They Didn't Ask Me (dr_phil_physics) wrote,
They Didn't Ask Me
dr_phil_physics

“A Christmas in the Lost Kingdom”

Update: You can now view this as a PDF file, formatted for e-readers, here.

Two Christmases from now in a place you've never heard of...

            “A Christmas in the Lost Kingdom”
               by Dr. Philip Edward Kaldon

Saturday 24 December 2016
13:42 CET (GMT+1)
Sommerhus, Eisbergen

     The two princesses were tall and slender in the way of most 
Eisbergers and their Viking ancestors.  For this Christmas Eve, 
they both would wear their waist long blond hair up and have matching 
long red and green plaid skirts with white silk blouses.
     But sixteen-year-old Crown Princess Daniska Elsinor was worried 
about many things.  Dressing in candlelight had not been part of 
the plan -- and it would ruin her surprise to the children.  The 
power had been out nearly an hour already, which was never a good 
sign in the tiny kingdom of Eisbergen.  Ordinarily she might have 
been out helping troubleshoot the power failure, but the princess 
had obligations to the Crown.  At least she’d already checked her 
iPhone several times and still had bars, so she wouldn’t have to 
restart the cell service.  It was already on its backup power.
     And then there were her shoes.
     Actually there was nothing wrong with the shoes on her own 
feet.  Elegant and extravagant looking -- but bought on sale in 
Copenhagen -- it was only a little outrageous for the 6’4” Daniska 
to wear five-inch heels.  But as heir, it would bring her close 
to eye-to-eye with her father, King Henrik VII.
     She watched as her thirteen-year-old sister Princess Anaulka 
Katje tried to get into another pair of Daniska’s very high heels.  
After a struggle, she got them on and managed to stand, arms 
cautiously stretched out as she wavered.  She straightened up to 
her full height of 6’¾”, plus the four-inch heels.  Then beaming, 
Anaulka triumphantly took an awkward step... and promptly lost 
her balance and fell back against the bed.
     Daniska could only smile.
     Anaulka looked up, mortified.  “Do.  Not.  Laugh.  I’ll 
get this.”
     “Someday, I’m sure, Ani.  But not today.”
     “It’s Christmas!”
     “Yes and you know very well that on Christmas we never get 
all that we want.”
     “That’s true enough.”  Anaulka sighed and held her legs 
straight out off the bed.  “They look good.”
     “They’re darling.  Now take off my shoes before you ruin 
them and hurt yourself.  You really don’t want to be hobbling 
around the rest of the holidays on crutches.”
     “You really do have an annoying habit of spoiling everything 
by pointing out the reality of the situation, dear sister.  Not 
everything is equations and technical specifications.”
     “I love you, too.”
     Anaulka carelessly kicked off the shoes and headed back to 
the closet to find a pair of her own dress shoes.  “Your nose 
is bleeding,” she said quietly as she walked past in her stockinged 
feet.
     “Oh, thanks,” Daniska said, grabbing a handkerchief -- it 
wasn’t that bad this time.  Just a drop.  But she hated this one 
reminder of her royal ancestry.  At least her sister didn’t suffer 
from it as well.  “I think I’ll wear the dark red sweater, though, 
and not the gold.”
     “Just in case?”
     “Just in case.”
     Anaulka came back with the red sweater and her own gold sweater.  
They wouldn’t be identical, but they would look good together.
     Daniska heard a rumble outside as someone had finally broken 
down and put on the generator for Royal House.  It was the Christmas 
Eve party, after all, and if the village of Summer Home was coming 
to call, the royal family should really put on the lights for them.
     She took a deep breath and stood up.  “It’s show time.”
                                ***
     The Royal House smelled of evergreens, spices and all manner 
of baking and cooking.  Small dishes of nuts and sweets were 
strategically scattered around the public areas -- Princess Anaulka 
had secreted one large bowl for their own room, as if no one would 
notice the young teenaged princess’s sweet tooth.
     There was no real daylight this time of year, but that didn’t 
stop Eisbergen from preparing for Christmas.  And during the dark 
afternoon, families from Summer Home and Nunuuvit brought their 
children to the Royal House for games and stories and hot chocolate 
and many kinds of cookies and small spiced meat pies, while the 
adults feasted on pickled herring, salted cod, rye bread and lots 
of the local bitter thin beer.
     Large enough to entertain all forty residents of Summer Home 
and a good measure of the subjects who lived in Nunuuvit, Royal 
House stood two full stories tall, but the parlor and great hall 
in the front half had a vaulted ceiling with exposed timbers 
overhead.  Sixteen feet high at the peak, the ceiling was ten foot 
