Sunday, May 10, 2009

Death of a Convict

The convict stares around him. The Colosseum filled to the brim with people waiting to see the main show - death by hanging for he who committed the highest sin of the Empire.

Killing the King.

He faces down towards the priest staring him in the eye - looking back at him to the best of his ability while keeping himself unrestrained by the rope round his neck. The crowds roar. The executioner remains emotionless - none see the face behind the ashened mask. "Purge his sin! Cleanse Our land! Hang his head and cut his breath!" a man shouts. Another follows. Another. Soon the audience is chanting. Purge his sin. Cleanse our land. Hang his head and cut his breath.

"Stop!" shouts the priest. Immediate silence. The crowd wavers in anticipation. The executioner yawns with apathy. He continues to stare down.

"This man here has committed the greatest of sins against the Holyland!" the priest shouts. The Colosseum roars back. Almost instantly they begin to chant again.

"But!" the priest shouts again. "we cannot grant sin victory by sinning against the sinner. No! It is in divine providence that we must give him the final chance to see The Way, to repent, to do good. Without it!" the crowd is silent.

"There is no justification for our cleansing of his soul." The crowd is solemn.

"Convict!" the command echoes throughout the Colosseum. The priest looks into his eyes. "You have committed the gravest of sins in the history of our Holyland. You have killed the Honoured King, blest by the Gods themselves. Regicide, divine mutiny, and treason. Those are the three largest sins you bear. Do you have anything to say of your unhallowed actions?"

The Colosseum stays silent, waiting for the convict's reply. The convict stays silent. The executioner remains nonchalant to the silence.

"Convict," the priest says, more gravely. "In the absence of our Hallowed King and in the mental distraughtness of His Royal Family, I, the High Priest of Our Holyland, have offered to take proceedings of this trial. Their divine wrath may have banished your life from this world by now, but I am not permitted to be of their nature, as I am but a High Priest humbly serving the King. Take this chance seriously, convict. It shall not come in any other lifetime of yours."

"Do you have anything," he says, pausing for a moment. "anything, Convict, to say of your unhallowed actions?" he stares at the convict, who only stares back in silence.

"Nothing, my priest," the convict says, still staring him in the face.

"Nothing? Nothing shall come of nothing! Do you intend to mock the benevolence granted upon you by sheer grace and divine will? Do you intend to scoff upon the charity of this nation, for whom you have lived within since your birth, and by your very choice at this moment perhaps your death too! Insolence!" he shouts. The crowd goes wild, infused too with the wrath that had suddenly overcome the priest. The Colosseum is filled with nothing but chanting and roaring again. Amidst the chaos, the priest sees the convict's lips move. He tries to hear, but fails. He cannot decipher the words of the convict.

"Silence!" the priest screams, drowning out immediately the roars and chants of the entire audience. Silence again. "The Convict speaks. Desecrate not the name of our Kingdom by depriving his right to speak." he turns to the convict. "Speak, Convict."

"What I had said, o priest, is that it is not insolence, my priest." the convict continues to stare into the priest's eyes.

"I see," the priest remarks, and looks at the convict again. "why is that so, Convict?"

"For my actions cannot be considered insolence if they were so deemed deserving, my priest." the crowd screams, visibly agitated. The rows of spectators stand and hurl stones at the convict. He does nothing. The executioner fumbles around, trying his best not to get hit by the stones.

"It is known!" the convict shouts. "Common knowledge, even! Of the divine wrath of the King and the Royal Family. Their trials and cleansings! With every purification the gallows are filled with the corpses of a thousand citizens! Tell me, O Priest! Tell me, O Country! Tell me, O Kingdom! Is their divine right to wrath worth the lives of thousands gone with every purification?"

"There is no sin in my actions! For I exist here a martyr to the beliefs that our Holyland have stood for since time immemorial. Is it not sin to purge the lives of many without the first pardon to death, o priest? Is it not sin to call for the gullotine on a man before the crowd can bear to even throw a stone?" the convict continues in his tirade, always staring into the eyes of the priest, each statement with more power than the next.

"It is divine retribution, O Kingdom! Divine retribution that such a fate befall the King by the hands of mere men like me. For the Gods themselves have invoked in me the divine wrath I needed to serve sacred justice against the Royalty that desecrate the hallowed name of our Holyland! Is this act, called upon by the very gods themselves, then considered a sin?" the crowd cannot accept the convict's speech. Stones fly from every direction of the colosseum towards the centre - the hanging ground. Everyone inside scrambles to the walls to avoid being stoned, save two - the priest, protected by the guards and their shields, and the convict, on the stands with rope bound around his neck.

"Convict! Know your place!" the priest shouts. "You stand here, a convict of the court, subject to the law of the Kingdom and held accountable to the masses. Of what right do you dare declare yourself a messenger of the wrath of the very gods that allowed our late King to assume his position as King Himself?"

"If I stand here as a convict," the convict declares, "then it is by my own conviction that I do so!" Amidst the hurling of stones and the roaring of voices, the convict's one statement rings throughout the entire colosseum.

"Madman! Sinner! I hereby declare this convict as a sinner of the gravest sins and sentence him to death!" the priest yells. He turns to the executioner immediately. "Executioner! Put this man to death immediately!" the crowd roars. The time has finally come. The executioner fumbles and quickly runs over to the lever. The convict continues to stare the priest in the eyes, seeing into his self, seeing the priest for what he really was. The priest immediately turns his head away.

"Why judge, O priest?! Why sentence?! Why curse and foul my name?! We are all going to die at some time, O Kingdom!" the convict shouts at the top of his lungs. His single voice overpowers the audience for an instant, but is immediately drowned out. The priest sees his lips move again. He cannot hear his words, only decipher its meaning by reading it. The crowd will not stop for silence this time.

"Just that I intend to deserve it." the executioner pulls the lever. The convict falls, hung on the noose of the rope, silent and motionless.


Addendum: Man, I just realized this is so much like a carbon copy of another story I wrote last time.

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