“You have ten seconds before your world ends,” I told the man at the end of my sword.
“How generous of you.” The man gave a crooked smile. “I took you for the sort of person to kill immediately. What are the ten seconds for? To say my prayers?”
“Don’t be funny,” I snapped, “Tell me where you hid it.”
“Hid what?” He arched an eyebrow.
“The chalice,” I snarled, “I know you have it.”
“Search me.” He held out his hands.
“I’m not wasting my time. You wouldn’t keep it on you. You’re not that much of an imbecile.”
“I don’t know,” said the man in mock consideration, “maybe you’ve overestimated my intelligence.”
“Enough!” I pressed the tip of my sword to his chest. “All I want is the chalice. I’ll spare your life if you tell me where it is.”
“Spare my life and put me in chains. I think I’d rather die than spend my life in the castle dungeon.”
“I think I can manage that request,” I said with a stiff smile. “After you tell me where the chalice is.”
“And what are you going to do with it?”
“Return it to the King.” I looked him in his eyes and said coolly, “I know where my loyalty lies.”
“Too bad it’s in the wrong place.”
With one quick movement, I made a gash in his arm and brought the sword back to his chest. It wasn’t a deep wound, just enough to let him know I meant business. He hissed in surprise.
“Do not insult the King,” I told him icily. He glared at me through the unruly brown hair that hung in his face.
“You say you know where your loyalty lies,” he said all cockiness gone from his voice. His words were low and deliberate. “Well I do too. And it isn’t with the King. It’s with the people.”
“You’ve chosen foolishly.”
“Foolishly?” His dark eyes flashed. “It isn’t foolish care about those who are not in a position of power. To care about those who are not kings but paupers. The chalice should be shared with the rest of the land.”
“And you thought stealing it was the best way to do that?” I let out a breath in disgust. “However noble your intentions, it is still the King’s. He can use it in whatever way he chooses.”
“He uses it for his own gain. The chalice has the power to feed those who are starving—it could save lives—but all the King can use it for is his own luxury. He keeps it locked up so it can increase his wealth while people die!”
“I will not hear anymore about the King,” I said thought clenched teeth. “It is not up to us to judge what he does with his own possessions.” The man pursed his lips as if forcing his words in. I continued, “You can either take me to the chalice now, or I can take you to the dungeon and they’ll make you tell.”
There was silence for a moment then the man spoke. “I’ll show you.”
I held the sword to his back as he led me through the forest. He stopped a few feet away from a hollowed out log.
“It’s in there,” he said looking dejected. I could almost feel sorry for him.
I walked toward the log.
Suddenly, I was pulled from my feet. I dropped my sword. A rope around my ankle suspend me in the air from a tree.
The man gave me a grin and put his hand into his jacket. “It seems I’ve had it with me the whole time,” he said, pulling out the chalice in mock surprise.
I watched his upside-down form walk away with the power to transform a kingdom.
Prompt: “You have ten seconds . . . “