Journey to the South: Twenty of Thirty

Posted: February 21, 2013 in Fiction
Tags: ,

     I sat on that oaken bench for what felt like an eternity.

     I could not go after Cuahuatec myself – I have never been much of an athlete and I am afraid that at my age I would have had greater chances hurting myself than finding and catching the Gromothim. Nor could I investigate the murder of the child – I knew not what to look for and even if I did know, it would look suspicious and queer for the owner of the accused slave to be skulking around, trying to impugn the father of a slain girl. And so, I waited.

     I was there when Legatus Ovrai returned with his aide in tow. The tall man scowled at me as he entered the outer office, pausing to speak briefly. “Your pet has become quite the nuisance, Ambassador. I have half of my legionaries scouring the fort trying to find the beast. I just thought you would like to know, since you seem to show so much care for the wretched creature.”

     I have to admit, that I felt a boiling rage rise within me, forcing me to my feet as I looked up into the gaze of Saffrit Minjohn Ovrai. “I say now, sir, that was out of line,” I said between clenched teeth. “There are many of Gromothim who are legitimate citizens of the Moy. Would you show them the same kind of contem–”

     “Yes. I would,” the Legatus said flatly, his face betraying no emotion. “They are a plague upon us. Things like men, but not. I would do away with them and those queer, double-gendered Tainir.”

     Once again speechless by the man’s overt bigotry, I simply stared at him as the Legatus smiled at me, nodded, and headed into his inner office.

     “Krinai’s Spear,” I remember whispering to myself, realizing the implications. No matter what I said or did, Cuahuatec would be executed as a murderer. Unless Atam returned with some kind of incontrovertible evidence that absolved the Gromothim…

     I remember sinking back down onto the bench, the weight of the situation hanging from my shoulders like a stone. This was my fault. I had freed Cuahuatec from the service of Natallu I’igaruu Jaa. I had brought him to this town. If I had simply ignored him when we had been with Jaa, he might still be bullied and punished capriciously by the impudent nobleman, but at least he would not be wrongly executed.

     But which is worse? I remember asking myself. Death, or a life of constant torment?

      I remember sighing, a depression sinking down upon me as I contemplated the events of the last day. It was then that the outer doors were pulled open and a quartet of legionaries entered with a bound and bloodied Cuahuatec in the midst, the Gromothim’s hands fastened behind his back by rope, bruises and cuts all over his face. He stumbled along blindly, his eyes shut against the light as his goggles were missing. I gasped in horror and surprise at their entrance, as I realized that all was now lost.

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