Fool Me Once

“This brainless fool?” The King stared down at his court jester with annoyance more than anything. Truth be told, the King was mildly amused by the thought of his jester being an assassin in any capacity. However, the captain of the guard himself not only made the accusation. He had proof of the idiot’s wavering loyalty. The king would have taken the captain at his word alone, he was a young man that worked his way up through the guard ranks. He was eager, smart, and best of all trustworthy.

The captain presented the King with jester’s kercheif, found in the queen’s chambers. The king raged at first; he flung accusations of infidelity and promising to leave her. The captain remained calm and explained what was really happening.

“This is why she sent me,” the guard explained. “She found this in her room with no idea where it came from; my Queen was fearful of this exact reaction,” he said. His calm tone helped the King relax. “However, thanks to my spies, I know what happened,” the captain bowed.

“Explain,” the King encouraged him.

“My Queen remains faithful as ever,” the guard said. “This fool was only in her chamber’s in search of a weakness. Access to you. The fool is a spy sent to assassinate you,” the guard replied.

“Hang him,” The King replied with a dismissive gesture. The captain shook his head.

“Your Highness, if I may,” he knelt and bowed his head deeper. The king nodded.

“Make an example of him. Reveal him to show everyone else how astute you are. Behead him publicly to show your strength,” he said. “Show everyone what happens when we discover a spy.” The king nodded enthusiastically at the idea.

“Tomorrow,” the King replied. The captain nodded.

“Tomorrow,” he agreed, then rose from his knees. The next day, the fool knelt before the king in shackles.

“Yes sir,” the captain of the guard stepped forward wielding a large axe. It wasn’t customary for the captain to perform executions; but, this was a special occasion. And it was all going according to plan. The fool grinned to himself when he saw the captain standing that close to the King with a weapon.

“You’d have a chance if you were the one executing me,” the jester suggested the previous night. It was a night like any other until he walked by the Queen’s room. He heard a stifled giggle inside and knew for a fact the King wasn’t in there. He checked on her, and found the Captain in a deep conversation with the Queen, discussing several things that all amounted to bad news for the King.

It was a tense night for the jester; he feared for his life for a solid hour before he could explain that he held no loyalties to the King. Only to himself. Then, they discussed a plan that ended with the captain informing the King of the jester’s assassination. It was a perfect plan. The captain would build more trust by revealing the plot, then assassinate the King. The Queen and the guardsmen would ensure he took over. The jester would get to live like a noble never having to perform again. He could hardly hide his grin as the King rose from this throne and approached.

“Have you anything to say for yourself, spy?” The King asked. The jester was shackled down with his neck on a block; he could only look up with his eyes. The captain approached and stood just behind him; he hefted the heavy axe, and winked at the jester.

“Just one thing,” the Jester grinned. He watched the captain raise the axe for momentum. “Always watch your back,” he said. His smile remained up until the moment the axeblade hit the block; after slicing through his neck. A slight frown took over as his head toppled forward and he realized the betrayal. As the world went dark around him, he almost wanted to laugh at the irony of dying like a fool.

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