The Power of Garnet

10 May

Prince Zart was a young man that the Kingdom of Zet had great hopes in if he could fulfill the promise he was born with.

Some saw in him the opportunity of gaining back the border lands lost by his father and grandfather in a series of short, disastrous wars. The press called these conflicts “the national catastrophes of unfortunate Zet”. Would the new heir to the throne, the son of King Zag, have the military skills and the will to defeat the army of the land of Yazo?

That was the question that hovered over Zart from earliest childhood.

His national and family honor depended on the role of avenger bestowed upon him at birth. It was a destiny over which it appeared he was never to have a decisive voice about.

As Prince Zart grew into young manhood, he came to realize that he had been allowed little time or room for any sort of private, personal life at all.

The biggest event of the year in all of Zet was the spring fair in the capital town, in the shadow of the royal castle and palace on a peak looking down on it.

Peasants came by foot, gentry on horseback, and nobles in luxury coaches drawn by teams of nags.

Prince Zart descended from the high ridge above accompanied by his chum and chief aide, Xeni.

Both youths were tall, slim, and full of energy. Zart was probably the more venturesome and adventurous of the pair. His wavy blond hair was long and fine, bundled into a bun. Xeni wore a pointy cap on his head.

Crowds filled the central walkway and the branching lanes of the busy fair. A merry-go-round, a Ferris wheel, car rides, a roller-coaster, and scores of stalls with food and games covered the wide territory dedicated to fun and hours of pleasant forgetfulness.

Xeni eyed many of the young females from locations in the countryside who had been brought to the fair by their families. Zart seemed less fascinated with female beauty than his aide. But then he caught sight of one short, attractive figure who made the Prince stare at her with fascination.

It happened that the dark-haired maiden was also focusing her eyes on him.

Noticing that the Prince had stopped walking and was gazing at someone, Xeni did likewise.

Bodies from the fairway crossed between the two male youths and the small young woman looking their way a small distance away.

Xeni thought of something to say.

“If you wish, I shall go over there and begin to talk with the attractive figure who is studying you. It is evident to me that it is you and not me she is concentrating her dark eyes on.”

Zart spoke to his aide without turning to him. “Yes, that is a brilliant idea. Find out what her name is and where she lives. And ask the fetching beauty what there is about me that entrances her to such a degree. Do not let this person get away from us, Xeni.”

The latter broke away and headed toward the female standing in a stationary position and pose.

Although she wore a brown corduroy jacket and pleated skirt like many townswomen, Xeni had the uncanny sense of something foreign about the dark-haired, dark-eyed young female.

“May I take the opportunity of introducing myself to you, as well as inquiring as to the name of a person such as you who seemed to be watching myself and the one who has accompanied me to this fair? It is no secret that my personal name happens to be Xeni, and that I am employed as a retainer in the royal castle above us.” He raised his eyes to the ridge hanging over the town and the fairgrounds.

The maiden in corduroy gave a radiant smile. “My name is Jala and I am new to everything in your land. You see, I came here from Yazo with my father, who is an official of the Yazian Embassy. I have heard and read about this famous fair that goes back centuries. It is a wonderful pleasure to be able to see and experience the joys of this popular celebration.

“We have nothing even close to it back in Yazo,” she said with a slight laugh accompanied with a blush.

Xeni looked downward at her smooth pale face. About her pretty neck hung a gilt neckless with a round violet gemstone attached to it. Rays of bright light seemed to glow from it, he realized.

“You must, then, permit me and my companion to escort you to the games and contests that shall soon begin on the outer edge of the fairgrounds. We can explain the Zetian customs and traditions that are scheduled for enactment by peasants and townspeople.”

“That sounds most interesting indeed,” she replied with a silent chuckle.

“Let us head that way,” proposed Xeni. “We will certainly find my good friend over there.”

The group of three took looks at lawn games, arcade games of chance, field races, swings, teeter-totters, bowling, croquet, darts, tug-of-wars, fish pools, whirligigs, and a children’s carnival.

Xeni managed to disappear, leaving the Prince alone with Jala.

An aura of intoxication had captured hold of Zart. He spoke as he had never dared to anyone before.

