A Shocking Development [ImpMis]
Here it was, Founders' Day, the biggest annual celebration in Bresa. And, as had become depressingly normal lately, Cy was stuck in his room. Well, he was supposed to be stuck in his room, anyway. And once his mother figured out that he snuck out, there would be another lecture, and probably some more grounding... he could almost hear the lecture already, "Cyssaliht, what am I going to do with you? You're almost an adult, you need to behave more responsibly!"
Cy sighed in frustration at his imagined lecture. His mother always insisted on calling him by his full name, its weird pronunciation (more like Kiss-a-lit) and all. There had been several volcanic arguments over the fact that Cy preferred a shortened name. I bet Liz doesn't get yelled at just because she prefers a shortened name. Thinking of Liz, the mayor's daughter, reminded Cy of the reason he was sneaking out. After all, the preparations for the Founders' Day parade would be a perfect place to repay the "favor" he owed Liz.
Now fully escaped onto the roof, Cy reset the latch to his window with a deft flick of his hands, then quietly proceeded across the roof to the cedar tree at the end of the house. Swinging over to the tree, Cy climbed down, checked for any sign that his departure had been detected, then hurried toward the center of town. He only had about 30 minutes before the parade started, but that actually made his task easier. By now, Liz would already be at the town stables, getting ready for her entrance as the parade's Grand Marshal.
As he hurried toward the town stables, Cy did his best to look like he wasn't hurrying, and also to avoid skulking. After all, it wouldn't do any good if a member of the Watch stopped him short of his target -- he was just a normal person, out on his way to participate in the Founders' Day festivities and watch the parade. It wasn't too hard to blend into the crowd of passersby, all not-hurrying to get to their favored spot for viewing the parade before the crush of everyone else doing the same thing consumed all the good viewing spots.
When he got near to the parade route, though, Cy did have to slip into skulk mode a little bit. Slipping around behind the stables, he looked for his target. Ah, there was Liz, seated on the mare that she would ride at the head of the parade. While Cy had never tried riding a horse in a dress, he knew it was uncomfortable enough in full riding gear. Still, Liz had a little scare coming, after the stunt she had helped pull on their class trip into the nearby forest. Sure, the log trap hadn't ever really been close to hitting Cy, since it swung overhead nearly seven feet off the ground. But that didn't wash away the mockery of his classmates, after Cy had dropped prone to avoid the swinging log and straight into a boggy patch of muck. Surveying the stables, Cy's eyes fell on the pitchforks. While those would probably cause a little too much chaos, there were some extra quarterstaves piled next to the forks, as the stablehands were in the process of replacing the handles on some of the older pitchforks whose handles had begun to rot. One of those staves should do nicely... just prod the horse a little, just enough to unsettle it, and then we'll see how Liz handles a bit of a scare... Cy thought. Looking around, he checked to make sure that there weren't any watchful eyes to see him, then made for his chosen tool.
[ tagging @Yamikuronue ]
Liz sat up straight on her horse, imagining the day when she'd finally be old enough to join the town guard, to ride her mare on patrols instead of just around town. What a great day that would be! She'd wear a shiny new uniform, buttons polished until they fairly gleamed, instead of riding trousers and a pretty dress. She'd braid her hair, not up into a fancy do, but back, to keep it out of her face. She'd make sure every piece of tack gleamed as if it were new, just to impress her new guard captain. Then they'd ride forth as a unit, swords at the ready to protect the people of Bresa. She'd prove her bravery, of course. Her captain would be proud; he'd approach her, telling her she was the finest recruit he'd seen in years, that she'd go far. He'd pin a medal to her chest for her valor, and maybe, just maybe, she'd see the first hint of something more in the older man's eyes, an impression that went deeper than mere pride. It would be wrong to kiss him while she worked beneath him, of course, but there'd be that hope, that vain--
"Yah!" Liz gave a shout of astonishment as her horse started, shying toward the road. She scrambled for balance, her feet having not been quite in the stirrups yet, and nearly falls, clinging to the horse's mane until she regains her balance.
Cy frowned a little, as the well-trained mare did little more than take a few steps away from the prodding rod. It had still almost been enough to unseat Liz, but still wasn't really quite enough to repay the log trap prank... so maybe just one more prod, or even a light swat, to cause the mare to fully bolt. After all, Liz was an accomplished enough rider, she should be able to handle it. Once Cy saw that Liz had regained her balance, but before giving her time to start looking around suspiciously, he brought the staff forward one more time, swinging it overhand toward the mare.
As the staff swung downward, Cy suddenly felt a surge of... something... up through his toes and down his outstretched arm. He only had a split second to watch in horror as an electric crackle leapt forth from the end of the quarterstaff as it made contact with the horse, and then the horse bolted down the road, bucking wildly and careening toward the meadow that would serve as the start and finish of the parade route. The meadow which still had some muddy spots in the low areas, left over from the recent rains.
