Oliver D. Bernuetz's Stories
"Cora dear, I swear you like these miserable beasts more than you like Moonson himself," said dark Amber. Everyone stopped short and turned to look at Amber shocked at this blasphemous statement. Cora herself glared furiously at her. "You take that back, Amber or so help me I will cut you up into pieces and feed them to the Moon Cats!" Amber cowered away from Cora's fury and hastily said, "I'm sorry Cora I was only joking. Forgive me?" Cora went from fury to friendly just as quickly as she had gone the other way and embraced Amber fondly. She whispered in Amber's ear, "I realize that you are new to this but you must be very careful of what you say and where. There are ears everywhere and if the wrong sort of people were to hear a joke like that you might lose your position. Or worse." Amber shivered, suddenly cold despite the heat and things being back to normal the group continued on.
Exotic Jade fanned herself with the slender fan she had introduced into Moonson's court and said, "Cora, I like animals too but what is the point of our parading around in here, and possibly causing these poor men," she waved her fan to include all the grounds and gamekeepers in sight, "to get sun stroke? We've already been here for half an hour and we haven't seen a single animal yet. I'm getting bored."
As much as Cora loved animals Jade did have a point. Even she was getting bored of this. She was on the point of agreeing to go elsewhere when the stillness was broken by a loud bellowing fit to split the heavens themselves asunder. "What by Uleria's Teats was that?" she said instead. She looked around and all the gamekeepers had disappeared. She spotted the last of them running off and raced off to follow him. Sighing in unison the eunuchs and concubines followed after her, though at a more sedate pace.
Cora raced along sandals flapping and diaphanous robes trailing after her. She finally caught up to the gamekeepers outside a large paddock made of some gold plated metal rather than the normal wood. There was a large shelter, also gold plated and up on a slight rise in the centre of the paddock was the most magnificent bull she had ever seen. His mighty humped shoulders rose so tall that a dark troll would have had trouble looking over them. He was dappled brown and white and his hooves and horns were both gilded. Cora slowed to a walk and jaw agape slightly in her amazement walked slowly up to the paddock where all the gamekeepers stood looking forlornly at the bull.
"What is that?" she asked pointing at the bull who choose that moment to lift his head back and bellow again. Everyone was forced to cover their ears. No one could hear anything for a while as it took quite some time for their ears to stop ringing. By the time people could hear again the rest of Cora's party had joined her at the paddock. By that time as well one of the keepers had come up to her. She recognized him as the man she had helped with the Moon Cats. "Hello Cora, how are you?" "Good," she said, "and how are you?" "I've been better I'm afraid," he replied. She asked again, "What is that?" That," he said glumly, "is a sacred Sun Bull all the way from the Dara Happan Tripolis. It was a gift to Moonson from the Tripolis." He frowned and speaking so that only Cora could hear said, "It's a right sacred pain in the ass is what it is. It's only been here for two days and already it's upset the whole menagerie with its bellowing and they just keep getting louder."
Suddenly the bull turned and charged at the paddock. It moved so fast that no one even had a chance to react. Lowering its mighty head it struck the paddock with its horns. There was a resounding crash, a loud bell-like ringing and the ground shook so badly that some of the concubines and keepers fell to the ground. The head keeper stood up and dusted himself off and glared at the bull. "Or the blasted thing does that. Thank Sedenya that we made the paddock of goldplated steel or it would have escaped by now."
Cora said, "Is it homesick or something?" The head keeper actually blushed and muttered something before he replied. "Well, err it seems that it's err well..." The gamekeeper traced some shape in the dirt with his big toe before continuing. "It, well, he is used to having a harem of cows at his beck and call." Cora frowned, "Is there some cow in heat around here? Is that the problem?" The keeper blushed even redder and looked away from Cora, "Well it seems that sun bulls aren't like normal bulls in that way..." More toe tracing. "They're more like men in that regard. They can satisfy their...err, appetites whenever they want." Cora eyebrows rose, "You mean, pardon the pun, that he's horny!?!" The keeper nodded. Cora looked at the bull again and gasped, "Oh my! How did I miss "that" before? No wonder he's upset."
