The fragrant coastal air of midsummer blew in through the marble arches opening along the parapet. Tamin’s muddy boots stomped the red rug into the stone floor with every step toward the ArchePatreo’s Chambers.
With blood drenched riding gloves, Tamin swung open the doors to a great hall drenched in wealth. “Magistrate Ryles!”
“ArchePatreo,” Ryles responded raising from his chair between fireplace and writing table.
The afternoon sun poured in through purple silk and wooden cross-hatchings. Tamin took a breath and weighed the situation. To his right and left were Hailey and Finn, two good men with families. Men he’d known for years. Hard men, who already had their swords drawn. So he marched forward and slammed the satchel on the writing desk, letting the contents of the pack spill out.
At the sight of the crystals Ryles’ eyes lit up.
Tamin exploded, “Five men. Dead. Apori he’s dead. He wasn’t ready. He was just a Polyeit!”
“They knew what they signed up for.” He waved the air away from himself in dismissal. So transfixed was he by the light radiating from the crudely cut stones.
Tamin lunged, kicking Ryles’ knee. He grabbed his wrist, twisting his body toward the desk and slamming his face into the jagged crystals in one smooth motion. He lifted Ryles’ broken face toward the two advancing guards and let go of his wrist to secure his boot blade snugly against Ryles’ gurgling throat.
“Stand down men.” Then to Ryles, “We didn’t know what you were sending us into. I wasn’t prepared. I couldn’t save them. So you leverage Imperial blood, Imperial resources to secure a fuckin’ blood feud for person wealth? For a few more miles of land? I judge you guilty of corrupting the sanctity of your office. I judge you guilty of negligence to the degree of conspiracy. I judge you guilty of embezzlement of Imperial assets. And to the sentence of death I judge you guilty of treason and murder. May you find the gods more merciful than I.” The blade slid silent.
Finn turned toward the door and shut it. Hailey raised his sword. “Alright Tamin, drop the blade.”
“Relax. I know the score.” Tamin dropped Ryles’ body and his dagger. He stepped toward Hailey open-palmed.
“We’re not going to arrest him,” Finn said.
Hailey was already securing Tamin’s hands behind his back. “Yes we are. Apori really dead?”
Tamin let a chill pass. “He’s dead.”
“Ryles really fuck you guys?”
“Yes, he really did.”
“Finn, hit me in the face. I don’t anyone to think this old-timer got past us without a fight.”
“I’m not going to run. Even if you let me.”
“No shit. But you still had to get past us to make that mess.” Hailey nodded to to Finn.
Finn looked from Hailey to Tamin, then to Ryles, then back to Hailey. He shrugged his shoulders and swung his fist, dropping Hailey to the ground.