high where the nine foot Christmas tree stood just past the piano 
in the front of the parlor.  The tree glittered with hundreds of 
colored LED lights, glass ornaments, old toys, tinsel two generations 
old and topped with a glass gipfel spire which almost touched the 
ceiling.
     As far as the children of Eisbergen were concerned, their 
9th century Saint Nicholi was the real Santa Claus -- no matter 
what the mass media from the world would try to convince them of -- 
and his arrival meant blessings for the celebrations and feasts 
surrounding Christ’s Mass.  Besides, the world didn’t even know 
Saint Nicholi or even Eisbergen existed.
     But the little ones always wanted to hear stories of the great 
tree which was set up in the Citadel during Christmas back in the 
old days, from before their near destruction in World War II, when 
the Citadel, the island and Winter Home were sacked.  No one alive 
in Royal House today had been there in those days, but Princess 
Daniska had picked up the habit of reading the Christmas preparation 
notes in the Book of Days from various years.  This time she had 
selected 1911, having always held a fascination for the Edwardians.
     As the six-foot-four princess walked into the parlor, the 
kingdom’s eight smaller children were already dancing around her 
and clamoring for Her Highness to tell them a story.  Smiling, 
Daniska sat on a delicate wooden chair with her iPad on her lap 
and had them sit on the polished wood floor around her.
     “During the fourth year of the reign of Alvin III,” she began, 
speaking in the old Ur-Danish tongue, “the annual call was sent 
out throughout our little kingdom to find the right tree for the 
great entrance hall in the Citadel, the castle-in-the-Rock where 
the Royal Family of Eisbergen once lived.  While most homes had 
their own Christmas trees throughout Winter Home and Nunuuvit, 
the great tree was special, for it belonged to all of us.
     “Oh, the Old Man Pine next to the Allhall on the island still 
stood and was decorated every year, but the decorations were old 
and they’d not taken to even hanging electric lights on it.  The 
great tree in the Citadel, though, had been lit by candles for 
generations.  It wouldn’t be until 1914, three years later, that 
strings of electric lights would be used.”
     “Wasn’t it dangerous to use candles?”
     “Perhaps.  But the people were used to working with candles.  
And over the years, they had gone from melting the candles directly 
to the branches, to small candle holders just like you use today 
when the power fails, and then to tiny metal lanterns and glass 
balls with the candles inside.” Daniska paused in her tale to pull 
up some sketches on her iPad.  “See?  These are the types of lights 
they used back in 1911.”
     She touched the screen with her finger and the background 
dimmed and the candles glowed in the animation she’d made.
     “Ooo-ooh,” the children sang and the princess smiled.
     Her sister Anaulka had come out of the kitchen and was leaning 
on the staircase railing to the upstairs watching the performance.  
Daniska saw her and gave a nod of the head.  The younger princess 
carefully stepped around the children and, folding her skirts around, 
settled down on the floor next to the Crown Princess.
     “Master Tomas Blylevin was the Builder for the Crown in those 
days -- he was the greatfather of our own Builder -- and he constructed 
a special frame that sat within the lower boughs of the tree so 
that early clockwork Märklin toy trains could run around the tree.”
     “I wish we had a train running around our tree.”
     “It’s Christmas -- sometimes our wishes come true.”  Daniska 
tapped on her iPad and dimmed the lights in the parlor.  The Christmas 
tree behind the children glowed with the strings of little colored 
LED lights that crisscrossed over the branches.  When she tapped 
again, a different short string of lights appeared deep inside 
the tree -- and moved.  The children shrieked in delight, which 
caused the parents in the kitchen and those sitting at the great 
table drinking to see what was causing the commotion.  But they 
relaxed when they saw they were jumping up and down in excitement 
and pointing at something the princess had shown them.
     Even her sister looked dumbfounded as if to say, How did you 
do this?
     The tiny train, with passenger cars just two inches long and 
rails only 3 mm apart, rose on its thin tracks around and around 
the tree at a fairly steep angle, then came around a platform circling 
near the top that no one had noticed before amidst the lights and 
tinsel, and spiraled back down to repeat the process.  It took the 
train about a minute to make the full circuit.
     The older children, who’d been playing board games in the library 
and cracking nuts, came out to see what the fuss was -- and were 
