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I barely get everything loaded back in my inventory before the door is open. The golems’ faces beam light through the darkness. The lights sting my eyes.

“Get up. You’re due for a hearing.”

Hearing? But I haven’t met with a lawyer. In fact, outside of getting probed for pathology, I haven’t seen anybody official at all. Periodically a meal tray gets pushed through a small slot under the door. I don’t think they did that every day. I guess they expect players to have their own food and water.

“Good morning and thank you.”

I bounce off the bunk and try to appear positive and chipper. The faces sneer at me. I bet if I was sullen those sneers would be even bigger, so it is my win! I’ve got to find things to be positive about in this situation, right?

“Shut up and submit yourself to binding.”

They proceed to fit me with a straitjacket, gag me, and finally blindfold me. Jokes on them, I can still hear! Oh, they put on earmuffs. Well, the joke is still on them, I can meditate. And now I am thinking about horrible things and crying about it, but I don’t care, I am still meditating! I am not stuck in these bindings; I am moving forward at the manly rate of one second per second into the future! My future.

The earmuffs come off, and the blindfold is replaced by a weird visor. Everything is bleached of color as I see a monochrome courtroom. I hear a sharp bang, and a loud voice is calling the hearing to order.

This is my arraignment. I am being charged with smuggling illegal aliens into the nation, I am also accused of illegally entering the country, and the possibility of being a player is an intensifier for the crimes. I try to pay attention, but I still feel like I am meditating while the words of the trial wash over me. My mind is detached from my body and floats in cosmic sea foam, quavering with universal fluctuations. Idly I wonder if Rhynn slipped me something in that whiskey, or maybe I’m just drunk.

Suddenly, a golem is in front of me, and I realize it is the immensely punchable face from when I was first imprisoned. With the enlightenment brought on by my meditative trance, I comprehend his face does not need to be punched, it needs to be humiliated. Through the gag, I smile.

An outcry pours through the room. Someone said something shocking? I try to focus on what is being said.

“Due to his lack of pathology and your inability to prove he is a player, we recommend he be released on probation. Unless you would prefer to hold his trial now?”

That person is probably a judge. If I wasn’t in this straitjacket, I would wave a greeting at him something fierce!

“We have no problem with prosecuting immediately, your honor.”

That golem looks fancy. It could wear a top hat and look even fancier, though. I bet if it had a cane it could do some swell dancing, too.

“I object in the strongest terms! I have not had a single chance to interview my client, and had this case thrust on me moments ago!”

Hey, this is a person, and not a golem. A short figure wearing a suit fumes from beside me. I turn my head to look closer at him and see he is just barely taller than me. Maybe he’s a goblin? He has a bushy beard and his hair is neatly parted to one side, with runes branded into his ears and on his hands. On the desk in front of us is an open briefcase.

“Your objection is noted but immaterial. My docket was already cleared for the possibility of an extension of this hearing, and as the court’s time is free, I see no issues with holding the trial.”

Oh man, this is definitely a conspiracy against some poor bastard! Oh yeah, I’m the bastard.

“Then may I request a recess to at least interview my client? It is lunch time, after all. “

I thought it was the middle of the night? Were they playing with my perception of time in the SHU?

“Very well, we shall recess an hour for lunch. The time is 11:20, we’ll reconvene at 12:30.”

I hope lunch is good.

My view starts changing and I realize I am strapped into a wheelchair. Every time I think the wheelchair is about to bang into a door, the door smoothly opens instead. Something about my anxiety not being realized is very calming. Oh, time to tend to nature. Thankfully my fecalmancy is unrestricted, and I void my bowels into my extra-dimensional space with no one the wiser. Finally, we enter a drab room with a chair and a table. I am pushed to one side of the table, and the person I assume is my lawyer sits across from me.

“We’re removing your gag. Please try to stay calm so I can prepare your defense.”

This guy sounds tired. No, more than tired. Emotionally drained. I nod my head.

“My name is Gadlihob, nice to meet you Mister Matrisyan.”

“Nice to meet you. I promise I wasn’t trying to commit any crimes; I was just trying to rescue slaves.”

“Unfortunately, some people here would view that as a crime. Like financial backers for plantation owners. It would be best if you do not mention that again. Can you please tell me how exactly you came to be here? And please remember that I can best serve you if you are honest with me.”

He seems earnest, but slightly hopeless.

I lay it on him. I tell him about everything I have been through since getting here. He asks me questions occasionally. He activates a couple of runes on his fingers, and peers at me through a pinhole he makes with his fingers.

