook her head. “You just had to tweak Joan the Mad’s nose again, didn’t you?”
“This force blocking our path is made from the madness of those who have lost their sanity in the waking world. Joan is the only one here who understands that mind’s fragmented language.”
“But what if she breaks and we cannot get her back to us?”
“Then I will jump that wall and join her as my penance. However, I do believe she can converse with that wall and come out of it in one piece.”
“But why is there a wall?” asked Victoria, “To block us?”
“Perhaps,” said Nzinga, “But after I had been drenched in that sporkle, I had wished to find the solution to our dilemma, and then Joan came to me, and she never does. I believe this substance is the essence of stars that compels it to make wishes come true. It is a spore with sparkle.”
“Sporkle,” sighed Mary.
“Joanie!” Queen Maria shouted as her sister in arms began to walk unsteadily toward the Vortex of Living Insanity, “Be careful! It is not worth losing your essence to a wicked beast.”
“It is not a beast,” said Joan she reached the outer layer and went on her hands and knees to examine it, “It is my mind on the outside.”
“It’s a trap! Be careful!” shouted a distressed Grace O’Malley, “Joanie! It’s not your madness! It causes madness to those in the waking world! It is a virus that feeds on the souls of those who become infected.”
“It is my mind. It is my own mind…”
Just as Joan the Mad touched the vortex to caress it lovingly, it nipped her finger.
“Traitor!” she howled with rage, “I gave you love and you gave me hate!”
“Oh no,” said Catherine the Great as she pushed herself to the front, “What has she done? Joanie, come back here before it devours you!”
Queen Joan began to scream as her words suddenly became visible, but unintelligible – each was frozen and shattered into razor-sharp shards that caused the vortex to bleed.
“Joanie!” screamed Cleopatra as she ran toward her, “Come back!”
But Joanie began to laugh, grabbed one of the shards of her broken words, and tore open the vortex as a sea of blood surrounded her before it became a wall separating her from her companions.
Then the wall became a thunderous cloud and shattered, leaving nothing but a laughing vortex in its wake, causing the queens to feel its madness as if it were their own and Queen Victoria grabbed the queens as she pushed them aside to safety until she got them all safely away from the vibrations of madness.
Himiko held her head as she looked around. “I have been in the Otherworldly for many moons, and never I felt something so wrong and overpowering.”
“That’s madness for you,” said a grim Grace O’Malley, “It knows our wavelengths and it tried to take us, too.”
“Nina,” said Vikki to Queen Nzinga, “That madness just devoured Joanie.”
“I had not anticipated that.”
“Because it feasts on insanity, and now it has a queenly version of it. We are now without a queen and with an enemy that can unbalance us at any time.”
“What can we do?” asked Queen Elizabeth the First.
“Wait,” said Mary, “Juana la Loca is a queen regnant.”
“So?” asked Cleopatra.
“Now it knows the ways of a queen regnant, but there is another sort of queen – a queen consort. We replace Joanie with a consort until we figure out how to reverse this nonsense.”
“A different kind of queen, meaning a different set of rules.”
“Any particular queen consort in mind?” asked Catherine.
“There is Queen Draga of Serbia, who was slaughtered. She already knows the ways of being devoured by an army.”
“Her husband was smitten with her against his mother’s wishes, and he exiled his own parent,” said Grace, “The people never liked her, and when rumours circulated that her brother would be made heir to the throne, the army was sent in to kill them both rather gorily, stabbing them to death in their pajamas and then throwing their bodies over a balcony right into a dung heap. She isn’t an Edenite, and I doubt we’d find her in Heaven.”
“I don’t think she’d be in Hell for what it’s worth because it’s not a sin in the Sport of Queens,” replied Maria, “But where would we find her?”
Nina smirked as she raised an eyebrow. “She was murdered.”
Himiko gasped. “Of course, one of the Women of Orchid would know. They give orchids to the Fallen and Draga would qualify.”
“Draga would seek them out,” added Vikki pensively, “She’d want everyone to know of the injustice of her waking world fate.”
“Where are the Orchids these days?” asked Lizzie, “I hear the male companion has flown the coop to go back to the waking world to cause a ruckus.”
“There are three of them hanging about, and my best guess is if we post one of us at the Sorting Station, we’ll run into one of them,” said Mary.
Catherine nodded. “Some of us will have to deal with that Vortex. If this sporkle that Nina found has any wish-granting powers, perhaps we can wish for Joanie to come back to us unharmed.”
“Agreed,” said Maria, “But one of us does have to pick up a replacement queen first.”
“I’ll do it,” said Nina, “After all, it was my idea to send Juana la Luna to reconnoiter that mass of insanity in the first place. If I speak to their leader, she will tell me.”
“And if she doesn’t” asked Vikki.
“I am certain I can decollate her even in the Otherworldly and use her head as a reminder that no one defies the command of a Queen.”
“I pray for her sake, that she is the accommodating sort,” said Himiko.
Nina nodded regally and walked toward the Sorting Station as she used her own will to create a mighty sword that looked as sharp and fierce as the queen holding it.
The Mighty Queen Nzinga sighed as she looked regally bored at the groups of recently arrived at the Sorting Station. Some were the sort to immediately get whisked away to Heaven, while others were the sort to wind up in Hell. None would be queens, and their lack of good breeding showed. She waited patiently until a beautiful black woman came to console a group of children who were murdered by their mother and pinned orchids of their shirts. The woman had one blue eye and one brown eye.
That was the leader of the anarchist activists known as the Women of Orchid.
Queen Nzinga sauntered over. “You are the leader I wish to seek.”
Belinda Markey looked up. “Who are you? I can tell that you weren’t murdered.”
“I lived to a ripe old age and died peacefully. I am Queen Nzinga of Ndongo and Matamba and I have come to speak with you.”
“With a sword?”
“It has its own message should my first fall on deaf ears.”
Belinda looked angry. “A threat to my essence? What kind of nonsense is that? I had a murderer kill me because things like that wouldn’t persuade me! Now if you want something, put down the toy and speak your peace, Your Majesty.”
Queen Nzinga looked impressed. “You are a sister in arms. I have heard much about your valour and bravery.”
“They couldn’t put me in Hell or stop me.”
Queen Nzinga made the sword vanish. “I am looking for a Queen consort that may be among your ranks. Queen Draga of Serbia.”
“What about her?”
“There is horrific imbalance in the universe and ten Queens have been dispatched to stop it, though one of our rank has fallen into a sentient vortex of living madness, and now it knows the sport of queens regnant, but not of queens consort…”
“And Draga is a queen consort.”
“She managed to exiled her mother-in-law and nearly got her brother to be heir to the throne when her mother-in-law’s army slaughtered her and her husband.”
“The son who exiled her.”
“Yes, her mindset is cunning enough for the job. We need to speak with her immediately. The fate of existence rests in finding a replacement to Juana la Luna.”
“Juana la Luna?”
“Joan the Mad.”
“She wears an orchid, I can tell you that much. I can relay the message, but it is up to her to decide if she wishes to join you – or if you can trust her.”
“She is not an Edenite. We must do our best given the horrific turn of events. Joanie was our friend and we all loved her despite her sorrowful disposition.”
Belinda looked sympathetic as she nodded. “I will do my best, your majesty. If the Orchids can do anything more…”
“We will let you know.”
Queen Nzinga walked away and vanished to rejoin her fellow Queens as the clock begin to tick louder and the air felt darker and colder around them…
To be continued…