The Red-Haired Heart of Gold
Outside a walled city, a lone figure
Swiftly moved from one spot to another
Whoosh. Up a rope soared, a grapple took hold
T’was a plan, a scheme, thought out and quite bold.
There in the horizon the setting sun.
Time for the Eve; afternoon was now gone.
A second rope went up, grapple held tight.
It was part of the plan, the fading light.
A sign of experience – leave no chance
Grasping the rope the figure upwards hence.
The figure mused, now two ways to get down.
Once up on the ramparts glanced to the ground.
A sly smile crossed the lips of the figure
Eyes, green, glanced around so not to ignore.
Quiet now moved the black-shrouded person
The first stage over so easily won.
Two ways to escape, better than just one
A city surveyed makes it easily done.
Now though was the time to reach the sought goal.
Days in the making this was no small stroll
A city has guards that patrol the night.
Making rounds for a guard is no delight.
But the guard’s footstep – no surprise to hear
For a thief with a plan nothing to fear.
In darkness the figure bided some time
The bored, tired guard thought only of wine.
Against the wall of the rampart’s tower
A club to the head did thus overpower.
Tight knots and strong fiber can bind the best
A whisper, “I want what I want, no less.”
The guard left unconscious, bound, and then gagged
“Not killer just a thief,” the figure bragged.
Took from the guard the tower door’s key.
“Thank you kind sir this key do I now need.”
Tower door opened, down stairs to the street.
The thief in the city stage two complete.
Now it was dark, that was best for the thief.
The library to find, that was now chief.
Travel now easy through city with crowds.
Ahead was the place and access allowed.
Passing the scrolls, books, maps and old parchments.
Quietly, deliberately, the thief went.
Artwork and antiquities – no surprise.
The thief passed them all; they were not the prize.
In an upper room four reds there to guard
Valued talisman of ancient regard.
For there rested a treasure, an object
An exotic item requiring respect.
Heart-shaped, sold gold, the size of a hand
Pure solid gold except for red strands
Red strands, hairline thin ruby parts
Revered was this the Red-Haired Golden Heart.
Torvies told sagas, Scheindi chanted tales
Of value beyond all known measured scales.
Tuchuk passed down stories, Pani sang songs
Of before all time the object belongs.
The gold all said came from the center core.
Mined well before even the days of yore.
That, truly was the object’s great allure.
Nothing compared to it on all of Gor.
Priest kings, it was said, revered it as well.
Any city that held it, no war fell.
Simple was the heart but it instilled awe.
The ruby hair strands were without one flaw.
The thief creeped slowly, one guard by the door.
The thief tossed a coin that clicked on the floor
The tunic-robed guard turned head by instinct
A strike of the club, down did the guard sink.
One down, but the others now alerted.
Bloodshed now seemed could not be averted.
Blades drawn to the thief they now surrounded.
Red caste are trained, skilled in blade they bounded.
The thief though was nonplused at swords now drawn.
At one of the scarlets the club next was thrown.
“I am not a killer,” muffled, whispered, blunt,
It’s just that I want what I want I want.“
Connected club did, another was out.
Swordplay ensued, the result was in doubt.
With two left, feints, parries, strikes, and thrusts,
The thief danced, evading the reds’ upper crust.
And, then a misstep, a rarius slipped.
Thief jumping in air, somersaulting flipped.
For a moment now it was one to one.
And soon time would tell which would be undone.
Jumping was not fighting as taught to the men.
Struck by the flat side of blade he spun spun.
For confused, the red who had still stood erect.
Had no chance the strike at all to deflect.
Four rarius defeated, the thief quickly tied
These dazed red-faced scarlets all were surprised
The thief’s eyes then beheld the golden heart
Grabbed it, chuckled, and then left to depart.
Golden heart in a common belted pouch
The thief had sure shown this thief was no slouch.
Feet swiftly fleeing through the city’s streets
Back up the tower’s stairs, all stages complete.
No time to rejoice, no time to reflect.
Time now to flee with this ancient object.
Then did the thief pick one of the two ropes
Climbed down outer wall full of all hopes.
Several ens headstart went to the thief
Scarlets ashamed beyond any belief.
Still red-faced and red-tuniced scarlets chased.
Assembled and went to give a valiant pace.
The thief moved through countryside on swift feet
Though there was little time even to eat.
Two days passed on this extended long hunt.
Rest here, rest there, but still stayed out in front.
Third day the thief saw smoke in the distance.
Direction changed the thief went to witness.
Curiousity overwhelmed the flight
That strange sense that is usually not bright.
Mistakes are not known until they are made.
But wonder is something not up for trade.
Delays can have impact not known at first.
Delays have risks which keep getting much worse.
Two pasangs away sobbed moaning women.
Blackened by smoke and ruins all about them.
Two pasangs away arrived soon the thief.
What there was found was absolute grief.
Grouped by a hillside, clothes torn and tattered
What was it that made these poor women battered?
Thirty women saw this master thieving.
Nearby them one man, a bosk and wagon.
The man was focused; feeding the women
Water and fruit and walking amidst them.
Humming some soft song, a quiet hymn.
The thief spoke, “How did this horror begin?”
The man turned, looking over at the thief,
“Kur, kurri, beasts from hell caused all their grief.”
His eyes then a moment seemed to linger.
An eyebrow he raised on spoke the singer.
“Rampaged through their small village with mean death.
These women all that seem to have been left.
Their men died fighting to the last beaten.
Children and livestock taken and eaten.”
