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russrussrussrussruss t1_iy220xt wrote

I hid the child under my robes, sheltering him from the rain. This act of compassion, uncharacteristic of the “brutal oppressor” most have come to see me as, was not lost on my guard detail, and I caught them sharing glances with each other. I did not care. Maybe I would have before, but even holding this babe spurred some emotion in me. If those child really was destined to end me, I wouldn’t try to change his fate by exposing him to cruel violence at such a young age.

As he grew, this emotion grew with him. He was, of course, trained in all things noble. Swordplay, literature, diplomacy, I spared nothing in his education. When he first bested our weapons master, I was proud, though I did not show it.

When he first read the works of our greatest poets aloud to my court, i was proud, and applauded him, though only briefly. I could see his smile, even though he tried to hide it.

When he returned from his first diplomatic mission, the first one to end in peace for our nation in a generation, I broke and embraced him in private. After a second, his shock seemed to fade, and he too rapped his arms around me.

I was frail at that point, and even though I still stood nearly a head above my people, I was not the imposing figure I once was. I had gradually lost my strength, the fire in my eyes faded, and my compassion grew. Those who would have been executed decades ago, I allowed a chance at repentance. I replaced the more violent members of my court with more pragmatic ones, knowing these people would guide my son after I was gone. My reputation amongst the people changed, the older ones, of course, still remembered me for the monster I was, the monster who had taken their mothers, fathers, sons, and daughters away from them. But the younger ones saw me as a fair ruler, and I was greeted more and more on the rare occasion I left the safety of my castle.

“Father, a new merchant has arrived in town, with wares from far off nations I have not seen since my first voyage for peace. Would you like to accompany me?” And I did. He was a young man now, 23 winters had passed since that stormy night, and I was near my end. One last trip wouldn’t hurt, and I was seldom exposed to wonders from outside my domain. We ventured down, through muddy paths, and entered the capital city. This place was larger than I remembered, no doubt from the success of my sons various diplomatic missions.

We walked the main road, when a man, slightly older than my boy walked up to us. “I cannot believe this, I never thought I would see you two in person! You may not remember, but we’ve crossed paths before.” He said to me. He was right, I did not remember, but there was something in his face that sparked recollection. “Ah, I’m sorry, you do seem familiar but I can’t quite place it.” “Oh that’s fine, I doubt you’d remember every life you ruined.” That stung. This was not the positive encounter I’d hoped it to be, and I hated to be reminded of my “glory days”. “Whatever transgression I’ve done to you, I genuinely apologize for. Come to the castle later today, we can perhaps work out some deal to reimburse you and your family. But, alas, we must get going, my son has business in town.” I hurried my boy along, this was not a side of me I wanted him to see often. But as I turned my back, my sons face lit up with fear, I felt a blade puncture my back, lost my breath, and collapsed into his arms.

The man was gone, lost in the bustling crowd. Some were gathering, but I paid it no mind. I wanted my last moments to be spent looking at my son. My boy. The child destined to end my evil reign. I had always believed he would be the one to kill me, that was my interpretation of the prophecy. Perhaps my earlier compassion was, indeed, an attempt to change fate. But, one way or the other, that prophecy had come true. I could see the rage in his teary eyes. The same rage I once saw in my own. “Do not give into it, I raised you better…” as I faded, and the pain shrunk, I saw the rage transform into utter sadness, and for a split second, he was that baby again.

EDIT: punctuation, spaced out the last paragraph.