Chapter 19: The Silent Plea
A time to keep silence, And a time to speak.
Because of the superlative beauty of their wings, Worshipers were fondly referred to as heaven’s decorations. But having a wingspan didn’t translate into any sort of flight experience. Zamarim were flightless. And the longer Kester sat astride the king’s stallion, the more he wished his feet were back on the ground.
Stomach in knots, Kester tried to figure out which would be the greater imposition—grabbing the horse’s flowing mane or the king’s arm.
Although night and noise conspired to hide the boy’s state of mind, Benaiah noticed his rising panic. Instead of stepping away from the horse, the captain pressed closer. “Something to say, newbie?”
Kester opened his mouth, but no sound came out.
“You look like you’d holler if you could find your voice.” And without further fuss, the captain offered a way of escape. Hands upraised, he said, “C’mere.”
The dismount was clumsy at best, a gangling lunge, swing, and flop that landed Kester on Benaiah’s back. When he tried to slide the rest of the way to the ground, the old man hooked his arms under Kester’s knees, keeping him in place. This new perch was less precarious, but the captain was tall. Wrapping scrawny arms around his neck, Kester hung on for dear life.
Solomon spoke up, sounding injured. “He can ride with me, Captain.”
Despite being half-throttled, the old guardsman answered in even tones. “Unless you want your wives and children to assume you’ve brought them a gift, I suggest you let us find our own way home. We’ll raid the stores, then meet you down in Asaph’s archive.”
“I see what you mean. Wait for me,” said the king. Although Benaiah didn’t say a word about Kester’s trembling, Solomon was a man of great understanding. He leaned down and chided, “There’s a time to keep silence and a time to speak, Kester.”
“I will remember,” he mumbled.
At that point, the rest of the royal entourage arrived, and the captain took to the walls. He strode purposefully toward the palace, leaving behind the din at the gates.
Kester protested, “I can walk.”
“Yeah.” But the captain kept right on walking, his long legs covering the distance with impressive speed.
Hiding his face against the old man’s shoulder, Kester added to his paltry list of impressions about the strange guardsman. His clothes smelled of sunshine. He wore some kind of breastplate beneath his outer robe. And he was stronger than he looked. Even with the burden of a half-grown boy on his back, the captain wasn’t breathing hard.
“How did you know?” Kester asked.
“That you were teetering on the verge of panic?” When the boy nodded against his shoulder, Benaiah explained, “You have expressive eyes.”
“And you were freaking out the horse. I’ve never seen him so skittish.”
“Oh,” Kester repeated in an even smaller voice.
“Now that you know where the stables are, you could explore them. The king’s stallion seemed to take a liking to you.” Glancing over his shoulder, he added, “I could teach you to ride.”
Kester cringed inwardly. “Does someone like me need to learn such things?”
“Who can say when it might be needed?” The captain shrugged. “I’ll talk to your mentor about it, and we’ll see what shakes down.”
With an unhappy little hum, Kester lay his cheek on Benaiah’s shoulder, trusting him to find the way home. Recalling the debt he owed, Kester tightened his hold and murmured, “Thank you, Captain.”
“Any time. But work on that holler of yours, newbie.” In serious tones, he repeated, “Who can say when it might be needed.”
♦ Do you have someone who knows what you’re thinking just by looking at you?
♦ When is a good time for silence?
♦When is a good time to speak?
Author’s Note: This story is a prequel to Christa Kinde’s Threshold Series [Zonderkidz] and updates on Thursdays. More information can be found on the Sage and Song index page. Sage and Song, © Copyright 2015 Christa Kinde, all rights reserved. If you want to receive an email whenever my stories update, subscribe to this blog. You can also watch for notifications on Twitter.