“Do you remember once asking me why people killed other people, my son?” his father asked.
His son, now in his mid-teens, almost as large a man as his father, nodded.
“Back then we were hunting animals. Since then you've learnt that sometimes we don't just hunt animals. Sometimes we have to defend against animals. Like the wolves that attacked the sheep flocks outside of Stalam last season. Or the bears that were killing travelers on the road to Tenford a few years back.”
“Didn't we have to hunt the bears?” his son asked. “We tracked them down, like we would the animals we hunt for food.”
“True,” his father said. “We did track them, and use all the skills we use when we hunt. The difference was our motivation.”
His son thought this over for a while before speaking again.
“We hunted the bears because they were hunting us,” he said. “We don't normally hunt them for food. We hunted them for our survival.”
“Exactly!” his father said. “In some cases we kill other people for survival. There are situations when we have no choice. If someone attacks us with the intent of killing us, we either defend ourselves, or we die.”
His son nodded again. His father could see that he had other questions to ask, so he continued.
“That doesn't answer the real question you asked, though, does it, my son?”
“I think the important thing to consider is the motivation behind the act of killing,” his father said. “Killing a person is about emotion. For some the emotion is greed – they want what the other person has. For others it is hate – they don't like the other person. People kill out of fear, envy, vengeance. Kings send whole armies of people out to kill others to satisfy their emotions.”
“Why do the armies fight?” his son asked. “Each soldier doesn't feel the same emotion of the King.”
“True,” his father said. “Other emotions drive the soldiers. Loyalty, pride, patriotism. Sometimes, though, they fight because they need to feed their families, or, if the King is wicked, to protect their family from him.”
He looked at his son for a long time before continuing.
“At the end of the day, what I said to you the last time still holds true, though. Some people kill simply because they can.”