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16+ Language

The Taste Tester

by Lordofkittys

Warning: This work has been rated 16+ for language.

A long cape slid along the floor, chasing a short, flimsy frame. The most immaculate jewels were all about the boy and gave off such a sense of power and awe that it would have made any person kneel. He wore a fine shirt with a lovely broach and a purple collar. A tall slim crown of the most spectacular gold color sat upon the little pad of hair, truly marking the hair of this person to be the true gift of the gods. No larger array of wealth could be seen for miles around. A pin with the father’s emblem was also attached to his collar.

Despite all of these gems of wealth, the actual atmosphere around the boy was nothing more than spoiledness and a baby’s anger. The sinister lips were permanently contorted into the most unappealing curl. Anger was the quickest emotion that would come to him at the slightest sense of impudence or insubordination, as both were threats to his insecurities. He tried to make the crown rest as high as thought possible, so that anybody would know his authority.

His kingdom was the largest around for thousands of leagues. This just helped to cement his mind. He was Lethe of the Lascaris dynasty. His family had ruled these lands for over three centuries from their great family estate of Epiruz. Their great, moss covered castle could be seen from all around which just helped to awe and subdue the poor peasants who lived in squalor. His grandfather had been a war hero who had doubled their lands and established a more central authority for the king. Lethe’s father had been a glutton who had let the mice start to take over the castle. Both guardians were dead now with nothing but a legacy of glory and achievements and a legacy of power abuse and wealth. The mind of Lethe was uncertain of the world he sat in. A boy like wonder clouded his mind when he thought about the campaigns of his grandfather and the prestige he had brought to himself and the family. But there was also the influence of the father, who left a lust for more power and an insatiable desire to be like that glory seeker. Then there were the subtler effects on him.

The servants had looked after him for a large amount of his early life since his mother passed away very early in his life. They were the few that taught him the power of kindness and good in people. It was a completely different side to him than what his forefathers had made. Much of this side was ruined though. One night, about half a year before his father would die from a cancer (based on the doctor's’ findings), he was in a particularly ruinous mood. His breath had smelled even more like the devil’s clout (particularly of an aged whiskey variety) than usual, and his temper had flared up when he found some flowers on the floor. They were from the shrine made to Lethe’s mother. The father stormed into Lethe’s room where many of the kind, gentile servants were teaching him. The father than started to beat the servants. Lethe learned more in that moment than he had the rest of his life. The power of his father and his absolute authority presided infinitely more over the kindness of the servants. The king was inherently worth more than those servants. Lethe learned that anger and force was a much better way to hold yourself than with kindness and tenderness. And Now, Lethe wasn’t quuite king yet. He had been for waiting for about four years, and he had not yet begin to show a small fraction of his power as he wanted to show. The rampant amount of arrests and show of force of his army were the methods that he currently used or was allowed to use. The regent would reign for the next couple of years until Lethe came of age. There was still something missing in his life.

His long expensive cape floated behind him as he strode down the hall with his two guards. His stomach let out an embarrassing rumble as he passed a window with a beautiful orange sunset. He was on his way to eat his lavish supper. It was a long day for Lethe, as he had to deal with a number of annoying court members. His head ached with all of their comments. It pained him deeply whenever he had to interact with such fowl people. They would make attempts on his life and he understood that. The nobles of the land felt just as incredulous that a kid should rule them, as Lethe feels when one of the nobles disobey him.

Lethe’s mind was disturbed when he passed a well done painting on the wall. A deep hatred resided within himself at that painting. It portrayed a lamb stomping on a group of snakes. The vibrant colors seemed to come out of the painting. He kept it up only because it was his grandfather’s favorite painting.

He finally made it to the grand dining hall. A long table with chandeliers above it took up most of the room. There were only a few other people occupying the room. Three of them were guards which had guided his dynasty for what seemed like forever, and the other was the royal taste tester.

