The Girl With The Book

Matthew Donnellon

Photo by Ava Sol on Unsplash

*A work of Fiction

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The line was long and did not move very fast.

Every boy in the village was queued up in front of a wagon.

The task was simple.

Everyone in the land had heard of the challenge when the old king died. A ancient sorcerer decreed that the next king would be the boy who could free the sword from the stone.

And so they went from town to town and village to village. The sorcerer watched as each boy struggled to pull the sword out.

Each one got a chance and they could pull until they finally gave up. This would make for a long day.

Which was the exact sentiment the royal guard thought while standing next a wagon carrying the the sword and the stone. How could this be more boring than guarding the old kind, he thought. When the old king died a group of advisors took over. The guard knew he would be standing around listening to boring meetings all day and volunteered to escort the sword around the kingdom.

What he didn’t know was the process would take nearly a year, and now he was at the outskirts of the kingdom. At first it wasn’t bad, staying at the keeps of minor lords and getting feasted at each new town, but now they were only going to forgettable little backwaters so he could watch ten year olds nearly pull their arms out of their sockets. The worst were young men, they’d try for an hour hoping to become king instead of going back to farming.

He spied a young woman with red hair reading a book while sitting under a tree, she was watching the commotion intensely.

Yet again, he watched another person fail to pull the sword.

He thought about trying it himself, except then he’d lose his cushy guard duties, being king was far more work.

Yet again another farm boy gave up and went back to his land.

The guard looked at the old magician who also accompanied the sword everywhere. Most of the time he thought the old man was cracked and he was doing this to keep the realm calm as the king had no heirs.

The last thing anyone wanted as a succession battle.

He figured eventually, the council would just keep power and everyone would forget about this little farce and nobody would really care who sat the throne as long as there was peace.

Just when he thought he couldn’t watch this any longer the young woman approached, the one who’d been reading earlier.

“So this is the famous stone?” she asked.

“Yep.”

“It must be an honor to guard such a priceless artifact.”

“It’s more boring than anything else.”

“Do you think I could have a closer look?” she asked.

The guard looked at the magician who shrugged his shoulders. What harm could she do?

She looked at the stone and the sword for a full minute and then looked back at her book.

“Do you think I could try?” she asked.

The line of young men laughed.

“Young lady, the person who pulls the sword will be king, what good is it for a woman to try?”

“What can it hurt?” the guard asked.

“Fine, but hurry up there’s a long line.”

She grasped the sword and tugged gently and to everyone’s amazement the sword pulled free.

The guard and everyone around immediately dropped to a knee.

“I..I don’t understand,” the magician said.

“You mistranslated the inscription,” the woman said, “It say whoever pulls the sword from the stone will be Queen.”

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Matthew Donnellon is a writer, artist, and sit down comedian. He is the author of The Curious Case of Emma Lee and Other Stories

Detroit, MI
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