The stocks were painful yet bearable. The pain had peaked on the first day until I got more used to the soreness. Now it was just boring if I ignored the hunger and dehydration.
At the very least I hoped that I would see excitement in the city again, enthusiasm on people’s faces would be great to see, and on the first few days I had that. There were a group of children who threw rotten fruit at me for the first couple of days. I didn’t mind that really since it broke up to monotony but my passiveness towards the situation caused them to stop and return to how they used to be. I think they were actually sorry for me. As the nights got older the fruit would often switch to stones but not for very long. They hurt and made me bleed but it wouldn’t kill me.
I had no idea how long I would be locked up for, they didn’t tell me, and so I had to enjoy the simple things in life. It was interesting watching people at the market, some people went daily and I had memorized their routines, shopping lists and even given some of them a nickname.
I was in direct sight of a fruit vendor, which was obviously so it would be easier to punish the persons in the stocks with rotten fruit. Two people worked the store, there was the owner whose name was Brian and his son Hugo, and they strangely became my friends as time progressed.
Hugo was a small ball of childish energy when he started talking, laughing at things that I said and generally enjoying conversations. He was a fun distraction from the mundane life and I welcomed the times when he would run away from his market place stall to say a joke.
Brian pretended not to notice me during the day, and would focus on the stall, as he should. However at least twice a day he would give an apple or pear to Hugo who would run over and feed it to me. I was so grateful, without them I would be dead. Before and after his work Brian would also give me a full water skin which I would gratefully chug as to not take up too much of his time.
Brian was a very big man who was slightly on the older side. His face showed a happy life full of laughter and smiles.
At night he would sit down next to me for a couple of hours to smoke a pipe. After asking him why he just went “Well saves the wife nagging at me” and carried on. Thankfully because of him I learned a lot.
“What are you in for?” Brian asked me on one of the first days.
“I found a stone that I thought was the stone of the conqueror and presented it. I guess I’m here for wasting the king’s time.” I didn’t say that they thought the stone was a dull rock, and I didn’t show him the stone either. It was still in my pockets; surprisingly people don’t try and steal things from you in the stocks!
“Ah, that’s a right shame” Brian went on “Imagine that, land, money and power… “ He stared into the distance for a while, dreaming of an easy life he could be living “But it was found a whole month ago, didn’t you know?” He said laughing.
“I had no idea.” I sighed to myself “Who found the stone?” I asked.
“It was some court magician, lucky bastard.” Brian said “With the power of magic I’m sure I could find it too.”
It was at that moment that everything clicked into place; of course a wizard had to be behind this. If I was a magician I would cast a spell on a rock to make it glow correctly, and then cast some kind of spell to make the real one look dull. It was the only explanation.
“Do you know his name?” I asked.
“No idea honestly… I think it might have been something like Darry… that name’s stupid so probably not that! Hahaha” he couldn’t contain his laughter as he puffed out smoke from his pipe.
From then on I hatched a plan in my solitude to gain the fortune that was rightfully mine. I would try with the help of Brian to convince the king that the magician had faked it, showing him the stone by letting someone look at the stone outside of the castle. It would be difficult but absolutely worth it.
Since I learned this on the first day I had no bitterness towards the royal family or the king, I wanted revenge on the magician, whose name was a little bit like Darry.