Debt of Mercy (short story)
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Sabina, you dawdler!” Impatience etched Gillota’s voice. “Mass is nigh over and Lord Raboc will not be kept waiting!”
Sabina nodded mutely and balanced her tray of bread as she piled on another loaf.
“Enough! Go!” The head cook flipped her hands and Sabina quickly heeded the message.
In the dining hall, Sabina could hear the low tones of Raboc’s laughter. At least he was in good humor this morning. Sabina relinquished her load to the table and returned to the kitchen for more. The rowdiness in the dining hall only escalated as Raboc filled himself with food and wine.
With her task finished, Sabina waited in a quiet corner for Raboc to leave the room. Her eyes travelled to the narrow slit of a window. From her elevated standpoint, she could see for miles down the well-worn road. In the morning sunlight, a cloud of dust formed on the horizon. Sabina squinted her eyes. No small company formed such commotion.
Raboc pounded his fist on the table and Sabina jerked her attention to him. “More!” he commanded, holding his cup out. Sabina rushed to fulfill the task then took initiative to clear up the used dishes. Each time she passed the window, she paused, her curiosity intensified.
How much wine would Raboc inhale? It was still early morning, but Sabina obeyed without word or question. Finally, Raboc loitered to the next room and Sabina hurried with the other girls to clean.
On her final trip to the dining hall, a loud exclamation from the next room stopped her.
“And what pleasure have I this visit?” Raboc’s polite query contrasted his earlier tone. Sabina slipped to the doorway.
“No pleasure, but duty.” The man speaking was surrounded by several guards. Sabina’s eyes quickly took in the velvet cap and fur coats carefully adorned with peacock feathers. The king himself. “It has been brought to my attention, Lord Raboc, that you have taken control of funds and misplaced them.”