Ch. 25: Sheldmartin

Soletus comes from a long line of warriors and leaders. Many of them well-known in the history of the Dias Brotherhood and he became one of them decades. However, of all the acts of courage, compassion, and bravery, he was known for, the best show of what he was capable of was what he did for me that day.

Soletus found himself in a waiting room the next morning with five other boys and two adults. He assumed he would be kept with Brother Hickory. However, as he Brother Hickory, Lady Lass, Mienerva and an assortment of other people walked into the lobby of the judicial building,  all witnesses were group together and herded into a stuffy white room with a single window, two doors, and chairs lining the wall. Soletus thought that for such a massive stone building the rooms would be bigger and more comfortable. However, he sure his discomfort was mostly due in-part by the fact no talking was permitted. They were told to sit and wait until they were called.

Soletus took a seat in a corner where he could see everyone. The group of boys all sat there with their arms crossed looking bored between staring at him. Soletus stared at them well one of them particularly caught his eye. He was a fox top with blue eyes and a familiar square chin that screamed Cyan. Soletus wondered if that was the cousin. He was tall and older than Soletus imagined. He pictured someone the same age as Mien, but what was in front of him was a young man closer to Kiao’s age.  His suspicions were confirmed when a woman peace officer opened the door across from the one they came in.

“Dalaen’Cyan, it is time for your testimony.

He was the first out of the room. Shortly after that, the other four boys were called in one by one and finally the two adults left as well. He found himself alone on the small room watching the sun clock in front of the window. The shadow of its dial crept along moving to the next hour. He started to worry that the Arbiter wouldn’t be calling him at this rate. He thought all arguments were heard but then the door opened.

The woman officer opened the door. “Warder Soletus’Sheldmartin, you are to follow me.”

It wasn’t what she said to the others. That he grew concerned. Soletus rose from his seat and followed the woman into the court room. They walked down the center isle with people watching them and murmuring. There was something wrong.  He looked to the center of the room. There was no Arbiter on the podium and there was Mien wasn’t on the prisoner rise either. He searched for Hickory’s head in the crowd but didn’t find him in time. He was taken out promptly and guided through a door behind the Arbiter’s bench. He was led down a short hall and taken to a room to the right. There Mien was sitting in a chair shaking. In front, of him was the Arbiter adjusting his red and white robe with golden embroidered pattern that matched the current house that held the Seat.

The man’s face was drawn. “I heard that you had a knack for calming him down,” said the Arbiter.

Soletus dropped to Mien’s side on one knee. “What happened,” he asked.

Mien’s eyes were red from crying. He was too busy hugging himself to clean the tears that saturated his checks. Soletus grew concerned because of all the times Mien would turtle up, he never cried.

This bad, he thought. He knew there was only one thing that could make him go into that state and that was his uncle.

“Mien,” he said giving him a gentle shake. “Was he out there, you’re uncle I mean?”

The boy tried to pull away from him. He held him tighter. “Mien, tell me,” he said firmly.

Mien became still. He raised his head and gave him a slight nod. Soletus knew it was his voice and kept the questions coming to get him back.

“You know he can’t hurt you in front of everyone right?”

The boy nodded again. His trembling lessened.

“Then what?”

“It was his voice.”

“But Brother Hickory told you how to deal with voices.”

Mien tightened his hold around himself again. “I don’t like the way he sounds. It reminded me of what he said. What he did.”

Soletus had no clue what he was talking about and it was unwise for him to dig out what he was. If Hickory and he had more time, he wouldn’t have broken down like this. He had to salvage what he could and clutched the boy’s forearm.

“Calm down. Don’t dwell on that right now. I need you to focus and not vibrate this chair apart.”

Mien managed to give him an indignant look.

“Seriously you’re going to make yourself sick if you don’t steady yourself. Deep breaths, my friend,” he patted Mien on the knee and look at the Arbiter. He didn’t know if he should apologize or explain. However, the man was studying him with heavy brows knitted together intrigued. He gestured for him to sit in the other chair in front of his desk. Soletus bowed and sat.

“Are you the warder assigned to him?”

“Yes your Honor. I’m Warder Soletus’Sheldmartin,” he replied.

