Previous Challenge Entry (Level 4 – Masters)
Topic: Bestie (05/22/14)
TITLE: The Bane of Thaddeus
By Leola Ogle
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“T’will be the dungeon for you, Thaddeus.” Fear overshadowed anger in his father’s voice. “What devilish spirit possessed you to hold a sword at the throat of Prince Edgar?”
“But, Da, t’was but sport. I did not mean for the prick of my sword to draw blood. T’was a mere drop.”
“A drop of royal blood, and we but commoners. Must you always challenge the prince? From childhood, you’ve sought to best him at every turn. The guards will come for you, to be sure.”
Thaddeus dropped his head into his hands. For the first time since the incident, fear pulsated in his breast.
“Why, Thaddeus?” his mother implored.
“Mum, he provoked me. I was working in the field when he rode by on his horse. He hollered, ‘You handle a sickle like a maiden, Thaddeus.’ Then he goaded me into a sword fight.”
“Edgar will be king one day. Respect allows a prince to win. Must you always prove you’re stronger and better than him? T’is God’s mercy you or your father has not been flogged again.”
She referred to Thaddeus’s first encounter with Prince Edgar. He was eight and the prince a year younger. Thaddeus was fishing with friends at the river when a boy came crashing through the brush. At first no one recognized him.
“What are you doing?” the boy asked.
Thaddeus and his friends laughed. Was it not obvious they were fishing? Before they could answer, the boy walked to the river’s edge, and within seconds, slid off the muddy bank and into the water.
His arms flailed and terror filled his eyes as the word, “Help!” sliced the air. Without thinking, Thaddeus jumped in and pulled the boy to safety before the current could carry him away.
Thaddeus’s heart pounded as water dripped off him. That’s when he noticed the finery of the boy’s clothing, but it didn’t stop his rush of anger. “Are you stupid? Can’t you swim?”
“No.” The boy bit his trembling lip.
“Then learn before you dare to lean over to look into the river, stupid boy.”
A palace guard stepped through the trees, the harshness of his countenance sending a chill up Thaddeus’s spine. “You dare to call the prince stupid? Come, Prince Edgar. Your mischievous nature will be the death of me. Do not run off again.”
Walking off, the guard turned back. “Your name, boy?”
“Thaddeus.” Thaddeus jutted his chin in the air. Had he not saved the prince’s life?
“And your father?”
“He is also Thaddeus.”
That night guards came to their cottage. “Insolence and disrespect cannot be tolerated,” they said. Thaddeus’s father received ten lashes.
Thaddeus was ten when he was ordered to work in the palace stables. It was then that Prince Edgar approached him and said, “I am not stupid. I learned to swim.”
Filling another bucket with oats, Thaddeus glared.
“Say something, stable boy.”
“I saved you, and my father was flogged.” Thaddeus didn’t care about being insolent.
Prince Edgar shuffled his feet, then turned and sauntered away.
Over the years, the prince frequented the stables for no other reason it seemed to Thaddeus, than to torment him. Thaddeus never backed down from his taunts. He delighted in being better than the prince in every aspect, whether archery, horseback riding, swords, chess, a game of wits, or any activity in which the prince challenged him.
It was on his day home to help his father in the fields that the sword incident happened. However, no guards came for him that night.
In time, Thaddeus had his own fields, a wife and baby. He continued to work in the palace stables. Prince Edgar still antagonized him, but with less frequency. Thaddeus realized he had looked forward to those visits, and he missed Edgar when weeks went by without seeing him.
When the king died, Thaddeus was summoned to the ceremony to crown Edgar as king.
Alas, he will have me beheaded now that he is king.
Instead, King Edgar called Thaddeus forth and addressed the gathering. “This man is truly my dear friend. Over the years, he did not seek to endear himself to me with flattery and vain deeds. Because of him, I sought to better myself in every area befitting a ruler. This loyal friend speaks truth, not honey-coated lies. Thaddeus, you shall be my chief advisor.”
Forevermore, generations would speak of this great friendship between Thaddeus and King Edgar.
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