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A Fool's Bucket - Ch. 1.3

by ExOmelas

A/N: I've been told that my characters go back and forth emotionally so often that they sometimes seem like hormonal teenagers. When I've noticed this I've tried to make it believable, but I'd just keep an eye out for that.

Also, should I be explaining why Pires wants to put so much effort into getting Buck’s father back? There’s a couple more chunks of back story that would have to be dumped. Alternatively, how about in the next chapter Buck sings a song in a tavern or something that tells the tale of it all. I’d be willing to make it either rhyme or alliterate on request!


"You wouldn't use red?" Pires's voice raised in pitch slightly.

Buck shook his head. "Nah, especially not for a political marriage. Red's way, way too angry. You only use it if confrontation is unavoidable. For this I'd have used dark purple, sky blue and lilac. It's pretty, authoritative, calming."

"Hmm," Pires agreed. Or at least, Buck thought that was agreement. She'd slipped into unreadable mode. She said, "You haven't asked me why I wish to marry the Prince."

Buck shrugged. "Everybody else does."

"Exactly.” Pires’s eyes weren’t blinking. “When have I ever wanted to do what everyone else does?"

Buck chuckled. "Alright, fair enough. What's tempted you onto the beaten track in this case?"

Pires took a deep breath, her hands flat on the table and her fingertips pressing hard against the surface. Eventually, she seemed to relax and looked up with a smile. She said, "Your father."

Pires grinned. Suddenly she seemed perfectly comfortable with the conversation. Which is ironic, thought Buck, since his stomach had just dropped to the floor.

Buck opened his mouth to speak, then stopped. He reached out a hand, opened his mouth again, then stopped. "Um... I - um - right. Okay. Pardon?"

"You know we'll never be able to challenge the Borias by ourselves," Pires said, spreading her hands wide as if in defence, but still grinning. "And in the thirteen years since they demanded your father, have you seen any help offered?"

"No," Buck said, his jaw clenching slightly.

Pires stopped grinning. "Sorry. I know this is sensitive. Just, this is a good news conversation, okay? Just bear with me. So, I marry the prince, accelerate our case right up the prince's to-do list. We get your father back."

Buck frowned and traced the table with his fingers, getting spots of paint on the dark wood. Eventually he sighed and said, "Why now?"

Pires's grin sprang back onto her face. "Ah, now we're getting somewhere. Because I received word today of a truly delicious scandal, of a prince who seated his own mother at the very back of the dining hall during his birthday celebrations."

Buck gasped. "No!"

Pires laughed. "Yes!"


"Yes, she sat with the court's worst bores, sleazes, unbearable nobles fallen from the grace of the high table but not yet all the way from court." Pires's dark brown eyes were sparkling. "And in the other direction, unbearable nobles trying to claw their way to the high table."

"Isn't that us now?" Buck asked. "Well, you?"

"No, no, if I'm clawing my way up, you are too. You're the claws," Pires said.

Buck clutched his stomach as he curled forward in laughter. He put his hand on his forehead and his elbow on the table as he tried to calm down. At the back of his mind was also the more serious implication that the Queen had always been most resistant to Pires’s appeal for help, and that it sounded like the Prince may be looking for ways to undermine her.

He was still shaking with muted giggles when he heard the voice from behind.

"Excuse me!"

Buck whirled around, smile dropping from his face. At that tone of voice, you never wanted to be caught enjoying yourself. When he saw the owner of the voice, he was glad he'd taken such precautions.

"Ah," Pires said, "Hello, Prince Erson."

The prince’s clothes were of a similar grey to Pires’s, but much tighter. He had to be sweltering in those full-length breeches and long-sleeved tunic. Besides, Pires’s robes were only grey to accentuate the stripes of yellow and blue that slashed across the back. Prince Erson’s tunic and breeches were just grey. They were also bulky, as if he was wearing something leather underneath. That did explain the red tinge to his pale white face. Buck wondered how close he was to leaning against the doorframe and panting like a dog.

“Hello, Pires. Hello… pardon me, but what in the world is your name?” Prince Erson stared at him, his gaze as rigid as his posture.

“My name shall remain obscured, as my face, if it please you, your Highness,” Buck said, in the deepest, richest voice he could muster. He stood from his chair and offered the Prince a deep bow. When he straightened up he said, “But they call me Bucket, or Buck for short.”

“I see…” Prince Erson said. “I presume that you are the fool I’ve heard so much about?”