The Arbiter’s brow rose up in recognition. “Sheldmartin, as in Arch Monk Solgard’Sheldmartin? You are one of his grandsons. Who is your father?”

“I’m Oeric’Sheldmartin’s son.”

The man let out an amused snort. “So ol’Oeric had a son. I remember him sitting where your friend is now trying to explain himself. What does Oeric do with himself?”

“He’s a Master First Warden,” said Soletus.

The Arbiter’s amusement grew. “So he ended back where he run from. Not many like him do. He was lucky that I knew Solgard. That elf saved my father’s life. A good man, you must take after him being able to cope with this young mess,” he said gesturing to Mien.

“He was fine until we brought him here,” said Soletus.

“Really, given what I’ve seen and reading the other Arbiter’s who presided this case notes, I’ve a hard time believing that. I’m sure you know how little remorse he showed for what he during his arrest and then broke down in a crazed fit during his first hearing.”

“He told me everything,” said Soletus giving Mien’s forearm a gentle squeeze. He was still trying to get his mind right.

The Arbiter leaned back in his chair while pressing his fingers together. “Did he now?”

“It wasn’t easy for him. He was afraid to tell me for all the shame but he did. He knew what he did wasn’t rational and regretted it,” answered Soletus.

“Do you believe he is a threat to others?”

“No, people intimate him.”

“He’s not afraid of you.”

“He trusts me,” said Soletus. “I’ve never hurt him. Look, I realize that this doesn’t look good. He probably looks just a crazy as he did before, but his uncle is out there. Every time he comes up in conversation, Mien gets the shakes. I never given thought to what would happen if he actually heard him.”

“Heard him?”

“He’s a timbre sensitive chanter. Voices have an odd effect on him. He likes some people’s voices and doesn’t like others.”

“Why doesn’t he like his Uncle’s voice?

“His Uncle hurt him.”

“How so?”

Soletus glanced at Mien who was still drawn into himself to say anything just yet. “First time I tried to get something out of him, this happened. Then he told me he was better off not talking about it. I got one incident involving him coming into his room one night and terrorized him. He ended up knocking him out. There were more incidences, but he’s never told me. All I know him acting against his cousin was an effort to scare his uncle into no longer hurting him.”

The Arbiter flicked his eyes towards Mien. “Is that true? You were trying to get to your stepfather by trying to killing your cousin?”

Mien swallowed keeping his eyes down. “Yes.”

“I was told Dalaen bullied you,” said the Arbiter gravely.

“It wasn’t a…I…” Mien’s words hung there.

“Mientheodric, head up, eyes forward, and speak,” coached Soletus.

Mien shifted in his seat and regarded the Arbiter directly. “Dalaen like to pick on me a lot. There wasn’t a day that went by that he didn’t and my uncle let him because he didn’t like me. I thought I was killing two birds with one stone and…” Mien stopped and squeezed his eyes shut.

“Keep going, you’re doing good,” encouraged Soletus.

“It doesn’t make sense,” finished Mien. “It made sense then doesn’t so much now. It just seems wrong now.”

The Arbiter exhaled. “Generally crazy ideas don’t. If I were given this case the first time, we wouldn’t be here a second time but for some reason my colleague felt it was fair to wait until you were mentally sound for sentencing. I’m not sure why.”

Mien hung his head down. This was going to end up in a death sentence for him. Soletus didn’t want that as it was an acceptable failure. His duty was to help him as a member of the Brotherhood and as a friend.

If Mien saved my life then I can save his, decided Soletus.

“Mercy is why, you’re Honor. I might be assuming, but that’s the only reason why because you’re right, he should be sent to the Pit according to the law. His attack was pre-mediated. He told me this. However, the circumstances of why isn’t so cut and dry.”

The Arbiter leaned forward on his desk. “Very well, tell me, Sheldmartin, why should I show mercy?”

“Because Dias shows mercy and wants us to show mercy for those who are weak and build their spirit back up. I know many aren’t Fenndish in the world, but I believe such a thing is universal. His family failed him. They let him get to the point where he became desperate to ease pain.”

The Arbiter arched an eyebrow. “So you’re saying I should turn a blind eye to his actions because it’s everyone else’s fault he did what he did?”

