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Lady Alberta and the Missing Prince (Part 2)

by Plume


The painter’s studio was at the very top of the north tower, and Alberta and Nova were out of breath by the time they climbed the final staircase and entered Sir Ontario Province’s room.

A stream of sunlight illuminated the small space in a warm glow, dust floating serenely. Canvases lay haphazardly against the walls, many only half-finished faces with sunken eyes or mottled skin tones. The strong scent of linseed oil lay heavy over the room, giving it a sense of stagnancy in time, much like a painting. The portraitist was the only truly living thing in the room, and living he was, flushed and frantic, brush moving in quick strokes.

“Ho there, Sir Province!” Alberta called, in between deep breaths. “How—how goes it?”

Sir Province’s bald head turned at the sound of Alberta’s voice. He raised his paintbrush in greeting. “Greetings, Lady Alberta! Or should I say Detective? I love the hat!”

“Why thank you!” Alberta brightened. “Would you believe me if I said you were the first person to properly address me today?”

“Ah, some people can be so rude,” Sir Province said. “So. What can I do for you?”

“Well, we come from the mage’s quarters, and—”

She was interrupted by Nova tugging on the arm of her trench coat. “Lady Alberta, look!”

“It’s Detective Alberta, Nova, honestly. I thought you would’ve…” She trailed off when she noticed what exactly Nova was pointing to.

Right there on Sir Province’s easel was a painting of two men on a hill in the sunrise, the very one he’d been working at furiously just moments before. Even now, his brush had returned to the canvas, stroking in lighting on familiar dark hair belonging to one of the subjects.

“Sir Province…” Alberta started, “is that a picture of the prince?”

“This?” Sir Province continued to paint. “Why yes! I saw him this morning as I was out for my daily walk. I was quite enraptured with the way the light of the sunrise reflected on the dewy hill. But I’m a portraitist, so I figured I’d include the prince and his companion in it as well.”

“You certainly work very fast,” Nova mused. “And very accurately.”

Alberta squinted. “Who’s the other man?”

“I believe I can answer that, milady,” Nova said brightly. “Given that the prince’s likeness is so well done, I can only believe that his companion is none other than Van Couver, the stable boy.”

“Why would the prince be talking to a stable boy?” Alberta wondered.

“Perhaps he was going for a ride,” Sir Province supplied.

Hearing his voice, Alberta was reminded of why they’d come to see him in the first place.

“Ah! Yes! You’ve already been such a big help, Sir Province, and I wonder if we could trouble you for something more. You see, we went to see Lord Ottawa, and he—”

“Oh! Ottawa’s sent you? I think I know what he wants. Give me a moment.” Sir Province sat up from his artist’s stool and went to a side room, presumably his chambers. He emerged from the room seconds later holding one of the mage’s cloaks.

“He left it here the last time he was over. Poor thing, too—there are some healing potions in the front pocket, and you know the headaches he gets. It’s a good thing he always has spares! I’ve something for him too,” Sir Province said, offering them both the cloak and a letter on top of it. “Tell him I send my love.”

Alberta grinned widely. “We will, Sir Province! And thank you so much for all of your help!”

He nodded. “Godspeed, Detective!”

-

Rather than going to see the stable boy right away, as Alberta had wanted to do, Nova’s large heart brought them back to the suffering mage. He downed the potion in one gulp, whispering his thanks.

“So?” Alberta asked, tapping her foot expectantly. The stable boy conundrum was itching in the back of her mind. Where did he factor into all of this? “Have you made any progress about Nova’s memory?”

After wiping his mouth on his large sleeve, Lord Ottawa waved them over. “While you were gone, I was able to discern that I was missing a packet of forget-me dust.” He gestured to an empty space on a shelf against the nearest wall. “Judging by what you described about her memory loss, it appears that someone has used it on her.”

“And?” Alberta asked. “Is there a way that Nova’s memories can be recovered?”

“Of course!” Lord Ottawa looked offended that she’d even suggested he wouldn’t be capable of doing it. “It’d take me until this afternoon, of course. But after my rapid recollection potion, your memory should be sharp as ever.”

“Much obliged, your lordship,” Nova said.

“Yes, thank you,” Alberta chimed. “Nova and I should be off now.”

“Oh! And one more thing—while I was on the floor, I remembered that I saw Prince Toronto the other day talking very covertly to some kitchen girls. One was very short and thin, and the other looked like she could hoist a barn.”