“I want to see you again as soon as possible,” he blurted out in an exuberant frenzy. “You and I must get to know each other, because I have never come across anyone as attractive as you are, Jala. When can the two of us meet? I pray that it happens soon.” His face had a smile of ultimate anticipation on it.

She answered in an enigmatic whisper. “I shall send you a note telling where and when, my dear princely friend.”

Zart watched as she gave a nod and walked away.

That night he dreamed of her face and the mysterious scarlet gemstone on her neck.

The man at the ornate, elaborate Yazian Embassy that Jala reported to late that evening was the secret operator named Lat.

She grinned with delight at her father, an undefined diplomatic official with a clandestine assignment.

“The garnet stone in my necklace brought me instantaneous success,” she boasted. “The Prince called Zart fell under its spell and is now my enchanted worshiper. He asked to see me tomorrow, and plans to send me a note here at the Embassy telling where and when he can see me again.

“The red gemstone did its job the way it was supposed to, and we have you to thank for it, father.”

Lat gazed at her with paternal pride. He was a tall, rigidly erect figure with glowing silver hair. His bright purple uniform reflected high rank in the unmentioned department he served in.

“Our spell-casting experts assured me that the right type of garnet can arouse passion and romantic feelings in the right target,” he told his daughter in a cool, analytic tone. “This Zetian Prince is now your devoted lover. His loyalty and affection are yours to command, my Jala.

“We must think in terms of our country’s long-term goals. It is not any immediate benefit that we will take through him. But in the future, when he inherits the royal crown of this land, you shall be standing at his side as the Queen of Zet.

“Think of what that can mean for the interests of our motherland!”

The two shared an ecstatic moment of thought and emotion.

“I will have a servant send him a note to meet me in the town square at noon tomorrow,” said the daughter of the foreign agent.

Prince Zart and his personal aide talked long into the night about the amorous incident with the beautiful woman from Yazo.

“I am astounded and shaken by her ability of attraction over me,” gushed the royal son to his closest friend on the planet. “How is it that one single female can throw such a net over my mind by just being present and visible to me? I really do not understand it at all.

“My dream is that of having the same sway over her affections that she exercises over mine. The only possible shadow over my happiness is the misfortune if Jala should ever fall enthralled to another person. Such a tragic outcome would, I believe, destroy and poison the rest of my life.

“There is no price I would not pay, nothing that I would refuse to do, to avert a loss of my dream of living in blissful harmony with the divine Jala.”

The two youths exchanged looks of sympathetic understanding.

“There are ways and means of affecting bonds of love,” murmured Xeni. “I can consult certain persons of wisdom and experience and find out what is possible. Then, I will report to you what I find out, milord.”

The Prince’s comrade had built up acquaintance with a number of adepts in the area of fortunetelling and casting of spells. He wrote a list of important gemstones that were said to exercise influence over hearts, emotions, and romantic relationships.

One old woman described her years of giving customers advice on the varying powers and influences of different minerals. “We Zetians have always been fervent believers of the magnificent crystals found under the ground,” she declared with an unusual twinkle in one eye.

In his mind, Xeni made an informal list of crystal minerals that held the promise of bringing about the realization of internal wishes and aspirations for individuals with fantastic dreams.

He decided to give it to Prince Zart, along with what he had learned about love gems from those he had consulted with on the subject.

The spring fair ended with a spectacular show of multicolored pyrotechnics from the edge of the town.

Prince Zart and his aide stood on a castle balcony overlooking the valley below.

Xeni summarized his findings on the special romantic powers of particular gemstone crystals.

“There was general agreement among the gem specialists whom I consulted with,” began the Prince’s closest friend. “They all agreed about which kinds of stones and crystals have the greatest sway over the human mind and heart.”

Zart gave him a searching look as the sky darkened with approaching dusk. “You must be specific, Xeni. I believe it is my strong attraction to Jala that makes me so anxious to find a way of winning and preserving her relationship to me.

“I want to have her love me with an affection equal to mine for her.

“Is that a reasonable hope and ambition?”

“Of course it is,” replied Xeni.

“Tell me what you learned about the best gems for the planting and growing of love,” commanded the Prince.

The aide looked down at his note sheet and read what he had written down.

“Amethyst has always been known for its ability to open the hearts of the otherwise indifferent. It encourages feelings of sympathy that quickly grow into intense love.

