Merret, had ever such beauty existed ever before… in the whole of creation? In my dreams she never went home that night. We never left the room. A kiss would leave to many; she would be hovered above me her thighs clenched at my waist, her robes tossed to the floor… Merret, perfection…
Thump Thump Thump
Somebody knocked at my door.
“Sir Ashe!” A muffled voice found its way through the sturdy oak portal and plucked me from my dreams.
I stirred about in my bed, unwillingly regaining consciousness. The sun was bright against my face.
The voice bellowed out again, angrily this time. “Sir Ashe, either come to the door now or the next time you open your eyes it will be back on the war-front.”
I sat upright immediately, robed myself within an instant, marched strait to the door and opened while saluting.
“Why are you saluting?”
Embarrassed, I lowered my hand to my side, still standing upright in attention.
“Sorry sir, force of habit, it won’t happen again.”
“Right… Okay then, get armoured and get your arse downstairs; the tribunal is nearly assembled.
Once I had armoured myself and mentally prepared myself for my first day of judgment, I made my way into the great hall.
When I first walked into that great hall, I saw a long red carpet leading up to the judging block, where the guilty are beheaded. The room was filled with piers and the piers where filled with clergy, politicians, city watchmen, and aristocrats. The first two piers closest to the judging block were reserved and filled with prisoners in chains, some were foreigners, sent here by their governments for judgment. The block itself was made of white stone, never tainted by the blood which spills on it. Some say that its own holy purpose keeps it pure. Legend suggests that it will only stain when an innocent bleeds upon it. Others believe that the monks are just very good at cleaning.
Behind the block, the clergyman who spake with me the night before, was holding the gilded axe. He smiled to me and nodded. No one said anything, but I understood this as my queue to step forth.
That walk seemed like miles at first. Eyes followed me unblinking to the block. With each window I passed, sun danced off my armour. I wondered how they could bare to stare so widely at me.
Finally I reached the block; I walked behind it and the high priest set the gilded axe in my hands, bowing as he did so. I lifted it, and rested it upright by my side, and stood like a soldier, completely still—a statue with the power of judgment. I looked straight out, down the red path I just walked. Suddenly I felt as if I had just woken up, and that this was all happening far too quickly.
The priest read aloud. “As it is just.” And the entire congregation repeated, even one of the prisoners.
“So we begin with all sovereignty and kindness. Mr. Galins? Would you please step up to the block please?” Guards grabbed him on either arm and forcefully lead him to the block. They pressured him down onto his knees and he knelt there, looking out at the crowd. Out of sorrow, not by force, he lowered his head on the stone and openly wept.
“Mr. Galins, I am instructed now to read your crimes. At this time Sir Ashe will raise our lord’s axe. Should Sir Ashe deem you unworthy at anytime, he will say ‘guilty’, he will look to me, I will nod, and as a representative of Oshrildin, he will allow the axe to fall. If however, Sir Ashe does not allow the axe to fall, the judgment is left to me and I will command Sir Ashe to either behead you or rest you axe. Should we both find your crimes undeserving of death, you will be permitted to walk into the courtyard where guards will escort you to a cell for rehabilitation. At any point, I may interject and command Sir Ashe to rest his axe should Oshrildin speak words of innocence to me.”
The prisoner said nothing, he only continued to weep. The priest unraveled a scroll and cleared his throat. “Let’s get started then.” I took a step back and raised my axe as if to make a mighty swing, and I held the pose. The priest gave me a slight approving nod. “Sir Galins, you are hereby charged with defiling the sanctity of one Miss Elizabeta Tynir.” The prisoner’s weeping grew louder. “Good sir, could you please quiet yourself, thank you.” The priest read on. “It says hear that you were a ball guest permitted into house Tynir, and that during the night you poisoned lady Tynir’s cup with sleeping herbs.” He kept weeping, softer now. I heard “she-she” slip through the mumbling periodically.
I made the mistake of speaking. “She what?”
“Sir Ashe, I must remind you that the sentinel of Oshrildin does not speak in court. Mr. Galins, you too must not speak, or I will command your execution. Now, back to the matter.”
He cried out uncontrollably. “She lied!” mucus and tears ran wildly down his face onto the stone. “She told me… She told…me”
I swung the axe in a perfect arch, landing it upon the man’s neck, severing him completely and cleanly. The impact made a loud clanking echo which carried through the hall, all were silent and no scratch was made to the stone or the axe. The body fell upon the red carpet, the head rolled several feet down the aisle and in that moment I understood then why the carpets where made red.
I had not intended to swing. Had the military left me this obedient?
“Moving right along then…”
A dozen more dead men had left the alter drenched in blood, the guilty heads lay littered on the steps and streams of red trickle from the chopping stone.
“Right, just one more for today then.” The priest went right along. “Lord Forset, would you please rise to the altar?” A man with finely trimmed, very short, blond hair rose in calm confidence and made his way beside me. He knelt, looked up at me openly grinned and laid his head on the block. I didn’t understand his calm nature; he laid his head comfortably on the bloody stone as if it was his pillow.
“Lord Forset, this is you third offense.”
A woman cried out from the crowd “That’s the monster! The one that killed my boys and husband…” the tears began spilling out of her eyes, and her voice lowered, shuddering she spoke, “end him.”
“Now, now Mrs. Danbury, I have the scroll right here. I must read the allegations from it before making a fair and just decision. Let’s see… what do we have here?” The priest pressed his tongue against his upper lip as he read. “Lady Danbury… Were you indeed having an affair with Lord Forset as the scroll suggests?” She began to speak but choked on her own voice. She made a terrible hacking sound with her throat and the site of her face could wrench any heart that looked upon it. “Right-o then, moving right along.” The priest read on a little further. The prisoner laughed to himself, but I could hear it.
“Oh my. Well, it looks as though my hands are tied on this matter. Mrs. Danb- oh my, apologies. Miss, by the laws of Trondelag your husband and your lover had equal share of your heart and were legally recognized as proper rivals.”
Without full consciousness, I heaved the axe back behind my head. The priest looked over to me in alarm as I clanged the axe down through the Lord’s neck.
“Ashe!” the priest threw up his hands in a panic. And before I had a chance to recognize what I had done, two guards had seized me from behind while another pried the axe from my hands. The courtroom had broken into a terrible commotion. They drug me off, down the staircase and into a private cell.
One guard spoke. “The priest will see you shortly.”