Chapter 24



Samard tossed and turned with dreams of racing across the hills on his horse. They galloped over the top of trees. But no amount of urging could convince the horse to move faster. He left the animal behind and soared over the mountains, above where the eagles floated on air currents. He flew high over the clouds.

Free, you are free at last. He heard the words in his dreams; with all his heart, he wanted them to be true.

“I am king. I can do as I please,” he told himself. “I am king. My desires are my own.”

He woke with the words, “What do I desire most?” on his lips.

Freedom from the castle and its responsibilities, the voice in his head said.

“But if I leave, who will be king? Who will attend to my people?”

Do you care?

There was a long pause as Samard considered. “My people are good,” he said. “There’s just so many of them. And they have so many problems. They expect me to solve all of them. I can’t.”

You need a different way to watch over them.

“Yes,” Samard said. “But how?”

You can’t do it within the confines of the castle. You must leave its walls.

“I must leave?” The idea appealed to him.

You will be the greatest king who ever lived. You will soar above the rest.

“I will soar.”

You are king.

“I am king.”

No desire is out of your reach.

“Yes.” Samard accepted the voice’s words as absolute truth.

He heard the sound of glass tinkling, as if something had broken.

In the next instant, his bed crashed to the floor. He’d never been a large man, but somehow, he’d become too heavy for his bed frame.

Laboriously, he tried to roll onto his side, but the mattress was holding him in place. With a loud grunt, he swung bulging, muscular legs over the side of the bed. The movement pulled the rest of his body along. He sat up.

Long, thick, yellow toenails curved in an arch as they clicked on the floor. Fascinated, he scraped them back and forth. They left deep scratches on the gray stone. Sturdy nails, he mused.

He raised his hand and rotated it examining his knobby fingers, which were twice as long as he remembered. They looked like someone else’s. His arms were smooth and hairless with small cobalt, honey colored, and blue-black blotches. A bright, translucent green, sheen covered his arm. His skin was firm to the touch and didn’t give as it normally did.

In the back of his mind Samard had the feeling he should be concerned. Something was wrong, but he didn’t know what. He tried to concentrate, but his mind wouldn’t fix on the problem. He was about to soar. He’d think on it later. Now was time to leave.

Samard ducked his head so as not to bang it against the ceiling. The room had shrunk; he no longer fit in it. How had the room become smaller? That was something else he’d have to consider at another time.

There was something he needed. Looking around, he tried to remember … ah, his chest. He dumped the clothes out, picked Topaz off the table, placed it in its box, covered it, then set box in the chest and closed the lid.

The doorframe creaked and cracked as he forced his way through. His thick scaly skin sent splinters flying.

Careful not to knock into the walls, topple marble statues, or rip hanging tapestry, Samard made his way through the corridors.

His toenails dug into granite steps and left gouges as they pulled him up the stairs.

He felt the drag of something heavy pulling on his backside. It scraped the steps and walls as it followed behind him. The circular staircase was too narrow for him to turn and see what it was. To his surprise, he was able to lift and wag it. It smacked against the wall. He heard a few stone pieces dislodge as they fell. Samard held the thing motionless.

At the castle’s roof he rose to his full height, stretched his neck, lifted his head and took a deep breath. He looked around and saw to the far edges of his kingdom a hundred miles away. All his.

His arms felt long, heavy and awkward. It seemed as if he’d grown a second set, which he didn’t quite know how to use. Nevertheless, he raised them up and extended them, released a roar of satisfaction and leaped off the roof to his freedom.

Published in: on August 13, 2011 at 12:17 am  Leave a Comment  

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