Saran Meets Blue

       Saran carried the dented pail of clay up from the riverbank. The pail itself was rusted, rescued as it drifted down the river, abandoned or forgotten. He wished he had another, and a stave to balance them on his shoulder, weighted evenly. A pile of stones, scavenged earlier from the same riverbank, sat like a cairn beside the bridge. More than once he’d come this way and found a monk bowing his head over it and offering a blessing. They didn’t smell very good, but the wool habit made for a nice tarp for moving and distributing compost.
       He set the pail down carefully beside the pile, before walking carefully over to the first hole in the wall. It was minor, didn’t affect the structural integrity of the bridge, but Saran took pride in his work, even work that he felt distaste for. He was better than his father in that, killed by an overburdened and under-repaired bridge. He stared at it for a few short seconds, estimating the size, then returned to the pile. As he was digging through it in search of the appropriate-sized stone, Saran heard travelers approaching along the road. He straightened and sauntered to the center of his bridge.
       The column of horsemen approached, urging their horse to ride past him, but the lead horses wouldn’t have any of it and slowed to a stop. Saran tried to look one of the horses in the eye, but it shied away from him. He sighed, grunted, and looked up the knight at the head of the column.
       The knight kicked his horse.
       “I wouldn’t do that if I were you,” Saran cautioned.
       The knight kicked his horse again, but it didn’t budge. He drew his sword and got thrown.
       “You shouldn’t treat your horse like that.”
       “Just get out of the way.”
       Saran held out his hand.
       The knight offered his sword, tang first.
       “Are you threatening me?”
       The knight jabbed at his throat.
       Saran pinched the flat of the blade, stepped back, and sighed. “You could save yourself the trouble and pay the toll.”
       “Monsters like you don’t get gold from valiant knights.”
       “To which you don’t qualify. Now, I’m a man of business—”at man the knight snorted “—and am just doing my duty. I’d be more than happy to let you and your friends pass on by, but you have to pay the toll first.”
       “I don’t pay no tolls.”
       “No tolls, no bridges.”
       “Try and stop me.”
       Saran turned his back and farted. The knight’s horse bolted--across the bridge. “You were saying?”
       The knight swung again, with more precision than the first strike. Saran slapped the blade aside, making it ring.
       “Don’t let it vibrate too much. Bad for the joints.”
       “Enough!” His second-in-command rode closer, without kicking his horse, and tossed two small bags of gold at Saran’s feet. “Is that enough?”
       “Got any meat?”
       “Do you like fresh Prince-in-training?”
       Saran shook his head. “Too much gristle..”
       “How about a better pail? Or two?”
       Saran nodded. “That’ll do.”
       The second-in-command rode back down the line, and shortly returned with a fresh horse and two large metal buckets.
       “Nice to see someone knows how the world works. Good doing business with you.” Saran dropped the money bags into one of the buckets and got out of the way.

The End

1 comment about this story Feed