Chapter 23

Bad Day

Samard had trouble thinking. His mind wondered not just from what he was doing, but from himself. It was as if his mind was drifting through fog in the forest. And like the trees, his thoughts floated in and out of focus. Often he’d look around and wondered where he was.  This time, he was in his throne room settling disputes.

More than once, he’d had to ask a peasant to repeat what he or she had just said. And when he asked for the third or fourth time, they stared at him as if he were a senseless court jester. He felt like one.

His mind slipped away as if it were a greased pig he was unable to hold. When he tried to reason the problem and concentrated on it, and no answer came, he sweated with fear. Then he’d lose that thought and wonder why he was sweating.

Now two men stood before him arguing over who owned a bull. They both claimed to have paid for it. Therefore they both claimed it as their property.

“Butcher it,” Samard said, “we’ll have a feat.” He envisioned joining them. His mouth began to saliva over the prospects. They would be honored to have him as a guest.

Then his thoughts slipped. In his mind’s eye, Samard saw the bull, large meaty, succulent. He saw himself grab hold of the bull. It tried to struggle free as he bit into it. The shrieks of pain were like music. He would have laughed for delight if not for the mouthful of beef.

How much fresher could meat be than to eat it directly off the bone with the blood still flowing, warm and liquid?

“My Lord,” the men said, in unison. Their eyes were wide and their mouths agape. They were shocked that he’d suggest they butcher and eat the animal.

“He is a prize bull,” the first man said.

“We bought him to improve our heard,” the second man said.

“How are you able to afford such a fine animal?” Samard asked.

“Ah, well.”

“It ah…”

The men stumbled over their words, and Samard knew.

“The bull was set at such a price that you could afford it,” he said for them.

The men smiled sheepishly. “Yes, my lord.” Their heads bobbed up and down.

“And why would the owner be willing to sell his prize bull at such a low price?” he asked.

Their bobbing heads froze. They said nothing. He knew. The seller had stolen the bull. The men were willing to over look the theft if they could have the bull, at a cheaper price, for their herd.

“Seems to me, you have two choices …” The thought disappeared. Samard searched for it, but he couldn’t remember what he’d been talking about. Something about a money — sliver …

As of late, his thoughts not only lingered on what he ate, but on gold, precious jewels and then the topaz hiding in his room; a magnificent jewel almost the size of his fist.

He wanted to be in the room with his topaz. He wanted to hold it, stare into its perfection. Run his fingers over the many facets, long smooth sides, short rough edges, and gaze deep within … at the lights. Why had he left it behind, stuffed in a box? It should be with him. He should hold it up for all to see a jewel worthy of a king’s possession. No one in the kingdom, in the land, the world had anything like it.


He would not show it to anyone. Topaz was his – his alone.

If another knew of it existence, they would desire it. They would try to take it from him. It was his. No one had the right to know of its existence.

He’d left Topaz alone. Was it safe? He should be in his room with it. Why had he left it behind? Suppose someone found it? He must return to his chambers to be with Topaz and protect it from thieves.

“My lord?” the voice sounded alarmed.

His thoughts returned to the two men who were staring at him.

Then Samard remembered. The thought came back to him as if it had always been there. “You have two choices, you can return the bull to its owner … its original owner.”

By the look on their faces, they didn’t like that solution. Not only would they lose the possibility of improving their herd, but the original owner might charge them with the theft. He could take all they owned and have them thrown in the dungeon.

Which might not matter, since they might not be able to find the owner. The thief could have come from anywhere beyond the kingdom and transported the bull here to be sold.

Samard stood. They backed up.

“Or you can share the bull and stop bickering,” he finished.

The men looked at each other in distain.

“You do have a third choice,” Samard said.

They frowned at him. They’d not liked his first two suggestions and doubted they’d like the third.

“I could charge you with thievery, throw you in the dungeon myself, and take the bull to my heard,” Samard said. He swayed and stumbled.

“My lord?” A guard was immediately at his side.

The men seemed not to notice. “We’ll share the bull,” the first man said. The other nodded in agreement.

“Then it is settled,” Samard said. “I will hear no more about this from either of you or the bull is mind.”

The room darkened. Samard tried to walk, but his feet seemed to have forgotten how. Hands grabbed him. He couldn’t tell who it was, but he guessed it was one of his personal guards.

“Shall I take you to your chambers?” the guard asked.

“To my bed, yes.” Gold, ocher and crimson ribbons of light danced before Samard’s eyes. He was flying. He heard eagles screeching, felt the tips of their wings brush against his cheeks. He felt the cold mountain winds as he flew over and around them.

Samard opened his eyes. He wasn’t flying. A guard was carrying him. Disappointed, he closed his eyes and blacked out.

Published in: on August 9, 2011 at 3:47 pm  Leave a Comment  

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