Threads of Silver: Chapter 12 ©

Gitano followed the oblivious old dwarf straight to the cottage where Adala sat in view of the attic window. From a nearby tree top he watched as she wove intricate patterns into a piece of blue fabric identical to the ones he had just seen in the market place and the song she sang was so enchanting it almost felt like the stones themselves would soon come to life. The merchant knew he had finally found his prize. Silently he slithered down the tree trunk, mounted his horse and set his course for the palace city.

After two days of long, wearisome traveling Gitano finally stood waiting in the king’s private chambers with a blue woven blanket tucked under his arm. His head hurt, his body ached and somewhere in his soul the feelings of guilt began to make him very uncomfortable. He shifted his weight to his right foot, then to his left, then back again to his right. He cleared his throat and stared at the ornately painted ceiling. “Oh come now!” he muttered to himself “You don’t even know this weaver. For all you know she could be as wicked as the king! Just do your duty and be done with it.” Suddenly the great silver doors burst open and startled the merchant out of his one-man conversation. King Dempsy waddled into the room with an unusual feather plume rising from the collar of his royal blue robe. His cheeks were red and his eyes were wide with impatient excitement. “Well, have you got what I want or not?” he demanded. “Of course, your majesty.” replied Gitano recovering his composure. Bowing low he unfolded the blue blanket. “I have found your magic weaver, your majesty.” King Dempsey reached out and fingered the intricate patterns of the soft blue fabric. “Truly exquisite.” Said the king with indifference “But if this is actually from the magic weaver then this blanket should make me sleep in peaceful bliss… or so the legends say. Obviously there is only one way to find out if that is true.” With that he snapped his fingers and ordered his servants to take the blue blanket and prepare his bed chamber. “Wait!” said Gitano as they snatched the blanket out of his hand “What am I to do until you’ve completed your test?” King Dempsey smiled a cruel smile, snapped his fingers and began to waddle out of the room. Before Gitano knew what was happening two burly guards seized both of his arms and began to drag him down a side staircase. “Wait! What’s this all about? I haven’t even told you the location of the weaver! I demand an explanation!” King Dempsey casually turned around to face the enraged merchant and said in a cold voice “First of all, I am the king and you demand nothing of me. Second of all, I am well aware that you have not told me the location of the weaver which is why you will spend the night in my dungeon until I have verified the validity of your claims. If the blanket does what it should then we will chat in the morning. If it does not then you will face the gallows at dawn. Very simple I should say.” Gitano felt all the life drain from his face as he watched the ridiculous form of King Dempsey disappear behind the great doors. His arms felt like lead in the vice grip of the guards and his feet barely met the ground as they led him down a dark stone hall way. When they finally came to a stop Gitano was shoved into a tiny cell with nothing but a straw mattress and a bucket. The poor merchant rubbed his sore arms, leaned against the cold stone walls and slumped to the floor. “Curse that confounded King!” he growled under his breath “Who knows if there even is such a thing as a magic weaver and now I am probably going to be hung by that ridiculous peacock for getting involved in nonsense! Nonsense!” For the first time in Gitano’s life he felt he did not have control of the situation and it made him angry, scared and enraged all at the same time. One minute he wanted to punch the king in the face and the next minute he wanted to simply run for his life. He tugged at his thick, black hair, looked up at the grey ceiling and then sighed a sigh of resignation. There was nothing to be done but try to sleep and wait until morning. Curling up on the dirty straw mattress, his eyes drooped but his mind kept reaching for the hope that somehow the legends were true and there actually was such a thing as a magic weaver.

