Once upon a time, there was a kingdom of Rockpence which was ruled by King Kilgren, the Warrior King, and his lovely wife, Queen Catira. King Kilgren was a wise and just king, and beloved by all his subjects. He was a fierce warrior, feared by his enemies. Because of this, no one challenged him and his people lived in peace.
One summer, a blight came upon the kingdom. No one knew where it came from or what caused it, and His Majesty sent word far and wide in search for an answer. One day, a young girl sought an audience with the King, claiming she had the answer to his crisis.
Elora was escorted into the King's Court. She was a simple peasant girl, with unkempt hair, dressed in rags, dirt on her face. She fell to the floor at the feet of Kilgren and Queen Catira.
Kilgren sat uncomfortably on the throne. He was more used to moving around and getting things done himself and the whole act of “holding court” annoyed him. He looked over at his Queen, who calmly sat on her throne, watching the young girl who had prostrated herself before them. He rolled his eyes, then turned to the girl. “Arise, dear girl. I was told you have an answer to this blight. Pray, tell me what you know.”
The girl stood up and brushed the dirt off of the skirt of her ragged dress. “Yes, Your Majesty. I shall tell you what I know.
“My name is Elora. I come from the village of Steria. There, I was employed by an evil witch. She is always conjuring up something vicious for the local villagers. But this time, the blight she set onto the village crops has spread to all of Rockpence. You have to kill the witch to stop the blight.”
King Kilgren glanced at his Queen. She was staring at the girl, her face pensive. Kilgren looked back at the girl. “Thank you, Elora, for telling me this. What is the name of your employer? I want to look further into this matter.”
The girl looked a little alarmed. “Her name is Vira. She lives in the middle of the village, in the biggest house in the square.”
“Don't worry, child,” Catira soothed, “you are safe here.”
The girl visibly relaxed.
“Jemel, show this young guest to a room, give her some clothes, food, and a place to wash up from her difficult journey. Elora, thank you again for telling me this information.” The girl bowed before the King, then followed Jemel out of the hall.
Kilgren turned to Catira. “What do you think?” he asked her.
Catira shook her head. “I have some doubts. Is Wareth in the room?” she asked loudly. A tall, thin, young man approached the dais and bowed before the Queen. “Good,” she smiled at the empath. “What do you make of this girl's story?”
Wareth looked troubled. “She is lying, your Majesty. But I suspect you already knew that.”
“I just needed it verified,” Catira replied. “What would she gain by coming here and lying about something like this?”
Kilgren scratched his short beard. “I can think of nothing. We should send Wareth and a detachment of soldiers to Steria and have them look into the matter. Perhaps they can learn more about what Elora is about.” Wareth nodded. “Cray, please come here,” Kilgren ordered.
A large, blond-haired young man approached his King. “Yes, M'Lord?”
“Cray, gather a contingent of 10 soldiers and ride to Steria. See what you can ascertain about this girl and Vira, her alleged employer. You will be taking Wareth with you.” Cray smiled. He had traveled with Wareth many times. “Yes, M'Lord.” He bowed, then he left the room with Wareth to prepare for the journey.
“Catira, my love, do you think this blight is caused by magic?” he asked.
Catira shook her head. “My mystic training says no. This is a natural phenomenon. I am not trained in agriculture, but perhaps we should check with the elves to see if they have any ideas?” Kilgren nodded. “I should have checked with them first,” he said. He sent word to the woods elves to the North. Then he looked at Catira. “And now we wait.”
Wareth, Cray, and the 10 soldiers were soon on their way to Steria. The journey should take 4 hours on horseback if they travel at a steady gait. Wareth had met Cray many years ago, before Kilgren had become King and Catira was only a Mystic. Catira had found Wareth lost and confused in the woods. Cray had stowed away with them on that same quest.
“We shall be there before noon,” Cray observed, “and home before night.” Wareth nodded.
The village of Steria was located on top of a hill. It was a large village, bustling with activity. Wareth inquired about the whereabouts of Vira and was directed to the largest house in the square, just as Elora had said. When they had ridden to the house, Wareth raised a hand to the soldiers. “Allow me to talk to the woman alone. We do not need to cause undue alarm,” he said. Wareth then dismounted, handed the reins to Cray, and approached the house.
A kind, older woman answered the door. “Yes,” she asked. Wareth smiled. “Good afternoon, M'Lady,” he said, bowing. “I need just a moment of your time. Can you spare any?” The woman nodded, opened the door fully, and said, “please come in.” Wareth entered the modest home and sat in the chair he was directed to.
