The laws are just, and justice is quick

So the accused, the witnesses and the guards arrived. The King decided to hear the case immediately, not even to wait until the next day. He first heard the accused, then me, then Maile and Moyri and Ajay, then the witnesses who were complicit in the crime.

Well, there wasn’t much the accused could say to exculpate themselves; we had found the children in the house, we had witnesses to say that they had fed and washed the children. We had found the letters from Koll Konande with instructions, the plans for the ship — the ships, even!

There was nothing they could say, and they knew it.

Oh Anshen! Courageous, just Anshen, who I love so much, these people were going to die. The King announced he’d pronounce sentence tomorrow morning, at dawn, and had the accused led back to the Palace prison.

He took Moyri and me, general Ferin and Raisse to his private apartments. There were things to discuss, he said.

The first thing he said was that the prisoners were going to hang. I remembered Hylti’s stories of Queen Raisse hanging the Lord of Three Hills, and how much that had hurt Raisse, and I got up and embraced Athal, and willed him all my strength, all my anie, all my support.

He smiled, a tired smile, but a smile, and kissed me, like Anshen kisses me, it felt like that. Even though there’s as much of Timoine in Athal, as there is of Anshen. And I embraced Raisse, and got another kiss.

And then we had those discussions…

Athal was going to send some trusted guild runners (at least, that’s what I assumed… but I now realize he never really said) to Albetire to find Koll Konande and bring him back.

Ferin was going to build up a force in Idanyas, and would need four forts — and permission from the new Baron of Selday to station soldiers in the White House in Selday, which would be the east-most point of the new Idanyas patrol.

That led to the moment Moyri and I were dreading… And yes, Athal took one look at us and said, “I know you don’t want to, but I also know you’ll do your duty. Moyri, you’re going to be my new baron of Selday. I’ll send a trusted vice-baron, probably someone with the Temple of Mizran to Selday while the four of you are travelling, but I need to have someone there who I know, and trust, and…”

I kissed Moyri, and said, “I’ll be your prop and support in everything you do. You won’t have to do it alone!”

She sighed and said, “But your shop? We’ll have to live in the White House on the cliff!”

I shook my head and said, “No… Let Ferin have it for his patrol. Let the servants maintain the public rooms for when we need to receive officially, for the clerks who keep the books — and keep in mind that you’ll be the only baron in all of Idanyas, so there’ll be a lot of that. You’re going to live with me in the shop, and we’ll use the Big House only for official stuff.”

Athal nodded, grinned even and then said, “How about the other Powers in Selday? What about the Ishey?”

I groaned and told them about those women who can make even gossip boring! And who don’t do a thing. At that point, Athal asked for Eze to be fetched, and when she heard about this she said she’d sent an emissary of her own to Selday.

I’m not sure I’m all that happy about that, but the Ishey have the right to their own laws within the kingdom…

Then Raisse bent over the table, pointed at my satchel, and said, “And there’s only the town guard, in Selday, right? No sheriff, no-one who knows the law by heart?”

I nodded, having a dreadful anticipation of what I knew was going to come now…

“So,” she continued, “You’ll be the sheriff. I liked that addition to the laws you made, and I’ll make it general: everyone who wins by a game of chance all that the other has, has to make restitution of a tenth.”

I nodded again, and said, “But…” then hesitated, then nodded again, “It would be a good law, even for grown-up gamblers.”

The rest of the evening was spent eating, the apprentices had joined us now, as had the Royal Brood. Vurian was a bit silent after he heard about the hangings, but he said, “Well, I’m going to be King, so I need to learn about all of it.” But he looked rather pale under his freckles when he said that.

The next morning, we’d already leave. I didn’t want to be in Valdis for the hangings, and if we’d leave with the first light, we’ve have plenty of time at the Anshen Temple of the Eternal Fire.