NaNoWriMo Day 24 Part 2
posted at: 11/25/2014

The prince was in a fine mood now that he had a plan. He walked into the dungeon. "Good morning."

The Dungeon Keeper tilted his head towards the royal. "Good day, Your Majesty."

"There's been a change of plans, Frederick. We're going to have an execution today."

Frederick seemed troubled by this news. "We are?"

The prince tapped his foot impatiently and crossed his arms. "Of course we are. Get everything ready."

"Yes, Your Majesty." The Dungeon Keeper sent the prince's two guards off to roll out a large, round stump while he pulled an axe off of the wall and began sharpening it. Charles watched the proceedings, still tapping his foot. He was eager to finish this business and rid his kingly reign of the inexplicable turmoil caused by this one elderly woman. He didn't look at his mother while these preparations were being made.  

Matilda watched with a growing sense of inevitability as the stump was set up and the sharpness of the axe blade was tested. She knew that she would die, but she was glad that the others would be given a chance to live. She had lived a long life and had done her best to live it well. If she had come to its end, she only hoped that someone would be able to warn George of his danger before it was too late.

Once all was made ready, Frederick came over to unlock her cell door and lead her to the block. Time seemed to slow to a crawl as she made that final walk. She smelled the muddy scent of the river as it mingled with the damp, mossy smell of the cavern. She noticed the wood of the stump and thought to herself 'Ah, yes. No one wants to dull their axe on stone.' She heard, vaguely, the sounds of shouting and several thuds from the castle overhead. There may have been the clash of steel on steel. She felt a warm summer breeze on her face and, as she was made to kneel in front of the stump so that her head rested on it, she thought about how her bones ached, but that didn't matter now.

The Queen Mother closed her eyes, but was still able to hear Frederick's intake of breathe as he raised the axe above his head--'I've always liked Frederick' she thought--and the whistle of the blade as it sliced the air on the way down.

With a heavy 'Thunk' the axe blade buried itself into the wood of the stump. The crueler of the prince's guards laughed meanly at the sight of Frederick's work. "You missed."

The Dungeon Keeper pulled the axe blade out of the wood beside Matilda's head. "I can't do it."

Prince Charlie was flabbergasted. He spluttered for a bit before finally saying. "It's your job. This is your job. It's what you do. What do you mean you can't do it?"

Frederick hefted the axe onto his shoulder. "I've done a lot of things in my life that other people might regret and I've always been able to sleep at night. But if I killed Her Grace, I wouldn't be able to live with myself." The sounds from above were growing louder and the clashing of steel seemed to be closer than it had been. Strange splashing noises were coming from the river now, too. The inhabitants of the dungeon ignored them.
  
The prince, in a rage, turned to the guard who had laughed. "You do it, then." He pointed to Frederick. "And take care of him when you've finished."

The guard smiled, sensing a promotion if he did his work well. But the Dungeon Keeper barred his way, weilding his axe. "I'm afraid I can't let you do that."