Less One Man to Fear

  There was once a man of magic who held, deep within his bones, a breadth of force that could topple kingdoms. He was a gale that blew when the wind turned haunted. In his power sat the seeds that the oldest of the gods had carefully dropped into the palm of his hand. From these seeds sprouted a harp—an instrument that proved the loss of an eye and the essence of his making.

    His problem lay in his personality. It was kindly and well-ordered; the kind of character that lent itself well to a position of power. It was not long before the people of his land, charmed by his wit and his person, made him king. Perhaps it was the harp that led them to grant such a gift. Perhaps the harp was something else entirely, for it proved a useful instrument to the ruler. All that needed righted was easily done; merely a few plucks at the strings of his harp, and chaos trickled into order. Those that heard the music felt the tug on their own heartstrings, a yearning for a good and right and centered nature. And when the melody faded, most were at peace. 

    Right action born, so it was thought, from a right ruler.

    Yet, from his successes and his power came the feeling that he was righteous—the birth pangs of the kind of pride that leads to ruin.

    It was a village witch whose nails dug deep and gauged a hole in the prideful ruler's face. The antecedent to a stolen kiss. Having found her tending her herbs, he thought her a beautiful creature. He played her his harp until she slept, and while she dozed he had taken what he thought was his due. It was hubris that made him do itthat, and the belief that his harp held all desire in thrall. The witch did not share this belief. In one swift, brutal moment, neither did the ruler, for his eyeball dangled from a nerve as the blood poured down.

    To pluck it from his own face was agony—and yet, it was the making of him. For in a swift moment he never doubted that all played out as he deserved. This, his mark of redemption, turned his heart.

    And when the witch had seen that this ruler had overcome his pride, she smiled gently. For the world was less one man to fear.

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