Memoirs of a Traveler: In the Beginning
by, Jessica Lakis
Chapter 1: I Slept and Am Awoken
The midday sun assaulted my eyelids. They submitted and shut. The sun burrowed through them into my brain. I think the beer at The Drunken Barleyman must have been stronger last night. Maybe I if I just slept…
The elbow of Mec, my esteemed colleague, in my ribs, “The contract! Where is it?” I felt his spit in my ear.
I blindly laid my hand out on the table in front, put my hand on the document, passed it to him, stuck my hands into my waistband, and tried again.
“And the precedent! Keep your eyes open! If you at least pretended to be interested in your work you’d get on better, you know.”
His concern was always touching. I couldn’t ever ask him to stop. Gods forbid I should stop someone from doing what makes them happy. I pried my eyes open enough to be struck blind, but managed to again supply Mec with the documents.
The day was hot, and the morning’s cases were typical — contractual disputes over property or marriage, but usually both. But Mec was a predator. He pounced on each as fresh prey to feed his ambition and reputation. I suppose I admired that. He could care so much about something so small. That’s most likely why I worked for him. He also knew my habits, and he paid.
This morning the object of the hunt was some poor sod-tiller. The man probably didn’t know his seal from the King’s. But he relented before Mec’s attack. He identified the seal on the contract as his own. Fines were settled. The farmer shuffled out of the courtyard with his head down.
Mec wedged his body onto the bench next to mine. “Excellent breakfast!” Evidently onions. “Now the feast!”
“Feast?” I asked. I pitied his fleshy palms for being so rigorously submitted to the moist contact of one another. I saved no pity for my own flesh, to which he painfully transferred some of that red and sweat via my back.
“The Foreigner, Jackal! The Foreigner!” I’m not really sure how I had acquired the appellation of “Jackal.” I’ve born other names, I took this one indifferently. That was my name then.
The Foreigner, defended by Mec, was charged with what you’d call treason. Being Mec’s researcher, among other things, it had been my job to run about the City finding the truth of the Foreigner’s character. His crime amounted to being a member of a Northern Tribe during a time of general anxiety within the City regarding that clan. During such times, officials were prone to offer incentives to good citizens for information regarding plots and conspiracies to help focus the distress of the people. Such was the case of the Foreigner.
Afternoon cases promised dismemberment, disfigurement, or public shaming at the least. Today’s promised death. I prepared for a large crowd.
Mec prepared himself with more vigorous fat, sweaty hand rubbing. I was actually a little surprised that the wittnesses against the Foreigner dared losing a limb again. I guess liars also have bar debts. Maybe more than others. I imagined Mec was considering how to best hack them up for the offering. Which chop first and where. He was a crude butcher, but effective with guidance.
The stench of bloodlust. The citizens began to choke the baking courtyard. I looked up and traced the flowering vines along the lintels. Not much hope of shade from the Sun of the Immutable Law in them.
Following one of these tangles of green and life down, I found Her. High. High above me in the benches opposite my low table.
Separate. Apart. Beyond. Her face, no it was her entire self, focused into a beam of intense concern and honest pity. And that soft strong light focused on the figure now presented to the Court. The Foreigner. I hated him.