Don’t Let It Throw You…

“Hans,” a familiar voice called.  He didn’t need to look up to know that Leonas had called to him.  No one else had quite that shade of green to their voice.

Hearing Leonas call him again, he looked up from his coloring book.  “Yes, Leo?” he asked, tilting his head.

Leonas chuckled softly when the girl beside him gasped.  He turned to her and nodded.  “I told you that was his real voice.”

“It’s so deep,” she breathed, her cheeks flushing.  Then, she spun on her heel and ran away giggling.

Johannes turned back to his book with a sigh.

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Out There

Joram frowned faintly as he watched the people moving around in the market square. There had been a time when he’d been able to walk around with them. Then, no one knew him. He was just like anyone else. That wasn’t the case anymore.

Now, he was a member of the High Court. More than that, he was the Head of the High Court, because he’d been serving the longest. Now, everywhere he went, people knew him. He couldn’t go anywhere without an escort.

“I sort of miss it,” he murmured.

“What’s that?”

Joram looked over his shoulder at Cianal and smiled. Nodding at the market square, he said, “Walking around out there, like a normal person.” He turned away from the window and shook his head. “They talk about rank granting duties and privileges. They never mention what it costs.”

Equal Under the Law

Prompt: the esthetic of lostness

“So,” Keenan said, looking at Joram, Aidan and Thom, “that’s where things stand. We know that Lord Haffley killed Cass.”

“But he won’t say who else on either council is part of the splinter movement,” Aidan said, nodding. “It’s not like we can take all the republicans out of public office. They were duly elected, after all.”

“The same is true of the other members of the High Court,” Joram said, shaking his head. “Without any sort of proof showing that a person was involved, our hands are tied.”

Keenan nodded. “We’ll just have to be careful,” he said. “We’ll watch out for laws that might infringe on the rights of citizens who are from other ethnic backgrounds. We’ll keep an eye out for instances when they’re being unfairly excluded.”

“We caught the guy,” Thom said, sounding upset. “So, why does it seem like we’ve lost?”

“Because,” Keenan said, “the fight goes on.” He smiled faintly and said, “But that was just one battle. We haven’t won the war yet, but we’ve made a good start.”

Wandering Thoughts

Prompt: where we will, we’ll roam

“Have they come back with any kind of statement?” Eishi said, looking from Joram to Henry. He released an explosive sigh. “The not knowing is maddening!”

“And scary,” Henry added. He fussed with his overlong sleeves for a moment. “I mean… are the rest of us in any kind of danger?”

Joram sighed and then looked up as the door opened. Barnabas and Amera entered, with Keenan close behind. “Hey,” he said. His greeting was casual, but Joram knew him well enough to see how tense he was.

“What?” Joram said, standing. “What have your people learned, Keenan?”

Keenan grimaced. “We found the man who killed Cassidy, but he’s not talking,” he said. “He doesn’t need to tell us much, though. We know this: Edith and Mari were… pressured to retire when they did. Their lives were threatened. Cassidy might have received the same threats, but that’s not confirmed.”

“Dear Lord,” Joram breathed. “Why? Who?”

“Not sure of the who,” Keenan admitted. “We know why, though.” He shook his head. “A faction within the Republican party – more extreme than most of the members – wants to keep power in the hands of a few. They feel that those few should be racially Shynian and, apperently, they’ll stop at nothing to see that happen.”

“So,” Henry said, his brows furrowing. “Are the rest of us in danger?”

“Our evidence says you aren’t,” Keenan said. “However, I’m still worried enough that I’m going to leave you all under protection a while longer.”

He bowed, then, and slipped out of the room. Joram shook his head and glanced around at his fellows. All of them were deep in thought. The idea that someone would threaten Mari and Edith to retire – that someone would kill Cassidy – over such a petty reason was madness. Joram knew that not all republicans were like that. Barnabas was a republican and had been nothing but kind to them.

“I… can’t focus on work right now,” Joram said, shaking his head. “It’s like my thoughts are a hamster on a wheel. All I can think about is – is Cassidy and Edith and Mari.”

“We’ll convene this afternoon,” Barnabas said, nodding. “I’ll inform the clerks that we’re taking the morning off.” He bowed and slipped out of the room, leaving the rest to their wandering thoughts.

