His lower lip began to tremble and his voice grew weak. “Then this man told me that he didn’t care, that it was for the greater good, that they needed to build a road through my farm. I swear, judge, that’s the talk of a La Roca. Only one of La Roca’s men would be so cruel. Then as if to spit in my face to make up for stepping on my toe, he offered me money. I don’t want money, Judge, I just want my land. Please, Judge. You’ve got to believe me.”
Bruno turned around behind him to see a man grinning ear to ear. His teeth were sharp and there was a glint in his eye.
The judge jerked awake, suddenly aware than the man in front of him had finished speaking. “Hm? Oh yes, of course. I will take your testimony under careful consideration. Please point to the man in question.”
The farmer pointed to the man with pointy teeth behind Bruno.
“Hmm I see. Very well. Now, do we have any other accusations for today?”
“Ah yes judge, I have. Unlike the previous accuser, I have a real accusation with real evidence.”
“Well come forward and let’s hear it, son.”
The man with pointy teeth came forward to the front of the judge’s podium.
“You see, Judge, I was minding my own business, enjoying the weather. I went to check the local job boards. I found one that said they’re building a roadway for commerce. They need able-bodied men to escort people off of their previously owned land. The sign said, ‘owners were given 90 days notice’. The sign said, ‘this was just the cost of a civilized society’. I was just doing my job. Honest! I’m innocent, Judge! This man, however, is a menace to society. Where would we be if everyone made decisions willy-nilly? We need cohesion, not derision. Judge, do the right thing and expunge this man out of our great and good society.”
“Huh” grunted the judge. “I see, you are dismissed. Are there any other accusations for today?”
Matar stood up abruptly, he said “Yes, right here, your honor.” putting on the persona he used when talking to the Queen.
“We have been through no less than hell. We have been pursued and beleaguered by a man known in these parts as Czawlytko. We first met this man in a tavern, and after a small misunderstanding, he has given us nothing but grief. We try to get away, but he follows us where ever we go. He assaulted us in our sleeping quarters, kidnapped us, and tortured us. We have come straight here. We beg of you Judge! Protect two innocent travelers, and end this blight.”
“Hmmm, I guess. You’re dismissed, go back to your seat.” said the judge. Matar gave a royal bow and returned.
“Well I have made a decision. Farmer, come forward. On behalf of the power vested in me on behalf of the Baron, as evidenced by your fellow peer, find you guilty of conspiracy with criminal organizations, and obstructing commerce. I hereby sentence you to death by axe. Sheriff, take him away.”
“No! No! You can’t! My land! My family! Please don’t do this! Judge! Sheriff! Show clemency! Please!…” The farmer pleaded. He dissolved into a pile of sobbing rags on the floor. He was murmuring nonsense with his head in his hands.
A large man, who looked like several trees tied together, dressed in all black with a black hood pulled over his face, walked in the room. Bruno caught the glint of the man’s eyes through the eye holes of the hood. The man’s boots thundered on the floor. His giant double axe was hefted over his left shoulder held casually with one hand. He grabbed the shrived mess on the floor by the scruff of his shirt and dragged him out of the room. The man had gone limp, as if his spirit had already left his body.
Matar sighed heavily. “We tried. Let’s get some sleep and try again tomorrow”
The two dawdled a bit in the courtroom discussing what went right and what went wrong with Matar’s speech. Finally they walked out and started their search for the inn that was farthest from the courthouse, just in case. Not 10 steps out and they walked into Sheriff. Sheriff stooped down to look into Matar’s eyes. Bruno could see the gruesome axe up close. It was chipped and notched in many places. Both edges were painted with blood, one edge redder than the other, the rest of it was black. The pole ended in a sharp unused point on both ends.
“Watch where you’re stepping. And watch who you’re seen with. Some of us are just doing our job, and I’d hate to do it to you.” Said the burly man. He straightened up, then with a meaty palm, effortlessly pushed Matar over backwards. He walked away as if nothing had happened.
Bruno rushed to Matar’s side. “Master, why didn’t you dodge? That meat bag was no match for you. He’s twice as slow as the brute.”
Matar sighed yet again. “You have much to learn, young Bruno.” Matar explained from his back, “I didn’t want to fight him; so I let him win. I can’t fight every ‘meat bag’ as you called them.” Then wipping his knees up and blasting them outward, he put himself back on his feet. “Let’s go.”