“No, Mien’s responsible for his actions, but at the same time this could’ve been prevented if someone showed a little mercy and helped.”

“Then what do you suggest I do for such a miserable creature?”

Soletus bristled a little at the Arbiter’s words. Mien was anything but miserable. He didn’t look it then at all which wasn’t going to help his argument but he tried.

“Let the Brotherhood have him. He’s capable of being more than this. One of things he did after a few weeks in the Brotherhood was save my life from being mauled a drass beast,” said Soletus pulling up his sleeve and revealing the red scar that marred his skin. “We were chased and the entire time I was worried about him getting scared and panicking, but he managed to do something that two trained warders didn’t do. Not many his age and untrained can even look at one let alone stop one. And honestly, his biggest offense is how little he thinks of himself. However, he wants to be stronger person and he can’t do that in prison. The other prisoners will end up killing him. To me that’s just a waste of life.”

The Arbiter’s grim expression lifted a little into curiosity. “How old are you?”

“I’m twenty-two, your Honor.”

“Thank you,” he said. “I’ve heard enough. You may sit with the others. I consider this a testimony. As for you, Mientheoderic, are you ready to go back out?”

Mien bobbed his head.

“Then we shall get this sentencing done. This case had taken up enough of my time.”

Soletus was led out first and was seated in the back row of the courtroom away from Brother Hickory. The man gave him a quick questioning look. Soletus gave his shoulders a heave. He didn’t know what good he done, but prayed that he did. Mien came out still shackled and then secured to the rails that surrounded his rise like bars to a cage. The Arbiter sat down.

“It’s taken me less time to decide what should happen to this boy that is standing before me than it has going through these testimonies and requests. It feels like I am in the middle of a family feud than a judgment proceeding,” he said moving all of the parchments to one side of his bench and pulled his record book towards him. He opened the book to a ribbon marked page and picked up his pen dipping it in ink.  “That being said, I show my favor the defendant who has pleaded guilty. It is by order of the Judicial Service of Asteria, under the hand of the Seat, that the custody of Mientheodric’Cyan be relinquished from Lady Lasyara’Cyan and given to the Dias Brotherhood.”

No one said anything but Soletus could feel the shift in the atmosphere in the room. There was a mix of relief, shock, and disapproval. The Arbiter went on.

“However, at age twenty-four, he shall be brought up to face this court again. If I find that no improvements to his behavior and state of mind, he will be receive the maxim sentence of death for his crimes.”

Soletus felt his stomach twist. The Arbiter raised the stakes if they failed, but there was plenty of time to help Mien.

“If I find there is sufficient growth on his part. He will remain in the Dias Brotherhood’s custody until the age of twenty-eight.”  The Arbiter then looked in Soletus’s direction, but said to Mien. “If the Brotherhood can send an articulate young man of twenty-two years old to explain to me why I should spare you, I expect they’ll have something to show me by then. That is my judgment. If anyone has objection, you can file an appeal within two weeks. This case is adjourned.”

It was then the murmuring started and Soletus found himself with all sorts of heads turned to him. He met the eyes of a few of them, however a set caught his attention. A tall red-headed man that shared the same iris color as him gave him a frigid stare. He had Mien’s and Dalaen’s chin. In fact, he could’ve been an older Mien as he was thin and pale. However, he was a sickly sort of thin than natural build. He didn’t look that strong, however he had an aura nastiness about him.

That must be his uncle.

Instead of being intimated by the glower, Soletus let it slide past him and gave the man a curt nod before making his way to where Mien was standing. He was getting his shackles removed. Once he was free, his mother showered him with kisses. He was fine with the first few, but then wrinkled his nose as she kept going. His sister threw her arms around him squeezing his thin frame tight. Mien held onto her in return. Soletus watched them happily. Mien’s gaze fixed on him and his eyes started to puddle. His sister released him and he went straight to Soletus and wrapped his arms around him squeezing the air out of him.

“Dias bless you a thousand times and more. Thank you, thank you,” he said.

Soletus managed to pull an arm free and patted his back. “None of that now. You’ve just got through blubbering.”

Mien released him so he could wipe his eyes out before he wrapped his arms around himself. “It’s cold in here,” he said.