amazed at Daniska’s latest technical wizardry.  They stayed and 
watched the train go up and down and up the tree again and again 
with their little brothers and sisters and cousins.  After all, 
they were all cousins by some degree to everyone else in the kingdom.
     Anaulka stared at her sister.  “Where on Earth did you find this?”
     “eBay Japan,” Daniska said quietly.  “T-scale is the smallest 
production model trains -- 1:450 ratio -- and they use magnets to 
keep a grip on the rails, so they’re perfect.  Eishindo makes various 
Japanese trains -- their commuter trains look cute snaking up and 
down the tree, don’t you think?”
     “It’s adorable, no matter the ratio gibberish,” Anaulka admitted, 
then whispered, “But how did you find out about them?”
     “Wikipedia.”
     “That’s not true,” Anaulka insisted.  “You can’t just open 
Wikipedia and it gives you answers -- you have to search for something.”
     “True.  I knew about our 1911 tree trains and wanted to do something 
similar.  Except I wanted something subtler.  A surprise, hidden in 
the branches.  Lionel and HO were far too big.  But even N-scale seemed 
large.”
     “N-scale being...?”
     “A very small train size.  But at a model shop in Copenhagen I’d 
seen some Märklin Z-scale -- even smaller.  And when I looked that up 
in Google, I found about ZZ and then T-scale.  It was the magnetic 
track that made up my mind.”
     “So... what did it cost?” Anaulka reluctantly asked.  The kingdom 
was poor and everything, eventually, came down to a matter of money.
     “It should have cost a lot,” Daniska admitted.  “But if you’re 
careful you can find eBay sellers who aren’t very clever -- they have 
the items listed wrong and they don’t set minimum prices.  Sad to say 
this person lost a great deal of money, but that’s the rules.  In the 
great Internet commerce world, it was all fair.”
     “So you’re saying you legally stole these.”
     “I suppose.  It wouldn’t have done much good to send a raiding 
party to acquire them by our usual ultralegal means -- I doubt that 
very many people have ever seen these anywhere in Europe.  There’s 
an online shop in the U.K., though.”
     “Yes, but you haven’t answered my question -- how cheap is 
cheap?”
     “35 000 yen, including shipping, which works out to about 1750 
Danish kroner.  That includes all the track, which wasn’t cheap.  
I worked up the digital controls myself.”
     “Three hundred American -- for all this?” Anaulka scrunched 
up her forehead in surprise.  “Is that all?  I take back all the 
mean things I said about equations and technical specifications.”
     “Like I said, buying them and shipping them to Copenhagen should 
have been much more dear.  In which case I wouldn’t have bought them.”
     “You brought these with you from school?”
     “Of course.  They hardly take up any space, after all.”
     “And you didn’t tell me?” Anaulka punched her sister in the arm.
     “It was worth every krone,” Daniska grinned, while she rubbed 
her sore arm.  “Merry Christmas.”
     “Merry Christmas to you, too.”
     “Now, let’s see what Saint Nicholi has brought the children.”
     “I hope there’re Snickers bars.”
     “I said for the children.”
     “You forget -- I’m still just thirteen.  I am still a child.”
     “Only when you want candy.  The rest of the time you insist 
you’re an adult.”
     “You, my dear sister, are a wretch.”
     Daniska got up, setting her iPad down on the chair.  But as 
she walked over to where there were wrapped presents and a small 
sack of candy from Saint Nicholi to give to the eager children, she 
reached into a pocket of her long skirt and palmed a Snickers bar 
into her sister’s hand -- her favorite.
     “Ooh, it’s the right size and color and everything!” Anaulka 
leaned over and kissed her on the cheek.  “Merry Christmas, Dani,” 
she said, happily smelling the chocolate and the faint odor of peanuts 
through the wrapper.  
     And then the generator stalled and the lights all went out.
     “Merry Christmas, Ani,” Daniska sighed and joined the teenagers 
in lighting the candles in the parlor, the library, the great room 
and the kitchen.  The king added two new logs to the fireplace in 
the parlor and someone found a bag of chestnuts for the children 
to roast.
     When she could relax, Daniska sat down next to her sister and 
they gazed out the front windows, watching the new snow coming down 
and burying their little village.
     It was Christmas in Eisbergen...

From Book One of the Lost Kingdom Chronicles
©2014 Dr. Philip Edward Kaldon -- All Rights Reserved


This is the first outing of my Lost Kingdom princesses story.
PLEASE send me feedback.

And Merry Christmas!

Dr. Phil
Tags: christmas, dr phil stories, hidden history, holidays, the lost kingdom
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