Buck’s heart did a little flip. He considered trying to play it cool but knew he was better off going with his slightly accelerated pulse. “I’m famous? Oh, your Grace, did you hear that? All the land tells tales of Bucket!”

Prince Erson grimaced. “Yes. Well. I think perhaps your services shall not be necessary for this visit. Perhaps another time.”

Pires stepped forward so that she was a few paces closer to the prince than Buck, but didn’t stand in front of him. “Pardon me, your Highness, but we cannot have feasts without the entertainment of our chief fool. The court would riot.”

“Best we hold back on the feasts too, then. A simple dinner in my chambers for my retinue and I should suffice,” he said, rubbing his hands together. Buck thought that might have been the first he’d seen the man move a muscle since he’d set eyes on him.

“No feasts? No fool… Your Highness, are you sure? We had a dinner planned in your honour tonight,” Pires said. Her voice went tight and high-pitched again, as it had been when Buck had first arrived. He supposed this was a much higher stakes dance than any manoeuvre they’d tried to engineer before.

“Yes. I’m sure you can understand, Duchess, given the recent unpleasantness at my own court. My people are not currently eager for large, public events,” Prince Erson said, folding his arms. “And that is an end of it. Your feasts can resume in a week, once my party is moving on to the next stop of its tour.”

With that, he nodded once to each of them, then stepped out the door and yanked it shut behind him.

Buck looked up at Pires as she turned around. “He’s only here for a week?”

Pires had her hands on her hips, her jaw clenched. She made a clucking sound. “I had hoped to enamour him to stay longer.”

Buck pursed his lips. “I understand. Well, maybe we get into his favour, maybe he’ll want to stay later next time, we put the plan in place then?”

“Buck, no. Come on. We can do this,” Pires said. “We just need to get him into the dining hall.”

“In one week?” Buck raised an eyebrow.

“Well if one week is all we have…”

“Are you trying to get me to patter?”


“Fine…” Buck rolled his eyes, but smiled. “If one week is all we have-”

“Then one week is all we need."


JabberHut pointed out to me that there's no reason for the Prince to enter the room. I had meant for him to come in here in order to request private dinners in the first place, but I forgot and wrote the conversation wrong. I will fix this when I have time.

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446 Reviews

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Wed Oct 09, 2019 2:14 am
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Ventomology wrote a review...

Ohohoho. It is time for some scheming. Scheming protagonists are the best protagonists.

1. Because stating outright the elements of a plan means that something in the plan will go wrong, on a scale of 1 to 10, how likely is it that Buck and Pires will actually get the prince into the dining hall?

2. Okay I will have to disagree with Jabber on this one: I actually kind of like Prince Erson! He seems like a generally polite young man going through an awkward patch with his mother. Maybe there's court intrigue surrounding that, or maybe there isn't.

Maybe the reason why we have such wildly different opinions of him is that there isn't a ton of description of him aside from the color and fit of his clothing though, and since he doesn't seem like... vain about his figure, I can't figure out what that information means. I know I tend towards superfluous description, but it might have been nice to know a little more about the vibe he gives off.

3. This is just like, general, but I feel like I can't get a vibe on any of the locations mentioned so far. (This may just be my architecture brain talking, so feel free to ignore) Like, I know the layout of things usually, and you do a good job incorporating furniture/other surroundings into the actions that characters take, but I can't tell what anything feels like. It's kind of the same as with the description of the prince. I know what's there, but not whether a place is friendly or gloomy or boring.

That's it for now! I'm so excited for this plan Buck and Pires are making. I'll catch you next week!


ExOmelas says...

Hey, I was wondering if you could go into more depth about the vibe places have thing? I think I know what you mean but unsure how I%u2019d go about that in a Show Don%u2019t Tell way. For example, I guess Buck%u2019s treehouse is supposed to be a playful space, but there%u2019s nothing in it I could describe as playful, so other than stating that it made Buck feel playful I%u2019m not sure what I%u2019d do. I suppose people usually convey their vibe through actions, but a place can%u2019t take an action, so my system is breaking down xD

I%u2019m glad you like the prince! I think between the two of you you%u2019ve had the two reactions I%u2019d like. My aim with him is to be someone who%u2019s a good person, but has a bit of a stick up his butt. Like when he grimaces at Buck%u2019s theatrical way of talking, that%u2019s meant to be him being quite condescending, if you see what I mean.

