Petals of the Rose
A Place for Porsche
Porsche approached the king of the Spring Court. She’d seen him lounging in his throne, one leg thrown up over an arm, flirting with ladies, keeping a hold on his silver flask and laughing at the jokes and stories of his courtiers. They called him Waconda-of-the-Mountain. He was some kind of medicine man.
Waconda was a man with rich red earth for skin, split here and there by fissures of lava, with glowing veins of molten rock underneath the skin wherever his arteries would be, and vibrant turquoise gems for eyes. He wore his long black hair in a pony tail at the nape of his neck, and a crown of yucca flowers encircled his brow. Turquoise beads were threaded into his hair in places, and a feather was hanging behind one ear. His features looked Native American, under and behind all of the alterations made to him.
As Porsche drew near, he finished laughing at a particularly amusing anecdote and waved his closest companions away, shooing a fairest in a halter top and a miniskirt off of his lap. “What’s up? I’m Waconda, king of spring.”
“Good evening, your highness. I’m Porsche. I’ve been talking to your people and it sounds like I belong here.”
“Excellent!” He sat up straighter, brushing crumbs of something off of his suede vest. “You want to swear fealty to the Court?”
“Is that how it works?”
“Yeah. There’s this long, official oath, but I’ve been going with the short version and it seems to work just as well.” Behind the king, a slender wizened with slicked back hair and a giant nose which he seemed to be looking down at everyone sniffed derisively.
“Okay, how do I do it?”
He beckoned in front of himself. “Come kneel and repeat after me.”
Porsche went and got down on her knees in front of the imposing but casual figure of her soon-to-be king. She’d never knelt before royalty before, and it was something of a strange feeling. Part of her rejected the idea of accepting the authority of a man like this just because he declared himself in charge, but part of her yearned to give in to him, obeying some unbidden instinct developed in Arcadia.
“I, your name…”
“I, Porsche Worthington…” He went on, and she mimicked his phrasing. “Swear to be a member of the Spring Court…to enjoy its pleasures and parties…to uphold its traditions…to help the Court out when it needs me…to carry the essence of spring’s beauty and promise—Wait, what does that mean?”
“I figure it means you’ll be an example of the new growth and joy that comes out of spring. You may be a snowskin, but you can be, like, the sunny day where the snow doesn’t seem so cold and its fun to go out and play in it. Right?”
“Okay, I get that.” They continued. “To bind myself to the ancient pact of spring…and to trade my heart for that of spring itself.” He assured her that was just flowery speech that tied her to the Court, not a literal requirement to cut her heart out.
His brilliant turquoise eyes bored down into her with sudden intensity. “I, for my part, accept your pledge to the Court of Spring. I will protect you and honor your commitment and allow you all the benefits and privileges that I am able to.” He stopped in the middle to take a pull off of his flask. “You are a member of my house and my family herewith and forevermore, unless you choose to break with us and choose another way.”
Porsche felt the mantle of her membership settle on her. Like the lightest touch of new sunshine on a still frozen spring morning, there was warmth touching her. The smell of pollen and fresh breezes tickled her nose. She knew something significant and magical happened in that moment, but she couldn’t tell what it was.
“That’s the short version?”
“Yeah, you don’t want to hear the long version. Rise, and join your new cousins.”
The applause was raucous and welcome.