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The Conumdrum

How do I choose? Harry thought. He knew it was a test of his integrity and the ethical use of his power, but how? Five lives or one? The dwarf like wizard knew he’d been transported into the mine by a very interested council. They understood this test would show them his true character.

Five men lay tied to the tracks down from the switch, each of the worthy of execution for some deed of notorious evil. Each had good reason to believe they were innocent of wrongdoing, and the grand scheme of things, he knew they were only guilty in the eyes of the law because they’d been caught doing what their conscience required. They did not trust the law. Especially not the Reeve who ran their village.

On the other track, the Reeve lay trussed tight as a roasting bird. Now here was the true villain, the one who allowed his friends and cohorts to run amok, taking as they wished. He toasted law and order, and under the table, he took any bribe. If one went with the surface and took the law as the final guidance, he should let the trolley that would cross the switch run over the five. Murderers all of them.

The trick here, was which was the greater good? Which would serve the village where he lived best? Five dead husbands and fathers who had rid the village of a gang spoiled rich lord’s sons, those who believed they could take anything they desired because Papa paid to hide their sins, or to kill the Reeve, so this could never happen again.

If he left it so the despicable man died, would he break his oath the Wizard’s conclave to do no evil? Deciding someone’s death should never be done lightly.

He felt the track beneath his feet begin to sing. The coal trolleys were coming. There was only another moment to decide.

“Arrgh! I don’t care. The Reeve is the source of the trouble in the village. Money does not trump justice. Evil can not be allowed to buy its freedom. No, I choose the greater good. I don’t care if I’m banned forever from using my powers.” Harry shouted his decision over the rumble of approaching cars.

He checked the switch with a glance. Let the Reeve pay. He pulled the switch. The right man screamed.

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