“I think we have a defense. Your race in your status doesn’t match what I see when I look at you, and your level being abnormally low are both good reasons to consider you cursed, along with your memories being as bad as they are. We can probably get you out of most of these charges, and you’ll be on probation for a while as a player. The fact that we can’t verify if you are a player or not can also play into our curse defense, and your low level indicates you are incapable of most of the things you’re charged with. You’re looking at odds probably better than half if we fight these charges using this defense. During the plea, though, the prosecutor is likely to ask for a pause at the onset to offer you a deal. I recommend not taking that deal, though, as it will involve a short sentence, and once you are back in prison they’ll find more charges to lay on you to keep you in.”

“Awesome. When do we eat?”

It’s been a while since Rhynn fed me snacks, I am ready for lunchie munchies.

Gadlihob laughs.

“You’re my kind of guy. I’ve got sandwiches being delivered by my assistant. He should be- Well, speak of the devil!”

The door opens, and another small person comes in, carrying what looks like a cardboard duffel bag. This person is garishly dressed in clothes where each piece of fabric is a different bright color, with a dark cloak on top with the hood pushed back. He is wearing a mask on the side of his head so his face is still visible. He is an incredibly handsome little blue person, and the mask shows a smiling clown face.

“Mister Matrisyan, this is my cousin Podlihob. He used to work as a private military contractor but has retired due to… Reasons. Pod, this is Zavyyn Matrisyan.”

“Call me Zav.”

I give my most winning smile, which so far has only seen defeat.

“I got a bunch of roast beef sandwiches with extra gravy. If you need anything else, I’ll be outside.”

That’s a sad person. On a list of all the saddest people of all time, I would rank him somewhere between despondent and suicidal. That clown mask is now disquieting.

“You could actually stay here and listen to us gameplan, maybe actually attend the hearing.”

Podlihob leaves without acknowledging what his cousin said to him. How rude! How did someone like that manage to purchase this food?

“Sorry he’s like that. He’s had a recent tragedy, and it’s still fresh in his mind.”

Gadlihob doesn’t sound like he’s just making excuses, it sounds like some serious stuff is going on with his cousin. Maybe I should be more tolerant of his behavior.

“No worries. More importantly, do you feed me or do I get my arms for this?”

Gadlihob laughs.

“I am not allowed to undo the jacket, so I can help you eat. I was actually hoping Podlihob would stay for that.”

“No worries, I got this.”

I start moving my sandwich around and dipping it in the gravy with cantrips, because being fed by another guy is embarrassing. The sandwich is delicious! Roast beef, tomatoes, some lettuce, I think there’s sautéed mushrooms and onions. All that on some good bread with mayonnaise and mustard.

Gadlihob’s jaw drops.

“You can do that in the straitjacket?”

“Yeah, it’s just a straitjacket, right? And I want to eat.”

He shouldn’t act so shocked, it’s not like I flashed him my genitals. I did just talk with my mouth full of food, so I guess I have poor table manners. Maybe that’s the issue.

“You should stop that in case a bailiff comes in. And definitely do not do anything like that in the courtroom. Those straitjackets are full of magic suppression runes, and we’d prefer to not incite a panic.”

Gadlihob speaks slowly and has his eyes fixed on the sandwich I’m chewing through.

I gently put the sandwich back on its paper wrapper. There’s only a couple of bites left. I slowly pull the drink across the table and lean forward to suck on the straw. Gadlihob shakes his head.

“You’re a mystery, guy. And when I inspect you, I see a ton of garbled information. We’ve got good odds of getting you leniency if we can convince the court that you’re cursed. We have to build sympathy. If we make them scared of you because you can ignore magic suppressors strong enough to make an archmagi weaker than a kitten, you’re doomed. Please, please, please, do not do that again.”

“Okay. I didn’t realize it was that big deal. Sorry.”

My face is hot. I look down at the sandwich because I can’t stand to look at that expression on Gadlihob’s face. He misinterprets that as hunger, and takes the sandwich, dips it in the gravy and puts it to my mouth. Still delicious.

We talk briefly about how this trial will proceed. Since we can magically verify my memories are jacked, I am considered an unreliable witness. Luckily for me, memory loss is not considered a “behavioral pathology” which is a pretty big deal. Gadlihob plans to have me stricken as a witness due to that. There is a lot of legal precedent for that. At that point, we have the testimony of somebody called a Special Needs Field Commander, which is the person who originally arrested me. The orcs have no legal standing in the nation and therefore are inadmissible as witnesses. The prosecution just has the testimony of one person for evidence of my wrongdoing, outside of my presence in the nation being illegal. Gadlihob assures me I will get time served for that, and that he can help me with legally migrating after this as an asylum-seeker. We have evidence that I am heavily cursed and not entirely in control of my actions due to my level being 0, my data being incorrect or garbled, and my memories being wrecked.

“The preponderance of evidence is on our side,” Gadlihob says as the door opens to a bailiff. The gag goes back on.

“You’re going to be okay.”

