“Turin, bring me my shoes”, boomed Sir Sagramore, a stout man in his late forties. He towered six feet above the ground. His flaming red hair and the thick red moustache on the large red face gave him a menacing look. His narrow green eyes fell on the table. His favorite silver plate was on it. Placed on it neatly were his shoes! What the hell! The stupid elf!
“What is the meaning of this, Turin?” he yelled
A thin little creature, around four feet in height with aquiline features and long pointed ears made its appearance as if out of thin air. It was fair as snow and would have been handsome if its face was not marred by the numerous scars. A pillow cover had been adapted into a garment for him. “Master, yesterday night you said asked to serve whatever you asked for neatly in a plate.”
Now he remembered. The previous night he had asked the elf to get him some dessert. The elf had brought the cake in his dirty hands and dumped it into his plate. He had given the elf a sound hiding and had given a standing order that all food items were to be brought neatly in a plate. The elf had now automatically extended the order to include the shoe as well. Sir Sagramore pulled out his whip. It was once again time for some discipline. The elf stood straight and received his punishment without even filching slightly. Sir Sagramore whipped him with all his fury and blood trickled down the elf’s back and neck and stained the pillow cover. But the elf’s eyes looked on in proud defiance. He never understood the elf. The elf seemed to be exactly his opposite. He loved to inflict pain on others. The elf seemed to love pain being inflicted upon it. He always looked for an opportunity to punish his servants and bondsmen. It seemed to always look for opportunities to get punished. He never felt comfortable with the elf around. It made him feel insecure. He would have gladly released it of its services. But his pride would not let him do that.
When he was done with the disciplining, he had the elf get his carriage ready. He had been invited as a guest at the ball in the castle of Sir Lockhart. He enjoyed the visits to these small time Lords in the outlands. He would Lord over them and they would grovel at his feet. He knew none of them liked him. But he also knew they dared earn his displeasure. As the right hand man of Morgana, the king’s sister, he was one of the most powerful knights in the kingdom next only to Sir Lancelot. So every two to three months, they had to entertain him at their castle whether they liked it or not.
It was an overnight journey. He had a faster means of transport at his disposal if he chose. The elf could have used his magic to teleport him in a jiffy. But he did not trust the elf with this kind of powerful magic. None of the knights and wizards really trusted elves with powerful magic. The elves were mostly confined to domestic tasks. Initially the elves had been used in war. There had been battle elves and house elves. But letting the elves loose with powerful magic had turned out to be too dangerous. If they were not careful in their instructions, the elves tended to twist the orders and the magic would rebound on the elves’ masters. So it was decided to confine elves only to domestic chores and now there were only house elves. The amount of harm that could be inflicted in a household was limited. But Turin had lately been testing the limits.
“Ride fast, Turin. We need to reach the inn before the sun sets.”
The minute he said that the horse began to run like it was possessed. His head was spinning. The horse kept running faster and faster. Did the elf mean to kill him?
“Stop! Stop!” he yelled. The carriage came to a halt. “Go slow,” he commanded. The horse now trotted at a snail’s pace. At this rate it would take months before he reached the castle. This was the problem with the elf. He had to give precise instructions. Little by little he had the elf increase the speed of the horse till he finally had the right speed. “Phew!” The elf was such a nuisance.
“Stop. Stop!” he yelled again. His sword had slipped off the scabbard and fallen on the wayside. The elf had made no attempt to retrieve it. The elf could have easily retrieved it magically without even stopping if it had wanted. But he had to give explicit instructions. “Whenever anything falls off, ensure you retrieve it and give it to me. Understood?” he yelled. He badly wanted to give elf a sound thrashing. But they had to speed on to reach the inn before sun fall. The elf probably realized that. No wonder he was behaving worse than normal.
Thankfully the rest of the journey was uneventful and they reached the inn. The entire inn had been reserved for him. All other guests had been turned away that day. It had been fully decorated to welcome the knight. A royal banquet had been prepared for him. As he sat down to savor the delicious food, he found a beautifully wrapped parcel next to his plate of food. It smelt a bit strange though. He wondered what it was. His curiosity got the better of him and he unwrapped the parcel. An unseemly sight greeted him. It was filled with horse shit infested with worms and flies. He felt sick. What little food was in his stomach retched out violently! He had lost appetite for the night. He felt too weak even to summon Turin. He just wanted to retire to bed for the night.
“What the hell was that parcel, last night?”
“You only asked to retrieve everything that fell of the carriage and hand them to you. That is exactly what I did.”
Sagramore was furious. Once again the instructions had been misinterpreted. Things had gone too far this time. A mere whipping would no longer suffice. Time had come to permanently dispose of this insolent elf. But that had to wait till he reached the Lockhart castle.
The grand reception at the Lockhart castle helped erase some of the unpleasantness of the journey. But Sagramore was not the person either to forget or forgive. Once he had had some rest and some spirits had lightened his spirits, he roared, “Lockhart, get me a heated iron!”
Sir Lockhard had no idea why Sagramore needed an iron. But he knew better than to question the order of Sagramore and soon a bond man came bearing a hot iron.
The elf also watched curiously what his master was up to. He did not at all like the expression on his face. Turin did not have long to find out for his master turn to him and commanded, “Stand still where you are and do not move from here till I command you to!”
