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J is for Jousting Judicials

by on August 27, 2013

Last time in the Catrina Chronicles, Susan and her iguana guide had just begun their journey into the depths of Character Hell. Before we follow her, however, we must go back to see just what our series’ namesake is up to….

There were a lot of things that Princess Catrina knew. For instance, she knew that she was a character in a story. She had known this since she was sixteen going on seventeen, to borrow a phrase. She had managed to come to terms with it, though she would sometimes complain if she felt her author was taking too many liberties with the story, as he often did.

She also knew that she had completed four or five quests, depending on how one counted, the most recent being her successful retrieval of Mlrning, the Shovel of Thor. Catrina had stored the Shovel safely away in an appropriately secret chamber in the castle Shmirmingard, so secret she had forgotten where it was herself. (Oops). She knew further that she was happily married, and the mother of two newly born children named Timothy and Tamalyn. Finally, after a fair bit of time traveling (the logistics of which she’d long since given up trying to puzzle out), she knew that she had arrived safely back in her own proper time period, the 12th century. By all accounts, therefore, she ought to be quite happy.

But she wasn’t. Because there were several things she did not know. She didn’t know how to speak Elvish, for instance, as she had neglected her mythical language studies in school. Worse, however, she did not know where her royal consort, Perry, had gotten to. She had left him back in Shmirmingard when she’d gone off with her evil brother Edmund after the Shovel. When she’d finally returned, he had disappeared. There were rumors about an incident involving a bear and the magical trousers of Merlin, but Catrina chalked that up to nerves. That, or her castle staff had been playing a mass medieval version of Telephone. At any rate, she hadn’t seen a sign of him, or a bear that might be him, or even of Merlin’s blessed pants since her return, and Catrina was beginning to be irritated.

Equally alarming, she hadn’t seen her friend Ermingard, whom she had awakened from an enchanted sleep a while back. Ermingard wasn’t the most cheery of friends ever, but she was a good shot with a Spork-bow, and a fair poet besides. She had gone off with Catrina’s evil movie-version twin Katrina, in order to save Shmirmingard from Doctor What and Susan. But there had been no word as to how that quest was going. Catrina, of course, had no idea that they had been turned into garden gnomes; if she had, she would’ve gone clean beyond irritated into livid.

She could of course have gone off on a new quest to find her misplaced royal consort, or discover what had happened to Ermingard and Katrina. But, in the most aggravating development of all, she couldn’t. Her parents had gone off on vacation yet again (there were rumors they would be retiring soon, no less), and that meant she was in charge of the kingdom’s affairs. This didn’t mean exciting things like leading the royal armies into thrilling heroics, or even dedicating new statues and kissing babies. No, what it meant nine times out of ten was fiercely boring administrative work.

That explained why, on that bright sunny morning so perfect for going on an adventure, Catrina was sitting on her uncomfortable throne trying desperately to pay attention to an exceedingly knotty legal argument. (Seriously, she reflected, she needed to get some throne cushions, and quickly. Who made these things out of metal, anyway? What was the point?)  The matter, as best as she could make it out, involved a question of kitten jurisprudence.

It seemed there was a girl cat, and a boy cat, and as medieval society hadn’t gotten the memo to spay or neuter one’s pets yet, these two cats had done what came naturally to them, and produced a whole kindle of kittens, three to be precise. Unfortunately, the parent cats were owned by different families, and they had gotten into a squabble about who owned which kittens.  The two families had come to Catrina expecting her to sort it out, which she had promised to do.

But then, everything changed when the Fire Nation attacked.  Catrina promptly gave a mental slap to her author for meming her own story, which had nothing whatever to do with the Fire Nation, or anything in the world of Avatar: the Last Airbender.  Back in her own story, what had actually happened was that Catrina had gone off on a quest, recounted in her novel Catrina in Space. She had hardly returned when she had gone off on another quest, to recover Mlrning (the Shovel of Thor!).  She had been gone some time. In the meanwhile, the original kindle of kittens had grown up and started their own families, which meant even more kindles of kittens. There were seventeen new kittens now, plus the first three, and the two parents, and nobody knew to whom they belonged.

“Well….” said Catrina solemnly, as the two quarreling families stood hopefully before her, “I could resolve this in a civilized legal manner. I could go to the castle library and research cases on kitten ownership, and then I could write a thoughtful legal opinion applying the law of kittens to the facts of this case.”

The two families smiled in relief, each certain that Catrina’s opinion would come down on their side. Their smiles disappeared as she went on. “But there are two difficulties. First, I am not a licensed lawyer in this kingdomso I would get into trouble with our bar association for the unauthorized practice of law. That isn’t so bad as it sounds, since we don’t even have a bar association. That’s a modern innovation, you know. All that I just said before about legal opinions would be lovely if I were living in the 21st century. But it creates a bit of an awkward juxtaposition here, with this being the 12th century. So do you know how we resolve complicated disputes in the 12th century?”  Her green eyes began to glint dangerously.  “Violence. Oh yes. We’re going to have a jousting match.”

The families gasped in shock, but before they could protest, Catrina cut them off with a wave of her hand. She rose from her uncomfortable throne, adjusting the golden circlet around her hand and drawing herself up in as grand a manner as she could muster. “It is the judgment of the Crown that the plaintiff and defendant in this matter take themselves to a lovely wide open field on Saturday next, acquire such armor and horses as they might need, and then charge at each other with long pointed sticks until one of them falls over. The one left standing shall inherit all the kittens. Case dismissed.”

She beamed at her astonished subjects, decided that she had dispensed quite enough justice for one day, and then left the throne room in search of the castle kitchens to see if they had any blueberry cordial available. Being a princess was thirsty work.

This has been another episode of the Catrina Chronicles. For previous episodes, go here. Also I apologize for this episode being a day late; I usually try to have a new one out every Monday, but, well, law school. Which may explain why this story ends the way it does. At any rate, thanks for reading!


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  1. ~snicker~ never wait on judgment from a woman forced to sit for long periods of time without a cushion

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