The royal taste tester was a family tradition. He had its own dynasty which stretched just as far back as the Lascaris dynasty. His only role in the castle was to eat a portion of the king’s food before the king does to make sure the food isn’t poisoned. For this service, they have been able to live like the richest nobles themselves. This particular taste tester was the fifth one in his family line. His name was Promeater, although was more often just called the Tester. The brown mat on his hair would be insulting for most people were it not for the even more insulting beard that grew wildly in all directions. The grand food he got to eat had also helped his wide belly. The dull forest green he wore seemed more fitting for a peasant tavern keeper. His face once held a fair amount of handsomeness, but age had started to take its toll.

A number of cooks brought out the dinners, laying the first in front of the Tester. Lethe had a great disdain for that man. Part of the hatred stemmed purely from the childish fact that the other also got to eat before him. The tester immediately prepared to dig into the delicious roasted duck stew. Lethe just quietly made his way to his seat and sat down.

Lethe abruptly cried out, “Bring your king his food! I am not a peasant to be kept hungary!”

Promeater gave Lethe a piercing look. His eyes were that of a falcon’s that were always able to reduce the stature of the target. He said in his standard gruff, casual voice, “You are not king yet, thank God! Come, look out that window over yonder and enjoy that crisp sunset. My, my it is like the perfect jewel in all the worlds, it is.” And with that he took his first bite of the food. A most peculiar look overcame his face for a second, but he merely looked back at Lethe.

Lethe wasn’t looking at the sunset, but instead was playing around with his forks. After a long pause, he said, “The first thing I will do when I do become king is to get rid of your useless position. You will find yourself living on the street without anyway to survive.”

“I think I would do quite fine. Did you know that I would often give your father advice at times like this? Both your father and grandfather appreciated my opinion. One of them turned out for the worst didn’t they? Oh don’t look at me like that you know just as well as I do the nature of your father.” A smug grin stretched across his face.

Standing up in rage, not quite sure who it was directed towards, Lethe yells, “How dare you say such things about the royal family! I will have you strung up for your insolence!”

“Oh you shut up!” the smile turned into a stern resolve that demanded respect, “You have no right to speak like that to anyone. If I can impart even a fraction of wisdom tonight, then I can sleep in my grave happy. Ignoring your issues and causing more for others will do you nothing in the end. Do you not understand that people can feel the same way as you do?”

“I am the king and no one can compare their pressure to the pressure I feel!”

“What about the poor peasant family that is barely to make it by on their couple acres of farmland? And then one day the armed soldiers arrest one of them for no other reason than you are trying to prove to yourself that you are something above little kid. Don’t you think they suffer hardships as hard as you do? What about a person who’s only job is to die for someone else if need be. You are born to a higher station and that doesn’t get you anywhere in the world if you do nothing with it! Look at your father! Was he a ‘higher being’ that deserves the name of ‘king’ and ‘lord’ when all he did was just eat and sit? You can’t be anything besides a pile of shit unless you prove yourself to be something else!”

Lethe’s mind was trying to run in so many directions he couldn’t say anything at all. He merely sat down and stared at his plate with utter rage building within him.

The resolve of the Tester lessened somewhat. “I don’t mean to pin you in the corner as nothing more than a useless donkey, but you have to learn the nature of the world. Don’t idealize anyone as no one is perfect, and don’t damn anyone as no one is entirely flawed. Your hero grandfather became a hero for murdering people in their homes unless they joined his kingdom. Your father ‘squandered’ the treasury by spending huge amounts of wealth to feed the peasants during a famine. Just remember that you don’t necessarily deserve the money you have any more than your people do. I just want to make you a better person than you forefathers. I have lived my life as a spectator gathering as much wisdom as I could, so that I can hopefully impart it to someone at some point.”

Lethe sat pensively. He never looked more like a child then he did now. However, it wasn’t like a nasty child, but a confused one working through his feelings.

The queer look came back to Promeater as he sat and he continued speaking, “I wish the best for you, I really do,” he paused for a second, “Did you know us taste testers are trained to recognize poison immediately?”

Lethe looked up, “What do you mean?”

