A Matter of Judgment

He was standing over the body when the guards arrived, an officer with a projectile weapon and then two spear carriers, and there were two others with drawn short swords making it an even hand sent to subdue him. That should be enough force to take in someone who was now without weapons, his knife protruding from the neck of his dead brother, prostrate on the block floor; one who interrupted a passing house attendant in the outer passage and sent them to bring palace security after the deed was done.

For a case as important to the Throne as this, he would have only hours to wait until the trial.

It was cold and drafty in the great hall. The doors were barred and guards stationed outside. Rule amongst the Chulmur always skipped a generation, it had ever been thus. Only twice in the last 5000 years had revolution changed things, but that was not the case here and now. The elders seated at the long table behind the Chulmurian ruler were armed as was Henita Yormel himself, not with the weapons of state but with his own battle scarred sword that hadn’t been drawn in anger within living memory.

The old one could use it though, or he could at one time and no one would be so foolhardy as to challenge him at this late date. But there would come a time and perhaps not so very long hence.

Growing up there were stories told about how Henita Yormel would wade into battle, point dancing and blade flashing, till the floors ran ankle deep with the blood of his foes, when the rocky ground could absorb no more and the only thing keeping his own leather dry was that he strode across corpses piled at his feet. These were stories told not to frighten the young ones but to inspire them.

Kuimur Henita Yormel was proud, had earned that right a hundred times over; he conducted the trial as was proper when the life of one of his own grandchildren was at stake.

“And you say Agramel offered to submit himself to your ascendancy and become your vassal?”

“In spite of his appearance he was small and weak; I did not believe him for a second. He would always look to gain power for himself.”

“And you gave no warning, no sign that he was in danger, or even that you no longer wished to speak with him, much less negotiate?”

“No! Agramel was convinced that he was a trusted supporter, not only was he weak, he was an idiot. A blot on our family name!”

Condish Kuimur Henita made each of his statements as if they were matters of fact and not open to any alternative explanation. This was not by way of any kind of duplicity on his part. As far as he was concerned he spoke only the truth and would accept the judgment as he accepted the weather and that the day was bright and the night was dark.

He resisted the urge to stroke the blade of the dagger he would use to end his own life should the verdict come out against him.

His own father stood behind Kuimur, ready to deliver the grace note should he do the unthinkable and fail to act with honor. And should the worst occur, as was likely; he was being judged on more than the facts of the case alone; he would not be the first of his generation to parish thus, nor even the first by his own hand. It was equally certain he would not be the last. Agramel deserved everything he had received, for himself only moments remained.

Henita Yormel’s voice rang true showing no sign of weakness. His own decision made—he turned to the Elders and asked for theirs. An uncle, his father’s brother from a third wife of the last ruler spoke for the council.

“Our decision is clear, Condish Kuimur Henita, your grandson, considered his sibling Kuimur Agramel a threat to his ambition, killing him without mercy or warning. The vote will be a formality but take it we must.”

In a matter of short seconds each of the elders seated at the long table behind Kuimur Henita raised a left arm with a clenched fist. Henita turned once more facing his grandson, raising his own left arm and clenching his own left fist he spoke.

“We are unanimous, all agree your life is spared, should you continue on your present path, in time you may survive long enough to prove yourself fit to rule all of Chulmur. But remember! Not now! And not while I live! You are allowed to retain your blade,” he said looking at the stained weapon. “May it serve you well.”

And thus was written the first step in Condish Kuimur Henita’s journey to the rule of all the Chulmu.

Go to Never So Few for the rest of the story. — Wes