Episode 2: Reunions
Episode 3: Nigh Watch
Episode 4: Big Dogs
Episode 5: Judgment
Episode 6: On Display
Episode 7: The Uninvited
Episode 8: Departures
This week's episode - Judgement
Jack awoke the next morning to the sound of a jailer’s club on the bars of his cell. “Wake up, shorty. Its breakfast time.”
The guard slid a metal plate through a slot in the cell door. Jack ate the tasteless bread and overly-salted pork.
The guard paused for a moment before going on to the next cell. He took a deep breath then bent down sliding another plate carefully in front of Ballar's cell then backed away, club at the ready. Ballar laughed. Jack could hear Fenris munching on something. It didn’t last long. The guard left visibly relived.
Shortly after breakfast, four new guards marched down the cell row and released Ballar. Two guards stood back with spears. The others brandished clubs. Ballar emerged from the cell.
The tall, blond, bearded human wore green leather pants and vest. Under the vest, he wore a long sleeved, white shirt with laces running from the collar down to the middle of his chest. A triangular hat topped his head with a large white feather attached. Ballar grinned as he saw Jack. “You have a large snore for a halfling. Fenris was up all night whining about it.”
Jack smiled and bowed. “Jack Large at your service. Half the size but twice the man.”
Ballar laughed a deep, long laugh. He likewise bowed. “This will be our goodbye unless you get night patrol. If not, then perhaps our paths will cross again.”
“Perhaps,” said Jack. “Good luck tonight.”
“I don't fear the old towners,” said Ballar. “Its the man that drives them that is of concern. Come, Fenris.”
Even though he knew Fenris was large, he still didn’t expect the size of the canine that followed Ballar out of the cell. Jack realized it wasn’t a dog at all but a Straulian black wolf. Even so, it was the largest he'd ever seen.
“Hey,” shouted Jack at the departing Ballar. “Where’d you get Fenris?”
“Later,” shouted the woodsman. “If there is a later, that is. Remember, no worries!”
About half an hour later, two guards appeared at his cell. “It’s time for judgment, Jack Large. You are warned that lies to the magistrate are punishable by night patrol. You are also warned that any escape attempt is punishable by death. Do you understand?”
“Yeah, yeah,” said Jack. “I understand. Lets get this over with so I can get on with my life.”
The guards didn’t bother to manacle Jack. Of course, they hadn’t bothered to manacle Ballar either. He wondered about this for a moment then realized he had no where to run. The bay, the wall, and the old towners left no choice at all. One halfling alone against a tribe of ogres was a mismatch by anyone’s reckoning.
The guards took Jack back down towards the docks. “Aren’t I going to the magistrate?” asked the halfling.
“Yes,” said one of the guards without looking down.
Jack looked back, up towards the top of the hill on which Misty Bay Colony sat. The top of the hill housed the Colonies Keep along with several other official looking buildings. “So why aren’t we going that way?” asked Jack still looking up the hill.
“Because,” said the guard, “the mists of truth are at the waters edge.”
“Mists of truth,” sneered Jack. “Sounds like fairy stories to me.”
“Just try telling a lie while in them and see,” said the guard still looking forward.
Jack decided to remain silent for the rest of the trip. The truth would work well enough this time.
The trio entered a small area near the waters edge that would house about a hundred people in the stands. Three green and blue robed priests sat in viewing box near the top of the stand. Jack stood on the stone area floor. The structure looked older than the jail cell but wore its age much better.
Jack recognized the fisherman he’d beaten the night before. He still wore the same stinky shirt but now it was covered in the fisherman’s own blood. The priests must have healed the man for he showed no sign of the injury.
The center priest stood and addressed Jack and the fisherman. “Dirik Crumkin and Jack Large; you stand in the here in the bowl of judgment. In ancient times, it was used to resolve business disputes. Today, we use it to force the truth from victims, criminals, and witnesses.”
Jack thought the priest full of himself but remained silent. After all, the fisherman had threatened Jack first.
The three priests began intoning a spell of some sort. Mist rose up to Jack’s knees chilling his legs.
“Dirik Crumkin,” said the left most and youngest priest, “state your case.”
The fisherman drew himself up to this full height and spoke with as large a words as he could muster.
“You honorariums, I humbly submit my platitudes upon you all. I was, on the night in question, surlying myself at the Lovely Lady after a prosperous day on the waters of our fair commonality when I was assaulted by this vicious, brutal, thug of a halfling. Catch me by surprise, he did. He took my coin purse and beat me within an inch of my peace-loving, hard-working life. Thank you.”
The fisherman looked down at the halfling smugly.
“Your side of the story, Mr. Large,” queried the priestess on the right.
Jack stood there for a second wanting to beat the fisherman again then drew his attention back towards the priests. “Alright, the truth of it is I was heading towards the Full Tankard looking for work after having just arrived in town when tall, dark, and stinky here bumps into me, calls me names then threaten to smear me on the under side of his boots. I beat the crap out of him, took his money and told him to take it back if he was man enough. Well, he just lay there groaning so I kept it. He hit me first the threatened me with bodily harm. Where I come from he got what he deserved.”
“Mr. Crumkin, anything to add,” asked the priest on the left.
“No,” said the fisherman. “but I must add that had I all the tediousness in the world I would gladly bestow it upon your highnesseses.”
“And you Mr. Large,” asked the priest on the right.
Jack shook his head no.
“Very well,” said the center priest. He grabbed a handful of green sand from a bowl setting at his side and cast it into the arena below. Jack watched as a scene unfolded in front of him. Images and sounds from that night formed between he and the priests.
It showed him walking down the street and the fisherman bumping into him. He heard the fisherman’s voice threatening him, then saw himself beat the fisherman senseless and finally his taunt to the fisherman to take the money back. The image faded with Jack walking off to the Full Tankard. The mists receded.
Jack looked up at the fisherman. “Told you you had it coming, ya git.”
The priests huddled together. The two guards approached. “Come on,” said one, “I’ll take you to the holding area until they’re done.”
Jack began walking away.
“Hold,” said the center priest. “We’ve arrived at our verdict. May the lords of light bless our decision.”
The fisherman bowed his head. Jack decided it was best if he did the same.
“Dirik Crumkin, you did, in your drunken stupor, assault the halfling first and threaten him with further violence. For this, you will receive the curse of imbibement. You shall be unable to taste alcohol for a fortnight without becoming violently ill.”
“But he hurt me!” shouted the fisherman.
“But you started it,” said the center priest. “For that outburst, you are to perform services to the temple of justice for the next two weeks.”
The fisherman sputtered but kept his mouth shut.
Jack gave the judges his best innocent halfling look.
“Jack Large,” said the center priest, “you are convicted of brawling and theft. We understand you are new here and did not know our laws. In addition, we understand you are in the employ Cornelius Diamondeye and may be of use to the colony. Our sentence is that you remain in his employ for the next year. He is appointed your watcher and will report back to this tribunal as to your activities. In addition, you are ordered to return Dirik Crumkin’s money. Do you understand you sentence.”
“Yes,” said Jack. “But it will take a bit to get the money.”
“You’ve spent it, already?” said the priestess on the right.
“Yes,” said Jack.
“How?” asked the priest on the left.
“Well, after I busted a mug of beer over Fast Larry’s head I had to pay for his ale and mine and the mug. Plus I wanted to tip the pretty waitress,” grinned Jack hoping the priests would see the humor in it.
(Continued next week)