Thursday, January 1, 2015

The Punishment of a Thief - Story Snippet


“She stole them, just like a common thief. And so she deserves the punishment of a thief.” The vigil grabbed Meri’s hand and yanked her forward. By the time I reacted, he had already withdrawn a hefty cleaver in preparation of separating the girl’s tiny hand from her wrist.
“Wait, wait, wait!” I pushed between them, catching a glimpse of Meri’s face. It had gone whiter than her old chemise.
“You can’t deny this boy,” the vigil grumbled.
“I know. In fact I agree with you. She definitely should be punished.” I cast a glare over my shoulder where Meri was attempting to hide behind me. Her eyes bugged up at me in disbelief, but I was serious. Maybe she would finally start listening to me after this lesson.
“But you have your scrolls back unharmed, so you’ve not lost anything. Why inflict a punishment where she looses her hand when you’re not out anything at all? That wouldn’t be fair.”
“Last I checked this world ain’t fair boy.” The vigil yanked Meri out from behind me, hauling her hand towards a chopping block. I leapt forward, taking her fisted hand clutched in front of the vigil’s iron grip and prying her fist open. “Here,” I said, working to make my voice sound reasonable instead of panicked. “Why don’t we compromise. You can break her fingers instead.”
“Darren!” Meri’s voice was an incredulous squeak, and she fought my hold on her fingers, trying to knot them back into a fist.
“How many scrolls was it? Two?” I pried two of Meri’s slender little fingers open. “Here, I’ll even let you do it on her right hand. That ought to teach her a good lesson, don’t you think?”
“Darren!” I felt Meri’s left hand punching at my shoulder. “How dare you!”
The vigil stared at her slender little fingers. “I suppose,” he said finally. He dropped the cleaver, releasing Meri’s wrist and reaching instead for an intimidating looking club. Inwardly, I breathed a sigh of relief, though the size of the club he hefted made us both freeze. Meri composed herself faster than I did, yanking her hand out of my grip and backpedaling away. She stopped hesitantly behind me, like a doe poised to run. The vigil made to rush her, but I raised my hands in front of his barrel sized chest, halting his pursuit.
“Stealing the scrolls was my idea. She did it on my orders.” I scowled over my shoulder, catching her brief look of surprise at my blatant lie. “Maybe next time she will follow my orders properly and not get caught!” My disappointment in her was real, but not for those reasons. Almost before I had finished speaking, the vigil had my wrist in his meaty fist and was slamming it down roughly on the chopping block. I closed my eyes. It was all I could do to keep my fingers splayed open. As he raised his club, I turned my face and quickly stuffed the collar of my vest into my mouth, biting down hard on the leather.
“Wait!” Meri cried from behind, her voice weak with guilt. Her cry was a bit late. The crunching of bones in my knuckles reached my ears a split second before the pain registered in my brain. My scream came out as a tremendous grunt around the leather in my mouth. He released my wrist and I immediately pulled my hand protectively to my chest, sinking to my knees on the forest floor. I spit out my vest but continued to grind my teeth as my head dipped towards the ground. My eyes were tight shut, I couldn’t bare to look at my mangled hand. Despite the spread of my fingers, I was sure his massive club had broken them all, instead of only two. I tried to comfort myself against the fact that they were still attached, as opposed to loosing a hand entirely, but it was a small comfort against the tremors of pain rushing through my trembling hand. I was vaguely aware of Meri crouching over me, her little hands gently coaxing my injured fingers out for her inspection. I wanted to hate her, just like I had this morning when I discovered she’d stole those scrolls, but all I felt for her was relief. Her delicate little hands were still as flawless as ever. Besides she was crying. You can’t hate a female that cries over you like a wounded hero. Dislike maybe, but that was nothing new between us. Maybe if she would finally cease ruining my mission, we could move past that.
“I’m so sorry Darren,” she sobbed, opening my bloody hand. “I should never have—your sword hand,” she suddenly realized. “How will you complete your mission now?” I was wondering the same thing, but instead of yelling that she could have thought of that before she stole those scrolls, I sucked in a deep breath and said something about drilling with my left hand for awhile. Meri was crying pretty hard now. I was almost convinced she may have learned her lesson and would start minding my words from now on. Almost.

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