“I happened upon them yesterday morn.
I was traveling. My trade is mere song.
Their souls shattered and full of much fear.
Lost all they have, ‘cept feelings of despair.”
The shrouded thief stared at the fellow.
He stood tall enough, and voice so mellow
His bosk cart was now nearly empty of goods.
“After this is all gone, I’ll seek out more food.”
“Why care for these sad strangers even at all?
Collar them, make money, could be your call,”
so the thief blurted, then felt that was wrong.
Quietly, the man, “Just freedom for strong?”
“Their lives viciously all have been shattered
Would it be money only to you mattered?
They’ve lost all their families brutally.
And now in this misery are fully.”
The thief felt ashamed at what had been said.
And felt for these women whose men had bled.
Then saw in the distance another crowd.
“Not kur nor outlaws,” the thief sighed aloud.
The man saw the reds; saw thief reacting.
Puzzled a moment then started asking,
“Why be you worried at what might be aid.
There is nothing left worthwhile to raid?”
The thief knew fleeing would be the best thing.
But something stopped the thief from retreating
Stood there to wait instead of deserting.
The man said simply, “There’ll be no fighting.”
The scarlet captain approached with some awe,
“A relic’s been taken. We seek an outlaw.”
Then, eyes widened, struck by the scene, he spoke,
“What has happened to this village’s folk?”
“More than mere thievery, stealing much life.
Is your relic more vital than that strife?
Kurs have trampled through, slaughtering on whim
No warriors, but farmers tried to stop them.”
Thus spoke the bard, or whatever he be.
The men of the red caste saw and could see.
The singer. Did he speak with disrespect?
From tone one might say it was just direct.
The captain was a man and not a fool,
“Our task compares not to what is so cruel.”
His words spoke honor as he stood right there.
An honor his men certainly did share.
“From city stole a relic seemed vital.
Even though now it seems something quite small.
An ancient talisman, value untold.
Our duty was to find a relic of gold
The captain, he nearly sobbed, “What of them?”
“What of them?” the thief whispered echoing.
The women just sobbed at all that had been.
“What of them?” repeated too the captain’s men.
Shrouded thief sighed, “This trinket, this bauble.
Should be less important than to aid this trouble.
But tell me, what you seek vigorously.
If found now would it end this misery?”
“Promise treating these women with honor.
And promise their fate not be a collar?
A new beginning of life and shelter.”
The thief looked down, but smiled then the singer.
Silence for a moment or perhaps two.
“Aye, yes, that could be done if that be true,
But there be matter of he who took it
Our magistrate demands him to convict.”
The thief was about to say something more.
The bard though spoke up, taking first the floor.
“Tell me this thief who outwitted scarlets
What type of person could defeat your cadets?”
The captain called forth one of his strong men.
“He was a giant, and will meet his end.
The size of a bosk, shrouded in black.
No less could beat us, no less did attack.”
“Did this massive fiend kill, maim or injure?”
The singer asked aloud. “Not like the kur,”
The red said in response, “He just bound us.
Then fled right away into the darkness.”
The bard took the captain a few steps away,
“I think we can deal, the relic in play
But should the city learn this simple fact
That reds lost to a small woman in black?”
Looked then at the thief, did the red leader.
“Impossible.” Pause. Sigh. “We won’t need her.”
Covered in black from head down to her toe.
Something clicked, “It’s best they simply don’t know.”
touched beneath her cloak the figure in black.
From her belt dropped a small but full sack.
The bard picked it up, “See what has appeared.”
The captain opened it, sighed and then shared:
“We’ll honor our word,” the scarlet decreed,
“For honor is why we will fight and bleed.
For honor is what gives us our being.
Gives us our duty and basis for meaning.”
The red caste leader dispersed all his men.
The men helped the women to go with them.
The women took what was left of their lives
The thief did not move kept on her disguise.
The men and the women soon went away.
And now at the ruins only two did stay.
The bard or whatever he was was left
And, of course, shrouded thief treasure bereft.
After some silence, the thief to him strolled.
“I lost treasure the Red-Haired Heart of Gold,”
She said quietly, “No more need for disguise.”
With shroud removed there was no more surprise.
“How did you know what the others did not?
How, my sex, were you able to so spot?
Covered I was and muffled was my voice.
Nothing was shown I left nothing to choice.”
The man smiled slowly at the woman now before him,
“Your eyes seemed pretty. Body curves a hint.
Until now perhaps I guessed so to speak.
All I said was what would make men seem weak.”
“And what think you lost lady you still own.
“Your soul guided you – a seed fully sown.
“Your hair, crimson tresses, part of the rest.”
Then he pointed with a smile to her left breast.
“You gave these unfortunates a good way
“To life once again; that relic did pay.
“You gave up a rock, a bauble all told.
“Not the rock, you’re the Red-Haired Heart of Gold.”
He paused a moment then boarded his cart
He had stepped aboard, ready to depart.
“What pleasure is treasure, unless it brings joy.
“You took then gave it – you need not play coy.”
“There is a seat, room for still another.
“That is, if you wish it,” he looked down at her.
The thief she looked up, “Where be you going?”
Lifted a finger the singer not knowing.
“Which way the wind blows,” he smiled again,
“It’s as good as any way to begin.
“A breeze can’t be caught but a wind feels good.
I’ll not fight the wind unless that I should.”
“Be that how one decides how one travels?”
“It’s a way to see what next unravels.”
She then softly giggled looked much bemused.
But thought that this man made her much confused.