“Moonstone is a marvelous crystal that attracts deep, sincere affection. It raises one’s confidence in winning love from the one who has been chosen. Romance prospers under its magical aura.

“Garnet has power over individual sensuality by activating passion and desire. The gem cultivates strong love and devotion.

“Jade makes men and women dream of giving their heart to another and leads to dedication and love.

“Those four are the primary lovestones that people apply in the land of Zet. The knowledgeable persons whom I questioned informed me about each of them.

“It is now your choice which of them you decide to use in this matter.”

Prince Zart waited before answering.

“I will think over the alternatives tonight, Xeni, and tell you tomorrow morning.”

“My choice is to use garnet,” said Zart over his breakfast of barley porridge. “That is a crystal that was worn by Jala herself, in a gilt necklace she has about her neck. I noticed it at once.”

“It is a good choice indeed. You can have it attached onto your tunic as a decorative badge. I will see the royal jewelers about obtaining an appropriate garnet for you.”

“I can hardly wait, because tonight I will meet with Jala down in the town. The garnet must be ready to be part of my costume at that time. This will be an important appointment for the two of us.”

“I can be somewhere in the vicinity,” said Xeni, “but I must stay out of the young woman’s sight. You shall be alone with her for the first time, Prince.”

The note sent by messenger to Zart instructed him to be on an ancient stone bridge that crossed the river flowing through the middle of the town.

Jala had discussed all that afternoon her coming assignation with the intended target of their secret conspiracy.

“You must always appear to be natural and unrehearsed,” advised Lat with paternal solicitude. “He must never catch the slightest hint that you are acting out a part in a complicated drama with an invisible purpose in mind.”

“My garnet stone will guide me to say the right things with words and phrases that fit the occasion,” she said with an enigmatic grin. “I am certain that I can fulfill my role with proper self-control, father,” she assured him.

It was late in the spring afternoon when Zart appeared on the old stone bridge. He had left Xeni sitting on a bench outside a neighborhood tavern near one end of the span, where he would have a view of the pair meeting there, but himself remaining inconspicuous in the distance.

Xeni recalled he had always heard about this bridge being a location where young men met and courted young women of town.

The Prince, leaning against the side wall of the bridge, caught sight of Jala approaching from the direction of the Yazian Embassy, where she was living with her parent.

She wore an outdoor dress of dark wool and a brown jacket. He saw a flash of reflected sunlight from the garnet necklace on her throat, which reminded him of the medallion on his tunic front.

He was conscious of his own lovestone and his hope in its potential effect on the one he had fallen in love with.

As she walked onto the bridge and slowly came near, Zalt moved forward to meet Jala.

He suddenly became aware of the fact that they were the only persons present on the stone structure.

Jala and he would be all to themselves.

Neither of them spoke as they slowly stepped toward each other.

The eyes of Zart fastened upon the scarlet garnet on the neck of the other.

Jala, at first given a shock by sight of the stone on his chest, immediately sensed its awesome influence. Her blood flowed with new impetus. A reddish flush of excitement passed over her cheeks.

From initial confusion, her mind came to center on the shape of Zart in front of her.

What she felt concerning him changed all at once.

His affection for her was no longer the center of her mind’s attention. The focus turned to what she felt for him. She knew instantly that she was in a condition of love once she saw and recognized that he wore the garnet lovestone.

Jala did not halt when she reached an arms-length from him, but continued till she nearly came in touch with his torso.

Zart was able to see something close to madness in her dark eyes. It brought terror to him.

“I am a traitorous spy, my love, sent here to betray you to Yazo,” she muttered. “Can you forgive my perfidy?”

Before Zart could say anything, an insane event occurred in front of him.

Jala turned toward the wall of the bridge and hurled her body over its edge, falling downward to the river below, striking water and then rocks and stones.

It took time for Zart to turn and lean over the wall, to catch sight of the unmoving lover who had destroyed herself.

In the meantime, Xeni ran forward from the bench where he had been sitting.

“It is too late,” said the Prince. “She has killed herself. The garnet I wear must have pushed her to do it. She blamed herself of being a spy for Yazo. I cannot believe it.”

The aide led the trembling Prince from the stone bridge, back up to the royal castle where they lived.


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