06 May 2008

Myths and Legends

The queen narrowed her eyes and considered the man in front of her. Her chin rested on her left hand, the elbow on the softly padded arm of her chair; not a throne, really, just a large chair, with padding covering the hard, white stone beneath. A silver cloth embroidered with golden designs was wrapped over her shoulder, obscuring her right arm from view.

He was a small man, clothed in a simple brown tunic tied around the waist with a deep red rope, attached to the end of which was a small silver medallion. He was on his knees, shaking, and she chould see the sweat on his forearms. Evidently, her reptuation preceeded her, and this pleased her mightily. She began to speak, softly at first, but growing not louder, but sterner as she went.

"You know, we hear all sorts of legends here. All sorts of fictions are brought before me. You did see the bodies that line the road to Carthage, did you not? All of them, liars. All of their blood strengthening the road to Carthage. All of them dead." Her voice turned cold, the sound of gray steel glowing in a dim light, "Are you lying?"

"N-n-no, Queen Hannah, no, please, I'm not."

"Have you seen these beasts?"

"No, I have not."

"Then how can you be so sure."

The man was silent, staring straight ahead, aware that no answer could possibly appease her. The Queen stood up, and approached him. She reached out a hand to his chin, and lifted it so she could gaze into his eyes. Slowly, she unwrapped her right arm, bringing her hand up to his cheek.
"Do you feel that? Do you know what it is?" she asked.

He fought to keep his head from jerking away, as the thick scar tissue of her right hand moved across his face. He gulped, and nodded.

"Good. Then you know we have no distaste for blood. Guards!" Instantly, five muscular figures were by her side. "Take him away to the spire. Make sure he is comfortable, and fed. If he tells the truth, he shall live. If not, the ravens will feed on his eyes."

It was, to be honest, the best he could hope for.

The queen carefully re-wrapped her arm, raising the hem to her lips as she finished, then returned to her seat and struck up a conversation, although nobody else was present. "Preposterous. Four legged beasts that can be ridden at great speeds for great distances, some with massive teeth curving out of their mouth? Absolutely preposterous. If there were such a thing, we would have heard of it--nay, we would have some." Her eyes dropped. "Still ... We cannot be too careful, can we?"

* * *

"She can't be serious."

For the fifth time, Hadrumetum's Captain of the Guard read the paper she held in her hands. She focused on the seal at the bottom, trying to find the mistake that would reveal it s a forgery. There was none. She sighed, and pushed herself back from the desk. "Ianna!"

A thin woman with shortly cropped red hair entered into the room and stood, ramrod straight by the door.

"The Queen has spoken. We are to train two thousand women as ... " She glanced down at the paper again. " ... spearwomen. They are to take five foot sections of strong wood and attach sharpened knives to the ends." Ianna's eybrows rose almost imperceptibly, but she knew better than to respond. "These are to be used to defend against large, four footed beasts, some capable of great speed, others weight as much as a dozen men."

Ianna couldn't stop herself, and turned to the Captain. "Cows, Captain? We're supposed to fight cows?"

The captain took a deep breath, and lowered her voice: "No, Ianna, not cows. The Queen has heard of beasts in foreign lands like this, and fears an invasion. More importantly, the Queen has spoken. I believe I said that once already. Do I need to say it a third time?"

Ianna stiffened back to attention. "No, Captain."

"Good. Go. We have six months to have the first five hundred ready for royal review. If they aren't ready by then, we'll both be food for the birds on the road to the palace. Dismissed."

After Ianna left, the Captain leand against her desk, shaking her head. "Cows, indeed."

(from http://civisibles.blogspot.com/ )

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