What’s worse than a thief?

What’s worse than a thief?

“So, you stole this and now you want to try and return it?”

“No! Someone else must have taken it. I just found it under my bed.” I tried my best

to stare at the old codger but even I knew it sounded fishy. If I were him I wouldn’t believe me either. A simple serving boy such as myself stumbling across the Shield of Sir Calderon? Hardly

likely, such a renowned artifact would be tucked deep within the Kings Vault. The old treasurer rubbed the top of his shining head and scowled.

“If your going to stick to your foolish story we’ll need to take it to the magister.”

“You can’t do that! If word gets out I’ll be hanged for sure! Please just take it! You can put it back like nothing ever happened.” I dropped to my knees and begged.

The old man heaved a heavy sign and picked up the shield. It was such as

ordinary thing, a sheet of curved steel pitted and dented. The Kings eagle

emblazoned on the front chipped and scarred. Such a humble piece but legend

says no mortal could land a blow against this shield.

“fine. I’ll put it back where it belongs. But if anyone asks about it I’ll tell

them everything.”

He left with the Shield grumbling underneath his breath the whole way. I bestowed a

thousand blessings on him and his family. I don’t know what fool really stole that

thing but if I ever find them I’ll wring their neck for getting me caught up in it.

That day’s chores flew by as I went about them with a spring in my step. You hardly feel more alive then after narrowly missing the gallows. I went to bed ready for a much more comfortable night’s sleep than the last one. I tossed and turned all night before discovering the lump beneath me. I spent hours trying to decide what to do with it. If I tried to return it and got caught it would look like I had stolen it. If I admitted it to the King he’d have had to make an example of me one way or another. I settled on hoping the treasurer would be a kind man.

 Before crawling under the covers I looked under my mattress and smiled at the absence of any

mystery artifacts. Safe in the knowledge that no one would be stupid enough to hide it in the same place twice.

I awoke to an icy cold deluge. Gasping I flailed at my sopping blanket

and rolled onto the ground. Gaining my bearings I looked up at three dour faces,

The treasurer stood over me holding a bucket still dripping. To his right one of the

Castle guard stood with a hand on the hilt of his weapon. On the left was a

young man in voluminous red robes, the court Magister. I tried to babble out

excuses as my blood ran as cold as the water

“Stand up boy!” The Magister demanded. He called me boy but can’t be more than

two years older than me.

“I gave it back! I swear I didn’t steal it!” I exclaimed, rising to my feet.

The Magister motioned to the guard and they stepped forward abruptly. I flinched

fearing they would hit me, or worse. Instead they threw aside my mattress, once more revealing the shield beneath my bed. I stood mouth agape. How could this be? Truly I did return it. Was someone trying to frame me? The Treasurer perhaps?

“I told you milord! A thief just as I said. He must have pretended to return it earlier. Thinks I’m so stupid I wouldn’t check on it again. He’s a thief, a thief I say!” the old treasurer demanded.

“No, not a thief, my good man.” the Magister sighed. He pinched the bridge of

his nose as though his head pained him.

“Something worse than a thief. He’s the chosen one.”