What Do You Value
The blade at my throat was all I could see. I was certain small rivulets of blood oozed down the front of my shirt. I was had. I was doomed.
“What do you value?” My captor put to me. I could barely think. Sweat soaked my clothing from the exhausting duel we had been dancing. My own sword had clattered to the floor when I lost my footing on loose pavement. My captor pressed ever more firmly with the sword hilt into my throat. Stars and bright lights began to fill my eyes.
“I value my life, I value my honor, I value my family, I value love, I value my friends and I value good health.” The words poured over my lips before I had time to think. Was this a riddle? I had heard the French held riddles in high esteem. Had I just thrown my life away with my honesty rather than think this through?
My captor, Baron Von Bassett of Burgundy, slowly withdrew his saber from my throat. He looked me up and down again. “Indeed.” Was all he said as he sheathed his sword and strode to gather up our horses. Leading my horse to me, wordlessly to avoid any attention, he motioned I should follow him.
Our duel began in the dirty unkempt courtyard, after too many cups at the tavern, over who would be heading out to slay the dragon who had been plundering the village of livestock and youngsters. I was surprised to learn the children were also being taken, I had thought dragons actually preferred not to eat humans. As it turns out, this particular village pampers the very young with goats milk and curds long after most children are weaned. This, apparently, makes them quite tasty.
The trail the Baron had chosen was one to take us above the dragon’s lair. Over mountainous paths and through barren windswept glens. Letting the reins slack, Caballo followed our leader with a surefootedness I had not seen before. Caballo had carried me and my gear across many countries for many years. I left the heavy lifting up to her. When leaving my father’s home, all those years ago, I was given Caballo.
Born the third son of an aristocrat, my youngest brother, Pablo, was given to the Church. My oldest brother, Ricco, is to inherit. Leaving my next older brother, Ignatio, and I to leave the family home and seek our fortunes. A good horse, two pair of boots, a warm over coat, my sword, and of course a purse of gold; and off into the wild unknown we traveled.
Ignatio and I had wandered the countryside together for three years. One evening a winter’s storm caught us by surprise. We hurried to an estate we could see in the distance, hoping to spend the night in one of the many barns. Much to our good fortune, the Baron Zavala was extremely accommodating. As it turned out the Baron Zavala, and his devoted wife, had brought only daughters into the world. While the three senoritas were comely enough, they just didn’t hold the pizzazz I might need to settle down with a wife. Ignatio was beaming when I left him, I only hope his joy is sustained.