By Lauren Deville
Loyal brothers and sisters, he began, it is time to assemble our forces against those disloyal to the harmony of the kingdom.
Each of you has a unique talent that makes you an indispensible tool in my plan, the king continued. My sister Aurora, you are blessed with the gift of sight. You see truth where others see only chaos. I rely on you to use your discernment to our continued advantage.
My brother Daniel, you have been given the strength of many men. I will rely on you to lead the way in hand to hand combat.
My brother Rafael, you have the gift of cunning. I will rely on you to penetrate our enemys secret chambers, and obtain intelligence of their plans.
My sister Kendra, you have the gift of song. I will rely on you to entice our enemies with the beauty of your voice, so that other plans may be effectively carried out.
And finally, my brother Thomas, you have the gift of speech. You persuade others with your words who would otherwise fail to see reason. I will rely on you to plead with those members of our kingdom who may not yet be lost. For all who desire to live in peace are welcome.
It so happened that the prince, the kings brother, was privy to this council in secret; he hid behind a curtain and slipped out when the king had finished speaking. The prince went straight to the head of the gypsies and said to him, Listen: the kings plan against you centers on the gifts of my loyal brothers and sisters. Therefore our counter-plan must center on them, as well. Here is what we must do: my sister Aurora has the gift of sight; we must blind her. My brother Daniel has the strength of many men; we must cripple him. My brother Rafael has the gift of cunning; we must ensnare him. My sister Kendra has the gift of song; we must silence her. And my brother Thomas has the gift of speech; he must be muzzled.
Thomas went out to the people of the kingdom first, and tried to persuade them to see reason and to join the ranks of the king, and many were convinced and joined the kings army. Their ranks grew daily, and the prince, the kings brother, saw that he needed to muzzle Thomas quickly before all was lost. Lure him away from the people! the prince commanded. So the head of the gypsies dressed like a member of the kingdom and approached Thomas as he spoke to the crowds. You must come and speak at my tavern tonight! he said, There will be hundreds assembled to hear you, for I have told them of your powerful message. Thomas, who had never been given reason to distrust any member of the kingdom, went to the tavern without a moments hesitation, and from behind, two strong gypsies bound him and placed a muzzle over his mouth. You can speak no longer! they cackled; you are worthless now to the king! They so taunted him day and night that he began to believe them, and though the gypsies left him alone after a time, they knew he was no longer a threat to them because he began to repeat their message to himself: I am worthless to the king! And he sat there, imprisoned in the dark, though he could have been free all the time.
When the king learned that Thomas had disappeared, Aurora, who had the gift of sight, informed the king, Thomas is muzzled alone in the dark in a tavern within the kingdom! She looked expectantly to the king for his declaration to send a search party to rescue him.
But the king said, Thomas would not come. He is in a prison of his own making, and will have to see for himself that freedom is his for the taking.
We know the gypsys hideout now, sire! declared Daniel, who had the strength of many men; let me take those loyal to the king, and storm the place!
You will need to take them unawares, said Kendra, whose gift was song; I will go and sing for them, so that they will not hear or notice your approach.
So Kendra entered an open courtyard near the place of the gypsies hideout, and began to sing with a voice like an angel. But the prince had warned them of the bewitching qualities of her voice, and the gypsies had filled their ears with straw. Then they were able to call out insults as they heard her, saying things like, Who told you that you could sing? Your voice is dreadful! Kendras voice began to falter; it quivered so that she was unable to stay on pitch, and the heckling grew louder. She heard her own voice and realized that they were right: it was so distorted that she did not sound beautiful at all. And she began to wonder why she had ever believed she could sing, or that she had anything to offer to the king at all. Soon she gave up altogether and fled, blinded by tears. She arrived in a dark abandoned tavern, where sat her muzzled brother Thomas. He was saying something quietly to himself that sounded like You are worthless to the king! but she paid no attention to him because she was too busy saying to herself, Your voice is dreadful! She sat down across from Thomas, taking no notice of him, and repeated her woeful refrain.