Unable to think, unable to react, Cy stood transfigured as a statue, the quarterstaff still extended in the same position it was in when it struck the horse, his eyes locked on to his hands, and the strange energy that was still sparking from them into the staff... Energy... through a staff? Oh no! Liz!
The mare bucks and surges, and it's all Liz can do to hold on, her feet nowhere near the stirrups. She can feel the mane slipping through her fingers, but she can't see well enough to get her bearings with all the bucking, so she doesn't dare let go--
The choice is made for her, the last of the hairs slipping between her fingers. She lands, flat on her stomach, in a puddle; she can't breathe, the wind going out of her in a rush, her pretty lace ruined by mudstains, but no real harm done from the fall. She rolls onto her back, trying to get her face out of the muck, gasping and choking for air. I can't breathe!
Cy recovers from his shock and starts to rush over to help Liz, but his prank has been rather extremely noticed now, and the two Watch members who had been standing near the front of the parade proceedings were already coming toward him. One of the Watchmen already had his crossbow leveled at Cy, and the other, the Watch Captain by his insignia, looked quite cross... probably from nearly being trampled by the bucking horse. "You there! Cy! Drop the quarterstaff and get on your knees!"
"Liz! I have to help her!" Cy continued toward Liz despite the warning, until a third Watch man's lance blocked his path forward. His eyes suddenly snapping back into focus, Cy looked back and forth from Liz to the angry Watch men, then dropped the staff and began to kneel, as the Watch Captain circled around behind him and drove him fully to the cobblestone pathway to restrain him.
Cy? A brutal clarity is forming in Liz's mind: Cy, swearing he'd take vengeance on her. Oh no, I have to stop them-- But she can't get enough air to shout to the Watch Captain, the very man she'd been daydreaming about just moments prior.
Cy could feel the strange tingling coursing back and forth between his legs and arms, and tried to focus on keeping the energies bottled up within him as the Watch Captain restrained him somewhat roughly. What in the world is going on? Where did this energy come from... what is it, even? Cy didn't feel any sort of strange influences, so it probably wasn't some sort of demonic possession... he hoped, anyway. The stories of people who had been possessed always ended very badly. He wasn't even sure if he was able to control the energy, though thankfully it didn't seem to be bleeding out of him into the cobblestone or into the Watch men surrounding him.
Once he had been fully restrained, Cy felt himself get jerked to his feet, as the Watch men gruffly prodded him to move toward the town gaol. He struggled, trying to turn to see if Liz was alright, but could only catch a glimpse of her, struggling back to a sitting position, before the man escorting him cuffed him harshly on the back of the neck and drove him forward. Out of the din of the chaos behind him, Cy thought he could hear his mother calling out, but it was drowned out by the Watch Captain, "Of all the days to ignore our warnings, Cyssaliht. You've gone too far with this one, and you're going to pay the full price."
The cell they tossed him in was small, cramped, and cold; a holding cell down at the Watch station, so they can keep an eye on him while they sort out what he's to be charged with. How long will they hold him? With the festival on, will they even bother to process him before sundown?
As it turned out, Cy didn't have an overly long time to brood. His prank rather put the damper on the festivities for the mayor and the Town Watch, both of whom had to spend quite some time in discussions of what to do with the troublesome half-elf instead of getting pleasantly drunk at the celebration. After the cleric had verified that Liz hadn't suffered any permanent harm and the mayor's ceremonial duties were complete, the decision was made, and the mayor and Watch Captain went to see Cy, with his mother in tow.
"Young man, you are being released into the custody of your mother, to return and stand trial for your disruption in three days' time," declared the Watch Captain. "You will be confined to your house, unless accompanied by your mother or a member of the Watch, and if you are found wandering alone, the Watch will have orders to subdue you by any means necessary and return you to this cell. Do I make myself clear?"
Meekly, Cy nodded, unable to make eye contact with either the Captain or his mother. A formal trial? he despaired. Looking toward Mayor Francis, Cy stammered, "I didn't mean for... is Liz okay?"
"That is Miss Elizabeth to you, young man," the mayor snaps, neck flushed with anger. "My daughter is going to have to spend the rest of today in bed thanks to the scare you gave her. Her big day, the entire festival that she's been looking forward to for months now ruined because of you. So no, she is not okay. And whatever else comes of this, you will not go near my daughter again, do you understand me boy?"
"I never meant..." Cy started, then cleared his throat and schooled his face into formal tones. "I understand, sir. Would you please convey my apologies to Miss Elizabeth, it was not my intention to ruin the festival or even to make the horse throw her at all." Cy managed to avoid the urge to kneel and beg, but his tone was practically prostrating himself before the mayor.
The mayor nods curtly. "Well, you can prove- or not- what your intentions were in three days," he says dismissively as he turns to leave. Glaring at Cy's mother, he adds, "and you- keep him under control this time. It'll be you right next to him if he does anything, anything at all, do you understand?"
Deitra nodded an acknowledgement, and then turned to Cyssaliht with a disappointed look on her face. "Let's go home, Cyssaliht."