The court room was very warm so in fact that Soletus wanted to yank the coat he wore off.

Brother Hickory came beside him and threw an arm around his shoulders. “We’ll go back to the hotel and you can warm up there.”

Soletus maneuvered to his other side and saw movement in the corner of his eyes. Dalaen was trying to push through the crowd towards them from Mien. The young man had cold determination in his eyes to cause trouble. However, the mass of people all trying to get out one door slowed his progress down. Soletus slackened his pace allowing Mien and Hickory to move on ahead until he was between them and Dalaen. Once he was outside of the judicial houses’ door, he side stepped out if the way about the time that the young tod came out of the doors and shouted, “Theodric, you-” was all he managed before Soletus yanked him by the arm and spun him around. He slammed him into the stone wall of the building. Dalaen cried out and tried to fight him, but Soletus twisted his arm behind his back.

“Fight anymore and I’ll dislocate you’re shoulder,” he said coolly.

“Let me go you son of a skane.”

Soletus put more pressure on his arm, Dalaen yelped. “My mother is a good woman thank you very much.”

Dalaen struggled more. “If you say so prick snot.”

Soletus bent his arm up further. The young man cried out trying to push himself off the wall. Soletus pressed him against it more.

“My father will…”

Soletus leaned forward and hissed in his ear. “Daddy ain’t here. So you get to stand here and listen. If you ever insult or hurt Mien again, I will come down on you like Dias’s fist and break you.”

Soletus released him just as Brother Hickory shouted up to him in warning. The young monk started down the steps just as Lord Hugh walked out of the building with the others from House Jay trailing him.

Brother Hickory’s face was puckered with disapproval. Soletus shrugged his shoulders. The priest stared shaking his head, but stopped abruptly with his eyes becoming wide. Before the young monk could mouth, “What?” he felt something slam into his back.

“What are you going to do now, cur,” hissed Dalaen in his are and wrapped his arm around Soletus neck trying to choke him. The young monk nearly toppled down the remaining steps, but managed shift his weight properly to keep his balance. He took hold of Dalaen’s arms to make sure he didn’t slip and unbalance him. He needed to get down to the street level so he didn’t hurt the idiot on his back more than he needed.

Dalaen obviously was not trained in any sort of combat or he wouldn’t’ve known what he did was stupid. Soletus didn’t know if he was bright enough to realize if one couldn’t bring a person down with the initial attack then they were in trouble. Once Soletus was on flat ground he dropped and used Dalaen as his cushion. The tod’s breath rushed out by his ears and he went limp. Soletus sprung to his feet ready to fight, but he had nothing to worry about seeing as the cousin was flat on the ground gasping and coughing.

Soletus expected for Mien’s uncle to rush at his son’s side or attack him, however the man started guffawing loudly from where he stood on the stairs.

“What did you think would happen,” mocked the man between breaths.

None of the other family members moved to help Dalaen either. They just stood there with critical eyes on him as he struggled to crawl to his feet. Brother Hickory laid a hand on Soletus’s shoulder and said, “Get in before he causes more trouble.”

Dalaen got to his feet looking a bit like an angry ox ready to attack again. Lord Hugh mocked his son. “What are you going to do against a Fenndish monk? Carrying your foolish arse down the stairs was a light exercise to him. He’ll lay you flat with one punch so stop being foolish and get up.”

Soletus felt a little bit of sympathy towards Dalaen as he watched him being humiliated by his father. However, that vanished when Dalaen spat at his feet. Soletus could only give him an icy stare before he was pushed towards the carriage. He settled down inside and said to Mien,

“So that’s Dalaen?”

Mien has the widest of smiles on his face. “Yes that was Dalaen.”

“You enjoyed that.”

Mien nodded.

“I’m glad to be of service,” said Soletus giving him a courteous bow.

Brother Hickory slid in and slammed the carriage door closed getting both their attention. He wore a heavy scowl.

“Soletus, I appreciate your dedication to helping Mien, but that was uncalled for,” said Hickory.

“He wanted to start something, so I finished it,” shrugged Soletus.

He knew Brother Hickory wanted to be mad from the way he glared at him. Instead of berating him, the aged priest poked his head out of the carriage window and shouted up to the driver to go back to the inn.

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