My name is Al’Rishi Makban. I was born on the road through the Great Forest in Gemseed in the year 1020 by the Astronomer’s reckoning, and was the child of a trader’s family. I do not remember my early years, but I have been told that my father’s trade was lucrative, selling goods to the forest elves and shipping their exquisite hand-crafts back to the Shining City.
I was pulled from my murdered mother’s hands by raiders of the Army of the 99 Monkeys, slavers from Galron who plied the southern trade roads, and had gotten more bold in the years since the iron grasp of Rega’s distant Emperor had faltered. I was taken into the city.
Can I not make this more clear to you?
I was taken into Galron. Into the city of Shrouds. The Blot. The Pirate’s Hellcove! The Stained city!
Into Galron, at 4 years old. Need I shout it? What more can I say? You say I am guilty? I am of nothing but walking the path the Ten set before me! No I will not sit down! Look at my face! Look at my body! Look what my faith has done to me! Look damn you!
I wear the Changes, not you! I have seen the Truth! Why will you not listen! The Hellkin are coming! The Compact is a joke! I saw hundreds, maybe thousands of gate anchors being tuned! I am NOT mad!
Listen to me! They are coming! Why won’t you listen?!
4 mail-fisted guards slammed the prisoner back into the dock, and their fingers ground his shoulders and neck cruelly, making the wretch cry out in pain and he cursed them for their stupidity.
The judges gollicked amongst themselves, too low for the Council to hear, but the high domed chamber scattered the judges words into bouncing moments of sound that confused the ear and Rama Kadam learned forward in his seat, frowning, staring at the prisoner, who was still writhing under the guards heavy hands. The king, one of ten presiding over this State Trial, had known Makban since he came to the Shining City of Akbar when he was 16, a broken boy, confused, angry, and unfit for society as he was then. The reports open in his lap said the man was scooped out of the Circumscribing Ocean after a naval battle with one of Galron’s many Raider fleets.
The enemy fleet was destroyed and survivors were always picked up as a matter of tactical necessity, not that Galronian prisoners often talked much, but the practice was sound strategy. The boy was found and his obvious Ashaarian ancestry marked him out for return to Akbar, and his family was found, overjoyed to discover he still lived, many aunts uncles and cousins, and they celebrated, as is proper.
He was scarred. Physically and emotionally, that was obvious to all, even his rescuers had many words to say about his behavior in the weeks it took to return.
He had 4 large scars on his back, perhaps a dozen on his legs, some quite deep and still shiny pink. His arms were nearly devoid of unscarred flesh. It appeared that a madman had made many thousands of cuts on the boy’s arms, top, sides and bottom, but not into his armpits and not on his hands. He was asked why and said “mister crazy”, or maybe “Mister Crazy”, it was never discovered.
His ribs had been broken multiple times, and had healed badly. His back was scarified with cuts, welts, pins and other broken metal pieces were pierced through his flesh. A fat iron ring adorned the back of his neck.
He would not talk about this, to anyone, and one time it was touched by a young cousin, and Makban beat her with his fists, screaming “FUCK YOU MAG! YOU’RE DEAD! FUCK YOU!” before he realized the young, bloody girl bawling on the floor in front of him was not his first “mother” inside the city of Shrouds, and when he did realize, he stalked away, and said nothing to his cousin Ama on the floor, and never apologized later, saying only that he was no dog, and no one touches him.
His ears were sliced into 4 segments along the lobe. They had been stained ochre and individually pierced with what the boy claimed were pigeons wingbones.
A punishment he said, but not for what crime.
His head was bald and was slightly dented in 3 places; along the back above the neck, above the left ear, and high up on the forehead on his right side. This last one was deep, throwing shadow into his gaunt face.
His cheeks had been pierced at one point, with something large, but the holes had closed, leaving two puckered rents, and his chin was stained, perhaps permanently with a vivid red dye, the boy did not know how he acquired it or what it signified, and had no idea of its source, and a solvent was never found. Even now it could be seen, even through the prisoner’s wild, patchy beard.
His genitals were not normal. He was missing one testicle and the sack had been badly stitched, and it hung awkward and ill-sized. His genitals had been badly burned by some chemical and he said he felt pain when he passed water.
The rest of him was malnourished, over-stressed and fatigued. His mental state was one of someone who had seen horrors that cannot be described fully. His appearance alone conjured images in the old king’s mind that were quickly traded for sympathy for this broken man.
Yes he had broken the Compact. “But we took him in and we set him on his path”, the king thought. He touched Lightbringer, the sword at his side and sent this thought to the Avatar of Basage, Lady of Compassion, and felt the tingling surge of the Avatar’s response, an agreement, and the king, Rama Kadam of the Circle of Swords, raised his voice in protest of the prisoner’s treatment, ending with “or are we here to decide the fate of this man that many have dubbed, the betrayer? Make a choice, my fellow councilors and honorable judges. We are here to hear his tale, whatever it may be, and then decide our course of action with clear minds and full knowledge. Silence him now and what use is this trial? Throw him to the Pits now, I say, and be done with it, or perhaps we could continue and find the truth!”
The council chamber, known as Thingmoot Hall, rolled with sound after this pronouncement, most of it positive and many agreements were shouted in support. No one disagreed. The remaining nine Ramas of Akbar all urged the esteemed judges to let the prisoner continue without martial interference, but also cautioned Makban to keep himself under control or he would be fitted with restraints for the duration of the proceedings.
Rama Kadam awoke with a shout. The dream melted away
Today was the day of the trial.
He sprinted for his armor and weapons, shouting for his servants to attend him.