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What follows is a continuation of the first vignette of Immortals’ Wake here. What would Maria do with the knowledge of a possibly demon-touched individual in the bazaar?
That night, all Maria could think about was the merchant’s magical bowl and the words of the deacon. Should she mention it to the guards just in case? She certainly didn’t want her inability to act to hurt someone, even indirectly.
After a restless night, she decided she would speak to a priest at the basilica before she went to work at the O’mani trading stall in the bazaar. Once inside, her worry seemed to attract one of the Sisters cleaning after the morning service. She introduced herself as Sister Wyland and asked Maria to sit.
Maria spoke of the events in the bazaar, careful to leave out the merchant’s name until she was sure of a course of action. “Sister, what should I do? I don’t want to bring pain and suffering on his house, but neither do I wish for anyone else to be harmed should he turn out to be one of the… the… the demons…”
After a moment, the Sister spoke. “My child, ultimately is not everything in the hands of the Mother and the Maker? As vessels for their love and generosity, we cannot let our emotions cloud our judgment. Though you may not want this merchant to be harmed unnecessarily, would it not feel even worse if he was a demon sympathizer and brought destruction to the many innocents who travel to the bazaar every day?”
“I see your point Sister Wyland. Who do you recommend I speak to about this matter?”
“I can pass such information along to the guards for you my dear, so your involvement is further lessened. But you will know that this information will immediately get to those who can test this merchant properly and ascertain how he got this bowl of which you speak… So what is his name?” asked the Sister.
Maria rose, mentioned Eveni Georgia and where his booth was in the bazaar, thanked Sister Wyland, and headed to work for the day with the spring back in her step.
Later in the day, she heard and saw a group of heavily armed and armored men running through the bazaar in the direction of the market center. Her heart pounded in her chest in time to their marching steps. Maria knew where they were going.
Though the knights didn’t come past her booth, she heard descriptions of the two men they apprehended. One was the merchant Georgia, but she didn’t recognize the other one. If the authorities held to tradition, there would be a public trial and sentencing tomorrow at noon. She didn’t want to go, but knew she’d be there with everyone else.
Up to a few years ago, demon trials were just another story told to scare children. But in the last year alone there had been eight trials. And though they had yet to see any demons, eight men and women had been found not guilty after they died during the proceedings. Rumors explained that the families of the innocent would be repaid for the loss and heartache in gold.
Maria didn’t know any of the families to confirm such stories, but she and many others wondered about the truth.
Before the marketplace closed, A’Bas found her at her stall. “Did you hear what happened?” he asked, wide-eyed.
She nodded. “I caught glimpses of them as they ran down the next path. What do you think they’ll do to him?”
He shook his head. “I don’t really want to think about it Maria. Who do you think turned him into the guards?”
All Maria could do was look away and shake her head… “I don’t know, ” she muttered under her breath.
The next morning, as predicted, an edict was posted about the pending trial at Noon. Eveni Georgia was to be tried as a demon. If he lived, he would be proven to be a demon. If he died, he would be cleared of all charges.
The bazaar was deathly still all morning except for whispered questions and murmurs about the merchant and the trial. Maria had not slept a wink, her own betrayal eating away at her from within. Even the nightly sermon hadn’t helped, as the Deacon spoke of the captured demon and its possible meanings for the faithful.
She and A’Bas made sure to find space in the crowd witnessing the proceedings, but Maria cautioned against being where they might be seen by the merchant. Maria didn’t want him to be able to point them out in the crowd.
The knight in charge of the knights of the Order of St. Greggor presided over the trial – Lady Dagor. She looked strong and proud in her practical mix of plate and chain armor. Her knowledge of Church law sounded official to everyone in the crowd, including Maria.
Eventually she asked some simple questions of Georgia.
“Where did you get the bowl?” “Why would you carry such demon-touched merchandise in your stall?” “What contact had you had with the demons?”
The crowd was unable to hear any responses from the merchant, as he was locked in a small metal box suspended by chains above a small pool of water. However, what they saw made everyone back up a few steps.
The box began to dissolve around the man inside. And the merchant looked ready to spring at his accusers wearing simple metal armor and carrying a large sword, both of which appeared out of nowhere.
The lady knight did not seem alarmed by this at all. Making a small gesture, the box suddenly plunged down into the water and a group of knights secured a large wooden lid atop the pool, locking the man and what was left of the box inside.
The wooden walls of the pool expanded slightly as though the prisoner within was pounding on them with great strength, but they held fast. And after a few moments, all grew still again.
Now addressing the crowd, Lady Dagor spoke loudly enough to quiet the cries and shouts of alarm rippling through the people. “You see, that is why we must remain ever vigilant. That was an Earth Demon living hidden among us. He could have brought destruction on us all…” She paused. “But one among you spoke up and shared a concern with us so we could deal with him before anything bad happened. One person made a difference. Don’t ever forget that.”
“Thank the Mother and the Maker that we were prepared for this. We should all give thanks and ponder what we have seen today.” At that, she turned on her heel and went back to her knights who were dealing with ensuring that the demon would not escape his watery grave.
Maria was in shock, as were many in the audience. How could such a thing have come to pass? Why didn’t anyone know he was a demon? But she feared that many may suffer such trials in the future if the paranoia spread too far and fast through the people…