by Mr. Juanito
The last duty of a reformed tyrant.
|The sounds of steps echo through the corridor as cold air wanders through as ventilation. Droplets of water from the ceiling can be heard as each splash on the damp floor aggregating to small puddles of water on small depressions and cracks on the floor. A flickering torch hanging on the wall illuminates dimly revealing the small room. The floor, walls and ceiling are wet, slimy and worn out with age with unseen patches of algae hidden by the dim lighting. A guard is seen on one side of the room having an involuntary nap on a wooden chair cross armed with a sword on his hand. The sounds of the steps grew louder as the shadow on the floor crept forward upon the entrance of the room. The shadow was revealed to be attached to a large figure moving closer and peered through the cell bars. Inside the cell, a couple of large chains were bolted on the wall. The chains are strapped on ankles of the man residing in the cell. He wears tattered clothing and upon closer look was akin to an attire worn by nobles. The shadow of the figure loomed over him across the cell bars and he looked up and saw a pair of sunset eyes.
“What do you want, Arioch?” The man spoke with a hoarse voice.
“I am here to give you a second chance.” The figure said.
The man noticed the guard was still napping.
“Do not worry. He will not wake up for a while,” The figure answered. “I can make it look like your cell had an explosion. No one will bother to look for your body. Then I can slip you out of the kingdom and you can live anywhere far from here.”
The man glared at the figure with a suspicion on his intention. “I will repeat again: what do you want, Arioch?”
“You do not need to take the punishment. You were only brainwashed by those ministers,” the figure trying to convince the man. “The people suffered under your rule but you are not at fault here. You can atone for your guilty conscience by doing good for others. Leave the past and move forward with the second chance.”
The man smiled. “I still am a child of King Richard. Even though not of true royal blood, I must bring honor to him still. I have deep admiration for him and I follow his ideals. I will still take responsibility for the suffering of the citizens. Take their rage and anger and give them a sense of fulfillment. This is my final duty as King of Militaria.”
The eyes of the figure widened in astonishment. He took a knee and bowed. “As you wish, King Henry.” He stood up and left as he came.
On the early morning of the execution, a messenger went to the capital. The capital is a large castle surrounded by a deep moat with high walls and the gatehouse serving as the entrance. The gatehouse has a drawbridge with watchtowers on both sides of a massive gate. The gate was opened with two guards standing on the sides.
The messenger approached the guards, “For Lord Francis.” Showing the stamp on the letter.
One of the them called at the guards inside for a servant to deliver the letter. After a servant was called, the messenger handed over the letter and went his way. The servant proceeded to look for the recipient of the letter in the castle. Inside, the other servants moved about very busy with their activities.
Her search led her to the recipient’s chamber. She knocked but no one answered. With no response to her knock, she decided to enter the room and immediately found him in the reading den. “Milord, a letter for you.”
The man, interrupted from his immersed reading, closed the book and received the letter. After handing over the letter, the servant excused herself out the room. He inspected the letter and curiously stared at the stamp. He opened the letter and began to read:
“Dear Lord Francis,
My deepest apologies for the untold suffering and humiliation for both you and Arthur. I was blinded by my deep admiration for our father and my passion to imitate his rule. Unknowingly, my mind was poisoned by the people that groomed me to overthrow the rightful ruler. Their ambition made me their pawn. Upon my realization of the true nature of my rule, it was already too late. I cannot wipe away the consequences of my actions but I can atone for it. In order to redeem the honor of our father that I soiled, I have willingly accepted my punishment to satiate the grudge of the people. I hope Arthur can bring back the former glory of the kingdom through your guidance. I wish a good life for you both from now on.
A large crowd gathered on the plaza, anticipating the arrival of the convicted and hungry for a spectacle. An area of the dense mob was cleared and parted by guards to make a path from the entrance of the plaza to the scaffold. On top of the scaffold, the executioner stood upright with hands resting on the pommel of the executioner sword and the tip of the blade planted onto the platform. When the convicted entered the plaza, the people began to enrage in a pandemonium when he was sighted and gave the guards a hard time in controlling the throng of angry citizens. The convicted is shackled in both hands and ankles chained to an iron ball with two guards dragging him. As he walks towards the scaffold, the convicted looked at his sides and saw up close the uproar of his former subjects. The people who suffered under his rule. They threw insults, curses and scorn at him once he walks by them.
The march may not be that long but for him, it is one arduous journey. His mind played a last trick on him and slowed his perception of surroundings. His heart pounded fast and he was showered on sweat from the heat or his anxiety. He does not know and it does not matter anymore. Fear for his life clutches on him as the anxiety and insecurity that this last deed of his may or may not cleanse the dishonor he gave on the name of his father. Seeing the rampaging crowd, he was reminded of the weight of his mistakes. Rather than live in shame, he resolved himself to satiate the vengeance of his former citizens. To resign to his fate as a tyrant and accept his punishment. Upon arrival on the scaffold, he was made to kneel and his head bowed. Slowly, he closed his eyes and asked his father if his action was enough.
“Dear father, forgive me. I hope I can give you honor even if it is only this moment.” He thought.
The sentence was carried out swiftly and the executioner presented the decapitated head to the people and the crowd cheered at the display.