Bob the Musketeer's Nutcracker (Part 3) by Sam Underhill
A small gong rung by one of the servants announced the start of the evening’s entertainment by Herr Drosselmeyer. The guests, and domestic staff for that matter, hurried into the ballroom (the only room large enough to hold everyone). The magician turned out to be a quite rotund white Cat. He wore an old fashioned black frock coat, and his left eye was covered with a stylish hand embroidered eye patch. He bowed himself in carrying a silver cane, but before anyone could blink, his hands twisted in the air. The silver cane disappeared, replaced by a colorful flower bouquet, which was promptly presented to Lady Stahlbaum. A smattering of polite applause greeted this parlor trick. Drosselmeyer took the opportunity to admire his goddaughter Clara’s new dress.
After this, in no particular order, the Cat vanished and appeared a succession of hankies, flowers and small birds. He pulled a small treasury of coins and a bowl’s worth of nuts out of children’s ears. He even made a glass of water disappear (no, not by drinking it). But the piece de resistance came when a large box, wrapped up like a present, was wheeled into the ballroom by several burly servants. All the children rushed forward demanding to know what magical mysteries were hidden within, but the Cat shooed them away back to their parents. With a twinkle in his one good eye, teasing his audience, he slowly tugged on the ribbon that held the box together.
A master showman, Drosselmeyer allowed the sides of box to fall, revealing a set of four mechanical human sized marvels. At the back of the room, Bob gripped the table next to him and managed to bite his lip to keep from crying out an alarm. While the guests oohed and ahhed at the mannequins, all Bob could see were clockwork Armada soldiers. However, since the clockworks didn’t immediately demand surrender or attack, Bob looked closer and could see that, while indeed mechanical, the oversized novelties were not actual Armada. In fact they were dressed to resemble characters from a Valencian Commedia Della Arte play.
The first mechanical was dressed up like a pretty China Doll, her face painted in a permanent smile. Drosselmeyer took a large, ornate silver key and inserted it into the doll’s back. A few dramatic turns of the key later, complete with winding sounds, the machine whirred into life. A musical box must have been hidden inside , for a twinkling ballet tune sounded while the doll pirouetted in place. A minute later and the simple dance was done. The applause was more ebullient than before. Bob felt his face turning red for believing the automation could have been an Armada Battle Angel.
The second doll brought forth was dressed like the traditional Harlequin figure, complete with a patchwork checkered outfit and pointy hat. Again Drosselmeyer took the silver key and wound up the doll. A livelier tune than before, and the doll executed a series of acrobatic leaps and tumbles. Some guests were certain that a real performer was hidden inside, but when the performance was finished, Drosselmeyer allowed one of the party guests to come forward and inspect his creation. The lady knocked on the doll’s exterior producing a hollow metallic clang. The magician opened a chest panel to reveal an intricate array of gears and pulleys. This time the applause was resounding.
Now Drosselmeyer surprised the guests by winding up the same two dolls again, this time together. A synchronized two part harmony played, and the dolls danced a slow waltz. They blew kisses at the guests (which the young boys made defensive motions against) before ending face to face. While Drosselmeyer was busy accepting his due at the end of the dance, a pair of servants carried the China Doll and Harlequin away.
The remains of the large box were also taken away, leaving behind the last two automations. Dressed in military uniforms, the first was a male armed with knives, and the other a female holding a rifle. Bob noticed the weapons looked all too real. The blades might be dulled and the gun uncharged, but one with so many youngsters around edging to get a closer look, an accident was just waiting to happen. Drosselmeyer went back into showman mode and took some time to elaborately shepherd the guests back into positions more to his liking. He gently admonished the children to stay with their parents or he wouldn’t be responsible. Although he said it with a smile, most mothers took great care to keep a hand on their youngsters.
Herr Drosselmeyer produced a larger, even more ornate golden key and proceeded to wind up these military dolls. The crowd grew deathly quiet, enjoying a thrill of excitement as they wondered what was to come. Then the music began, sounding oddly like a slightly off key calliope. The knife wielding cowboy made several practice slashes in the air, menacing the crowd, who instinctively shrank back en masse. One small child screamed in fear and hid her face against her mother‘s skirts. The inhuman expression painted on the doll’s face showed no emotion.
Had these people never seen the Armada? Probably not, Bob decided - otherwise a panicked stampede would have already started for the exits. Glancing at Drosselmeyer, Bob could see the Cat was preening like a proud father. It was difficult to believe Clara’s godfather would bring anything evil to a Yule party, but…
The girl musketeer finally moved, raising her weapon and firing a loud, bright shot into the air. Confetti and streamers burst over the crowd, who collectively released a pent up breath of relief. She produced a lasso, and used it to capture the rogue soldier and bring him to justice. While the crowd exuberantly expressed their appreciation of the marvelous show, a stray thought struck Bob - I wonder if this Drosselmeyer could be the rumored Toymaker of Valencia.
“I still do not trust him,” Don Rodrigo said into Bob’s ear.
“Still, it was a musketeer who saved the day,” Bob cheerfully noted.
The Pirate101 Fan Fiction Archive is where we showcase the wonderful Pirate adventure stories of players like you! Please read our game fan fiction submission guidelines to submit your Pirate story. You must include a Title and Character Name for Author. If you are under 13 years of age, ask your parent or guardian for permission to send us your story.