(All content on this page is copyrighted by Angela R. Sexton, all rights reserved 2013)

Threads of Silver: Chapter 11©

The sun rose in the crisp morning air and a gentle wind rustled the leaves outside the bedroom window where Jinx was just waking from a deep sleep. It was market day and the old dwarf was as grumpy as he usually was when he had to go to town. He stumbled out of bed, put on his trousers and headed to the kitchen where Adala was making fresh biscuits. “Good morning!” she said cheerfully placing some hot tea and a fresh biscuit on the table. “Are you all ready for market day?” Jinx just rolled his eyes sarcastically as he took a sip from his mug and replied “You know I don’t care for crowded places and all those crazy merchants tryin’ to sell me stuff I don’t need, but it’s gotta be done so I do it.” With a knowing smile on her face, Adala gently kissed his forehead and said “You take such good care of me, how can I ever thank you?” The old dwarf couldn’t help but be softened by the girl’s sweet spirit and a smile tugged at the corners of his mouth as he finished his biscuit. When he was all done he put on his wool coat, cap and boots and turned to go. As he reached the door way he stopped and watched Adala clean the breakfast dishes while humming a soft, almost haunting melody. Somewhere inside of him the feeling of fear began to wrap its cold fingers around his heart. He couldn’t understand where it came from or what he was afraid of but it was most certainly there.

After, what seemed like an eternity Adala noticed him still standing in the doorway and asked “Is everything alright, Jinx?” The old dwarf shook himself out of his contemplation, cleared his throat and replied briskly “Of course it is! I’m just movin’ slow this morning. I’ll be back soon, my dear, keep safe ‘til I return!” He walked quickly to where his donkey and cart were waiting outside, trying to forget the feelings that seemed to tug at him from some dark, unknown place. However, as he set out on his journey Jinx grew more and more troubled. His thoughts kept drifting back to that night when Adala had thrown the silver garment into the flames and begged him not to tell a soul about the special thread or the power that it possessed. He couldn’t help but wonder if maybe it wasn’t really over… if maybe talking to Grenada was really a terrible mistake. His mind swirled with so many thoughts he barely noticed the time passing and if wasn’t for a deer almost running him off the road he might have missed the turn off for the market place all together. When he finally approached his destination the hustle and bustle of the crowds began to draw his attention away from his fears and back to the task at hand. “Ho there, Jinx!” came a friendly shout from a tent directly across the road. It was Old Macintosh; a stout old man with wild gray whiskers who had been friends with Jinx for over a decade. Jinx smiled and brought the donkey to halt beside the tent. The two men greeted each other warmly and quickly got lost in conversations about the weather, the bad roads and the ridiculous food prices. They didn’t notice the well-dressed, dark-haired merchant who was now strolling by to peer inside Jinx’s cart. When his eyes fell upon the stacks of exquisitely woven blue blankets, a smile of satisfaction curled the corners of his mouth. “Hey! Can I help you?” said the gruff voice of Old Macintosh. The mysterious merchant casually turned around and said “Now Mac is that any way to talk to an old friend?” “Gitano? Why I usually only see you when you come by the shop, what brings you out to the market?” “Well, you know buyers are getting picky these days so I thought I’d come see if there was anything interesting to be found out here. I just now noticed these blankets and they are quite exquisite… I don’t think I’ve ever seen the like. Tell me where do they come from?” Poor Old Mac shifted uncomfortably and replied “Well… uh… Jinx, he brings ‘em. We uh… we don’t really know who makes ‘em… but they sure are the finest! Can I interest you in one?” Just then Jinx came up from behind and eyed the merchant suspiciously. “Who’s this?” he huffed. “Oh this is Gitano he’s one of the merchants who visits my shop every month. Gitano this is Jinx.” As Old Macintosh made the introduction Gitano smiled warmly and stretched out his hand to the dwarf. Jinx huffed again, half-heartedly shook his hand and walked to the cart to start unloading. Unruffled, Gitano turned Old Macintosh and said “You know Mac these blankets are simply too exquisite to pass up, I will just take the whole lot of them. Can you give me a good deal?” Old Macintosh’s eyes lit up under his bushy gray eyebrows and Jinx nearly dropped the blankets he was holding in his hand. Of course Macintosh made him a deal and Gitano paid an errand boy standing near-by to take all but one of the blankets to the local inn where he always stayed. Now with all his merchandise sold Jinx was grateful for the excuse to leave the market early and after saying farwell to his old friend he saddled his donkey to go home. Little did he know that following in the shadows at a safe distance behind him was Gitano, and the fears that had troubled him on his market day journey were soon to become reality.

