ZARIUS LISTENED TO THE announcement of the new lead stallion, grinding his teeth, his nails biting into the palms of his hands. The veins on his forehead pulsed. He glared out at the audience as they cheered and applauded Chauncery. I will show them…all of them, he thought to himself as he looked over the crowd. Then his eyes alighted upon the little Duende girl. Can it be true, what Manti told me? Is she, even now, wearing the Silver Breastplate? Is she the one in my way?
He looked into her eyes and gave her a smile that was really covering a sneer.
As soon as the announcement was complete, the Centaurs gathered around Chauncery to congratulate him. The sight made Zarius sick. The Centaur turned and retreated into the isolation provided by the empty government building. He moved quickly into the council chambers to be alone and think.
Zarius stomped all four hooves as he entered the room he had been in so many times before. He slammed the door behind him, catching his tail hairs in it. With a growl and a yank, he freed his tail and clomped into the room and up to the front, where the council members’ chairs sat neatly tucked up to their desks. He turned back to face the room. “This should have been mine!” he yelled at the empty room. “I had the right to rule. I am the senior council member!” His anger burst forth in a blast of kicks from his hind legs that sent chairs flying. Taking deep breaths, he grabbed a table and threw it at a window. With a loud crash, the glass burst out and fell to the ground, leaving a gaping hole in what had once been a beautiful stained-glass window.
Zarius turned to the next table and grabbed it, lifting it in the air.
“I think it would be best if you put that down.”
Zarius spun around, the table still in the air above his head. Adivino was standing just inside the door.
“What are you doing here?” asked Zarius, his words filled with scorn, his lips curling over his teeth in disgust.
“Looking for you,” said Adivino calmly. “And it appears I found you just in time…at least before you could do any more damage.”
Zarius dropped the table, causing a leg to break when it hit the stone floor. “Ha,” he said with disgust as he kicked the table.
Adivino limped up to Zarius. His age and arthritis were slowing him down these days. “Zarius, I understand why you are upset.”
“Do you?” Zarius responded as he turned his back on the herd historian.
“Yes, I do. In fact, I was in your position once.”
This caught Zarius’s attention, but he refused to show it and kept his back to Adivino.
“There was a time when I, too, was the senior council member. I was passed over for the job of lead stallion when another was selected in my place. A much finer and younger stallion, I might add. His name was Manti. It took me a long time to come to grips with the fact that another had been chosen over me. But gradually I became aware of my real talents and what I could contribute to the herd.” Adivino paused and walked around to face Zarius.
“You, Zarius, are a Centaur of many talents as well. You can be very helpful to the Minsheen herd and the new lead stallion if you so choose. Are you going to let this disappointment destroy you? Or are you going to use it to make you stronger and better? The choice is yours.”
Zarius narrowed his eyes. “Perhaps our definition of stronger and better is different, old stallion.”
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