A man with a cursive “R” tattooed on the inside of his lip lurked in the shadows. He overheard the whole conversation that Matar and Bruno just had. He was given instructions in no uncertain terms. If he saw the two, and they weren’t going to the mine, they were to be killed on sight. Consequences be damned. Fuerzo La Roca himself would see to it that no assassin would be hanged for their murder. Well here they were in front on him and clearly not going to a mine. The man wasn’t particularly fond of this murder business, but what could he do? Plus, he had to look out for his friend Czawlytko. Poor, Czawlytko; always getting himself tangled up in one La Roca plot or another.
Well, here goes. He pulled out two perfectly balanced throwing knives. He gripped the first one and poised it over his shoulder. Then he noticed a flicker of shadow pass over him. This was particularly strange because he was currently hiding in a shadow. Then he registered a “whoosh” sound. He was about to throw, the target was in his sight… but he had to look. He turned his head to look and felt the oddest sensation. Something hot was being poured down his chest. It was blood! He choked in astonishment. Unable to cry for help, he gripped his neck, trying to stop the bleeding. But alas, he crumbled into a heap in the shadow where he hid.
Matar and Bruno happened on the courthouse, or what was called the courthouse. Book ended on either side were two, two story buildings with ornate paint work and ornamentation on the hand rails. Blues, greens, and golds embellished every curve and crevice. The courthouse however, had never seen a lick of paint. The wood beams were ash-grey. Right in the middle of town was this shamble of a shack. It looked like the banisters were made of tooth picks. The columns holding up the peak pediment were jagged, warped, and lightning bolt shaped. Bruno resolved to call it “The Tinder Pile” from now on.
They entered and sat down in a pew made of similarly bare wood, at just the right time.
The judge pounded his gavel against its sound block. “Heeep, heeep, heeep” was the pathetic sound it made. The gavel in his hands was unlike any gavel that Bruno had ever seen. It had a leather bladder in the shape of an accordion on either side. A little hole at the top let the air out when it struck. The handle was painted fire red and the leather was wild flower blue.
Heeep, heeep, heeep. “I, Judge Hepto, now call this session to order.” said the sleepy man at far end of the room. His seat was behind a podium and raised several Queen’s feet in the air, which lent him an air of authority. What did not lend him authority in Bruno’s eye, was his garb. The man was wearing a giant sheet with a hole for his neck. The sheet was died like a giant rainbow pin wheel with many color slices emanating from his neck. He picked up the hat from his desk and placed it on his head as if it were a crown. It was not a crown, though. it reminded Bruno of a skull cap with four tentacles pointing into the air and drooping back down. Each tentacles had a bell on it which jingled slightly even as Judge Hepto placed it carefully on his head. The hat was similarly colored to his robe.
“I demand order in my court. Please remain silent until called upon. We will call upon witnesses as needed. Volunteers can come forward after previous business has been resolved. Can we have our first accuser come forward and make his case.”
A man gripped his straw hat with both hands and came forward. His pants were held up by a rope and his shirt was little more than a potato burlap sack with three holes in it for his arm and neck.
“Well Judge, it’s like this. I’ll keep it simple because I’m a simple man. I was harvesting my beets. And this man, walks up and says ‘Hey, get off my property.’ Judge, me, my old man, and my old man’s old man was born on that there land. Which is what I told this man.
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?”