I think I read this somewhere in the interval of 1993-2004, and I think it was in an issue of an SF/Fantasy magazine which was new on the stands at the time. As opposed to being a back issue from the 1980s which I'd picked up at a sale, for instance. At any rate, I'm sure I read this fantasy story in a magazine, rather than a book. Which is not to say it couldn't have been reprinted later on. The story was definitely in English.
I am almost certain that it had the byline of Esther M. Friesner, but a quick look at her ISFDB Bibliography (linked to her name) shows she had many short stories published during the timeframe in question, and none of their titles leap out at me as obviously being a great fit. To forestall an obvious guess: My understanding is that anything printed in any volume of the Friesner-edited Chicks in Chainmail series of fantasy anthologies is guaranteed to be a previously unpublished story, so nothing in any of those would have first caught my eye in a magazine.
Elements of Style and Plot
I am almost certain that this story drew upon the trappings of Arthurian Mythology, although I'm not sure how many characters from the old legends actually appeared onstage. I seem to recall that the first character to speak any dialogue in the tale was a queen with magic powers -- possibly, but not necessarily, "Morgan le Fay" or "Morgaine Le Fey" or some other variation of that legendary figure who is often described as Arthur's half-sister. (At any rate, the character who spoke first in this story definitely was not some variation of Arthur's wife, "Queen Guinevere.")
The story was not set "in modern times." (Unlike, for example, Peter David's Knight Life or Roger Zelazny's "The Last Defender of Camelot," or anything else which uses some pretext to justify the author's desire to have famous characters from the Arthurian legends running around in the streets of a modern city.) The characters seemed to inhabit a "medieval fantasy" setting with knights riding around in suits of armor, and so forth. I think there may have been mention of elves.
There is a sharp dichotomy of literary styles running through the text. I shall try to illustrate. Be warned that this is not even close to being a word-for-word quote, but it's loosely based upon what I think I remember about the first jarring moment when styles shift within the early lines of the story.
The sun was setting behind the verdant hills to the west of the castle, and the lengthening shadows of the trees pointed toward the elegant turrets atop an enchanted palace, from whence the dulcet tones of the Queen of the Fairies could be heard through an open window as she voiced her reaction to the latest news despatch to arrive in her domain.
"Whoa! They did what, now? I am, like, totally freaked out!"
The rest of it proceeds along similar lines. Narrative prose full of elaborate sentences, in sharp contrast to how the spoken dialogue was based upon how a stereotypical "Valley Girl" would express herself in certain circumstances. (Not that anyone in Arthurian Britain had ever so much as heard of the San Fernando Valley.) Wikipedia tells me that this type of dialogue is called "Valleyspeak" or "Valspeak" nowadays. I don't think the Queen (Morgan, or whoever she was) was the only person to express herself in that style. (Although I could be wrong; it's been a long time.)
- As you must have guessed, that contrast of styles is the main reason the story has stuck in my mind at all. I can't remember exactly what the Queen (the protagonist of the entire story, I think) actually ended up doing in reaction to whatever shocking news she had just received about someone else's bad behavior, although I think there was some sort of ironic twist in the ending. And, as I said, I think I remember seeing Esther Friesner's name attached to the story.
So! Does anyone think this sounds familiar? I'd like to refresh my memory, if possible, and see whether or not I now think that style-switching was a success, overall -- or just annoying after the first humorous shock wore off.