Home > Better Words Than Mine, My Favorites > Day One Hundred and Forty-three: A New Whetstone

Day One Hundred and Forty-three: A New Whetstone

“I am only one,
But still I am one.
I cannot do everything,
But still I can do something;
And because I cannot do everything
I will not refuse to do the something that I can do.”
-Edward Everett Hale

The king has never taken kindly to republicanism. It doesn’t come up often, but every now and then one of his subjects gets the idea that the people should rule the land for themselves. That the king has no more right to rule than any other man. That leaders should be chosen for their skill, not accepted for their accidental grace of birth.

When they get those thoughts into their head, it then becomes my job to see that that head comes off.

It’s the king’s birthday today. I bought a new whetstone.

He likes to watch, just like his mad father did. He sits close enough that he can see everything, far enough away that there’s no chance of blood landing on him and spotting his precious silks. He claps and cheers when the head comes off, and he orders it brought to him as soon as possible after it stops rolling. He has a theory that they’re still alive, you see. That somewhere, for just a few minutes, the spirit of the man – or woman – is still hiding in that head. And it’s still able to hear, perhaps to see, maybe to understand. His Majesty loves the idea of holding their head as their soul flies off to a better place than this.

Then he throws it to that deranged, inbred bastard of a son as a kick-toy. And he gestures to me, and it’s time to bring out the next one. I sweat and weep under my hood, but of course I dare not remove it.

Sometimes I dream, though. I dream that I throw off my hood and put the ax to the king. I watch his pale, spotty head fly off into the sky, spiraling blood behind it. And when it lands, it looks confused for a moment, right before the light fades from its eyes. The blood flows everywhere, all across the land, and now my ax handle is a mile long. The blade is a hundred miles across, and when I swing, the kingdom dies.

Then his hundreds of loyal troops cut me down. Then his son takes the throne, and everything just gets worse.

There will be no revolution here. Not for a long time, I think. And no matter how much I may sympathize, when the mob finally comes to the castle, the king’s executioner is going to be bit by his own blade, no matter how much I swear I was on their side all along. This is how things are, and this is how things will stay. For now and forever.

I can’t stop the executions. His Majesty finds them far too entertaining. The captain of his army finds them too useful. The priests find them instructional.

There is only one thing which is within my power, and I am meticulous in my duties.

I bought a new whetstone. It cost me most of what I’d saved over the last year or so, but it’s worth it.

The blade will cut cleanly. It’s all I can do.

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  1. November 2, 2011 at 4:22 PM

    just poking around reading a few. I really liked this one. Tight little ending :)

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