~ The king's request ~
When Pallas stepped outside of the Royal Stable, a soft breeze caressed him gently with the pleasant scent of fresh pines. It came like a sweet blessing for his sensitive nose overloaded from the scent of manure and dirt. The bright fearless sun watched over the land as it embraced it with its gentle light. Judging from its position, Pallas guessed it was around one or maybe two in the afternoon already. He closed his eyes and let this moment sink in.
From what he heard from the guards, the king would want to go out on a hunt together with his guests after he savored his lunch. In other words, he only had around half an hour at most before his majesty arrived at the Royal Stable.
If the king found the horses thirsty and starving, he would definitely go and question Pallas for answers. At least, he had the water system to thank for. It made his job much easier. With a simple turn of a handle, the fresh cold water swept through the pipes and right into the drinking bowls of every horse in the stable.
Pallas heard it was the Grand Sorceress who built this marvelous system after some of the king’s precious horses refused to drink the water brought to them by the servants. This way, the animals were tricked into believed they drank from a natural spring. This happened a year or so ago when the king started to dismiss any stable worker who wasn’t liked by his beloved horses.
When Pallas arrived at the capital, a couple of weeks ago, the last one of them got fired, and the king was in urgent need of new workers. Pallas applied for the job, and his majesty sent him towards the stable immediately. He only had a single day to show he was worthy of the job.
Pallas immediately found out that the horses were incredibly stubborn. The whole day they tried to get him into trouble. They neighed, they hit the walls and ground with their hooves, they tried everything they could to chase him away. Annoyed, Pallas turned his eyes into red wolf eyes and immediately brought them all to a halt. With the animals calmed down long enough for him to complete his job, he managed to pass the king’s test.
Since then, he became the appointed stable master of the Royal Stable, and every day had been a real challenge for him. Trying to keep the horses happy, without relying on his trick, made it considerably harder for him.
Opening his eyes, Pallas let out a long sigh. It was time to go to the storehouse and grab a few baskets of feed for the horses. At least, this part was going to be easy as well, and he never had to worry about not finding their desired food. The Grand Sorceress’ method of managing and storing the supplies was a god-given gift, in his opinion.
The storehouse was located on the other side of the castle. It was one of the biggest in the city, and only a handful of servants managed it. They kept the rats out and made sure everything was in perfect shape and order. They took care of all the supplies stored inside, making sure they didn’t ran out of any of them and also that they didn’t rot.
Before the implementation of the Grand Sorceress’ system, things were pretty tough. Food was either eaten too fast or ended up rotting on the shelves. Because of this, rat infestation was a common thing in most storehouses. Tools and other regular items, once completely used took weeks, even months to restock. Now, any rotten food was quickly disposed of, and the tools resupplied before they ran out of them.
In the past, if there was something that a lot of people ate or used often, the storehouse keepers made sure to hold a big supply of it. When they ran out of something, the servants were sent to the local markets to buy more. Unfortunately, some wares wasn’t so easy to find. When there was a low supply even in the capital, the only place to get it was either through foreign trade or by getting it from other faraway cities and villages. Because of this, they had to wait days, even weeks, before their received what they needed.
With the Grand Sorceress’ method, the storehouse keepers had every item stored in small batches. As soon as there wasn’t enough supply left for the following two or three days, the servants immediately ordered a restock. This way they would have enough of that item before they ran out.
This method proved so efficient, it was even implemented in other settlements. Many merchants and nobles found it extremely useful compared to before, when they just had to make sure to stuff their storehouses to the brim with goods even if they didn’t need them.
The entire kingdom used this method, and everyone thanked the Grand Sorceress for coming up with it, and the king for spreading it. His subjects were happy and wouldn’t need to worry anymore about a lack of supplies. Nevertheless, the nobles were the ones to profit the most, since they were paid by the peasants and merchants to have either their supplies stored or bought from there.
Once he arrived at the castle’s storehouse, Pallas told the keeper what he wanted, how much and for what purpose. After signing a small paper on which he confirmed those numbers, the workers brought him the desired goods. For now, Pallas was only interested in one basket filled with apples, another with carrots, and a few turnips. He didn’t need anything else, since the regular feed was up on the second floor.
It didn’t take long for the workers to bring him those two baskets. After he politely thanked them, Pallas carried them back to the stable. Still, he had to make two round trips, carrying one big basket at a time. He didn’t want to look too suspicious by carrying more than a human of his size and build could handle.
As soon as he brought the last basket, he closed the door behind him. By now, the horses already quenched their thirst and with a glare demanded to be fed. They neighed furiously and kicked the ground with their hooves.
“I know! I know! You’re going to get your food now!” Pallas shouted back at them.
He didn’t need the horses to turn anymore crazier than they already were, so he hurried up the stairs, to the second floor and brought the feed for each horse. One after another, Pallas filled their trough and the animals began to eat happily. Seeing how long he kept them without food, they weren’t going to make a fuss about him bringing them something to eat. As soon as they finished or were about to, he gave each of them some carrots and apples. The turnips were reserved for one of the hot bloods, a black stallion with a picky taste.
