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Damocles Does Not Rise

by Chaser


It was a joke that carried him onto the throne. Damocles the courtier sat down and did not move. The rest of the court was no longer smiling, and watched with morbid interest.

The former King Dionysus knelt before Damocles. He removed his crown, handing it over with a gentle smile on his face. “You shall be king for as long as you sit on this throne,” he said, laughing. “When you depart it, another may sit and become king!”

There was one catch: a sword, hung by a single hair of horse’s tail above the king’s head. It represented the constant threat to the king. But King Damocles was not to be swayed. For he knew the power of the king; he controlled his own fate. “Servant!” he bellowed. “Remove the sword above my head!”

The servant bowed magnificently. “Of course, my lord. But first, would you have wine?”

King Damocles frowned. “Did you not hear me?” he said. “I said remove the sword!”

“I shall bring your wine,” the servant said, and turned away.

King Damocles scowled, planning to put his servant to death. He then turned to the court jester. “Fool!” he roared, pointing above. “Remove this sword!”

“Post haste, your majesty. But first, would you like to hear a song?” Without waiting for an answer, he leapt from his station and picked up a lute, dancing around.

Great King Damocles

Sits here upon his throne

He’ll never get off of his ass

Until he’s dust and bone

The court burst out laughing; King Damocles laughed along with them. “Wonderful!” he said. “Now, remove this sword.”

“Encore!” someone cried, and the jester launched into a second verse. King Damocles nearly jumped out of his seat in fury, but remembered the king’s conditions and sat still. He looked, bewildered, around his court.

The song went on, and the court was laughing, but their eyes were not on the jester. They gazed hungrily to the horsehair string upholding the sword. The gleaming blade pointed down, accusing the king with its terrible, inevitable fall. The courtiers surrounded him, closed him in. The king pleaded each one with his gaze, until he saw the one man looking back, and King Damocles surged with rage.

“Dionysus!” he screamed. “As king, I order you to die!”

Dionysus smiled. “No, King Damocles,” he said. “Ask for something else.”

King Damocles sank back in his seat, heart weak. His eyes had taken on deathly distance. “I would like some wine,” he whispered, as the horsetail broke above him, and the sword plunged down and pinned him to the throne.

The court fell silent. Dionysus stepped in and removed the sword. The corpse on the throne slumped forward and fell to the ground. Dionysus wiped the blood from his blade and smiled. “Now, who’s next?”

And so the next king claimed his moment on the bloodmarked throne, and the next, and the next. Each one sat down, wishes flying from his lips, to never rise again.


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98 Reviews


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Fri Sep 27, 2019 2:23 pm
Asith wrote a review...



Ooh, interesting story! It's always great to see unique pieces in the green room!

Your writing itself is remarkably sound :)
It's skilful; no amateur mistakes of punctuation, sentence structure, or even grammar plague this piece, so we'll focus on what you've written in this review.

The most apparent point of criticism I have about the story would be the lack of obvious purpose. I think it's especially necessary for short stories to have this, although its important for all forms of writing too. Your plot doesn't reveal anything sturdy to the reader outside of the scene in question. I can see that you've tried to implement something like this, by talking about the sequence of more kings dying in the outro -- however, it hasn't been developed well enough for the reader to grasp. Why do the kings keep being killed? Who gains from this? Is this all Dionysus' plan? If so, what motive does he have? And what of the court? Where do the new kings come from where they are so unaware of the obvious fallacy that sitting on the throne has given to previous kings? It's the sheer amount of unanswered questions that make the premise seem hollow. You've got a good scene, but very little plot -- see? Readers are left unsatisfied and worse -- confused. I think it would be worth revising this piece, thinking about what is actually going in the bigger picture, and thinking about how to express this to the reader :)

Minor nitpick perhaps, but I found myself being confused towards this section:
"The king pleaded each one with his gaze, until he saw the one man looking back, and King Damocles surged with rage."
What does "looking back" signify? It's hard to imagine what the king sees -- what direction is "back", and why is that necessary? Actually, this whole scene could be described far better. I have a hard time imagining the setting, and an equally hard time imagining the thought process of the king. It seemed like a very quick jump between the emotions of seeing Dionysus and asking for wine; it's too fast and too unexplained. Slow it down, give readers time to grasp what's happening! Remember, they can't read your mind, so you have to help them!

That's my critique. I fear it may have come too harshly, but hey, my harshest reviews tend to go towards pieces that I already think are good. A revision of the plot could turn this story into something absolutely golden; you already have the writing talent!




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Fri Sep 27, 2019 8:35 am
FlamingPhoenix wrote a review...



Hi! FlamingPhoenix here with a review for you on this lovely day and to help get your work out the green room for you!

Okay let's start.

So this story had a very...whats the words tragic ending. I have know idea where you got the idea for this story from, but it was rather fun to read. And it was funny to see Damocles freak out, though I did feel sorry for him most of the time. I thought this was really well planned out, and I see this one day being turned into a nice long story.
I can think of a few ways it can go, but it is your story so it's up to you.
I will say I would have liked some more description in this work, it was enough for me to see what was going on, but not enough for me to feel like i am part of it, like I am there with this watching it all play out. So maybe work on that a little.
I didn't get the meaning behind this story, and why they kept killing off all the kings, but I don't need to think about that to much.

My over all thoughts of this work is that it was really well done, I loved everything about it, even though I felt a little sad at the end, and I think you could turn this into something even greater later on if you wanted to.

So I hope I will be able to read ans review more of your works later on, I do hope you will never stop writing and post again on YWS soon, Have a great day or night.

Your friend
FlamingPhoenix!
Reviewing with a fiery passion!

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