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Written by Abdun Nur   

The Racketeer’s Guard

 

By Abdun Nur

 

A bandit chief had a small army of gangsters who roamed the land, murdering, raping, torturing and plundering the population, each town he destroyed swelled his ranks as he forced the useful survivors to join him or die.

 

As his army grew he established himself as king and extorted revenues in protection money from the population, he sent his army out to expand his protection racket until he declared himself emperor.

 

The emperor was always afraid of being murdered, he trusted no one, he asked his advisors what type of man would be the best to form his personal guard to protect him from any possible attack.

 

His advisors went away and thought long on this matter, finally they returned. “My Lord.” The senior advisor said,

“We have arrived at an answer, the best men to serve as your personal guard would be those with innate virtues; honesty, loyalty, courage and with great physical strength.”

 

The emperor was happy, and told the advisors to determine how to find such men from his ranks, they once again went away and thought long on the matter, they devised simple tests to expose the traits they sought.

 

After testing every soldier none passed the tests, they returned to the court of the emperor and broke the bad news, the emperor told them to search the lands he dominated and unearth the men he needed.

 

The advisors tested all the people and ten men were found who had the traits they desired, and they were presented to the court. Although they did not wish to be soldier their lives and those of their families were threatened if they refused.

 

“My Lord we have found the men you require, but they are not soldiers, they are artists, farmers, blacksmiths and teachers.” The senior advisor explained.

 

“Have them trained, in a year from now I will expect them to be the finest soldiers in the ranks.” The emperor commanded.

 

The ten men were trained constantly and after a year they were skilled in all the arts of war, and weaponry.

 

With the best armor, and the finest weaponry they were presented before the emperor, he was very pleased, now he felt safe at last.

 

A few months later he was preparing to go on a trip, he was in his carriage and ahead of him were his ten guards in all their finery.

 

Just outside the palace gates a small girl was playing in the road, as the gates opened and the soldiers approached the tiny girl moved to the path, she waved at the soldiers as they passed, but as the carriage passed she threw her ball at it hitting the window and startling the emperor.

 

The emperor stopped the carriage, and told the Captain of his guard to kill the small child for attacking him.

 

The Captain dismounted and ordered his men to encircle the child; then he stood before her. ”I cannot kill my Lord, a defenseless child, I’m an artist and see beauty in all things; as such I’m a protector not a murderer, in good conscience I could not do it.” He said.

 

The emperor rushed from his carriage enraged. “It is an order!” He shouts.

 

“Only soldiers follow orders, I’m an artist, no soul who follows orders can exercise conscience. I’m an empathic soul, not a soulless entity.” Replied the Captain.

 

“Give me your sword.” The emperor demanded, taking it he thrust it into the Captains throat, and he fell to the ground and writhed in the throws of death.

 

The emperor commanded the next soldier to execute the child. “I cannot, my Lord, murder a defenseless child, I’m a farmer of the soil, I’m a man of peace and could no more murder this child than murder you, as to murder you would cost all those I love their lives.” He said.

 

“But if you do not I’ll kill you?” The enraged emperor replied puzzled.

 

“Better I’m murdered than I kill my own soul through such wanton evil.

 

My fear for my soul is far more powerful than any fear I hold in refusing to obey your dictates, my soul is the source of all truth and true empowerment.” Replied the soldier.

 

The emperor thrust his sword into his throat and commanded the next soldier to execute the now terrified child.

 

“I cannot my Lord, even at the cost of my own life, I’m a tailor and so create things of value and splendor, for me to inflict such an ugly act would be impossible.

 

I gladly take the responsibility in refusing to obey, before murder an innocent soul I willing accept my murder bravely.” The solider said.

 

The emperor’s rage grew and as the tailor fell to the ground the next soldier stepped forward.

 

“I’m a writer, I create stories to entertain and amuse, I write history and philosophy, and faced with this choice of murder or death. I’m truly given no choice at all; simply death.

 

The most significant task in this short life is not achieved through physical feats of strength or skill, nor from great intellectual efforts or achievements, but in recognizing and expressing moral acts.” The soldier said before the emperor murdered him.

 

The next soldier stood before the emperor. “I’m a stonemason, I carve and shape the natural beauty of the stone, I’m a creator not a destroyer of beauty.

 

My compassion binds me, I fear death, but to postpone that inescapable moment I could not deprive another of the joys of this life, simply to extend my misery.” He stood silent and the emperor’s sword ended his life.

 

The next soldier stepped forward. “I’m a bee keeper, my bees were my children, I was forced to abandon them to serve your demands, and I will not murder this child, I would not murder any soul upon demand, nor would I surrender my soul through fear, my friends have sacrificed themselves willingly, who could dishonor such powerful acts of courage with cowardice, not I.” These were his final words.

 

Each solider refused and each was murdered by the emperor, seeing the field of murder his coach driver fled into the woods, leaving the emperor alone.

 

The emperor turned his attention towards the crying child, intent on murdering her, at which point the child’s father emerged from the woods where he had been hunting, fearing for his daughter he fired an arrow into the emperor killing him.

 

Hearing what had happened from his daughter the girls father collected the bodies of the soldiers, and with great effort returned them to their families to be buried, the emperor lay were he fell, no one cared enough to bury him, as all his once loyal minions fought among themselves to steal what they could of the wealth the emperor had amassed through years of murder and plunder, and so his stinking corpse marked the entrance to his palace.

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Jamadil Awal
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