Two days later the situation had gotten even worse. The bull now bellowed day and night and proved he was no mortal beast by managing to keep half of Glamour awake at night. Unfortunately this included the imperial palace and everyone was on edge from lack of sleep. Moonson lay in bed with a pillow held over his head trying to sleep. Every so often he would ask Cora a muffled question from under the pillow. She sat naked on the bed painting her toenails as she answered them. "Mmm, mmm, mmm?" "Yes, they've tried mortal cattle." Another careful dab of silver paint. "Apparently the end results make wonderful burgers." She painted another toe. "Mmm, mmmm mmmm mmm?" "Yes, they've tried to magically silence the beast." She slowly rotated her left foot to admire her handiwork. "It seems the creature is immune to most magics." She started on the right foot. "Unfortunately the spells backfired and managed to amplify its bellows so it's not "entirely" the poor things fault." "Mmmm, mmmm mmmm mmm?" "No, you can't give him back. You'd insult the whole Tripolis." "Mmmm, mmmm mmmm mmmm?" She laughed, "Do you really think they'd believe that a meteor "accidentally" hit his paddock?" She wriggled both feet's worth of toes. "What do you think about sparkles?" "Mmmm, mmmm mmmm mmm?" She laughed again, "No not for the bull, silly. On my toenails." "Mmmm!" "All right be that way."
The next day Moonson sat in state and awaited the Tripolis ambassador. Moonson was in a foul mood as not only had the bull kept him awake for two nights but having been on an extended debauch for the previous two weeks He was feeling badly sleep deprived. Cora stood beside Him wearing an outfit that made her look more naked than she had the night before. "Are you sure that you want me here?" she whispered into Moonson's ear. Moonson, dressed to suit His role as Yelm's chosen Emperor, whispered back, "We want you right where you are. We are not at all pleased with the Tripolis right now and We want them perfectly aware of Our Displeasure." Cora shuddered. She never liked to hear Moonson speak in capitals like that and was glad that it wasn't directed at her.
She stood stock still as they waited for the ambassador to arrive. A palace herald entered and annouced the ambassador using only the bare minimum of titles as far as protocol demanded. Cora hadn't seen the new ambassador before and was surprised to see that he was a Shargashi. She didn't think she'd ever seen a nervous Shargashi before but the man even managed to look embarrased. He threw himself to the floor before Moonson and started the full prostration. In fact he was launching into all of Moonson's titles while simultaneously knocking his head against the floor with such force that Cora winced and a tile cracked, when Moonson interrupted him and told him to rise. "Enough of that nonsense. So, what are you going to do about this damned bull?" Someone in his entourage actually gasped at this before he was silenced. The ambassador started saying something but couldn't be understood with his face pressed to the floor. "We have already told you to arise. So do so. Posthaste."
The ambassador leapt to his feet with the agility of a true warrior and Cora saw that his face was covered with blood. "The Tripolis begs your pardon, Great Emperor. No one was to know that the sun cows would sicken and die on the trip here. We have sent replacements and they should be here within the next two weeks." "TWO WEEKS! We cannot take two more weeks of this, nor can my city. We would leave but religious obligations keep us here until the start of the next season." He paused and the red in His face subsided a bit. "If someone cannot do something about this damn bull We will ask Our Mother to take care of it." The ambassador shuddered and looked as though he didn't know what to say. Cora hesitated and raised her hand, "Your Imperial Majesty I believe that I can do something." The ambassador turned to her looking grateful until he took in her clothing. He turned as white as a sheet. He pointed at Cora and his hand actually trembled, "That thing? What can she do with our sun bull?" He turned a horrified face towards Moonson.
Moonson glared and the entire embassy dropped to the floor and prostrated themselves as one. "You forget yourself ambassador. It is Our Sun Bull and while We don't know what Cora has in mind We have full faith in her abilities." He muttered so that only Cora could hear Him, "We need someone to do something since We can't stand this much longer." Cora prostrated herself and said, "I need perfect privacy My God. I will silence the bull." Moonson looked at ther in admiration and shook His head. "You have our trust My Dear."
Cora raced to the Menagerie and waving an Imperial writ in everyone's face was allowed perfect privacy with the Sun Bull. The keepers erected a large temporary fence around the paddock that allowed no one to look over or through it. Imperial guards were posted to keep people out and she had already arranged to have meals sent from the palace. Cora entered the enclosure. The people outside the enclosure heard Cora speaking to the bull, a smack as though of hand on flesh and then nothing. Magical probing showed that the silence spells were now working so nothing of normal volume could be heard from the paddock. All the food she had ordered was eaten so she wasn't dead but no one knew how she had silenced the beast. The silence was unnerving but the orders for privacy were obeyed. Finally the city slept peacefully.
After two weeks had passed the sun cows finally arrived and were let into the paddock. The silence spells were lowered by Imperial command and the bull could be heard bellowing a greeting to the cows. Cora was heard to say, "Finally!" Among the assembled rubberneckers was Moonson Himself. Everyone wanted to see know Cora had managed it. The temporary wall was removed and everyone cheered as Cora walked out of the paddock. Moonson forgot Himself to the extent that He actually grasped Cora's arm in public. He whispered, "How did you manage to silence the beast?" Cora smiled mysteriously and whispered back, "With all due respect, Your Majesty if the bull's not talking then neither am I."
Last updated October 07, 2016
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