“18” How it begins

The King had not particularly cared for this ride. He could not remember a more troubled one. Even the Own were somber, knowing what he was about to do. He had left his wife and son at the breakfast table in tears as even they knew. Now it drew upon sup time and he was closing on Dawn’s Landing. The parchment from His Holiness had arrived last evening with the sisterhood verdict and the sentence His Holiness had pronounced.

He had grown up in a small village, the eldest of two children. His parents were good and honest people, and they instilled into him the need for honor and integrity. Most of the punishment he and his sister received from their parents was related to their character. If the two broke something, neither his mom nor dad made a big deal of it, but if what they broke was their word, or they made a decision that hurt another, or if they lied, the punishment would last for weeks at a time.

Neither parent ever raised a hand to either of them, nor did they as much as scold. Punishment consisted of denying them things that they liked. Certain desserts were forbidden, or playing with their best friend, or family game night. They both knew they were wrong, so they took their punishment in a way they knew their parents would approve of, with honesty and integrity, never trying to beat the punishment.

He had tried to be the parent to his son that his parents had been to him, and had criticized himself on occasion for not handling things with his son in a way that would make his parents proud. Four words were forbidden when he was growing up, and he had made sure he had never uttered them to his son. His parents had never said the words ‘Because I said so’ to him or his sister. They never even implied it. When he or Sandra would ask a question, they would answer with truth on every occasion and then they would deal with whatever pain or confusion that truth caused. He didn’t ever remember hearing ‘Because I’m the parent’, or ‘For your own good’ either.

Sir Kevin of the King’s personal guard, known as the King’s Own, rode on his left side and his niece on his right. She must have looked over at him more than a hundred times during the ride wanting to say something reassuring, but knowing as well that there really was nothing that could be said. As they approached the gate, he turned to his niece, “I must ask a favor of you, Marie.”

“Uncle?”

“On the new day I would like you to ride with the train and express my apologies to Darvon. We are supposed to hunt this weekend, but this will bind me to the Landing for at least a week.”

“It will be done, Uncle. I’m sorry this came to be.”

“It is distasteful, but she brought it upon herself. It must be done. The Holiness has pronounced her sentence.”

The King and the Own entered the gate, while the rest of his command began setting up camp, inside the Beast wall. As they passed the gate they rode directly to the stables and had their horses tended to by the stable master. They picked up bicycles and began the ride to the carpenters to pick up the block.

With the block tied to the back of Kevin’s bike, they began the last leg of their journey, the ride to the sisterhood. When they arrived, the Own placed the block over the grate leading to the city sewers while the King walked up the marble walkway. Many of the sisters would look with sadness upon him as he passed, some would touch his arm, but he didn’t acknowledge any of them. He was about to do something that had never been done in the history of Mother and he was not inclined to be social.

He climbed the stairs to the apartments of the Holiness, went to his knee and knocked on the door. The door opened almost immediately, “My King, it is good to see you well. Please rise. Allow me to get my robe.”

The King watched as the Holiness donned his blue robe that was significant to his confronting a criminal with the verdict and sentence. The two of them left the apartments together and began descending the stairs. At the main floor they picked up High Sister Tillie and descended again to the prison level. The King had never been in the prison level of any sisterhood and was more than surprised at what he saw.

The prison guards were sisters, and not muscular bulky sisters but normal sisters, most of which were rather young. He knew that the prisoners were allowed out of the cells to the exercise room. He also knew there had not been one reported case of an escape in history. He couldn’t imagine it being difficult to get past these tiny women.

“Sister Delaney, we are here to retrieve Pamela Canton and impose her sentence,” Sister Tillie told the petite Sister at the desk.

“Yes, High Sister. Right this way,” Sister Delaney responded.

The Sister led the way down the hallway, past the cells containing various violators of various crimes to the last cell on the left and opened the door. The sister walked in and announced the King, His Holiness, and the High Sister. The prisoner stayed in the bed and looked over at them.

“I am going to burn you all when I get out of here,” she said, “And make no mistake, I will get out of here, and before you are even done smoldering, I will burn your families and every friend you have ever had.”

“I announced His Holiness, please show him the respect he deserves,” Sister Delaney said to the woman.

“I am the Queen of Mother, you stupid slut. Get on your knees when you talk to me,” the prisoner responded.

Tiny little Sister Delaney walked over to the bed, causing the prisoner to jump up and go right away to her knees. Sister Delaney stood next to the prisoner and faced His Holiness.

“Pamela Canton,” began the Holiness, “You have been found guilty of seventeen counts of murder and three counts of murder of mass scale, and I hereby sentence you to death by means of beheading, to be enforced immediately.”

“I am the Queen, dumb shit! You won’t even be able to survive without me.”

“Perhaps not, but over three thousand people didn’t survive with you,” The Holiness responded.

The High Sister and his Holiness led the way up the staircase to the front of the sisterhood, followed by the prisoner and her guard, and the King brought up the rear. Before they walked outside, the procession stopped and waited for two sisters coming down the hall with hand and foot wraps. The prisoner saw them and attempted to bolt, but Sister Delaney caught her with one hand under the left arm, swung her and with her right hand, pinched the prisoner’s neck causing her to crumble in pain. The two sisters with the wraps hurriedly wrapped her legs and hands, leaving her head and neck free.

“Please, Brent,” cried the prisoner, “Help me. Slay these horrible people and free me. I will make it worth your while. You lust for me, I know you do. Help me and I’m yours.”

The two sisters lifted the prisoner and carried her through the door to the block. The guard sister went back to the prisons while the Holiness and the High Sister followed the prisoner and the King came last.

The prisoner’s rants and raves were drawing onlookers and soon a crowd was gathering. The sisters dragged her kicking and screaming and draped her head over the block. The King walked up to the block and drew his long sword. Please, Mother. Make my stroke true.

“Brent, please. You know me. These charges aren’t. . .”

The King hung his head as he watched his Queen’s head tumble and roll. He felt suddenly filthy and in need of a shower. His blade was covered with blood and he tried to think of the means to clean it in an attempt to get his stomach not to heave at what he had just done.

“May Mother have mercy on us!” he said to all.