Queen Elizabeth slowed her skipping down as she reached the garden gates of Hampton Court. Her immaculate white glove turned the key and as she pushed it wide she exhaled slowly while slumping her shoulders forward and let her head fall gradually on one shoulder.
"Ma'am, welcome back" the footmen began to echo as she shuffled slowly forward down the portrait gallery.
"Gawayyyy....shoeboysss" she hissed and burbled back all the while allowing a steady stream of saliva to gradually fall from the corner of her downturned mouth. Her glassy blue eyes watched their horrified faces as it left a silvery trail across her robes and delighted in their embarrassment as the footmen did their best to ignore it.
"I trust you had a pleasant.....oooh....ummmm...please allow me ma'am" her private secretary Lord Hawkeswynd rushed forward and with a flamboyant swish of silken handkerchief he deftly mopped up the Queen's drool. She enjoyed torturing him most of all.
"Thissssstles and sshwannnns" spat the Queen as he bent before her; his crisp, tailored suit and satin sash now visibly speckled.
"Yes indeed ma'am." He said desperate to wipe at his clothes and to clean his glasses. Lord Hawkeswynd had been at her majesty's side for over thirty years now and although in that time he had changed from striding middle years into old age he had never lost his devotion.
The Queen shuffled past him whistling through her teeth and desperately fought against the impulse to giggle. As soon as she had cleared the gallery she allowed herself a quick look round and finding herself alone once again she stretched up rubbing the back of her neck and wiping her mouth clean.
"I am going to miss that old goat" she sighed and once again resumed her skipping as she headed towards her private chambers. Just before the East Tower she paused in front of a large tapestry which was beautifully illustrated with King Arthur and all his Knights in all their medieval glory. "What a wonderful time" she mused to herself. "Such beautiful landscapes, such grandeur. Such men......" The Queen absentmindedly let her fingers trace the outline of one of the knights; her eyes grew round and lips pursed as if a distant memory had suddenly resurfaced.
"No time to dawdle" she thought to herself, "Time waits for no Queen!" and she skipped off towards the great fireplace in the oldest part of the palace. As she approached she took one final look around and then jumped into the stone hearth pushing the marble engraving above.
The floor beneath her whooshed back and she slid down a polished tunnel winding further and further down below the palace. Elizabeth landed giggling onto a straw filled mattress and rolled forward dizzy and breathless.
“Boudica…..?” wheezed a voice as dry and as ancient as the palace itself. “You have been gone too long. You risk too much”
“Fear not old friend, I bring great news. There is a blood Princess. I can start anew!”