Countries of the Mind, part 2: A Brief History of Fol-de-Rol, Including the Amazing Story of the War with Feathers

Morris dancing in the grounds of Wells Cathedr...
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(It’s raining and I’m sleepy.  I don’t feel like writing anything new, so here is a short history of events which occurred on the flying continent of Venusberg.  Enjoy!)

Fol-de-Rol, a small country on the airborne Isle of Venusberg, was discovered almost by accident, when some of the inhabitants of Lesser Dimpie looked to the left and said, “Look!  More land!”   Naturally, they wasted no time moving out of Lesser Dimpie and into the unexplored territory, much to the chagrin of the rest of the people of Venusberg who had always wanted to discover more land someplace.  (It’s a terrible drawback living on a continent which floats over a mile above the nearest neighbors.)  It was a nice piece of land, too, and people from all over Venusberg flocked to it, and it was named “Fol-de-Rol.”

Eventually, though, Fol-de-Rol’s Grand High Cassowary, Galago I, decided that it was simply too much land to be bothered with so he gave away much of it to people who wanted their own kingdoms, keeping only the peninsula because, as he said, “It has a rather nice view.”  In addition to Fol-de-Rol, this area became home to, Filigree, Floristan, and Feathers.   All of these countries were quite small.  In fact, the country of Floristan has a population of one rather depressed artist, for whom it is named, and is just big enough to house his studio and one art gallery which won’t show his work.

Feathers turned out to be a rather unpleasant little country, always squabbling with its neighbors, tossing  its garbage over the edge of the island, and jeering at Floristan’s artwork.  Eventually, tensions came to a head, and Feathers went to war with Fol-de-Rol over a Morris Dancing contest.  It happened that the Wazoobob of Feathers, Jasper the Unsuitable,, and Galago I, were both fanatica lMorris Dancing enthusiasts –Morris Dancing being, in fact, about the only thing that Galago was really inclined to put any effort into — and when dancers from each kingdom faced off at the yearly contest, a dispute arose over the decision of the judges.  Jasper insisted that Galago had bribed the judges to award the prize of a 300 lb. marzipan pig to the Fol-de-Rollan dancers.  Galago replied that the Featherino dancers didn’t know a ha’step from a hey nonny and therefore didn’t deserve the prize.

Further insults were exchanged, ambassadors were recalled and both countries prepared for war.  The 300 lbs of marzipan pig was donated to the Fol-de-Rol Ministry of Eats by the Morris team in preparation for what might have been a long siege.  Hostilities between the two countries reached a fever pitch when, under cover of night, 200 armed Featherinos snuck across the border and cemented large plastic flamingoes onto the front lawns of prominent Fol-de-Rollans.

The ultimate blow, however, was struck by the Fol-de-Rollans.  Six months into the war, Fol-de-Rollans from all over the country converged at the border with spades, shovels and pickaxes.  During one long, moonless night they worked at digging up the entire border of Feathers.  As the first light of dawn was seen on the horizon the last few feet of earth could no longer support the country’s weight, and Feathers broke free of Venusberg, to plummet towards the planet below.  The war was over with only a single loss on the Fol-de-Rollan side, a blacksmith named Torque who had been standing on the wrong side of the border as he dug.  He did earn for himself a hero’s memorial and the posthumous nickname of “Torque the Complete Idiot.”

The fall of Feathers takes on an interesting twist.  Inhabitants of the northeastern portions of the Slata Baba Empire, the north of Fata Morgana and all of Eisbjörn report seeing the kingdom fall from the sky in the early hours of the morning.  “It was descending at a phenomenal rate,” wrote Arthur Inscriptus, a historian living on the west coast of Freedonia at the time.  “It fell directly towards the Nayad of Marx, but just before the impact, a huge, grey shape rose out of the waves and appeared to swallow the falling country whole.  The behemoth then descended quickly, leaving only a wild disturbance of the ocean which lasted for many hours and caused much flooding, particularly in the low-lying areas of Kitsuné Province.”

Naturally, the Nix of the area were concerned, and undertook an investigation.  “That Nayad is very sparsely populated,” said the official report given at the 437th Nix Congress in Atlantis, “and could be home to any number of unusual creatures, but we feel sure that nothing so monumental could exist, even in our frontiers, without our having heard about it before this.  We feel certain that the eyewitness accounts, though sincere, are in error.”  Nevertheless, among Nix, the Nayad of Marx is often more popularly referred to as “The Nayad of Behemoth.”

Recently the Galago I’s heir, Galago-Over-Eggs, issued a formal apology to “Feathers and all Featherinos, wherever they may be,” for the unprecedented act of aggression by the Fol-de-Rollans.  Cassowary Galago, appeared at the ceremony of contrition in an apple green bombazine dress with pale pink ribbons and pink crinoline, and a bright yellow lace mantilla.  He was reported to look “fetching.”

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