Short Story "Binding" by Adonis Thorn
“It seems to me that we have been over anxious in the telling of our tales.” said the tavern owner.
“You there, boy, I dare say you haven’t said a word.” cried the miller.
Smiling the boy said softly “I have been busy listening to these dull tales.”
The friar staying the miller’s wrath on the boy which he suddenly noticed to have a hefty looking ring on his person “If you be a Man Of God, then you should be able to speak freely a story of your choosing under the Good Lord’s skies.” said the friar.
There was a look and such a queer and uneasy look that the boy gave the friar, that the friar suddenly began to remember his past crimes and he felt that the boy saw them too.
The boy suddenly seemed to grow and have an air of supreme confidence and the boy seemed to not be a boy any longer but a Man. A Man coarsely muscled, so much so that the knight quizzically looked the Man over admiring the posture and the bearing this man who had been creeping along their party not whispering a word.
The Pardoner with gold in his eyes asked “What is it good sir that you so choose to be you’re occupation?” He saw the ring and it pulled making the pardoner mouth water at the thought of what lay in the man’s purse.
“Hold your pretty words for I have heard enough of them to satisfy my hunger for such base crudeness.” said the Man.
Before the pardoner could reply to this stinging statement the Man said “In answer I am occupied at the moment with my father’s business… who is a merchant.”
The man now Merchant said with finality “I have heard your stories but now you shall hear one of my own.”
The Baron woke at his usual unruly time in his usual place of comfort, next to his wife. This day however he woke up on a table strewn with cups full of wine and bowls also filled with wine. Most would be puzzled at such a predicament or angry with their attendants for allowing their master to awaken in such a sate. With the Baron, this was not the case as he awoke with a smile on his most handsome face. Now before you think this man a rich drunkard drinking himself to death, this is not so, so I ask, do keep your thoughts in your head and allow the story to unfold.
The Baron loved giving his people under his domain these feasts and party’s all expenses paid every now and then between long holidays. The wine for the most part he did not partake in, but the games and talking to his very healthy people he did get more than his fill of. He knew their problems and allowed the young men to dance with his wife if they were so bold to ask. It was after this joyful reminiscing of the past night that the Baron noticed something strange.
He flexed unconsciously as he perceived something to be amiss with this false peace that surrounded him. Could it be I am overthinking this as I am occasionally prone to do? Is one of the surrounding Barons’ daring an attack?
“No” replied a thin raspy voice.
“Who is that? Come out into the light where I can grace you with my eyes.” said the Baron with the confidence of a man whom is obeyed. But thought the Baron I did not say those questions out loud.
“Good Baron rarely will you meet someone in this life or another whom is your better but I can assure you good sir, I am your match, more so your better.” wisped out the eerie voice.
Not easily cowed but brighter than most the Baron recognized something was amiss “I do not believe in some people’s versions of petty honor, but my own.” said the Baron loudly and clearly. “One point I have on my honor is that I shall deal with no man I cannot see or have not seen.”
“Ahh but you have seen me Great Baron, which you know you are titled in the kingdom you wish to conquer peacefully.” rasped the voice. “ I was there at your father’s side in the end, I was also there when you held onto your childhood nurses hand as she passed to me In The End.” said the voice with more fervor. “I emphasized the End because I am the Lord of the end, for I am a Lord of Death.” said the voice proudly.
The Baron slightly disturbed replied calmly “Continue.”
“Good Baron I come to you with a proposal. In your now rising kingdom which is under my dominion it has come to my dear attention that your people are not dying, in fact the old are growing older. “rasped Death angrily. “ This predicament you have put me in has seen me in disgrace in my fellow Lords’ and Brothers of Deaths eyes. This is something which I will not accept.” Screeched Death quietly.
“My deal is that should you execute one of your people by offering them up to me at the beginning of each week I shall leave you and your family alone. For I know about your plans to attack a neighboring kingdom which will give me more than enough souls to bargain with and we shall be forever done with each other until that time. Well, not forever done of course, since we will be meeting I say happily many years from now for one last time.” the voice whispered feverishly. “Oh and you wonder what compels you to do this thing I ask of you? Your wife Good Baron is with child. Should you not fulfill your end I will fulfill it for you with his life. Yes, I say his because your unborn child is a boy.”
“Being a Lord of Death I give you my word I shall do what you have asked.” The baron said quickly not needing to add what the Lord of Death already knew that he always keeps his word.
The Baron after feeling the presence of the Lord of Death leave did something which most men have not done after meeting death in their prime, he smiled. The Good Baron awoke his wife and told her everything that had occurred. They were a faithful and truthful couple for anything less would be demeaning to their divine marriage. The Baroness then did something which most women after hearing such a tale form her husband, she smiled. Quick as a whip they talked through the night of their plans which would unfold in a week.
The Baron awaited Death holding his pregnant Baroness’ hand on the day of their appointment. Having concluded that Death could only appear in darkened areas he had a large cabinet draped with the darkest cloth creating a dark shadow in front of the Barons throne. Upon this cabinet rested a Green ring passed down from his grandfather who passed it to his son who then passed it to his son the Baron.
Death rattled into the cabinet and the Baron could barely hide his smile at hearing Death’s voice through the cabinet. “Good Baron I am deeply saddened to see there is no offering to me.”
“Ahh” said the Baron.
“But there is.” said the Baroness.
The Baron did a quick fluid movement with his hands and Death did a profound thing it whimpered, it had a new feeling, it feared.
“You’re wondering why you are not talking when you wish for all your might that you be able to.” said the Baron. “You see me and my most magnificent wife came to the conclusion that you were weakened incredibly due to no one dying in my kingdom. You coming to barter with me made me realize you were so weakened because I asked myself a question. Why would you not simply take my life or someone else’s in my kingdom? Instead of being forced to bargain not for my people or my unborn son’s life but for your own.”
“I do hope you are uncomfortable in there Sir Death, for the ring you now reside in and will forever reside in unless I release you to do my bidding is not a normal ring. It is a ring that binds!” said the Baron calmly. “Sir Death do you have something you now wish to say to me?”
“Master…” replied the slave Death.
There was a profound silence after the telling of the Man who claimed to be on his father’s mission, who was a merchant.
The rest of the men and women on the pilgrimage were caught doing a strange thing, they were both trying to get away from the so called merchant and get closer to listen to his tale. When they noticed the story had been concluded and they caught themselves staring dumbly at the merchant they realized that the merchants ring was Green and the merchant didn’t have the resemblance of a merchant at all but that of a Baron.