Hide Fox, And All After
This was my entry in a writing challenge from earlier this year, slightly edited. As with most of my work, it takes place in the realms of Talithia.
Eralys fidgeted with her ring—the one only she could see—while she waited to hear the verdict. The foreign silver burned cold against her skin. She couldn’t read the strange, scarlet etchings that decorated the band, but she knew by heart the poesy inscribed within. Long ago, a mysterious jongleur from a far-off land had given her the ring, admonishing her to use it well.
And so she had. She feared this time would prove no exception.
For twenty years, she had dispensed the Lady’s justice as Temple representative to the various shire courts. She adjudicated most cases brought before her, but where guilt required death, the shire councils determined the verdict.
She glanced at the defendant, Collan, a forger by trade, accused of a series of murders he could not have committed. Slow of mind and tongue, he had not the sophistication to slay by furtive poison. Nor did he have motive, but frightened and angry, the village had turned upon its newest member, the one unlike them, the one most readily blamed. Human justice was not always wise or fair.
She rose as the council returned. “What say you?”
Of course. She beckoned for Collan to approach. She took his hands and pronounced the necessary sentence, slipping the unseen ring onto his finger. As the guards led him away, she whispered the poesy. In a flash of light, he vanished, and the ring returned to her finger.
Cries of alarm filled the courtroom as council and villagers alike scattered—some in fear, some to search for Collan. They would not find him, securely kept as he was within the ring’s etchings, but she played her part and commanded pursuit. In the days to come, she would find a new home for Collan, one that would offer welcome.
She brushed her thumb over the ring. Rest, dear one. You’re safe now.