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Today is the day.

I pace around my dressing room, and try to breathe. Why they even bothered to give me a dressing room I don't know; the thing was as perfunctory as their respect -- no light, moth-eaten walls, mirrors not cleaned since before original sin, probably...

There was no sense in which anyone cared about me as a performer in my own right, rather than as an adjunct to Him. Performers got dressing rooms. I got a nest of rats living in my clothes rack.

But breathe, Sarah! Today is the last day I'll have to deal with this! After today, they won't be able to deny my ability any more! I'll have respect, and my pride back, and dare I hope a pay raise! I'll have actually made people laugh!

If all goes well, of course.

...and if something goes wrong, I guess I'll have a completely different reason for not having to deal with this sort of treatment any more.

"...haaaah." I exhale, loudly. Then, unaccountably, I start giggling. "Hee. Heeheeheee." The joke is, of course, that my imminent exile is not a joke, and I simply can not contain my belly laughs at the thought. Pretty soon, I'm doubled over in laughter in a corner, unable to stand up or even wipe the tears from my eyes.


I'm in too much of a good mood to even be annoyed when He walks in.

"No laughing. That is my job."

His tone is hard, promising anger. Most Jesters might deliver a line like that in, aha, jest, but this is Jon Dorian, our very own royal Court Jester and humourless bastard. It is incredibly clear that he is warning me.

So I pretend to have taken the warning. In fact - an impish thought strikes, and I stand, brushing off my assistant jester's costume.

"Of course, sir, no doubt about it, surely you are the laughsmith here! Why, I would not venture to presume the existence of even one person on God's great earth whom you could not make laugh! I know I am a mere wretched soul in your presence, only fit to show the audience what a bad joke looks like, and believe you me, great sir, comedian of comedians, he-who-is-the-laugh-track-himself, I have no intention of usurping your position!"

Oooh, a baldfaced lie. Perfectly delivered, too - my private little joke must have left me in magnificent form.

Dorian narrows his eyes at me - perhaps he picked up on the lie? - but appears to dismiss it. "The stage is ready. The sooner you finish up, the sooner my job is done."

"On my way, sir." I can't resist a parting jibe. "But I fear a lengthy cleaning delay in between our acts; my production will from the audience produce a vastness of rotten produce!"

Dorian snaps. He glowers at me with the full force of his ragged, jagged-scrag face.

"Know your place, woman! You are not here to be funny, and I will not tolerate any more lip from your insolent face!"

I shrink. I can't help it. In retrospect, I should have expected that, and it takes long seconds before Dorian is satisfied I am displaying the appropriate contrition. He then clomps away, footsteps echoing down this cavernous hallway.

So much for that good mood.


Okay, Sarah. Calm. Center yourself. You've got this. You want this. You need this.

The stage opens up before me, a sea of faces ready to revel in hate. Start by throwing them off balance, breaking out of the mold.

"So, how about that Ennistrad revolution, huh? Talk about making the planes run on time!"

Shock, and disbelief. Shock is good. The revolutionaries had taken an airport hostage, and the country had finally succumbed to their demands after a week of protracted negotiations. Many in the audience today would have family or friends involved. Hence, shock at a jester breaching a taboo subject -- and the assistant jester, at that.

Move to capitalise. "I was down at dear ol' Eyne the other day, actually - a friend of mine was one of the revolutionaries. He gave me a tour around the aircraft they were keeping alive. They've been painting them in bright plumage, and their hangars in green trees to fit, you know. They're beautiful birds, even now with their wings clipped so they don't fly away!"

A couple of coughs, amidst continued shock. There had been people being held hostage on the planes. A cough is probably a chuckle being hidden, however, so the plan seems to be working... It was better than jeering, in any case. But quickly, now, this stupor won't last forever --

"He also showed me - they've developed a small society there, with its own economy. They're trading ownership of planes around for favours, and they're using those little figurines you find in the gift shops as bank notes, actually. My friend explained the exchange rate thus - a bird in the hand is worth two in the bush."

More coughs. I glance over to the royal box -- and yes, his Highness is there. He looks merely thoughtful, not angry. Dorian, at his side, is steaming, however. Courage, Sarah.

"The other thing I noticed while in the hangars was this steady thumping sound, coming from above. When I asked him what it was, he said it was hail, landing on the hangar roof. I suspected he was hiding something from me, as I hadn't seen any hail or even rain while I'd been on the tarmac, so I pressed him to explain."

Pindrop silence, now. All minds, I know, are on the idea that the captives were thumping on the plane body, begging to be let out. That image had been in the news for weeks. This is it, make or break. Take a breath, Sarah.

"But he wasn't actually lying. Turns out, the rain in Eyne falls mainly on the planes."


An audience-wide exhalation, a wind of pent-up maleficence escaping the building. At once, all is light, and many openly laugh. (Laugh! Because of me! Did I just hear a guffaw!?) I turn towards the King -- he's smiling -- and curtsy.

"Your Majesty."

I look him in the eyes, smiling widely back, ignoring Dorian. "When you ask a jester to not jest, my liege, her pride demands she perfect the art of not jesting."

His Majesty nods. "And so be it."


( 15 comments — Leave a comment )
Mar. 18th, 2014 08:01 pm (UTC)
This is an intriguing glimpse into a larger world.
Mar. 18th, 2014 09:04 pm (UTC)
Nicely done!
Mar. 18th, 2014 09:22 pm (UTC)
i love "he-who-is-the-laugh-track-himself". and i like sarah! and i groaned at her final joke, but i mean that in a positive way, because i enjoyed this.
Mar. 18th, 2014 11:23 pm (UTC)
Such an exquisite art.
Mar. 19th, 2014 01:03 am (UTC)
well met.
Mar. 19th, 2014 03:27 pm (UTC)
Hahaha, well told. :)
Mar. 19th, 2014 07:40 pm (UTC)
Loved this! Especially your protagonist.
Mar. 20th, 2014 01:15 am (UTC)
It was "the laughsmith" that got me, for some reason. It's both perfect and unexpected as a term for a professional comedian!
Mar. 20th, 2014 05:32 am (UTC)
I was getting tense there for a second... she was really pushing it there. And that made it even sweeter when she was rewarded for her chutzpah.
Mar. 20th, 2014 03:06 pm (UTC)
I like what you did with this.
Mar. 20th, 2014 05:33 pm (UTC)
I really like the twist here! Nice set-up, and I loved how you recast the jokes to fit the character and the world.
Mar. 20th, 2014 06:12 pm (UTC)
Very entertaining! AW
Mar. 20th, 2014 08:50 pm (UTC)
This was wonderfully written! =D
Mar. 20th, 2014 09:03 pm (UTC)
"laughsmith" is such a wonderful word! :)
Mar. 20th, 2014 11:29 pm (UTC)
I like Sarah!
( 15 comments — Leave a comment )