Thomas Goes to Work
Throughout the next week, Thomas Puddlespoon partied, toured, and mailed souvenirs to friends and family back home, but as the week neared its end, Thomas began looking for his next target. Security in the capital had tightened after the noble realized that he had been had. Fortunately, the mud and shaggy hair from traveling, and the additional height and sinister atmosphere that the noble’s imagination had supplied, prevented the guards from getting an accurate description. Thomas was short, thin, and had light tan hair, and after getting cleaned up in his room, he looked nothing like the tall, dark gangster that had boldly attacked the noble last week.
Still the police patrolled the markets with more diligence these days, and the nobles had all started traveling with a cloud of bodyguards that barely let their servants through. Thomas was not heartless enough to steal from the servants and leave them to deal with the nobles and their wrath, nor was he foolish enough to mess with that many bodyguards. So, effectively, the nobles’ money was off-limits now. That left the peasants and the craftsmen. Neither one offered nearly as large a target as the noble had — especially the peasants, who kept most of their wealth in the form of turnips and radishes.
So Thomas Puddlespoon began working daily and skimping when necessary. His old village would never have believed he was capable of such dedication and restraint. His brothers would have teased him incessantly. Thomas shook his head and took comfort in the fact that they would never know.
The Queen Presents a Problem
The Queen of Dreamland was a beautiful lady with long, flowing blond hair, ruby-red lips, emerald-green eyes, small ears and feet, and pristine manners. She was also somewhat spoiled. In fact the only ones who dared to not spoil her were the King and their one-year-old son. The King continued to go to war each summer despite her begging him to stay home, and their son cried promptly at one a.m. each night in a that shrill screech that mothers always hear, even when hiding behind meters of solid stone walls.
The Queen was resigned to waiting out her son, but she was determined to find a way to convince the King. That is why each summer, after the King left for war, the Queen summoned all the advisors together so that yet another plan could be hatched and enacted as soon as the King returned.
Two years ago the Economist had suggested that they empty the royal treasury by funding charities and schools. That way the King would not have the money required to fund his war. Unfortunately, the King brought back enough bounty to restore and then double the Royal Treasury. Last year, the Tax Collector had suggested raising taxes in order to create a rebellious populace which the King would have to put down instead of going back to war. But the peasants simply paid the taxes with the charity money they had been given the year before. In fact, they even had enough left over to plant extra corn and feed extra pigs, and there was a feast awaiting the King when he came home. The King thanked the people by lowering their taxes.
The Wizard Provides a Suggestion
This year, it was Wizard Glimmer’s turn to suggest a plan.
The Queen gathered the advisors, and they all turned to look at Wizard Glimmer. Under such pressure, Glimmer’s mind went blanker than usual. He had never been good at thinking outside of the box. Now if it had been one of the servants, or even a rebellious teenager, Glimmer could have solved the problem with a simple Staying Spell, forcing the King to stay within the castle walls. That seemed very much like house arrest, however, and Glimmer was relatively certain that it would be treasonous to put the King under house arrest.
But if there is anything that a wizard is good at, it is inventing ideas on the spot and worrying about applying them later. It is one of the first skills they learn and perfect — much like any group of royal advisors. And so, Glimmer started to reason.
“What we need is something here which the King wants more than the glories of war out there.” Glimmer waved vaguely, casting a murmur of agreement into one of the corners of the room.
Not wanting to seem dull, the advisors quickly added their murmurs of agreement to the corner’s, and Glimmer, forgetting that he had caused the murmur, was encouraged by it.
“So we must find something too wonderful to resist,” Glimmer continued. “I have recently come across the perfect object for producing this effect: The Golden Egg.” All eyes in the room widened as Glimmer described the fabled egg’s power to make anyone too beautiful to resist, and the ferocious roosters that guarded it. “Now,” Glimmer said, “what we need is a thief to retrieve it for us.”
A noble in bright red robes stepped forward. “There is such a thief in our very own market place. I’ve already told you all of how brutal he was when he robbed me.”
To be continued…
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