A Thief's Gold Luck [Fiction]

in The Ink Well14 days ago

Image by ELG21 via Pixabay

Time stood still as I watched, utterly dumbfounded, as a roc spread out its powerful wings in the sky, hovering around the town square. Rocs were rare and the three that existed in Wad Madarif were owned by the king, a reclusive magician and one of our wealthiest men, Chief Rhuk.

How did I find myself at the town's square and likely to be devoured by a gigantic predator? Fate had a way of making the very things we fear come to life. Our king and his governors had become so corrupt that the people were crying out for relief and vengeance daily. The little people could scrape together from their harvests and crafts work were sold and paid as taxes to the king through his governors.

My brother, Elwin, ran away from home five months ago to join a section of the Resistance. He returned two days ago with enough food to last my extended family for a few weeks. It was a relief. I called him aside to commend him and that was how I was co-opted into the Resistance.

We had our first joint mission —to retrieve the bag of gold coins that Cenfus, the Tribune of Energy, had recently received as a gift from the king. Cenfus was at his mistress's house close to the town square, celebrating and lavishing her with some of the gold. I was sceptical and feared we would be caught.

Elwin changed his mind and proposed we take a portion of the gold for ourselves while we take what would be left back to the Resistance Quarters.

Trying to sneak into the Cenfus' mistress's house around the back, I caught sight of a fine, blond lady dressed in an expensive green silk gown. Cream-coloured pearls adorned and held her hair in a sleek updo. Sibwine, a governor's son, held her hand and kissed it as she chuckled.

I stood transfixed by the beautiful sight.

"What are you looking at, Godred?" My brother Elwin growled into my ears bringing me out of my daze. He saw her too and shook his head. "Silly girl."

"You know her?" I asked.

"Pff, that's Rowena the princess."

"Wow, she's really pretty…" I stopped talking when Elwin and I spotted four masked men creeping slowly behind the princess.

"Look!" I whispered loudly to Elwin. "That one winked at Sibwine. I think they are gonna take her."

Elwin couldn't believe his eyes. He grinned widely, enjoying the show. I shoved him on the chest with my elbow, our thieving mission temporarily forgotten. He rubbed his chest but did not heed a word I said.

"We have to help her," I suggested. Elwin stared at me like I'd grown horns on my head. "I know you are new to this but don't be naive. She's the king's daughter. Let them teach him a lesson…"

And then we heard it — the loud flapping of heavy wings against the wind. Everyone around the town's square gazed up as the gigantic roc with its powerful wing strokes glided smoothly through the air, its strong feet with sharp talons stretched out to pick up its prey.


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Don't ask me how I knew the princess was the prey. I did not consult Elwin. I just ran out from behind the house we were to rob as fast as my legs could carry me.

Like I said it was like time slowed down. There was chaos at the town square. People screamed and ran in different directions. The princess, terrified at the sight of the huge bird, glued herself to the wall behind her.

"Rowena!" I screamed as I ran close, held her hand and pulled her down forcefully. She fell on my chest and we rolled away, barely avoiding the bird's sharp talons. We scrambled up and ran straight into Cenfus' mistress' house.

The roc's furious screech was frightening and deafening as it flew away. Cenfus held his frightened mistress to his bare chest and scowled at the princess and me. Good thing they did not lock the door. Rowena glanced at them and me, her chest heaving, her eyes widened in fear.

A few seconds later as we fought to catch our breaths, Elwin burst into the house. His eyes roamed around the room hurriedly until they met mine. He heaved a sigh of relief but I knew what was coming next. He crouched down beside me and boxed my ear.

"You are crazier than I would ever be!" He shouted. "That roc belongs to Chief Rhuk."

"How do you know?" Cenfus and I asked simultaneously. Elwin glared at Cenfus before turning to me.

"His roc is the only one whose feather tips are gold coloured. Others are white."

A gentle voice interrupted our conversation. "Thank you for saving me," Rowena said, looking at me and my brother. "If you had not come…"

"You should not be out here in the first place," Elwin growled at her. I touched his shoulder, gesturing to him to behave.

