Taint of Treason
by Eric James Stone
"Just be sure of your stroke, son."
Only I could hear my father's words over the jeers of the crowd. He knelt down
before me and nodded to indicate he was ready. Calmly he raised his head,
extending his neck to give me a wider target.
My right arm felt suddenly weak, and my grip on the sword my father had
given me for my fifteenth birthday was becoming slippery with sweat. I knew
he was no traitor. No one had served King Tenal so faithfully, so long, as had
my father. Even as others whispered that the king had fallen to madness,
Father's lips formed no ill word. He had lived to serve the king, but now stood
condemned to die, convicted of treason by the mouth of the king himself -- no
trial necessary, no appeal possible.
I did not feel I could do this. But what choice did I have?