Sweep

[Part of the Kingdoms of War series.] You may not notice this man if he were to pass you on the street, but that'd be your mistake.

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1. Dawn

If you passed him on the street, you wouldn't look twice at Casper Rzepka, though that would be a mistake, especially since, only a few dozen years ago, you would have been kneeling at his feet. He wouldn't care if you didn't do it now, though. He's not the man he used to be.

To keep his mind off his memories, he cleans the streets, but not while anyone's looking: dawn and dusk. He won't accept money or food, and he doesn't like people bothering him. Like all other mysterious figures, there was a whisper about him, a whisper that the man who straightened up the streets had a marvelous story that he wouldn't tell. The other, older children had tried prying the story out of the man in vain. I thought I would try my luck, though, and maybe, for once, have something that those others didn't. The day, three years ago today, had a dawn like no other, with the sun heaving and shoving its way into the sky. 

I came up to him as he was tidying the pavement. When I finally found my voice to ask, he paused, leaning over his broom and gazing down at innocent little me. He spoke with a rasped voice, and his teeth were yellowed with the burden of age, yet the words he spoke were quiet and kind. "Of course, my dear. This road has been clean for far too long, and I'd like to give it a chance to catch up. Come, follow me, so that we can talk out of the wind."

I scurried after him, glad to be out of the cold. We hid in an alleyway, and after I had made myself comfortable, he began.

"You see, my dear, it was not too long ago that I became who I am now; when I ceased to be who I was before. Now, you're much too young to have lived through this, but three decades ago- thirty years, my dear- I was king. Yes, I know it seems amazing, child, but I know you can believe me. King I was, and all because I was part of a secret group that had arranged to take the throne for quite some time. They're not around anymore; don't be scared.

"Anyway, they had chosen me to lead because I had a natural charm about me, but it was used to suggest ideas the group approved, and so it was horrid in theory and practice, yet I still held the crown, and as a young man. Perhaps I was a bit too young and naive to be king. Perhaps, if they had chosen someone else, they would not have died."

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