The elf stood rooted on the spot like a statue. Sagramore’s face now had a broad smile as he took the iron in his hand and approached the elf.
As the iron approached Turin’s eye for the first time, insolence was replaced by fear. But elf was bound by the command to stang still and let his master burn out his eyes. This would teach the elf an unforgettable lesson for its years of defiance overs. Sagramore was just loving this moment and he wanted to savor every bit of it. So he took his time and let the anticipation build up and the fear grow in the elf’s mind.
Another moment and the iron would have made contact with the elf’s eye. But a plump hand knocked the iron off his hand and it hit the floor with a clang.
“Please don’t hurt the poor creature,” a female voice said.
He turned around and saw a homely looking peasant girl standing next to him.
He was furious. “Who let this dirty sow into the castle?”
No one replied. He looked around. He noticed that Lord Lockhart’s youngest son Gilderoy had also joined them. From his guilty expression, he surmised that he had something to do with the appearance of the serving wench. He had always felt the young man was not fit to be a nobleman’s son. Now his opinion was confirmed. But he would deal with him later. First the wench had to be taught a lesson.
He looked towards two of the bondsmen and shouted, “Get hold of that ugly bitch”
She tried to resist but they were too strong for her. They easily overpowered her. Sagramore advanced towards her. He had temporarily forgotten the elf who still stood glued to the spot waiting for the order to move.
He turned to the guests at the castle, “We seem to have an uninvited guest here. But now that she is here, let us make the best of it. What say we have some mirth, sires?”
Many of the guests had already been drinking and were feeling rather light. They were well acquainted with Sagramore’s idea of fun and knew what he had in mind. They all roared, “Go on, Lord Sagramore. We are waiting.”
The girl still continued to struggle as the men held her to the wall. “Let go of me, you, brutes! You are hurting me”
“Please let her go, Sir Sagramore. She is here as my guest. She is ignorant of the ways of the castle. Please forgive her.”
It was the young whelp, the second son of Lord Lockhart. How dare he speak up out of turn! Sagramore turned around and struck him. It was a heavy blow for the lanky young man and his lips started bleeding. His gaunt face was now looking red and flushed.
He pulled out his sword, “You insult my honor as a knight, Sir Sagramore. I will not let this go unavenged I challenge you to a duel.”
Lord Sagramore burst into laughter. “You? A knight? Was that supposed to be a joke?” He swatted aside the young man’s hand as if he were a fly. The sword fell off his hand.
The whole hall broke into laughter. “What a weakling of a son you have raised, Sir Lockhart? You should be ashamed of him.”
Lord Lockhart stood quietly, his head bowed down in shame.
The young man flew at Sagramore and tried to attack him with bare hands. Sagramore caught hold of him by his neck, lifted him high and shook him like a rat. Then he flung him to the ground. Before he could get up, he gave him two hard kicks on his belly. He doubled up in pain.
“Throw this ill-mannered cur out of the castle.”
The bondsmen did not move. He was after all the son of their lord. They looked expectantly at Lord Lockhart. He sadly shook his head and signaled them to obey. They picked up the young man and lead him out of the castle.
Now Sagramore’s attention was once again turned to the girl. “What is it about you that has put spirit into the weakling? Maybe you have something hidden inside, eh? We would also like to see what you have shown the idiot. Don’t we, sires? “
Her walked up to her and seized her bodice and threw it aside scornfully, exposing her gown. His hand then reached out to the neck of her gown. All the guests in the hall were watching with anticipation, cheering loudly. He ripped apart the gown. All the guests caught a glimpse of her inner garments for a second and the gown became whole again.
“Enough, human! Lay your hands off her!” It was the elf. He held the bodice in his hands.
It was the elf’s first act of open defiance. Sagramore could not understand what was happening. An elf was not supposed to disobey his master.
“Stay where you are, elf! I command you! I am your master,” he yelled as the elf advanced on him menacingly.
The elf’s lips twitched a little. “You were my master, “it corrected. “Not anymore. Thank you for releasing me from your services. I am extremely grateful to you.” The elf bowed mockingly and waved the bodice annoyingly in front of its master’s face.
Sagramore’s face contorted in fury as understanding dawned upon him. An elf was released from his master’s service by the gift of clothing. The elf must have caught the bodice and treated it as a gift of clothing. The cunning creature!
“Seize that insolent elf,” he shouted. The men rushed to capture the elf
The elf made some motions with his hand, uttering some strange words. Suddenly the hall was filled with grunts. The girl suddenly found the hold on her released suddenly. She looked around. The hall was filled with hogs. Sir Lockhart and all his guests had disappeared. Sir Sagramore also could not be seen any more.
The elf bowed down to her. “Turin at you service, fair maiden. Thanks to you, I am free. I have dealt with these vile humans as they deserved. Let us leave this place now.”
Seeing her concerned look, he added, “Don’t worry about them. They will be back to normal in a few hours. We are not a vindictive race like you, humans. Let us make use of the time we have and put some distance from them.”
He held out his hand to her.
“I am glad I could help you, Turin. You can call me, Helga. I am also grateful to you for rescuing me. You can come home with me”
Picture Credit: http://social.bioware.com/