As I am wheeled back to the courtroom, I realize my head feels a lot clearer. Food does tend to help with that. This visor is getting itchy, surely nobody will notice if I just scratch that itch, right? It feels great, until the bailiff says

“What’s that noise?” Gadlihob says “Oh I think you’re dragging a pebble with the wheel. Let me take care of that for you.

He bends over and pokes me in leg.

“Just a little pebble, it may have scratched the floor! All better now.”

“Why thank you.” This bailiff is polite. Hopefully, he is also unobservant.

We reach the courtroom, and I see Rhynn sitting there. He winks at me. A mix of people and golems observe. Now that my head is clearer, I notice more details, but nothing really stands out. This is a courtroom. I am on trial for some stuff I actually did do, but probably shouldn’t be punished for. I think that’s the gist of what Gadlihob said.

Just like Gadlihob predicted, the prosecutor tries to offer me a deal that involves me becoming a felon but only serving a sentence of a few months. I shake my head repeatedly. Finally, the prosecutor gives up, with the golem stomping away.

As the trial proceeds, I try to stay awake, but everything is so boring. I’m gagged, so I shouldn’t be that loud if I snore, right? And I have on this visor, so nobody can tell if I fall asleep, right? My consciousness drifts for a while, and it feels good. One hard poke later, and I see Gadlihob frowning.

I then see the judge glaring at me.

“Time served for the illegal entry. An hour in the pillories for contempt of court. This court is adjourned.”

“If you had actually been awake, you could have avoided that hour.”

Gadlihob sighs after telling me this. We are in a small room where a bailiff is taking off my restraints.

“We were tickled to hear a defendant had the balls to sleep through his own trial. You’re a legend with us!” The bailiff has been snickering the whole time. Well, I’m glad I could give somebody a positive impression of me, at least. “Shame you’re getting pilloried, but after a shower you’ll be right as rain!”

“What exactly is ‘getting pilloried’?”

I think I know what it is, but I am a bit worried about it. The bailiff’s eyes twinkle.

“You know a yoke, for livestock? We put something like that on you, but it also clasps about your wrists as well. And people come to, you know. Watch.” That’s some pretty horrible emphasis on the word “watch”.

“They throw rotten produce at you.” Gadlihob draws back the curtain on the horror! Wait, just rotten food? That’s not too bad.

“What if that stuff just… Doesn’t hit me?”

I have an idea about what is going on here, and how I plan to deal with it.

“Well, you’ll still be stuck in the pillory for an hour, which likes to cramp muscles something fierce, and you’ll still smell the smells, as it were.”

Gadlihob arches an eyebrow at me as he tells me this.

“If you come through the pillory getting hit many times and finish it with a smile, people do tend to speak well of that.”

After stretching my arms and massaging my wrists and legs, the bailiff holds out some handcuffs, and says

“Well my lad you’ve an hour to get through, and it’s better get it over with in the light of day than the gloom of night. It’s just outside and I’m sure you’ll enjoy the chance to see the sun.”

On goes the handcuffs, and we exit.

“I need to attend to some affairs. I’ll be back at the end of your hour.” With that, Gadlihob exits.

After walking through the bowels of courthouse, we come outside to an area reeking of spoiled food. Off to one side are some dumpsters.

“For the cafeteria, and other things!” the bailiff assures me.

A few people are currently pilloried on a large stage, and folks are coming and going from the crowd watching. The entire area seems like a regular city, except for the things flying overhead. They all look different, but I realize that people use flying vehicles here quite a bit. Some even land to pick up or drop off people at these raised platforms on top of stairwells.

The bailiff takes me up the stage and addresses the crowd.

“This fine, furry youngling has just been acquitted on various charges, but he missed it all on account of sleeping through his trial!”

The bailiff’s bellow garners a raucous laugh from the crowd.

“The judge decided he needed a lesson in paying attention, so he’s been gracious enough to request your tutelage!”

Another laugh.

“Be sure to educate him in a way he’ll never forget!”

My arms go up, the pillory goes on, and I am chained to the other people on the stage. All of us get pelted, and one would think that isn’t too bad, after all, how hard can produce be? Well, one would be an asshole who forgot about melons if they thought that. Melons hurt. I pick out the people throwing melons and divert those to not hit any of us, while letting the rest through. A solid hour of practicing telekinesis via cantrips, and nobody really notices. The only time we got a break was when was a person was getting changed in or out, as hitting a bailiff meant they could throw the offending party up on the stage.

Finally, it is time for me to get out. The bailiff unchains me, releases me from the pillory, and shouts

“A cheer for our star pupil!” And the crowd roars. I am covered rotten filth and juices drying in my fur. I itch badly. The bailiff leads me away, to where I see a few people I recognize. Gadlihob, his cousin, and Rhynn.

1 Comment

  1. zavyyn

    lil sus, big sus, the whole sus family out in force lmao


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