Nova’s eyes brightened in recognition. “That’ll be Victoria and Winnipeg.”

“But what were they doing, talking to the prince?” Alberta wondered aloud. “This just gets fishier and fishier.”

Lord Ottawa nodded in agreement. “It was very strange. Anyways. If you’ll leave me, I’ll be able to begin making the rapid recollection potion. I’ll come and find you when it’s done.”

“Of course. Thank you, my lord.” Nova curtsied and left. Alberta followed behind her, but stopped right before she exited.

“I do have one more question,” Albert said, smirking and leaning on the doorframe. “What would you be doing in Sir Province’s personal chambers? And without your cloak, I might add?”

Lord Ottawa’s face turned as red as Sir Province’s self-mixed carmine paint. “That, Lady Alberta, is none of your concern.”

“Sir Province sends his love, by the way,” she added teasingly.

“Get out.” He pointed behind her, blushing furiously and frowning, but Alberta thought she detected the hint of a smile behind the frustrated embarrassment. It didn’t escape her notice he was clutching the letter from Sir Province quite tightly as well.

“What was that about?” Nova asked when Alberta had joined her in the corridor.

“Nothing,” Alberta replied. “Now. We should go and seek out Winnipeg and—Victoria, was it? Though I suppose we still have Van Couver to question as well.”

“It’s around noon,” Nova said. “With luck, they’ll all be in the servants’ hall eating lunch.”

“Oh, that is lucky!” Alberta exclaimed. “Well! To the servants’ hall!”


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Tue Apr 19, 2022 4:12 am
PoetryMisfit wrote a review...



Hi Plume.

I read Part 1 of this story, loved it, and after reading Part 2, I adore it equally so! You do a great job of expressing the personalities of the characters through dialogue, which is the best way to get to know them. Each of their personalities is dynamic and unqiue, making it easy to know who is who throughout the story. I also enjoy the subtle implications and Alberta's not so subtle remark at the end about the relationship or whatever is going on between Sir Province and Lord Ottowa.

There were various lines in this story that really stood out to me for their beautiful, vivid imagery:

"Canvases lay haphazardly against the walls, many only half-finished faces with sunken eyes or mottled skin tones."
"The portraitist was the only truly living thing in the room, and living he was, flushed and frantic, brush moving in quick strokes."

...just to name a few.

"A stream of sunlight illuminated the small space in a warm glow, dust floating serenely. Canvases lay haphazardly against the walls, many only half-finished faces with sunken eyes or mottled skin tones." (There is a subtle contrast here to the light and peacefulness of the room and the art that is unfinished and a little creepy with the "sunken eyes". The contrast creates a tension that feeds into the mystery of the story.)
Your descriptions overall really bring your story to life. You create immerisve visuals, applying the grand principle of "show don't tell" by conveying the emotion and tone of a room, of a person in ways that are simple and fluid. Each description and dialogue had a clear purpose to propel your story forward. You made each word work hard for you to create a very engaging, humorous, and immersive read.

I can't wait to read part three!

- Poetry Misfit




Plume says...


Thank you so much for your review!! I hope you enjoy part three!



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Sun Apr 10, 2022 6:39 pm
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PaigeFantasy wrote a review...



OMG I LOVE THISSSSSSSSSS!!!!
i love the TOUCH of magic you added to the story! DUDE YOU ARE MAKING ME LOVE THIS MORE AND MORE AND……EEEEEE!
good job once more! (not once more, twice more since i saw a glimpse of the next part. :)) it’s gotten me quite interested in who’s the culprit, why they did it, and the storyline! LOVE IT!




Plume says...


Thank you so much for your comments, both on this one and the other part!! I'm very glad you're enjoying it!



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Sat Apr 02, 2022 3:21 pm
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RandomTalks wrote a review...



Hey Plume!

RandomTaalks here with a short review!

And so the mystery continues!

I love the energy of this story and the characters. This is starting to feel like a wild goose chase, and I love how one clue leads to another. You mentioned that you were attempting to create the vibe in children's books and I have to say you have successfully captured it. There's a light heartedness about this story that balances the lively energy of the characters. You make us care less about the end point and engage us more in the journey that leads to it. At this point, I am not even much concerned about the well being of the Prince as long as we get to see our main characters play detectives for a while.