(All content on this page is copyrighted by Angela R. Sexton, all rights reserved 2013)

Threads of Silver: Chapter 10 ©

Nearly six weeks had passed since the king’s announcement and Gitano found himself feeling discouraged. His plan had seemed so simple at first. He had decided to present his buyers with a small gift of silver thread under the guise of thanking them for their patronage, feeling certain that if one of his customers knew the magic weaver they would not be able to resist passing on such a unique gift. Gitano knew the common weakness among all his patrons was a love of storytelling and juicy gossip so he planned to use this to his advantage by inquiring about the gift upon his return. In doing so he felt quite sure that information about the weaver would be revealed. However, so far his plan had gotten him nowhere. All the shop owners he had visited so far kept the thread for themselves and used it on the most ridiculous projects; such as embroidery on their handkerchiefs or trimming on their Sunday hats. One shop owner had even used the silver thread to hang wind chimes off the eves of his roof which made Gitano just shake his head in despair and regret. You see Gitano was a man who loved only a two things in life; his horse, Tango, whom he considered to be his best friend and his wealth. It pained him to give away the spools of fine silver thread in the first place and then to see them so basely used with no reward of information was almost more than the poor merchant could bear. However, as he trudged up the road to Danshire, the last village on his route, he tried to dismiss the feeling that all was lost and focus on finding out what he could. When he finally reached the door of the first thread shop, he straightened himself to his full height, smoothed his thick black beard and swept into the room with a charming smile on his face. The little brass bell above the door chimed and out came an elderly woman with hair as silver as the moon on a cold night. “Grenada, my dear!” said Gitano with a low bow “How are you on this fine afternoon?” “Right as rain, right as rain!” said the old woman warmly. “Have ye gots anything good for me this time?” “Always!” replied Gitano as he set his basket of threads on the worn wooden counter top. Grenada shuffled her way over to the basket and began to slowly browse through the spools of thread; picking up one and putting it back then picking up another and setting it aside for further thought. As she was occupied with the thread Gitano began to ask his questions. “I don’t see that you’ve used that special gift I gave you when I was here last… did you not like it?” “Oh of course I did! But with somethin’ so fine, I thought I would give it to someone who could put it to better use than I. Although it didn’t quite turn out like I thought… but then I shouldn’t say nothin’” Gitano’s eyes began to sparkle with the hope that maybe he’d found what he was looking for. “Oh Grenada!” he said in a pathetic tone “Please don’t tell me you’ve given it to one of those gypsy women! They probably sold it for ten times what it was worth to some poor soul who doesn’t know any better!” “Oh come now! I would never do nothin’ so senseless! I gave it to a dear friend of mine who works for a real special weaver, but turned out she couldn’t use it because its power was too great and – well, never mind… I didn’t give it to no gypsy woman anyways!” Gitano smiled. His plan was finally working but now he had to figure out how to obtain the friend’s name. “Well, I am glad to hear that you gave it to a friend of great skill” he said pretending not to hear about the thread having power “Is there somewhere I could see a sample of her work? I am always looking for new fabrics to sell in the other villages.” “Of course, dearie! Old Macintosh in the market sells her fabrics… I think Jinx is bringing him a new delivery of blankets to sell tomorrow.” “Who’s Jinx?” asked Gitano. “Oh that’s the friend who works for the weaver.” said Grenada absentmindedly. “Now, I will take these blue threads and these gold ones but I want them half price!” Gitano had gotten all that he came for and quickly agreed to Grenada’s terms. As he mounted his horse to go he knew exactly what he must do and began to head in the direction of the market place.

