When Councilman Wilhelm entered the tiny, hole-in-the-wall room, his face went pale. Didn’t expect me to know where your hideout was, did you? Didn’t expect me to be waiting for you, did you?
“Have you ever killed a man, Mr. Wilhelm?”
The man glared at him, but didn’t respond
“Oh, don’t be shy. Councilmen are elected, and we both know what happens to saints in politics. That’s why we both know you didn’t get elected without committing a few sins, right? I know you’ve taken bribes. I know you’ve given out bribes. I know your actions have caused men to die. I’m just wondering if you’ve killed a man with your own hands. Have you tortured one? Have you committed adultery? Have you ever stolen anything?”
“What are you getting at, Qasin. I’ve done no such thing. I’ll have you kn– Ahhh!!!” but before he could finish his sentence, the king had crossed the room and jammed a small short sword into Wilhelm’s shoulder, pinning his back against the wall.
“Do not lie to me again!” he shouted as he wrenched the sword deeper through Wilhelm’s shoulder and into the wooden wall behind him.
“You . . . You can’t do this. You won’t get away with this,” Wilhelm gasped as best he could, his face twisting in pain. That’s right, pig. Squeal.
“I already have. Now, where were we? Oh yeah, have you ever stolen? Did you sleep with another man’s wife or did you sleep around on your wife? Have you ever actually killed a man with your own hands?”
“No. No I never did any of those things.”
“So you’ve lived a pretty model life then?” the king tilted his from side to side while maintaining eye contact with Wilhelm. “I mean, other than trying to overthrow me and marching men to their deaths.”
“I have no regrets. If the deal had gone through, this kingdom’s future would be safe for generations to come.”
“Safe? You would give our kingdom away to those White-Horns and Black-Wings and pretend that we’d be safe?”
“It wasn’t giving away. We were going to sign an agreement to form an alliance,” Wilhelm said, his defiance not slipping an inch.
“Does it hurt?” The king took out another sword and shoved it into Wilhelm’s other shoulder, eliciting another scream from his captive and leaving him firmly pinned against the wall. “Does it hurt, Wilhelm?”
“Of course it hurts, you madman!”
“What do you think it would feel like to be cleaved in half by a Minotaur’s axe? To be burned alive by one of the Satyrs? Do you think it would hurt more or less than these swords?”
“Just get it over with, you monster.” So impatient. So eager to die.
“If you insist,” the king said, pulling out a third and final sword. “Any last wishes?”
“Just . . . Just leave my wife and children alone. They had no part in this.”
“Done. Though I wasn’t going to harm them anyways. I’m just planning on sending them to Valcrest to live with the other councilmen’s families. After all, we can’t have them in the capital when I publish the evidence of your treachery.” Qasin took one final sword and shoved it right into Wilhelm’s heart.
- You have reached Level 74!
He had been worth a lot more experience than the others. Qasin pulled the swords out of Wilhelm and sighed. With the messenger, Anthony, he had felt bad. It was a hard thing to even consider, killing a man for being born a pawn. With the councilmen, however, he had felt neither remorse nor pain of conscience at all. It had even felt a little good. It had given him the same warm feeling he got from helping a homeless person find shelter or a child find his parents. Am I really a monster? Does doing what is necessary count as an atrocity? Or is it the fact that I took pleasure in doing it that makes me a monster?
“Anthony, you can come in now,” he called to the man waiting outside. Anthony came in and immediately turned his head away from the sight.
“You’ve done good work tonight, Anthony. Their deaths have saved many lives.” The king couldn’t help but feel bad, even as he said. It was the same weak excuse that all the councilmen had given to justify their whims. One person’s death saves another’s life. “Now there are only three pieces left on the board. We need to meet with the Black-wings, the White-Horns and our champion. Take care of it.”
“Yes, Your Majesty,” Anthony said as he bowed and left. He seemed to leave the scene quicker and quicker after every kill. Maybe his weak stomach and shaky legs were finally catching up with his cowardice.
Wilhelm might not have had the wrong idea. Instead of focusing my attention only on the Human Empire, perhaps I should be expanding.