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I


On good days, it could be wonderful to be the Guild-King. On others, it was a living nightmare. Sadly, this wasn’t one of the good days. I squirmed a little on my ill-fitting throne, then assumed a pose of solemn dignity as my subjects kneeled in front of me.


"The condemned will step forward," my major-domo directed. Immediately gray-haired Marjorie Davis, a distant relative, was pushed forward in chains. Once she stood directly before me, a guard forced her down upon her knees as well. There was no question that force was employed; Marjorie fought it with everything she had.


I sighed aloud. This was going to be a wretched affair. Utterly and totally wretched in every imaginable way.


"Has the condemned prisoner any last requests?" the major-domo boomed out.


"No," Marjorie answered, her back straight and proud.


"Will the prisoner plea for mercy?"


"No. Never!"


The members of my Court looked to me for guidance, as was right and proper. It was obvious what had to be done. But it was going to be so terribly hard!


Andrew was seated at my right, so that he could help me along if necessary. "Greg!" he hissed. "You've already made your decision, and it’s the only one possible under the circumstances. So act on it!"

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