Continued from Part XI. Start at Part I.
Jakob hid in the branches of a tree, above the main path to the next encampment along the route. He lodged himself between sturdy branches and held trial in his imagination for his intended victim. He reached a guilty verdict over and over, his mind churning like a stormy sea, no calm anywhere; his soul suppressed, bound, pushed into some dark corner. His rage was exhausting and his eyelids drooped, yet the hand holding the dagger held firm.
He was brought to his senses by the clatter of a cart being drawn along the path below. There he was – the treasure thief, so proud of his haul, so oblivious. Imagining wealth as Jakob has imagined, and would be so denied.
Jakob readied himself between branches, preparing to drop on Krin as he passed below. But before the moment came, there was a loud cry from below. Three masked bandits, armed with wooden clubs, leapt from hedges, screaming at the top of their lungs. Krin ran to fetch a sword from his saddle, but it was no use. His attackers surrounded him, beginning to swing their clubs.
In a sudden moment as the man’s cries filled the air, Jakob’s anger switched places, as if a dam had broken and reason flooded through the valley of his conscience. He had let himself go too far. He had become obsessed with the material wealth. He had compromised his own ideals and for what? The chance to be a heavily-laden target? What would he have do with all that lemfasite anyway? Would it make a difference? Would he have just been the next target for the bandits?
Freed, Jakob remembered who he had wanted to be.
To be continued…