Thursday, April 25, 2013

Day Four-Forty-Four: Misdirection

Whoa. WHOA. I didn't expect this to happen, no sir. No sir indeed. That slippery jerk.

I set out this morning with the intention of seeing Doc ejected from town. He's creepy, he's distrusted by the populace, he's constantly pawing at my little girl's hair, he may be breaking into my house when I'm not home. Also, he might be spying on me. Definitely has to go - and it's because he's probably spying that he won't be leaving today. Little bastard led a revolt against me.

I was halfway from his tent when a mob, a MOB, descended on me. At that time of day I'm used to the streets being largely empty as everyone's at work, so to see all of Pubton (no slaves, no newcomers, only the people who used to live in the castle, minus those at Libby's camp) marching towards me was… disconcerting? Yeah, that's a solid word.

At their head, pushed along by gentle but insistent hands, was the delegation I'd sent out to find jurors. Namely, Edmund and a few nobles. Ed grimaced and shrugged. Not hurt, clearly, but not going anywhere either.

Lonnie the Noble planted his hands against his hips as the mob pulled to a halt in front of me, his face stormy yet triumphant. "Thought you could slip this by us, did you, Mr. Mayor?"

I gawked. "Wh… what the hell are you talking about? What is all this?"

Half of the mob laughed. The other half raged.

"You know damn well!" Lonnie yelled, jabbing a finger into the ruff covering Ed's left shoulder. "We are not foolish, Dragomir! You wanted to bring in a jury of outsiders to determine King Jeffrey's fate!"

"It's just Jeffrey, these days," I mumbled.

"EXACTLY!" Lonnie yelled, turning to face the mob. "And we plan on KEEPING it that way! Do we not, my friends?!"

The nobles, and a fair chunk of the peasants, shouted their approval. A few others questioned Lonnie's authority, and one of them even added "Didn't you try 'n kill yourself a few months ago?"

Lonnie ignored this last jab. "Come forth, all of you! Tell our illustrious mayor, who was so eager to retake his spot, what Jeffrey has done to us! Tell him so he'll understand and agree!"

And they did. Forming a massive circle around me so I couldn't escape, the mob took turns coming up to me and sharing their Jeffrey-related woes. As if I didn't already know he was a dick of a king. I heard plenty of things from the peasants that I'd shared in myself while working as a guard, all the asinine decrees and violent pronouncements and horrible insults he'd heaped upon the populace. What I didn't know is that the nobles had endured just as much pain from their former liege, including but not limited to the following:

- Theft of personal property under the guise of 'official kingdom stuff'
- The destruction of a commissioned and meticulous statue of the king, worth a pretty penny, because Jeffrey claimed it had 'looked at him funny'
- A dining invitation that resulted in an evening of drunken insults, including the insinuation that the guest was a 'jackal-born pygmy goat with fiendish red eyes and a penis made of pythons' (lord help me if anybody ever tries to paint or sketch such a hideous beast)
- A public flogging, because Jeffrey thought the noble had stolen his favourite teddy bear (it was, in fact, under Jeffrey's pillow)
- Temporary expulsion from the castle, and the noble was only let back in after he professed his undying love to a chipmunk… and then tracked one down and smooched it while Jeffrey watched and laughed (this dude's always been a bit funny in the head, so I question whether or not he just really likes chipmunks)
-  And, from Lonnie himself, 'sexual deviance and hints of desired fornication' (another questionable one, but it really got the crowd riled up - Jeffrey doesn't strike me as the unfaithful type, not that these people would ever believe something positive about their old leader)

I listened to the arguments and recriminations for at least three hours, and only managed to get out when I allowed for a concession to the trial: the jury will include six of the townsfolk and six outsiders of proper bearing. Only then were Edmund and company allowed to leave town again, and only then was I granted leave by my constituents to go home and say 'fuck it' to the rest of the day.

You… if I'm still speaking to a diary, which seems questionable these days… are probably wondering where Doc fits into all this. I didn't realize it, either, until I was allowed to leave.

Disbelieving and exhausted from such an intense and emotional dialogue with the people of the town, I paused several times on the way back home to stare at the mob. They were still chattering away, many of them arguing, some exchanging high fives, though never between social classes. Nobles and peasant still don't get along. Sigh.

At any rate, I noticed something while I watched, something I hadn't noticed while being bombarded with stories. There was, every now and then, a small blur of beige among the feet of the people, a barely-imperceptible but definitely-there little figure that seemed to move from group to group to group, hiding in the shadows of irate townsfolk. I couldn't tell what it was doing, but its presence was enough to arouse my curiosity.

With Barrel gone I've lost my spy, but I've learned a thing or two about overhearing what I'm not supposed to overhear in a crowd. Wandering back home, I swaddled myself in clothes left behind by the house's previous occupants. Everyone knows I wear the same stuff all the time, and I figured I wouldn't be noticed if I headed into the crowd looking like one of the common folk.

I was right. The crowd was slow to disperse, most of them still immersed in conversation and arguing over the fate of Jeffrey. I mingled with them, pausing beside groups to listen and nod my head without joining in on the talk. Eventually, after a good fifteen minutes, I managed to isolate a single, jeering voice that also moved from conversation to conversation, one that added venom to dangerous ideas and got people bitching at each other. If a noble claimed the following, for example:

'Jeffrey should be imprisoned for the rest of his days!'

The voice would chime in with:

'But what if we killed him instead? Hmm? Isn't that fitting? Only an idiot would think he should get tossed in prison.'

Which would usually spark agreement and disagreement from multiple parties as the original noble searched for the person who insulted him. Eventually the debate would return to the voice suggesting that prison was the best fate for someone as vile as Jeffrey, reigniting all of the arguments and sending the lot of them into a tizzy.

I recognized the voice. It was Doc's. He made a poor attempt to disguise himself, but I know it was him, because eventually he noticed me - and he pointed me out to everyone.

"Hey, look! It's the mayor! Mmm, spying on us, are you, Mr. Mayor? Answer some questions, more questions! Are you planning to let Jeffrey go?"

More angry debates. More stories. And, thanks to my disguise, questions about my motives. Now people are dogging me whenever I leave my house, which keeps me from visiting Doc's tent and kicking him out of town.

He must have known. Must have read this diary last night and figured the only way he could keep me busy would be to get everyone riled up about the trial. Hell, maybe he's been doing it since he got here. But why? Isn't he just some goofy doctor? Or is he that hell-bent on staying in Pubton? I don't have an answer… but I do have suspicions.

Gods. He gets the boot tomorrow. I don't care if I have to drag a dozen peeved petitioners into his tent with me, I'm getting rid of the little bastard when the sun comes up.


Dragomir the Mayor

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