“Have a better life lad,” the last words came out with a fair amount of effort. The Tester than slumped over in his chair as guards rushed to his side. He had served his purpose.

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66 Reviews

Points: 5274
Reviews: 66

Sat Jan 07, 2017 6:23 am
iamanaspiringwriter wrote a review...

Hi Lordofkittys! I hope you are having a happy 2017 so far! Getting right into it, even in the first paragraph and in certain places within the story, there was awkward phrases. My mind just tripped over itself trying to read it. Reading it aloud to yourself can help you identify those trouble spots.
I know there wasn't a whole lot of room for imagery, however your descriptions in the first paragraph were just saying what was there on the surface and although I got a picture as to what Lethe looked like, I think you could make your descriptions have a lot more depth and texture. Focus on finding ways to both creatively describe Lethe's clothing and his personality while weaving it all into the story.
There were also a few times in the story when you added a descriptor where it wasn't really needed, for instance when you said Lethe was heading off to eat his "lavish" supper. Honestly, when I read that sentence the word lavish seemed really out of place and unnecessary. Judging by what we know about Lethe, we can assume his suppers are quite lavish. There are other instances like this, but it's really up to your personal discretion.
I also noticed a few grammatical/punctuational errors. A few times I saw you switch tenses mid-sentence, I also thought there were some sentences missing punctuation.
Looking at the story as a whole, I think it could use a lot of refining in regards to making sure the backstory isn't an overload and how exactly you want your theme to play out. I would also like to see a bit more characterization with Lethe, even for a short story I don't feel I know him very well. During the Tester's "rant" I would like to see what Lethe is thinking in his mind during all of it and not just have long drawn out rant dialogue.
I liked the ending, I didn't really know where the story was going and the end seemed unexpected to me. I think if you edit this and take the tips from me and the other reviewers (maybe a few friends too), you could shape this into a really great story! I, like StormCycle, would love to see an edited version of this! Happy writing!

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Lordofkittys says...

Cool, thanks for the help! I will definitely be looking at revising the story some more.

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213 Reviews

Points: 100
Reviews: 213

Fri Jan 06, 2017 9:59 pm
inktopus wrote a review...

I think that the premise was interesting, but it definitely could have been carried out better.

The story begins with a description of the prince and what he is wearing, I think that the description is important, but it wasn't carried out very well. The description is almost a laundry list, just listing what he's like and what he's wearing. Try to weave your descriptions into your writing so things like this don't happen.

I found a lot of weird wording and misspellings, I think going over this yourself or having someone else proofread this story would do a lot for it.

The entire third paragraph is an info dump the readers don't need. This is just a short story, and the information you gave us wasn't completely necessary to the story. A lot of times the reader can figure things out on their own. You don't need to spell things out.

Although the story is called "The Taste Tester" we aren't introduced to the titular character until fairly late in the narrative. Introducing him to us before the meal occurs would help to smooth things out in my opinion.

Overall, I liked the premise but the execution left something to be desired. I would enjoy seeing an edited version of this. I hope my review helped!

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Lordofkittys says...

Thanks for the review. I think a lot of your criticism is quite valid. Rereading that third paragraph did make me realize a lot of that info is practically repeated later. I haven't really thought of a better way to introduce the Taste Tester in a better way yet, but I will keep thinking. I also thought of some better ways to intertwine some of the backstory better. Anyway, thanks!

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Points: 81
Reviews: 3

Fri Jan 06, 2017 9:44 pm
Lordofkittys says...

I have a few things that I am already a bit skeptical of. For one, I am not entirely sure how I feel about the names as they seem maybe a bit awkward. Secondly, I feel like there may be a bit to many things going on that aren't fully developed that well in such a short story. I also think it could use a bit more refinement in the theme of the story. I would appreciate it if you shared your thoughts on any of these things. I guess that is it for now, so enjoy the story!

Your hesitation suggests you are trying to protect my feelings. However, since I have none, I would prefer you to be honest. An artist's growth depends upon accurate feedback.
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