Wednesday, 13 July 2016
The Margravate of Badwurst-Wurstburp
The current ruler of the margravate is Kasper Johan von Porckenstauffen. The Porckenstuffens hailed originally from the small village of Krackling, where they were in times long past impoverished members of the landed gentry. Being 179th in line to the throne of Badwurst-Wurstburp, Kasper-Johan's ancestor, Gottlieb-Franz von Porckenstauffen, had fully expected to live out his life in the usual manner of the Mittelheim aristocracy: long periods of sleep, interrupted occasionally by trips to church and the commode (though the last could often be omitted by multi-tasking one of the former); a moderate amount of peasant flogging (on condition that they were safely tied up); combined with the occasional persecution of religious minorities (if the weather was good and there was sufficient kindling easily to hand). Gottlieb-Franz owed his ascension to the throne to his failure to attend Margrave Victor Adolphus' coronation. It turned out that the answer to the feeble state of the celebratory bonfire probably shouldn't have been a barrel of gunpowder. The terrible accident that resulted catapulted the Porckenstauffens to the throne because it catapulted their relatives all over the ornamental gardens.
The margravate's position at the eastern geographical extremity of Mittelheim has ensured that it often has been able to avoid being drawn into the petty squabbles and the "yes you did, no I didn'ts" that together comprise in Mittelheim the exercise of diplomacy and statecraft. However, this geography has placed the frontiers of the margravate next to those of Kurland and Zenta. Against the latter, the River Procksi provides a modicum of protection, ensuring that what Zentan raiding parties can steal is limited to those things that can be eaten or that float well. To the north, however, the frontier with Kurland consists of plains as wide as King Wilhelm of Gelderland's nightgown and just as open at the front. Southern Kurland is peopled by the unruly Cassock tribesmen. The Cassocks, they say, are born on their horses; they live their lives on their horses; and they die in the same place. In consequence, the Cassocks hate horses and spend much of their time raiding northern Badwurst in search of wheelbarrows, sedan chairs, or any other mode of transport the using of which doesn't give one terrible sores in excruciating places, or bite when its in a bad mood.
The capital of the Badwurst is the town of Munchausen. Lying on the river Procksi, the town is known formally as Munchausen-By-Procksi. Munchausen draws its wealth through reaping the fruits of the river. On good days this can be fish, but on others it is often strange, bobbly, squidgy things that can be found floating around in its fetid brown waters. Badwurst also has a long-standing textiles industry. This is based in the village of Burstwart. Burstwart produces a unique cloth of hessian, nasal hair, and ginger beard stubble. Most of it is exported to Kurland as punishment for their pervasive border raiding. In the margravate only the poorest wear it, which explains the healthy trade conducted in soothing ointments. The village of Flem comprises one of the artistic hubs of Mittelheim, and is especially known for its schools of painting. In Flem, sensitive, passionate pieces of creative genius are produced for use as fuel by the locals.
However, perhaps the most famous place in the margravate is the town of Shovelin. Shovelin was the original source of the famous story of the pied piper, which was appropriated later by the Saxon town of Hamelin. As told in Hamelin, the legends concerned a famous piper (known as the 'pied' piper for his parti-coloured clothing) who ended a plague of rats by means of a tune on his magical flute. The townfolk having refused to pay the piper, the fellow engaged in the morally questionable activity of luring off the local children, having groomed them with his musical skills. As everyone in Shovelin knows, the Mittelheim reality was even less edifying. In 1348, Shovelin was afflicted by a plague of rats, the rodents having congregated there in preparation for a mass demonstration to complain about the squalid conditions in the town. An itinerant English musician promised to rid the town of rats using the power of his magical flute. The mayor was unimpressed, arguing that 'the notion that a man can do such a thing in this day and age is a bloody fairytale'; but the local burghers were desperate, and the musician persuasive. Spending most of his time drinking, the piper became known as the 'Pie-Eyed Piper of Shovelin'. Finally forced by threats of legal action to take practical steps against the rats, the piper staggered around the town, his main impact being to un-nerve local matrons. It became quickly evident that 'playing his magic flute' actually seemed to be an English euphemism for staggering around the marketplace drunk with his hose down, waggling in plain sight an instrument of an entirely different kind. The English reprobate was finally dealt with by a gang of rats, known as the 'Squeaky Blinders', who were later given the freedom of the town by relieved townsfolk.