Death in the Underdocks - Week of Oct 4, 2021
Sword law steps in
Sword Law steps in
"If she's Sevolite, at all," Braz insisted to the functionary assigned to hear him out back at the Justice Ministry, "then by her own admission she is likely Fractional. But by all means let's get her genotyped and if she's nobleborn of either kind --"
Here Jess of Bartrop Station gave a snort.
The functionary raised a hand. "A moment, Lord Braz." He cocked an eyebrow in Jess's direction.
"What?" she asked.
He cleared his throat.
"He means explain your objection," prompted Sargent Taff.
"My ..? Oh, about the nobleborn business? I was just thinking Green Hearth here is going to make a deal about being a better sort of nobleborn when it's nix. A difference that makes no difference. What is it you call the divisions here anyway? Midlord vs HigherLord?"
"SeniorLord," the functionary correct. He turned to Braz. "Continue."
Braz disliked how much her dismissal of his SeniorLord status being a meaningful distinction annoyed him. He understood, himself, that the two grammar classes within the sword law class of nobleborn was a Demish invention. But Monitum was a court-influenced Vrellish house, and he was used to his being a SeniorLord nobleborn mattering. At least a little.
"The point is," Braz said, more coldly than he expected to sound, "if she isn't any kind of nobleborn, she's not in my challenge class. She can't resist arrest. She is subject to the authority of the Justice Ministry. And she committed murder."
"Self-defense!" Jess insisted. "Against another Stationer, like me. From my station."
Braz was inhaling to assert his rights, again, when the functionary and Sargent Taff, who were facing in the opposite direction, both fixed pointed stares over his shoulder.
Taff said, "I think you've been one upped, m'lord."
Braz turned around.
"Greetings, Prince Vras of House Vrel," the functionary hailed a brightly dressed arrival in a lush, full-length scarlet robe, wide belt and prominent sword. He wore a sash across his chest decorated in Red Vrellish braid patterns declaring him a relative of the liege of Red Hearth
"Hi," said the man in the red robe. "I heard you had arrested a Red Reach stationer?"
Jess was grinning ear to ear. "Hi Vras," she said. "Nice to see you again!"
He cocked his head to one side, enhancing the mercurial aspect of his demeanor. "Have we met?" His grammar down-spoke her in the casual "up-or-down-but-don't-fret-about-by-how-much" way that was typical of the Red Vrellish.
She looked awkward for the first time Braz had ever seen her, rubbing the toe of one boot on the floor with her eyes downcast as if the gesture needed close attention. "Not so as I'd expect you to remember." she half mumbled. "I was in the same room you were, once, though. At Cold Rock. Last swearing games"
"Hah, well met again then," he said, gamely. "What brings you into conflict with Green Hearth."
"Not all of Green Hearth," she insisted, raising her head and resuming her stubborn air. "Just him." She indicated Braz with a jerk of her chin and a barely polite pronoun.
"She's carrying a power weapon," Braz told the highborn confronting his claim. "And she murdered a woman in the UnderDocks."
"I killed a child thief!" she insisted. "Deb, her name was." She appealed to Vras now. "She stole a boy-child named Okar Kren from my station. A six-year old orphan. He lost the last of his fem-kin in a docking accident and before we knew it Deb had kidnapped him. I figured out she had a contact at court. A sister. So I tracked her here before she made arrangements to sell Okar. I had no intention of killing her before I figured out where she'd stashed him but she left me no choice when she jumped me outside the bar where she was looking to make a deal before I interrupted her. As to the rod, here," she hefted it to illustrate. "I'm Jatforce on Bartrop. I'm entitled."
"Sounds reasonable," Vras said, and turned to Braz. "I'll stand for her under sword law. If you want to prevent her getting on with her work, here, you'll have to put up a highborn against me for the privilege."
Jess gave a whoop, and went to stand beside Vras. As close as she could get, it seemed to Braz. Vras didn't seem to mind. Red Vrellish social norms were not the same as courtly ones. Not even Green or Black Vrellish norms.
"Fine!" Braz conceded. Then, much to his own surprise, he added. "But she will work with me to find this child she speaks of. And if she is making it up, she will still be up for murder, and if you want to object it will be up to Prince Tatt to decide where and how it will be settled!"
Jess didn't look thrilled by the prospect of Braz as a partner. But Vras said, "You could use a hand, you know, from people more familiar with the UnderDocks. Think of the Green Hearth errant, here, as Jatforce."
Jess compressed her lips but muttered, "Fine," in turn.
And it was settled.
This scene is part of a larger project being developed on the blog, with working title Death in the Underdocks.