[Out of the Frying Pan] The Story of Ratchis (Concluded 10/28)

Ratchis

First Post
Concluded 10/28

Marno, who was going to be one of my judges, also spoke for Madeline, which did not raise my hopes for the fairness of the proceedings. He went through the details of her story, emphasizing the brutality and shame of such a heinous crime. The day passed with Marno presenting the details of what was purported to happen, interviewing both Madeline and Karlton, with the same lies delivered with great conviction.

Finally it was my turn to be interviewed, and I swore an oath to tell the truth.

“Tell us what you are and where you come from, accused,” the dwarf began.

“My mother was a human and my father an orc. I grew up in an orc tribe.”

“Raised by orcs? Did your “tribe” attack other intelligent races?” Marno asked.

“We fought often with gnolls and attacked human settlements on a couple of occasions. But that is when I …”

“Next question, how did Narcell and Jetta meet you and what are the circumstances of your coming to our upstanding community?”

“I had escaped slavery in Menovia and they brought me here to teach me the ways of Nephthys.”

“So, you grew up among orcs, was made a slave and then escaped to the wilds before you were found?”

“Yes.”

“And when was it you learned how to live among civilized folk?”

“I didn’t have to be taught that!”

“I will take that to mean ‘Never’. This is outrageous. You never had a chance, you sorry beast. I know who should really be on trial here,” Marno exclaimed, looking at Narcell and Jetta.

“Councilor, please continue the interview without pushing another agenda,” a veiled woman on the Council told the dwarf.

“Your pardon,” Marno said, nodding stiffly to the dais. “I am finished with my questions.”

“You may ask your questions of the people involved, Narcell and Jetta,” the veiled councilwoman said.

Narcel stood and replied, “We have but one question. Ratchis, tell us of your time in our town; tell us of your encounter with Madeline.”

With that, I spent over an hour relaying the story of my time in the town and how I came to meet Madeline and then of how we came to know each other intimately. Karlton’s face was nearly purple when I was done and Madeline cried through most of it, especially toward the end.

Marno asked another question, “Accused, did you look the way you do today on the day in question and was there anything you might have used, magic, a cowl, anything that would hide your appearance from the accuser?”

There was a long pause, with my eyes feeling though they began to water a bit, and then I answered, “I look the same; she saw me for who I am.”
“No further questions.”

I recall little from the time the tribunal ended until I was brought from my cell to the council hall once more, this time to learn what my fate would be.

Narcell and Jetta were there, as I knew they would be, offering their looks of love and concern. I stood chained before the curved dais, awaiting their announcement.

The council members were already seated, and a halfling on one end of the dais dribbled wax onto a piece of parchment before stamping it with some sort of seal. I noticed then that the councilors all had candles burning near their left hand, and they all stamped this piece of paper one by one as the first councilor had. Finally, the paper came to the veiled woman who sat at the opposite end of the dais. After dripping wax and stamping it as well, she stood and cleared her voice before speaking.

“Ratchis of the wildlands of Derome Derem, the Council of Nikar, as representative of the people herein, has reached a consensus on the charges brought against you.”

Before the councilwoman could continue, Madeline stood quickly and shouted, “No, it is all a lie!”

“What?” her husband shouted, jumping to his feet with an almost comically exaggerated look of anger on his face.

“Marno, please question the accuser so we can finish up with this sordid business,” the veiled councilwoman said, sitting down.

The dwarf sighed and without rising said, “Madeline, bringing false charges is a serious breach of the trust the neighbors of Nikar have for one another and outsiders. Tell us the truth this time and let us be done with this proceeding.”
At the same time four members of the council rose and exited the chamber, one claiming the need to attend to other business immediately before doing so.

After a moment, Madeline began, “It is a very short story. I was fascinated with this man, so large and strong and yet obviously with a gentle soul. It was my husband’s cruel hands that brought about my dissatisfaction, and it was my fear of him that led me to lie.”

During the telling, her husband’s face had turned a beet red.

“So, Madeline, you willingly had a physical relationship with this man?” Marno asked, still unable to hide his contempt for my kind.

“Willingly and happily,” she said.

“You whore of Set!” Karlton screeched, jumping at Madeline who leaped back with a cry of her own.

I grabbed at him before my guards got a grip back on my chains and started to pull me back. Narcell pulled him away from Madeline as I was dragged back to my cell by Marno’s order. The last picture I had of the chamber before I was hauled out showed the council members leaving the dais, looking less than pleased. Jetta comforted Madeline as Karlton yelled into Narcell’s face.

It took another week for me to be released.

After the trial, I returned to my studies but I never ventured out during the day. I did travel around the countryside in the dead of night so as to not go stir crazy. Narcell and Jetta were concerned for me but since I did very well in all my lessons, they let me work out things my own way.

Three or four times in the days following the trial, feces was flung at our door, but Jetta spoke with some area parents and that stopped. There were also visitors that brought fruit or other simple gifts to express their solidarity with the friars who gave me shelter. Every few weeks, Madeline came to see me and each time I would stay in a back room until Narcell or Jetta could get her to leave. On more than one occasion she left in tears. Her husband had beaten her and left the city before justice could come for him. Silently, I was thankful she was not killed, but there was no way I could open myself to her compassion or her desperation. I had always to keep those desires in me choked away or else face a side of myself I barely understood and worried as how to control.

Six months later, the friars brought me with them to a small, ancient burial ground that had become infected with a taint of evil. Skeletons were raising up and terrorizing the local countryside. I controlled my fear in the face of these abominations and remembered the power behind me now. I turned several of these things away with my goddess’ love, and my staff was effective against the others.

With Narcell and Jetta there, I never had anything to worry about, but the power I had learned to control made me feel worth something in this world. I wanted nothing more than to be a vessel that my goddess filled with her divine love. I really think I could have died happy just then.

Using my tracking skills, we discovered a crazy hermit worshipping Rahkefet, a lost god of ancient times as Narcell and Jetta described him. He didn’t even try to defend himself. He just kept telling us the time was coming. We tied him up so he could be brought back to Nikar.

It was then that I informed Narcell and Jetta that I would not be returning with them. At first Jetta tried to convince me to come back with them, and I explained that we all knew I was ready to face the world as a friar. She looked to Narcell for support, and his sad headshake stopped her. Tears had come into her eyes, but her back straightened and she gave me a nod. Her hug was tight but not pleading. The tears came into my eyes as well, as I said good-bye to the closest thing I would have to a mother and father.

Narcell put a hand on my shoulder and as though reading my thoughts said, “I would be proud to call a man such as you son.”

We hugged and somehow I managed not to spill all my emotions out right there.

“Let us pray, for the birth of a new friar and in thanks to the goddess for our friendship and love for one another and for the people of this world yearning for freedom,” Jetta said.

And we prayed there for sometime, all lost in our own conversations with Nephthys. When we were down, we packed up our things and before I set out Jetta asked me where I thought I might be headed.

“There are many who lie in chains in Menovia. I think that is where the goddess wants me.”

“Go where thy will,” they told me together and so I did.


The Beginning. . .
 

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