Thanks for the review :D

ExOmelas says...

... I forgot about the apostrophe percentage sign thing on mobile...

Ventomology says...

Hmm... I guess for vibes I usually start with personification and simile? Like, if there's no immediately playful object on Buck's treehouse (though in that case, I think the very fact that he lives in a treehouse is playful), you could say that the house "perches like a monkey." Maybe there's something about the way the branches swing that's light-hearted. They could leap, or skip, in a breeze.

But I think the real way to go about catching "vibes" is to just look at a description and ask how much of it is objective and how much is subjective. You can mention that an article of clothing is blue, (or even light or dark blue), but what does that blue mean? Is it a menacing blue? An overwhelming blue? A soft blue?

Finding a balance on all that is pretty hard though. I think you probably don't need to do it every time (which is the pitfall I've gotten myself into...), but if there's a new place, it helps.

Hopefully that clears things up?

ExOmelas says...

Hmmm I think I see what you mean. Maybe I could explicitly compare the treehouse to a children's plaything (somehow I doubt they had jungle gyms around the time of my setting) and especially the way Buck climbs up with the rope? As I was writing that I was imagining one of those ladders that's like a flat board with some half-logs bolted on that you walk up while holding a rope and leaning back.

What I'll maybe do is keep it in mind for the next chapter, try it out, and see if I'm getting what you mean properly ^.^

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Tue Oct 08, 2019 12:43 pm
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JabberHut wrote a review...

She said, "You haven't asked me why I wish to marry the Prince."

Buck shrugged. "Everybody else does."

"Exactly.” Pires’s eyes weren’t blinking. “When have I ever wanted to do what everyone else does?"

Totally thought Buck meant everyone else asks her why, not that everyone else wants her to marry.

AH how fun! So there's already quite a bit happening in this that is triggering a lot of intrigue. I definitely want to know more about Buck's father, but I imagine more will be revealed later. I'm having a hard time grasping how Buck feels about his father. It kind of seems like he's accepted his father as a loss, like it's been long enough and he's still missing, so Buck is just trying to move on. There was a moment where I wondered if Buck didn't want his father back, but I don't think that's the case.

So I'm very interested in learning more about Buck's father and his opinion of his father too! Especially since the Borias wanted Buck's father to begin with. It sounds like some sort of bargain was made -- not so much a kidnapping, but a deal between regions. In fact, last chapter I assumed Buck's father was on a mission to ease relations, but it seems like the Borias might actually have wanted him and don't want to give him up!

Fun tavern songs is something I will ALWAYS support. I freaking love those. MAKE ME DANCE TO THE BALLAD OF BUCKET'S POP!

I found it interesting that the prince invited himself into the Duchess' office, but he didn't really request anything or have a reason for it. He seemed to simply respond to the Duchess' feast, uninvited Buck, and walked out. (RUDE, BTW.) So I wonder why he visited her in the first place! Certainly not to flirt or any of the sort. He seems like a man with a to-do list.




But Pires is definitely clever and cunning, and I certainly hope she knows what she's doing. I DON'T LIKE THE PRINCE.

ExOmelas says...

Ohhh, oops! He was meant to come in to tell her that he wanted private dinners, and then the same reaction would happen, but I wrote the conversation wrong. I'll jig that around a bit.

I'm glad you like the ballad idea :D I do that for my DnD character sometimes (he's a bard, which was kind of one half of the idea for Buck) and I think it will probably help make the necessary dumping of information more enjoyable to read.

Thanks for the review :D

p.s. the thing you quoted - I spent a long time deliberating over whether to go with what I think scans better (this version) or what is slightly clearer ("Everybody wants to marry the prince"). I figured Buck would want the former xD

ExOmelas says...

oh, also just occurred to me that if I do it as a song, the narration can interject with Buck's reflection about various lines and in that way convey how he feels about what happened with his father and his life afterwards

JabberHut says...

Okay, that makes more sense about the Prince! He certainly seemed passionate about that issue, so I see what you were trying to do there now.

Omg, the ballad will be SO much fun. I love reading them/listening to them, and they can be so much fun to write. And yeah, the narration will help a lot with how Buck presents the song, so it'll be super effective! Ballads can also be a lot of work, but you clearly have some experience doing that kind of thing! I'm excited to see what you whip up. :D

Someday, everything is going to go right for you, and it will be so wonderful you won't even know what to do.
— Hannelore Ellicott-Chatham, Questionable Content