To make sure everything was in perfect order, he walked through the stable one more time and checked the condition of each horse. One of them tried to bite him when he approached his food, but he ignored him and stepped back. If he had the energy to bite him, he was certainly in good shape.
“Good! Everything is in perfect order! Now, maybe I can finally get a moment to rest!” said Pallas with a pleased smile on his face.
For now, there was nothing left to do in the stable. Even if he used a bit of his secret power, he was still glad he managed to finish his job before the king arrived. Now all he had to do was wait patiently for his highness.
It didn’t take long and just ten minutes later, the door to the stable was opened by one of the royal guards. While they remained outside, the king himself entered and looked with great pride at his beloved horses. They all neighed happily when they saw him, recognizing his high status and also knowing that he was their master.
“Your majesty!” said Pallas immediately as he made a respectful half body bow in front of the king.
“Pallas! How are my horses doing?” the man asked with a strong tone of voice.
The king’s name was Henric Albaius. He was a middle-aged man, closer to thirty in looks, but with more than forty years on his back and with a mind as wise as that of an elder. His gray hair was long and kept hidden under a gold crown filled with jewels. The beautiful big red gem in the middle caught the attention of all those who gazed upon it. The king had large cheeks from the constant smiling and smirking while his hard skinned hands proved he wasn’t a man to let others do his work. The mantle of a white bear’s pelt covered his broad shoulders and reached all the way down to his heels. As for the breastplate he wore, it covered his entire torso. The king’s eyes were of a deep dark-green color. They held great wisdom in them and showed a certain gentleness only to those who rightfully deserved it.
Few could actually reach King Henric’s height. If you knelt in front of him, he became a giant, both in stature and presence. No matter where he went, the king of Dumveille always struck as someone of great prowess, undefeated in his endeavors. For this reason, the king of Summest actually held him in high regards and this told something, especially since the elves always saw the mortal humans as feeble and at times weak.
“Your majesty, the horses are well rested. They have a clean stall, and I just fed them. Shall I prepare them for your departure?“ asked Pallas as he kept his head bowed to the king and his tone as humble as that of the lowest peasant.
“Yes, prepare my ten best horses and then bring them to the front gates! I wish to go hunting together with my guests! They need to see just how beautiful and strong my prized horses are!” King Henric ordered as he pointed at the ones he wanted to bring with him on the hunt.
“As you desire, your majesty!” replied Pallas trying to look as humble as possible.
Despite his best efforts not to show he was more than your average servant, a glitter in the king’s eyes showed his majesty was suspecting something about him. Pallas was the first to be able to handle the stable duties on his own and even more so keep the horses in a good health. This was indeed a marvelous feat that none of the previous three stable masters could accomplish. They all ran away from his demanding pets.
Since the king already gave his orders and didn’t desire to stay any longer, he turned around and walked calmly out of the stable. He headed towards the main gate where his guests awaited him patiently. They kept themselves busy all this time by talking among themselves about various economic and political situations from the other kingdoms.
As soon as King Henric was out of the stable, Pallas immediately went to the first horse and began to prepare him for the journey ahead. He made sure to double check each belt on the saddle. They weren’t supposed to be too loose and make the rider fall off, but not too tight either and hurt the horse. He did the same with the next one and then brought the first two horses to the king. The white stallion with a black stripped mane was the king’s favorite horse, while the next one, a mare, was the second best. Both were purebred hot bloods.
King Henric showed him a big grin when he saw his prized possessions. He immediately began to describe the beauty and strength of each one of them. He told his honored guests where he got them from and what breed they were.
As it turns out, a couple of them were actually gifts from either respected nobles or foreign dignitaries. The others were breeds he procured by himself through various means, either by going to buy them himself or by sending a trusted knight. Of course, Pallas already knew all of these, since the king made sure he listened to his stories every so often.
One of the king’s guests handled a couple of hunting dogs. They were waiting patiently next to the proud noble. The canines, however, stared at Pallas quite intensely each time he brought one of the horses. They perked their ears up and looked at him the moment he came into view. He, on the other hand, ignored them. They were probably curious or simply confused because of his scent. The manure most likely had something to do with it.
In just twenty minutes, Pallas managed to bring all of the requested horses. The hunting party was now ready to start.
“Let us depart!” ordered the king as he pulled the reins, and his proud horses began to move.
His guests followed him, eager to start the hunt. Meanwhile, Pallas remained with his head bowed down until the last of the nobles passed through the castle gate.
“Honestly, I would have suspected the king to bite your head off, lad!” said Hingrid as he lifted his helmet up a bit.
Pallas looked over at the guard who was stationed at the gate. Indeed, such a feat would have been impossible for a normal human, but he was a bit special.
“Sometimes, I work well under pressure.” replied the stable master with a smile.
“One of these days you’ll get yourself burned, lad.” warned the guard.
“Then I will go and pray to the gods to spare me!” he replied.
Hingrid laughed and then said to him “You are just lucky, boy! Just lucky!”
Pallas didn’t reply this time, he merely showed him a small smile and nodded once.
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