Chapter 26

Samard is Missing

“What do you mean he is missing?” Tamerad hazel eyes flared. Her face flushed with anger. She spoke each word with harsh intensity.

Haajiyo worried she’d ruined Tamerad’s immediate plans for the king. “I’ve looked everywhere.” Haajiyo hoped her voice didn’t sound too whiny. She didn’t dare not kneel or beg forgiveness. Such demeaning of herself infuriated Tamerad. If she became too angry, the witch might dismiss her. She would never learn more magic.

But Haajiyo did bow her head deference. “I thought the king had gone riding without telling anyone. Yet when I checked, King Samard has not been to the stables. His guards are here and don’t know where he is. Cook says he has not eaten. His advisers have not seen him either.”

“How long?”

“Two days.”

“You are his chambermaid and you did not notice?” Tamerad yelled.

She’d hoped the king was sleeping off the topaz’s magic the way one slept off a hard drunken night. “When he was not seen, I looked, but could not find him. I have looked for the past two days before I came to you.” She wished she’d kept a closer eye on him then she might know where he was hiding.

“You left the topaz on his table?” Tamerad asked.

“Yes.”

“In his personal chambers?”

“Yes. I left it where he would see it as soon as he walked into his living area,” Haajiyo assured her.

“And you called him to dinner, you personally?”

“Yes.”

“How did he look?

“As if he’d been sleeping, only he was standing by the east window when I came in, not lying down.”

Tamerad considered this for a moment, then asked, “Where was the topaz?”

“In his hand. I think he’d been staring at it.” Haajiyo lifted her head. “But …” She hesitated, unsure if this was important or not.

“What?” Tamerad demanded. “Tell me.”

“His eyes …”

“What?”

“They seemed … I don’t know … different.” It was difficult to explain exactly what she’d see in his eyes. It was almost as if they weren’t his eyes, but someone else’s.

Again, Tamerad was thoughtful. She passed her hand over her mouth and chin. “Abiya said the same thing. She said his eyes were like that of a wild animal.”

“Yes, that was it, a wild animal,” Haajiyo agreed.

“She said he was fidgety,” Tamerad continued, “and his voice sounded raspy.” Then more to herself, she softly said, “I wonder if they are signs of the topaz taking hold.”

Topaz taking hold? What did she mean by that? Surely Tamerad did not give that stone to the king to harm him. Why would she enslave him? She’d set the young queen free. But the queen was weak, physically and mentally. That’s why the magic in the stone made her crazy. The king is strong. He should be able to over come the negative affects of the stone.

That’s what the king was doing. He went into hiding while he battled the stone’s magic. He will return once he’d conquered it.

And that’s what she meant by, topaz taking hold, she was worried how the magic would affect the king. Even if Haajiyo didn’t understand it, Tamerad had good reason to give that stone to him. He was king, after all, he should, by rights, hold such magic, but Tamerad was worry; the king was somewhere were she could not help him teach him how to fully control it.

Tamerad paced her room. She’d not chosen a room in the servant’s quarters fitting the queen’s personal handmaiden. She’d had chosen a modest room in the queen’s wing as if she were above the servants but not quiet equal to the queen.

Now as she paced, the room seem small. Objects like the bed, a table, chair, amour, a decorative sculpture, hindered her by continually diverting her long strides. Her indigo dress and white petticoats swished with every movement. “What else? Is there more?” she demanded.

Lowing her head, Haajiyo gulped fearing the witch’s response. “The topaz is also missing,” she said, just above a whisper. This did frighten her. That stone was evil. She knew whoever held it was in trouble.

Tamerad slapped her with such force Haajiyo stumbled backwards. Her cheek stung hard enough to bring tears. She lifted her head to face the witch’s rage, but did not cry.

Frowning, Tamerad scrutinized Haajiyo. “How many times must I tell you? Don’t stand with your head down like a sheep eating grass. Hold your head up as if you have some pride.”

Pride.

When Haajiyo was a child, pride had not saved her from her father’s schemes to sell her to the over-seas merchant, to sell her to the farmer as a maid, or sell her to an old decrepit hunter looking for a wife. She’d shown up smelling like pigs, broke dishes, and used the magical voice her mother taught her to start a fight between her father and the hunter.

Being submissive, obedient and invisible had kept her job in the castle. Girls with pride and wills of their own were let go.

No, it was not pride that had saved Haajiyo, but cunning.

Haajiyo was only a maid. Maybe if she had held her head up high, she might have found a better station in life. Though she couldn’t think of a better possession that being a chambermaid to the king. Still, if Haajiyo wished to be please the witch, she’d have to appear confident and stop staring at the floor.

Tamerad’s brow creased, her nose flared, and her upper lip curled like a snarling dog. “Send all the guards, servants and slaves to search every corner of the castle.”

“I already have.”

“Send them again. Find him!” Tamerad yelled. She threw her arms up in frustration. Haajiyo steeled herself, preparing to be stuck again.

“Search the castle,” Tamerad continued. “Search the surrounding town. Search the prairies, the mountains, but FIND HIM.”

Haajiyo turned to leave and had just reached the door, when Tamerad began speaking again. Thinking the witch was giving her more instructions she stopped and waited.

But Tamerad was speaking to herself. “The vision …. How am I to rule if he is lost? How am I to go forth without him? Find him. Find him. He must be found.”

Tamerad continued to pace, wringing her hands and fretting for several minutes before she scolded herself, “Stop it. The vision will come to pass. The Goddess Hudtalo has spoken. She will provide.”  The witch began to undo her dress.

See how strong she is. The witch was wise, but even with all her wisdom Tamerad turns to her goddess for guidance. Haajiyo knew even if she’d messed things up, by losing the king, she was sure the witch would succeed.

The only way Haajiyo could make up for what she’d done was to find the king and make sure he held the topaz.

She closed the door as she left the room, so Tamerad could completely undress in private and perform pray ritual to her goddess.

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Published in: on September 5, 2011 at 2:40 pm  Leave a Comment  
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