The Four Judges
Nobody would look at me, talk to me, acknowledge me, as we rode along in the prisoner's coach. I begged for eye contact, but nobody seemed to know I was there. The bench was uncomfortable and outside the rain poured, making pit-pating sounds on the wooden roof.
I could face my fate now, knowing that I avenged my family.
The four armored guards around me, swords in hand, were steely and cold. I look at each of them in turn. Nothing. They were putting their blinders on, I suppose, so that they wouldn't be "tainted by my evil aura". I thought that their job was to kill anyone who dared do anything wrong, but I thought wrong. In the words of Ratman, the jailer, I would be facing something much, much worse.
The cart stopped, abruptly. They stand up, one beckoning for me to follow suit, and I struggle up, hands chained. One of them took my arm. As if I'd try to escape, now.
We exit the roofed cart, bright light making me wish I could shield my eyes. after a week of underground dungeon darkness, this was a change-a welcome change, or an unwelcome, I couldn't tell. But we marched on, across uneven sage green grass. Their armor made clunks, my boots made no sound. I had been silenced.
We stop next to a short stone tower, no windows. On either side of a heavy-looking door were banners, white, yet misty red, with a black skull.
The trademark of unwelcome justice, if I remembered.
One of the guards held my arm while one of the others unchained my hands. The third one looked me in the face, for the first time. "You will now go through the Judging process. Once you enter there is no turning back until you are finished. The first Judge is the Keeper of the Justice. He shall talk to you for a bit and you will answer honestly. Then, when he is done judging, you climb up the ladder. On either side of another ladder there are two statues, and once you see a sign you may go up, you may. The fourth judge...well, you'll be surprised." He grinned, a dark, intelligent sparkle in his eyes. "Good luck."
Somebody pushed me towards the door, ad I pull it open.
Sitting on a throne was a young man, bearded, and wearing a golden circlet with a scale carved out of bloodstone in the center of it. He smiles, surprisingly jolly. "Well, hello there. Why are you here? You seem nice." I take a breath in. "I killed three people." "Well then, that wasn't nice, was it?" After a few seconds, I realized the question wasn't rhetorical. "It may not have been morally accepted but they killed my family. All of them, except for me." "Interesting, interesting...tell me, why did you think you'd get away with it?" "I didn't." He smiles, something in his eyes that i couldn't decipher. "You are a very interesting case. You may proceed to the Statues." I bow my head, and climb up a ladder.
I didn't expect them to be scary, but they were. Two statues, again carved out of bloodstone; on either side of the ladder up. One of them had a screaming face, agony showing plainly; yet it's eyes were staring straight into mine, almost as if they could see into my very soul. The other showed fear, instead of pain, yet again, the strangely calm and staring eyes. I stood still for a few seconds, until something started.
All around me I heard disbodied, scattered whispers. They echoed around in my brain, and my mind slowly started to think, think about what I had done. I still yet felt no remorse. I heard an echo of the woman's screams, ad I pressed the knife to her cheek. I heard a baby crying. Soon, I was curled up in a ball, hands on my ears, screaming something untranslatable; though I suppose it was "make it stop". Then, it did. All of the sounds melted away, and the eyes of the statues closed, suddenly, making me shudder.
I tentatively stood up, shaking, and climb up the ladder.
I was in a cramped room; but something was different. Above me was a hole in the roof, and wind howled, swirling around. The sky was full of black clouds, foreboding, warning. I look down, and gasp.
All around were mirrors. Mirrors of every shape and size. You could barely see the stone. Everywhere I looked I saw myself, eyes wild, hair mussed. I was thin and waifish, a side effect of imprisonment, I suppose.I spun around, scared, wondering.
Then, in all of my reflections, hands popped from the ground; dead hands, I could tell. I heard the woman's scream again, and it echoed in my head, rattling. "No," I whispered, as the hands grasped my ankles, my shoes. The full weight of what I had done hit me, suddenly, like a rock, and I was sinking, slowly down, into the river.
A rumbly, demonic voice echoes around, as the wind howls. "You are not innocent."
The very last thing I hear is my scream.