King Lir looked down at me. He seemed as tall as a tree right then, and he patted my head very gently with his iron glove. He said, “Little one, I have a griffin to slay. It is my job.”
* * *
[He] kept petting me with one hand and trying to put me aside with the other, but I wouldn’t let go. I think I was actually trying to pull his sword out of its sheath, to take it away from him. He said, “No, no, little one, you don’t understand. There are some monsters that only a king can kill. I have always known that — I should never, never have sent those poor men to die in my place. No one else in all the land can do this for you and your village. Most truly now, it is my job.” And he kissed my hand, the way he must have kissed the hands of so many queens . . .
Peter S. Beagle, Two Hearts, in The Line Between 37 (2006).