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The Monk

While the other brothers slept, a solitary monk made his way through the monastery, collecting all the gold. He put the coins in a small leather bag on the side of his horse, and rode off into the night.

No one noticed.

The evening was warm, but it didn’t bother him or his horse. The monks were known for strong horses. They rode out past Desdel and Cartin. The road was dark, but familiar to both of them. The sun began to break and he decided to stopped to eat.

His breakfast was as impressive as his horse. He spread a wide variety of breads, cheeses and meats out on the ground over a gigantic red blanket. He picked and poked at the food with a small silver fork. After each bite, he would roll back a bit and smile. The monk loved to eat.

After the meal, he napped. The forest, in the midday sun, was a wonderful escape from the monastery buildings, and more importantly his work. He laughed that he was eating the bread today instead of making it. This made him happy.

He heard the sound of approaching horses, but it did not raise him. Eventually the shade of two large horses draped over his face. He sat up a bit and wiped his mouth.

“Hello, my friends, ” said the monk. Towering over him were two grimy men on two grimy horsed. The monk’s nose curled as he caught a whiff of them. “Are you my contacts?” he said.

The larger of the two men dismounted his horse. “Sure. We’re your contacts. What do you have for us, brother?”

The monk reached into his wicker basket and pulled out a package. “You are in luck, my fine fellows, ” he said. “I have some fresh blood sausages for you. These are much better than the ones I’ve been able to bring in past. Brother Sandom made them. He makes the best.”

“Sausages? We’re going to need more than that?” said the other man as he dismounted.

“Well, I have the gold, but that can wait. Can’t it? We have time. Don’t we? I don’t have to head back to the monastery just yet. Do I?” asked the monk.

The monk turned from them and walked over to a small smoldering fire, “Sit my friends and I will stoke the fire and put these on.”

While the monk had his back turned, both men drew daggers from their side. The larger of the two moved toward the monk.

“The gold. We will take the gold,” he said.

The monk stumbled back, tripped a bit, and turned toward them. He put his hands out to his sides. “Oh dear. You aren’t my contacts are you?”

“No, we aren’t my brother,” said the larger of the men as he slipped his dagger deep into the monk’s side.

The monks body found its way back to the monastery. It had been tied to the horse by the robbers. It was disturbing sight, as a monk had not been murdered since the reforming wars of a hundred years ago. Sure, monks came and went in all kinds of natural ways, but this was different.

Everyone came to his funeral. They placed his large red blanket over his large body, put his silver fork into his pocket, and placed him in a tomb next to Brother Bislon. Bislon had died earlier in the season from an infection.

After awhile, things settled down, but the question still remained: Why was the monk out on the road with all the gold? The senior monks did their best to squelch the scuttlebutt, but it would not go away.

The scheme had to be revealed to the ranks or there was going to be a revolt. It took days, but the message was personally delivered to all the brothers.

Every quarter season, all the gold in the monastery was collected and taken out to a point where fake robbers would ritualistically steal it. The money would then be given back to the townspeople by the robbers. The people used the money to enrich their lives with food and shelter. This money would eventually find its way back to the monks though gifts, goods and tithing from the people.

Turns out he monks had been doing this for many, many decades. They enjoyed the goodwill of it.

Some time passed and things got back to normal. The monks coffers again filled with gold.

That night, a solitary monk made his way through the monastery and collected the gold. He placed into a large leather bag on the side of his horse. He then made his way into the darkness.

No one noticed.

Published in Fiction

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