Tokus Numas

Tokus Numas by D.W. Rigsby Read Free Book Online

Book: Tokus Numas by D.W. Rigsby Read Free Book Online
Authors: D.W. Rigsby
answer. The guards would be called and would break into my room. They’d stand there until I got dressed, but I’d take my time. ‘Come on, boy, hurry up.’” He mocked Vetus Sepher. “But I wouldn’t hurry. I’d go slower just to make them squirm. Then I’d ask, ‘Why should I go?’” He knew what they would say. “They’d say, ‘Because the king commanded it, and you were selected.’ Then I’d say, ‘So? I can make my own decision.’ But Vetus Sepher would tell me that only boys who’d proven themselves as young men could choose or some other silly nonsense.”
    The rock went higher into the air, and he caught it just before it hit the bench. “Or he’d say that only young men who are needed at home get to decide to stay—if their mother is without a husband; or their father is lame; or both parents are getting too old to care for themselves with long, hard days out in the fields, bending their backs, their legs, and lifting heavy things. And…” He tossed the rock up in the air, watched, trying to think of something else to say, but he knew he couldn’t avoid the truth. “He would be right,” he finally said.
    From the corner of his eye, he caught movement. Three people were coming toward him. He remained still, pretending not to notice, hoping they’d keep on walking past.
    “Stand up, you!”
    It was Sid. He had a scratchy voice that irked Petro each time he heard it. Sid’s nose was pointed up and looked awkward against his flat face, round eyes, and ears that swung out wide. It was like Sid was permanently stuck in that stage between a boy and man. The other two boys followed him like dogs would follow their leader, if their leader were a poodle and they were bulldogs.
    “I said, stand up! Don’t you know the proper etiquette when a royal approaches?” Sid stormed over to stand in front of him.
    Petro remained still, for what did it matter—it was his last day at Dugual. He and Sid never mixed well, and Sid seemed to like ordering Petro around just because he could. Petro stuck out his chin. “Sid, I never get up; you know that. Why would I do it now?”
    “You address me as ‘Prince’ or ‘Your Majesty,’” Sid said, seething.
    Petro gripped the rock, thinking it would be a great thing to find planted between those two gawking eyes in front of him.
    “No, you are as common as I am, no different. I wonder how it feels to know you are just like me,” Petro said in an untroubled tone.
    “I am no commoner.” Sid’s face turned red. “You will address me as a prince, or I’ll have you washing pans in the kitchen until day breaks.”
    Petro kept his gaze on Sid, knowing it had already gone on long enough; putting the king and queen in unhappy moods was not what he wanted. “No, you are no commoner. You are a prince—that is certain.” Petro wondered if Sid caught on that he didn’t address him as prince, just acknowledged he was a prince.
    “And you are not.” Sid mused at his words, looking over to his two cronies. Sid stood erect and formal. “Keal will be a baron one day, like his father, Baron Sirens of the north. Prince Shelk will be king of the Malics after his father, just like I’ll be king of Dugual after my father,” Sid said. “So, commoner, what will you be one day? Oh, I know…a Numa. A servant of both God and man. Sounds common to me.”
    There was a flash of light, and Petro winced, for his head hurt suddenly.
    “Sounds common to me,” Sid said. Petro was sure he’d just said that a moment ago.
    Petro, agitated, dropped the rock onto the stone floor; his hand hurt from where he had gripped it too tight, and now his head hurt. The energy drained from his face. Slowly, in his own time, he got up and stood in front of Sid. He was one year older and taller than Sid. “You’ll never be king, remember? You came out second.” Oh, Petro wished he could take it back, but it was too late.
    Sid’s face screwed up. He paced up and down the path, and

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