After Two Months

Prompt: Quarter moon better than none

“It’s so very dark,” Joram said, frowning. He looked over his shoulder at Cianal. “It’s never this dark in Himulai.”

“More street lights there,” Cianal said. He looked up at the sky and smiled. “It could be worse, though. At least there’s a sliver of moon to shed some light on us.”

Joram looked up at the sky and frowned. It had been the same when Cassidy had died – just a sliver of moon hung in the sky. It had been two months ago. How many more such nights would come and go before her killer was brought to justice?

What is home?

Prompt: curse of the gypsy blood

Joram lifted his head off Cianal’s chest and looked at him. “Do you ever think of settling down?” he said, tilting his head to one side.

Cianal frowned. “Whatever do you mean?” he asked, shaking his head. “I’m settled well enough. I live with you, don’t I?”

“You travel back and forth with me,” Joram said. His gaze drifted to the window. For a moment, he watched the scenery in silence. “We spend half our time at one home and half our time at the other. The constant traveling back and forth doesn’t bother you?”

“Not at all,” Cianal said, laughing. He shrugged and shook his head. “I think I’d get bored staying in one city all the time. Much more fun this way.” He looked intently at Joram, “Does it bother you?”

Joram smiled. “My home is wherever you are,” he said, his voice faint.

Bells at Sea

Prompt: can you hear the distance

Henry looked across the waves at the shore. They were nearly to South Cove now. He was nearly home. He tilted his head to one side and frowned. “What’s the bell for?” he mused. It seemed so faint and very far away.

“It’s how we keep time, your honor,” one of the sailors said, as he hurried by.

Henry blinked. So, that meant the bell was somewhere on board the ship. He wondered then, why it sounded like it had come from far away. In his mind, it was as though the tolling bell somehow marked the distance, not just the time.

At Sea, But Not Adrift

Prompt: trusting strangers

Henry stood on the deck of the ship and stared at the line of tan that was the coast. They were following it southward, towards his home. For the first time since Cassidy’s death, he felt safe.

It was odd, he thought. Why should he feel safer on a ship full of people he didn’t know than he had in the familiar surroundings of the city where he worked? How could he trust these people? Somehow, though, he did. A faint smile touched his lips. Perhaps it was naive, but he felt like he could trust these strangers. They would see him safely home.

Going Home

Prompt: Two ways of getting home

“So,” Joram said, as soon as the last of them had filed into the antechamber. “We’re off for the holiday?”

“Two weeks of free time,” Barnabas agreed. He looked at Eishi and frowned. “This is your home region.”

“It is,” he agreed. “I have a house just twenty minutes walk from here.” His brows furrowed and he said, “You all have longer treks, in order to go home, though. Is that right?”

“I’m taking the train,” Joram said, nodding. He looked at Amera and said, “You’re going with us, right?”

She nodded. Turning to Henry, she tilted her head to one side. “How are you getting home for the holiday, Henry?” she asked, frowning.

“I haven’t decided yet,” he admitted. His brows furrowed and he said, “I can’t drive, so that leaves taking the train or a boat.”

“I don’t trust the train,” Barnabas said, shaking his head firmly. He looked horrified for a moment and added, “The stories you hear about what can happen… I’m driving home.”

Henry frowned and shook his head. “I’ll decide tomorrow,” he said.

Regrets

Prompt: life is short and the world is wide

“You and Cassidy Reinsch were together on the morning of her death?” Aidan said, his voice soft. He was seated at a table in what they called a conference room, across from Eishi Sakamoto.

Eishi nodded. He sniffled softly and fussed with the soft cotton handkerchief that was twisted between his fingers.

Aidan sighed softly. “I know this is difficult, your honor,” he said, “but we’re trying to establish a timeline. The more we know about what led up to her death, the more likely we are to catch the person responsible.”

“I know,” Eishi said, his voice cracking. He shrugged and shook his head. “I just… we thought we had all this time and – and now she’s gone?”

“I’m afraid that’s… not uncommon, sir,” he said, his voice soft. He chewed his lip for a moment and then plowed ahead with the questions he needed answered. He felt horrible – like he was kicking a wounded puppy – but they needed as much information as possible. Somewhere in the great wide world, there lurked a killer and it was his job to find out who it was and why they’d targeted Judge Reinsch in the first place.

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