“M'Lady, I am here seeking answers. Are you the one known as Vira?” The woman nodded. She offered Wareth a cup of tea, which he took. After taking a sip, he proceeded. “Does a young woman named Elora happen to be in your employ?” Again the woman nodded, but this time there was a disturbed look on her face. Wareth could sense a little unhappiness. “What can you tell me about the girl?”
Vira sighed deeply. “That young thing is nothing but trouble. I can not trust her for anything. I will tell her to go to the market and pick up some fish, she returns and tells me there are no fish. I have had her followed and my other servants say there are plenty of fish, Elora just walks past them.
“She broke a plate and said the cat knocked it off the table. She forgot to tie up the horse and it ran off, and she told me the lead was broken. She told me it was snowing and the sun was out and the sky was clear. She told my husband one of his customers had passed away and the man came to call the next day. It is my opinion that she does not know the truth from fancy.” Wareth nodded. He did not think he needed to check any further. This woman was not a witch and the girl was not reliable. “Thank you, M'Lady,” he said. He stood up from the chair and handed Vira the empty teacup. “Thank you for the lovely tea and for your time.”
“Is Elora in trouble?” Vira asked. “She did not come to work this morning and did not send word that she was ill.” Wareth looked at the kindly woman. “Elora is safe for now,” he said. Wareth nodded, then left the house.
Cray looked at his friend expectantly. “What did you learn?” he asked. Wareth sighed. “The girl always lies. You can not trust much of anything she says.” Wareth climbed onto his horse and turned it towards the castle. “And now we must inform our King of this information.” The contingent turned around and headed home.
Kilgren was standing on the parapet when the group returned. He arrived at the courtyard just as the horses trotted in. He looked at Wareth's face and knew instantly the girl had lied to him. And Wareth knew instantly his King was aware. “What did you learn on your quest for knowledge?” Wareth dismounted from his horse and handed his reins to the stable boy. Cray joined them as they walked towards the main building of the castle. “The girl is a notorious liar. I am surprised she retains her employment with that kind lady who is definitely not a witch.” Kilgren nodded. “Then we must teach this girl a lesson so she never tells a lie again,” the King said.
The King decided to hold court the next day and he invited Elora to attend. Elora arrived in court all cleaned up and in a lovely new dress. She curtsied happily to the king as he walked past her on the way to the dais. The mood in the room was light and gay.
Suddenly the door to the room was flung open. A soldier stumbled into the room. He was covered in dirt and blood and his garments were ripped. He stumbled to the dais and fell onto the floor in front of the King.
“My God, what happened?!” Kilgren exclaimed. He bent over the soldier and helped him up off the floor.
“I just returned from Steria,” he gasped, “I am the only one who made it back.”
“Get this man some water,” Kilgren ordered. He then turned his attention to the soldier. “Pray tell, what transpired?” The soldier was given some water, which he gulped down before continuing.
“We arrived at the village and it appeared peaceful enough. When we inquired about the witch, we were met with a blast of flame and wind. Gargoyles then began picking us off, one at a time. I barely managed to get past them, only to find myself face to face with the Witch. The one they call Vira. She threw some magic at me just as I threw my spear. I managed to kill her. When I turned to find my cohorts, they were all dead.”
Catira was watching Elora's face during this shocking display. The girl was terrified. She even attempted to leave the room but was intercepted by Cray. Catira left the dais and walked towards the girl. She gently put her hand on the girl's arm. “Elora, where are you going?” she asked.
Elora's face was pale. “Is she really dead? Is Vira dead?” she asked Catira. Catira nodded. “You said she was a witch, didn't you?”
Elora began to cry. “No, she was not a witch,” she sobbed. “Vira was not a witch. I lied.” Elora fell to her knees sobbing. “And my lie killed her!” At this time, the whole Court was looking at the girl and the Queen.
Catira stooped down to the sobbing girl. “Elora, your employer is not dead. We sent someone to talk to her and learned you have a habit of lying to people. So we decided to teach you a lesson. Words have consequences, whether they are the truth or a lie, they still have consequences.” Elora nodded. “I will tell the truth from now on,” she sobbed.
A cure was found for the blight shortly after, and Elora learned never to tell a lie again. The people in the Kingdom of Rockpence lived happily ever after.