Just then the king's guards burst into the house and we all stood on our feet at once. The king walked in, saw his daughter and spread out his hands. She ran into his embrace and cried on his chest.

"Your majesty," Cenfus greeted the king, fully dressed. I wondered when he put on a tunic.

The doorway was blocked by the guards. Elwin and I could not leave even if we wanted to. Rowena and the king murmured for a moment. Then the king raised his head to look at Elwin and me. He walked forward. Elwin froze beside me, held my hand and clenched his other hand into a fist. The king glanced at the fisted hand.

That was the first time I'd come face to face with the monarch of Wad Madarif, my king. He was taller than I expected and good-looking. The princess took her beauty from him.

"I understand I owe you my thanks," he said to me and Elwin calmly. "My immense gratitude for foiling Chief Rhuk's attempt to abduct my daughter. Rest assured he will pay for this betrayal."

I nodded in response. Elwin frowned but said nothing. I knew he was being careful not to insult the king for the way he'd treated the peasants and commoners. No wonder he had many enemies.

The king snapped his fingers and one of the guards marched forward and passed him a small brown purse tied with a string. He jiggled it and threw it at us. I caught it. Without asking, I knew there were gold coins inside it.

"Your king always discharges his debt. Thank you," he said as his guards parted to allow him and the princess to pass through, closing behind them to form an impenetrable wall as they marched out of the house. Cenfus ran forward to meet the king.

I turned to look at Elwin who scowled at the bag of coins. "C'mon! It's better than what we'd planned to do," I whispered, casting a side glance at the mistress.

He nodded and we walked back home together.

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I hope you enjoyed reading this short story. It is my response to The Ink Well Prompt #84 inspired by the prompt "foil".

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This is a beautiful story with literary elements that take the imagination into medieval settings. A commoner saves a beautiful princess and is sufficiently rewarded by the king. All the elements are complete. Thank you for writing this story for The Ink Well and for keeping up the interactions with fellow writers, @kemmyb.

Thank you so much for reading and for your support. 🙂

Interesting story, I thought it would have another ending, because of the narrative you handled, but I liked it, especially because Elwin was ambitious but a gesture of kindness and an act of courage of his brother was rewarded. It also reflected how vulnerable this King could be, in front of this flying species that intimidated, even though he himself had one. And most interestingly, how a selfless act overcomes prejudice. Good work.

...how a selfless act overcomes prejudice.

Well said. I'm happy the ending took a different turn from what you imagined. I like surprises. 😄

Thanks a lot for reading. !PIZZA

Excellent story, the plot really catches and every detail fills in the gaps creating a very good story. I was left wanting to continue the story, it was really good. Greetings and good morning.

Greetings, @jackdeathblack. Thanks for reading. I'm happy you enjoyed this story. If I had to continue it, that would involve the king dealing with his enemies, especially Chief Rhuk! 😄

It was exciting your story where you narrated very well the differences between the two brothers who were involved in saving the princess. I liked your story.
Regards @kemmyb

Thanks a lot, @popurri. I took special care to display the differences between the brothers and I'm happy you saw it. The elder is pragmatic and the younger is starry-eyed. 😄

!LADY 🙂

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Amazingly beautiful 😁😁, it was good of the King to show gratitude though. And I how Elwin scolded his brother.

Well, the king had better show gratitude or next time, he may lose his daughter! 😄
Thanks a lot for reading. !LADY

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😃😃😃 yeah right...thanks ☺☺

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I'm a few days late getting to your story, @kemmyb. I love it! You do such a wonderful job of creating a intriguing setup and developing great characters, and then interweaving action and dialog masterfully throughout the story.

No worries! I understand how busy your schedule can be and I appreciate you taking the time to read my story. Thanks so much the lovely compliment. 😊
!LUV

Congratulations, @kemmyb. Your story is part of this week's featured author magazine.
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Thank you. !PIZZA 🙂

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