Canvases lay haphazardly against the walls, many only half-finished faces with sunken eyes or mottled skin tones.

I mentioned this in my previous review, but you really do an incredible job at establishing a new setting. Because this story is mostly dialogue-heavy, it does not create room for much descriptions or character introspection, and it works because that is not the point of this story. However, every time a new character enters, we get a glimpse of the descriptions that is missing in the rest of the story and it does its job in setting the scene and helping us imagine it in our minds. Most of all, I love how every setting you describe successfully captures the personality of the new individual we meet. You create an energy through your words and descriptions that belongs unmistakably to the person we are supposed to get to know next and it helps us in immediately forming an idea about this new addition to the story.

“Why thank you!” Alberta brightened. “Would you believe me if I said you were the first person to properly address me today?”

I loved how excited Alberta was at finally having been acknowledged as a Detective by someone without her own prodding. Even though the story does not really focus on the characters and their thoughts, you have given us a good sense of who these people are. I enjoy the differences between the quirky Alberta and the gentle Nova. Her humble softness is a great companion to Alberta's curious energy and I enjoy the dynamics between the two characters in their sparse interactions. Nova does not exactly come across as a sidekick, she gives solid contributions to the plot as well. I do think that her character gets a little overshadowed by Alberta's much more energetic one, but I enjoyed her inputs in this story as well.

“Perhaps he was going for a ride,” Sir Province supplied.

You did a great job in portraying the character of Sir Province. There was this frantic energy about him that really compliments the little we got to know about him in this part. I also thought that hiding the next clue in the painting was a brilliant plot point and I love how effortlessly the mystery continues to flow. All the clues come about very naturally and there is nothing unbelievable about the way you have wrapped this mystery. It continues to engage and interest us and we follow the characters almost smilingly into the next step of their journey.

Overall, this was a great addition to the story. I liked the easy relationship between the characters and I particularly enjoyed Lord Ottawa getting flustered by Alberta's suggestive teasing. At parts, I felt that the pace was too fast due to the lack of descriptions and the constant exchange of dialogues between the characters. But it does not exactly affect the experience of this chapter as a whole and it kind of matches with the energy of the characters who are constantly moving in search of the next clue in their big mystery.

That's all!

Keep writing and have a great day!




Plume says...


Thank you so much for the review!! I'm very glad you're enjoying the story, even though it is a little fast-paced!



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Thu Mar 31, 2022 5:55 pm
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MailicedeNamedy wrote a review...



Hi Plume,

Mailice here with a short review! :D

The lively characters move on quickly! The pace picks up a bit without the characters suffering in any way. At times in this part, I felt we were in a play because we saw and read a lot in the dialogue.

I like Ontario Province. You portrayed him in a very cerebral yet very energetic style and like, in part, how his choice of words feels eccentric and direct, making him an excellent helper to get to the next clue. I thought the dialogue there was well chosen and also felt that it showed again that Alberta - pardon Detective Alberta - has a friendly but brisk way of questioning her witnesses.

Much of this chapter is preserved through the dialogue, and I find it appropriate for a more crime-oriented part. I was just a bit confused with the second half when they talked about Nova's memory loss. I read through the part again and is there something I missed or was it already in the previous part, but I couldn't figure out where this moment was where something like that happened.

Other points I noticed while reading:

A stream of sunlight illuminated the small space in a warm glow, dust floating serenely. Canvases lay haphazardly against the walls, many only half-finished faces with sunken eyes or mottled skin tones.

For the few descriptions in the piece, I think it's wonderful how you've managed to describe and depict Sir Province's studio. It has a very poetic tone and yet also very detailed, so that one can quickly find oneself in the room.

is none other than Van Couver, the stable boy."

That's really the best name I've come across here! I don't know why, but I just like it.

In summary, it was a great continuation of the first part and I like how we can go from one witness to the next already and continue to get some clues.

Have fun writing!

Mailice




Plume says...


Thanks for the review! Yeah, Nova%u2019s memory loss was mentioned in the previous part. It%u2019s why she can%u2019t say why she didn%u2019t kidnap the prince, which led to the ensuing investigation.




The thing about plummeting downhill at fifty miles an hour on a snack platter - if you realize it's a bad idea when you're halfway down, it's too late.
— Rick Riordan, The Son of Neptune