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 Category:  Fantasy Fiction
  Posted: January 9, 2020      Views: 55

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 ABOUT
HENRY KING 

I am a widower who has retired from U. S. Military with over twenty-six years of Service and thirteen years of instructing and conducting business research at a university. I have five children, nine grandchildren and eighteen great-grandchildren. I - more...

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The results of a Fortune Teller's advice
"Claustrophobia & Metamorphosis" by Henry King



I was walking on pins and needles as I approached the tree veiled lea. I heard the beat of bass drums, bah boom bah boom bah boom, underscored by the rat ta tats of snares reverberating along the tree lined dirt path. There were fifteen uniformed and masked drummers in a line on the far edge of that bucolic scene. The sun began its traverse through the cloudless azure arc, bah boom bah boom, and the steady rat ta tat beat continued.

On my right was a copse of trees and bushes, billowing like emerald green marshmallows on a cup of hot chocolate. I crawled to the edge of the thicket to hide from prying eyes. Pendants of glistening dew dangled from the tree leaves and supplied an ethereal ambiance to this natural amphitheater. Bah boom bah boom reverberated through my prone body. I felt my heartbeat matching the drumbeat. The closeness of the bushes and trees instigated a claustrophobic feeling. Something was happening.

I shouldn't have come here, but the fortune teller was resolute. For my last worn copper, the seer told me to witness the events in the Queen's lea on the Summer Equinox, from sunrise to sunset. If I did it successfully, my penurious life would change for the better. The lea was popularly called the Meadow of Delights by bards and poets.

I had to do something, my wife was pregnant with our first child. She couldn't work any longer, and we needed the money to survive. After my shoe shop burned to the ground, under suspicious circumstances, I had to seek work. There was not steady work in our village. My father-in-law would take what money my wife and I saved and let her live with his family.

I didn't want to be like my father who ran away, without a word, leaving a pregnant wife destitute. He was the village miller. A surprise flood destroyed his mill. Consulting with my wife and father-in-law, my best opportunity was in the Royal City. It was a two-day walk from our village. I planned to be away for two weeks.

As the sun rose, the hoofbeats of a horse became clear. A large white prancing steed with ebon hooves came into view. The brushed and plaited mane hung halfway to the ground. The tail was docked and tied with black silk ribbons. It seemed the stallion looked directly at me as it snorted and whinnied. On the steed's broad back was a figure, hidden by a long fall of blue highlighted black hair. A dainty long-fingered unadorned hand, at the end of a tanned bare right arm, was bearing a golden cup.

The drumming became more strident. The steed's ears perked. Hidden trumpets sounded a fanfare. Immediately fifteen blindfolded, hooved fauns piped Quick March as they entered the verdant field in an oblique formation, marching towards the drumline. With a flurry of snares, the pipers and drummers formed a column of threes. A pair of drummers and a piper followed by two pipers and a drummer, then continuing in that pattern to from ten rows.

Trumpets blared anew. The drums and pipes were followed by the white horse and its rider. They made a left turn at the forest edge. As the last row turned, fifteen blindfolded trumpeters and fifteen snare drummers joined behind the horse. I was watching a grand parade.

Gnomes appeared magically from nowhere bearing mead, steaming roast meat, succulent vegetables and heavenly smelling pie. The majordomo, bowing from the waist said, "For your enjoyment, during the parade. The Queen will join you anon."

In shock, I replied, "I'm but a poor merchant in rags, I'll be beheaded for sure."

"Have no fear my lord. The Queen knew you would be here. Her Highness is aware of your misfortune. Her generosity, kindness and love for her people have no bounds. Enjoy your meal, the Queen wishes it so."

How did she know?

The Queen's march pace slowed as they moved towards the far end of the meadow. The sun's rays warmed my food and drink sated body. The drum's steady beat lulled me to sleep.

^ ^ ^

"My lord, the Queen approaches."

"What did you say?"

"The Queen approaches my lord. Here's a damp cloth to sooth your sleep filled face."

As I wiped my face, I noticed my raiment was different. It was made of the finest white silks and satins. My body was bathed and perfumed. My boots and belt were made of smooth, pliant and glistening black leather. "Where are my clothes? I don't recall bathing and changing my attire."

There was no response.

The beat of drums silenced, as the pipers sounded Halt. The stallion gave a mournful whinny and stomped heavily. The rider drank from the cup. The gnomes, except for one, disappeared. The majordomo lay prostate, arms forward, with his face flat against the damp dirt.

A dulcet voice said, "Farewell my sweet steed. Your son is here to replace you."

In a flash of light, the white horse shook, metamorphosis began. An old man, wearing white silks and black boots, walked away on the dirt path. He looked back once with his eyes full of tears.

My view was different. I was looking upon a nude black haired maid. My ebon hooves stomped. Blood infused my body. I was rigid in anticipation. My Queen was here.

Author Notes
A short tale about a Queen renewing her consort.

I want to thank Renate-Bertodi for the art work. It comes fantastically close to the white horse in my story.
Pays one point and 2 member cents. Artwork by Renate-Bertodi at FanArtReview.com

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