(All content on this page is copyrighted by Angela R. Sexton 2013, All Rights Reserved)

Threads of Silver: Chapter 8 ©

Just south of the palace city there was a tavern hewn out of the side of a mountain. It sat along the main road leading to the rest of the kingdom’s villages and was well known as a favorite gathering place for the traveling merchants. It was owned by Mel and his wife Madeline whom everyone called Miss Maddy. They were a jolly couple; a bit rough around the edges but generally speaking honest folk who enjoyed good ale, hearty food and plenty of merriment. Thus was the atmosphere of the tavern. However, on this particular day the place was busier than it had ever been before and the air was filled with an unusual tension. Agitated boots scraped against the stone floors, tin mugs were slammed down in frustration and the sound of conversation was more like the low rumble of a coming storm. In the corner of the room stood a small, much worn oak table with four men huddled round it. The first, who sat sipping ale with sullen expression on his thin face was named Falan. Next to him was a round, clueless looking man named Osbert; to his left was a fellow by the name of Evander with eyes that clearly betrayed the fiery spirit of youth; then the last man at the table, sitting between Evander and Falan, was an Italian merchant called Gitano. He was dressed in a deep red doublet accented with gold and was clearly the cleverest of the group. Now all four men sat discussing the king’s edict. “How in God’s name are we going to find this confounded weaver? We don’t know where to start looking or really even who we are looking for?” shouted Evander. “It’s all a ploy just to double the taxes, that’s what I say.” Falan muttered into his mug. Osbert, who was always quick to deem any task as impossible added “Well whoever it is, the people are protecting her. Otherwise, she wouldn’t have stayed hidden this long. It’s a fool’s errand if you ask me.” “How do you even know it’s a girl?” asked Falan. “I don’t, that’s just what the legends say.” retorted Osbert. Gitano who had been sitting silently during this exchange finally spoke in a calm tone that suggested he already had a plan. “It is obvious that if the weaver exists then someone is protecting her. The key is simply to find out who it is and discover their weakness. Everyone has a weakness and once you’ve found it you can exploit it to get what you want.” “Anything sounds easy if you say it like that” Falan replied sarcastically. Then Evander raised his glass and said “Well, gentlemen we won’t find anything just sitting here talking about it. Let us depart on our mission and may the best man have success!” At that, all four men raised their mugs and said “Here, here!” in chorus. Then one by one they gathered their things and wondered outside the tavern to where the horses were tied up. Each mounted and waved a final farewell but their thoughts were consumed with the task at hand.

(All content on this page is copyrighted by Angela R. Sexton 2013, All Rights Reserved)

Threads of Silver: Chapter 7 ©

At the palace King Dempsey had summoned all of the merchants in the kingdom to appear before him. No one knew the reason for the summons but the entire court was abuzz with speculation. Of course, it was common knowledge that the king was vain and some suggested that he wished the merchants to find him some rare garment to wear for his extravagant parties; others whispered that the king intended to marry again and was searching for an exquisite jewel to woo the bride-to-be. But despite all the gossip, the king seemed unusually calm. He sat in his throne which was made of solid silver and ornately carved into the shape of a peacock adorned with ruby eyes, sapphire feathers and onyx feet. The throne room itself was covered in carved silver with onyx insets throughout the floor and all the tapestries hanging from the enormous stained glass windows were made of blue velvet, tied back with strings of rubies. It was a ridiculous display of extravagance; as was the emerald green robe trimmed with peacock feathers he had chosen to wear, but this was what was to be expected of King Dempsey.

At long last the merchants were all gathered before the throne and the royal herald rapped his staff on the ground, indicating that the king was about to speak. When the curious murmuring descended into silence, King Dempsey spoke in cool but deliberate tones. “My noble merchants, I do not desire to waste my time so I will plainly state the purpose in summoning you here today. It has reached my ears that the legends of a magic weaver are true and as I am king, I desire to have this talent in my court. All of you sell threads and buy garments in the villages; therefore I command that starting this very day you are to make inquiries in every thread shop and market place to discover the whereabouts of this weaver, but you are to speak your purpose to no one. Whoever finds what I seek must report directly back to me without any delay. The merchant who delivers my prize successfully will be rewarded handsomely but all those who fail will be required to pay double taxes on their garments and threads. Now be on your way for the clock is ticking and I will not be kept waiting.” With that the King waddled out of the room with his feathered robe trailing behind him. All the merchants were left muttering to themselves and cursing the thought of higher taxes if they did not succeed in what seemed to them an impossible task.

(All content on this page is copyrighted by Angela R. Sexton 2013, All Rights Reserved)