The Shadowed Mind
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Chaige Astar was the definition of a hard worker. He had never caught any of the common sicknesses that ailed others. Chaigen’s servitude to his lord was all he knew. Thirty years of dressing his lord in the morning, coordinating his outfits for outings and parties; it was all so conforming. Chaigen was also a dutiful man, paying his respects to his guardian goddess, and praying to the great goddess Kreaqu the required daily worship in the morning and at noon. The man had neither children nor a wife. She had died the year after their marriage, and Chaingen had never felt the urge to marry anew. His life was totally devoted to his work.
“Astar Chamberlain!” a feeble voice shouted from behind a thick, guarding oak door.
As the oak door opened, a half-nude, old man came rushing out, turning his head this way and that, searching. The man was rather old, with a shock of white hair encircling his bald pâté. A sheet was wrapped around his waist, slowly slipping down his bony hips.
“This is not what I’d call progress, Chamberlain! Where have my tongs disappeared off to? Those lollamagiggers need a tonging. And another thing!”
“M’lord, I have not the slightest idea where you have misplaced your tongs. Maybe if you get back into bed, I might help you find those elusive tongs. Come now, m’lord.” Chaigen gently said, grabbing the old man’s bony shoulder and steering him back into the bedchamber.
They walked briskly into the chamber, Chaigen easing the door closed behind him. A large, rounded bed sat in the middle of the room. Colorful tapestries woven with gold and silver tread graced all open wall space. A stained glass window looked down upon the private family courtyard outside. The old man, his sheet-skirt almost down around his ankles, walked towards the bed. It was littered with crumpled up paper, old moldy food, and apparently occupied by two, large sleepy cats. Chaigen walked towards the old man, enraged that the other servants had not cleaned the lord’s bed.
“Is it so difficult to tidy up the old man’s room? I have only been absent one week, and the whole castle is falling apart!” the angered chamberlain silently complained to himself.
“What was that? I do hope you will come over here and help an old man find his tongs. The wudjamacallit won’t be able to work properly without it. And those lollamathingers still need that tonging.”
The old man proceeded to tear apart the bed, flinging objects off the bed and onto the floor, all in search of the elusive tongs. Eventually, after Chaigen joined in, the tongs were located. Two large, angry sleepy cats stalked off to another chamber, searching for a more peaceful realm.
“At last, they have been found! Now those lollamathingers will finally be tonged!” , the old man exclaimed happily.
He walked jovially towards the head of the bed. Grabbing up a pillow, the old man pressed the tongs over it slowly. Apparently the tonging was going over well with him; his face lit up like a bonfire at Suhain. Chaigen realized he was staring hard at his lord and master, thus he averted his eyes from the poor man.
Long ago, when Chaigen had just begun his services as chamberlain to the lord of the castle, he had almost instantaneously known something was amiss in the man’s mind. Many folks believed him to be touched by the Gods, but the Chamberlain Astar knew that there was much more to the half-baked theories and gossip. The lord’s mother, cousin to the realm’s ruling queen, and apparently been raped by her vicious brother. The poor woman’s husband went after the offending man, and they both died of grievous wounds gained in their battle. The lord’s widowed mother never knew she was pregnant, refusing to believe it when her stomach began to swell with the life inside. When the old man had been born, his mother was by then half mad with grief from the loss of her beloved husband. As the man grew up, he was prohibited by his mother to play with the other children. He had no one to share his utmost secret secrets, no one to share his joyous moments, no one ever there to keep the shadows from his mind. It was his mother that secluded him from the outside world, and over the years the isolation had affected his social and political prowess.
Chaigen had learned most of this from the manic mutterings of his lord, other bits and pieces formed from the stories the old midwives told every holiday. Over the years, people had an affinity for avoiding the man. Even relatives began to fear and avoid him. At any given moment ,in his own castle, a serving girl or resident relative would be gossiping about how strange the lord was, or how disgraceful his heritage was.#
The lighting in the room was dim, even with all the oil lamps blazing merrily in their brackets. The old man shivered slightly as a draft evaded the defenses of the thick tapestries. After the old lord was done tonging his ornately woven pillows, he walked into the adjoining chamber. It contained, in a small amount of space, a large table with various tools and contained liquids. A large set of scales sat in the middle of the table. Near one end of the table were several dozen decorated, hard boild eggs, left over from the spring holiday Ostia.
HE placed three of the eggs onto one side of the cale, then proceeded to place the tongs on the other. After a minute or so, the scales balanced out.
“ The wujuamacallims are equal to the weight of the tongs!I knew it all along, yet not once have I been able to test my theroy until now! How do you like my genius, Astar?”
“Why, my lord! It is a brilliant deduction you have had, indeed.”
Chaigen gave a weak smile to his lord. He silently prayed to his gaurdian goddess, Phrenia, to help him through the rest of the day. Then, he realized why the old man was shivering. Gazing again, angry at his own incompetence, he woke his mind up and quickly walked into the bedchamber to retreive the royal purple robe that had somehow found its way on top of the bed canopy.
Ye of wary heart and loose of tongue, ye shall be destroyed in the coming storm.