The entire trip home, Cy shuffled behind his mother, unwilling to be the first to break the strained silence. He brooded about the ill omen of a formal trial, I wonder how seriously Liz was injured. They haven't ever held a full trial just for disturbing the peace... Like the morbid fascination that grips someone watching a gruesome accident, Cy's mind flicked through the stories he'd heard from the surrounding villages. The bandits over by Stardenn who ambushed a caravan and caused the horses pulling the lead wagon to stampede down a hillside, killing the driver and injuring the two passengers. Those bandits were hung for manslaughter and robbery. Or the blacksmith who had been banished from Antoviach when he left his bellows unattended for a midday roll in the hay and the resulting fire burned down 2 square blocks of the city.
And what had even happened with the strange surges of energy? Had he just imagined them? They seemed to have died out after Cy was placed into the holding cell, and even discreet straining hadn't brought them back. Maybe a case of less said, soonest mended... Cy thought.
The evening passed without much more than standard family discussion between Cy and his mother. Whether it was because the Watch Captain had (temporarily) scared him straight, or out of begrudging respect for his mother, Cy spent his three days of house arrest quietly fulfilling his designated household chores and generally dreading the upcoming trial.
It's just past dawn on the third day when the Watch comes. Four of them, two with clubs, one with a crossbow and the last with a heavy set of chains. All for a young half-elf not yet even a man grown. They're not gentle either, as they bind his wrists and ankles. They don't hit him, of course, this is a civilized town after all, not some backwater den of rough justice. No, they just snap the manacles on without care. Just yank his limbs around. Just grab him hard enough to bruise. Just shove and push to get him moving, as if words would be wasted on him.
And all of this in front of his mother, who can only watch with one of the guards stand by her pointedly. Despite that, Deitra doesn't hesitate a second when it comes time to go, grabbing her cloak and following despite the lack of invitation to come along. It's a quiet walk, the only sounds their footsteps and the clanking of the chains he's forced to wear openly as they walk through town. At least its still early enough that not many people can see him in this shameful condition.
Arriving at the small town hall that serves Bresa in many roles, this morning being that of judgment, Cy can see the watch captain talking to a tall man with jet black hair and dark robes. A Lawgiver. That... explains the quick date of his trial. Or the fact that he's getting a formal trial instead of just an arbitration. Lawgivers only stop in Bresa every couple of months, it being a rather small town. Mayor Francis must have jumped on the chance to have a formal trial- man's never had a sense of humor and this... well, even Cy would admit the prank had turned sour on him.
As he waits, his mother trying to figure out what she can say in this situation, Cy's keen ears catch a bit of the conversion the Lawgiver and captain are having. "...and a charge of equine endangerment, the horse is a breeding mare. But Francis wants to address the charge of attempted murder first before..." At that point, the captain shifts a little and his voice is muted just enough to dip below audibility again.
Cy strains at his shackles a bit when he hears the mention of an attempted murder charge. Attempted murder? he thought, incredulously, I didn't think I shook Liz up that badly. Unless they mean the horse nearly trampling the captain, I suppose... Still, calm down, Cy, don't show them fear before the trial even starts.
Composing himself, Cy follows the lead of his watchman escort into the dock. He tries some breathing exercises to calm himself before the trial begins, but the whole meditation thing has always seemed more like voodoo to him, so Cy isn't very good at it. Looking around through the gallery, he tries to catch the eye of Liz, just to confirm she really is okay, but he can't spot her in the onlookers before his attention is jerked back by the sound of the gavel opening the court session.
The hearing starts slowly, people milling about and holding whisper conversation after whispered conversation, all of them seemingly peppered with long, slow glances at the young man in chains. Finally the Lawgiver makes his way to the front of the room and takes a seat behind the council table there. It's strangely imposing, the sight of a single man in the center of that table built for a half dozen or more. Not as imposing as the Lawgiver's relentless stare however.
The Watch Captain is called up first to give his accounting. The first part is just describing who was around and what they were doing. Setting the scene- boring but required. Eventually however...
"Well, the parade was just about to get started when little Liz's mare suddenly started to buck a bit. She's a good rider, so we weren't too worried... yet. Then there's a strange popping noise and the horse just bolted. Near to killed me, your Lawship. Poor girl didn't have a prayer of keeping the mare in check- vet looked her over later, there was a burn mark near the size of my hand on its rear hindquarter were the boy performed his deviltry."
Cy bristled a bit at the word "deviltry", but fought to keep his face and body language impassive. He knew that being too brusque with trying to counter the Captain's statement wouldn't help his cause any... even if the Lawgiver didn't automatically give credit to what the Captain claimed, he was well liked in town and Cy shouldn't antagonize him needlessly.
"You said the burn mark was the size of your hand, correct? Which is much bigger than the end of the quarterstaff I swung at the horse. So, isn't it possible that someone else had planted a small alchemical pouch on the horse, and that's what left the burn mark?"