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Loyalty by Håkon Ulvestad
SUMMARY: Most probably my best story so far. A story about a man who is torn beetween his loyalty to king and family, and how far he is willing to go to protect what he holds dearest.
I approached the throne, my heart beating like a drum, picking up in pace and intensity as I came closer. My footsteps rung hollow in the large stone room. The room was empty except from the king and me. The sword hung heavy at my hip swinging back and forwards corresponding to my gait. He had given it to me himself, the king.
Though it was a very long time ago I could still remember that day clearly, like a pond of clear water, only a few ripples disturbing the surface. It was the day after a great battle in the last war, I had put my life at risk to save the king's, which of course was the right thing to do, but surprisingly many have failed doing so through history. I had stepped in front of him just as an archer let go of his arrow. I was lucky to survive; the arrow nearly strafed my heart. Even though the wound had healed fully, thinking of the incident made it throb with a venomous touch, especially that day standing before the king on his throne. The day after the incident the king visited me, to thank me for my act of courage and true patriotism. He gave me his sword, to show the world that I was a man of valour and true to my liege. And to be a reminder, however, the scar on my chest would have been enough for me. From that day on I had been the king's guard and friend.
My king was unlike many other kings. He did not look down his nose on people of lower stature, but considered himself one of them. He was a people's king, and highly loved.
He was waiting one his throne as I approached him, his hands folded in his lap. One of the grand windows was opened to let fresh air in, and I could hear the chirping of birds. The afternoon sun cast a ray of light illuminating the king, making him radiate his glory. He seemed to be listening to the birds and the breeze as well. His head turned towards the window as if looking out over the landscape and the city below. I knew he missed his vision gravely, he had lost it only a few years ago and still was not used to being blind. I knew it must weigh heavily on his soul, for he had always appreciated beauty. It seemed to me the old man could see into things, see their inner beauty, their real beauty. It was an ability I admired in him. No matter how bad things might look, the king always could find something good. Now, the only thing left to him was his hearing, and I knew he enjoyed listening to the birds singing. Some times it seemed he could even hear in which direction the wind was blowing.
I stopped before him and kneeled, bending my head towards the ground. The king was one of the few men I knew worthy of respect, not only outer respect in kneeling, but true respect, deep in my soul. If there had ever been a king more worthy I doubt it. "Please rise, Willem," he said in his calm, soft voice. I did as he bid, but something in his voice worried him. It seemed weighed with... sorrow. I cannot describe it in any other word, yet it was different, a feeling of acceptance. It left me confused, and a bit afraid. Was something wrong? "Why don't you say anything? I know you are there."
"I am sorry, my grace.