Chapter #99 – Interlude
A few days later.
In a busy marketplace near the outer gate of the City of Lanthanor.
A woman holding a small girl’s hand walked into the marketplace, looking around as if searching for something.
Her clothes had already long lost the dye they had been colored with, now looking drab and coarse from years of wear and tear. The little girl had a similar gown on, her eyes wide open as she looked around at all of the sights the capital city had to offer.Looking travel-worn, the two seemed to have traveled a long while to get to their destination.
“Dalia, stay close, dear. I don’t want you to run off and get lost, all right?”
The woman knelt on the ground taking the little girl’s face in her hands, wiping away the dust and sweat and planting a kiss on her forehead. The kiss lightened up the little girl’s face, making her give a wide smile while the woman also couldn’t resist mirroring her daughter seeing the pure innocence of a child.
Her heavily callused hands held her daughter again as she walked forward to a building that looked like it had been recently set up.
“Citizen Justice Center” was the name written on the banner, which the woman looked at before walking in with a determined expression on her face.
Inside, numerous constables were seated in front of tables holding trinkets which looked like small, round silver bowls.
Many of the chairs on the other side of the constables were occupied by people who were talking into the trinkets. Meanwhile, the constables seemed to be taking notes on pieces of parchment in front of them using a feather and an ink bottle.
Walking up to one such table which was empty, the woman sat down in a rush as if she would turn back and leave if she didn’t summon the courage to sit as soon as possible.
The little girl also got on to the chair beside her, looking around at all the new people and fascinated by the policemen in their neat uniforms. The number of people she had seen today had already crossed the total number of people she had met in her small village while growing up.
“State your name, place of residence, injustice and the person responsible. Please keep in mind that you will have to testify under oath when needed. Punishment will be given out if your claims turn out to be false.”
Seeing the two sit down, the constable repeated the line he had said at least 100 times since the morning.
Simply nodding as if she had already prepared herself, the woman started talking.
“My name is Helena, and this is my daughter Dalia. We live in the Burbery village in Lanthanor’s countryside. Three years ago, a passing noble stopped for the night in our village. While there, he got drunk and wanted to be entertained. The village mayor ordered some of us to dance to appease the noble, and I was one of them. In the middle of our dance, he stumbled forward and caught my hand, intending to drag me away. My husband who….”
Until this point, the woman had spoken with a stoic expression while trying to not let the painful memories affect her. Yet, at the mention of her husband whom she missed so much, she couldn’t help but tear up.
“Mama, what’s wrong? Can I go get flowers to cheer you up again?”
The little girl beside her tugged at her dress, asking this question with a worried expression on her face as she saw the tears appearing in her mother’s eyes. Back home, whenever this happened, she would go out to pick the flowers that grew near the small thatch hut they lived in. Whenever her mother saw the flowers, she would wipe away the tears, place them in her recently-greyed hair and kiss her on her two cheeks.
Hearing her daughter ask, the woman hastened to wipe away the tears. Seeing the scene, the constable couldn’t help but sigh as he started filling in the details in the parchment in front of him. The recording trinket had already been activated when the woman started speaking.
“Mother’s fine, Dalia. Just give me a few minutes. Then, we can go out and buy candy.”
Hearing the rare word ‘candy’, the little girl’s face brightened up again as she nodded and continued to look around.
“My husband who tried to stop him was murde…taken away from us by the noble’s guards. Luckily, the noble passed out after that and had to leave the next morning. Since then, I’ve been trying to manage our family. I came here because I heard that the new King has promised to hear our grievances and get revenge for us. I still dream about kil…..burying that man daily. I don’t know his name, but I can pick him out easily. Please tell me if my complaint will be taken? When I tried to do this three years ago, I was thrown out onto the street.”
The sharpness in her eyes and face which had appeared when she talked about burying the prince was replaced by silent sobs toward the end of her narrative.
“All complaints will be addressed. Please use this Gold Lan to stay in any inn in the city. Our King will be officially crowned in two days, and the special courts for cases like these will also open soon after. If your case turns out to be true, you will also be paid a pension by the government for a set period of time. The King thanks you for coming this far after trusting his words.”, replied the constable with a slight smile on his face.
Seeing the Gold Lan shining in the constable’s hand, the woman couldn’t help but rub her eyes. In her small village, the highest currency used usually was Silver Lans. Only the Mayor was known to have a few gold lans which he used to pay in bulk to traveling merchants for village necessities such as plows and hammers.
Taking the Gold Lan with shaking hands, the woman still seemed disbelieving until she felt the weight that meant that it was definitely not a silver one.
All these years, all she had gotten from the government was scorn and ridicule. No matter how many times she tried to submit her case to the court, it would be thrown out citing some insensible reason. Finally, she had had to stop after receiving a death threat on her and her daughter’s life.
Now, she had only dared to try again after hearing the proclamations that had reached all the town mayors that the previous King had been killed and replaced by someone who promised to hear all the people’s grievances.
This was all she needed; this simple gesture of someone caring enough for her situation to listen and give her a chance to present her case made her heart fill up with gratitude. The feeling of being heard by the authorities was something she never knew would feel so sweet.
Clutching the Gold Lan in her hand, a small smile appeared on her face before she turned around to see her adorable daughter still looking around with fascination. The little girl loved candy, but having to work all day just to earn enough to have enough food and save a little money for tough times had been very difficult;what with the fact that the major occupation was farming, which required strength and effort that made her body ache all over each night after coming back home.
Now, with a little bit of smart money management, they would have enough to rent a room, eat three full meals a day and buy as much candy as the little girl wanted. Besides, there had even been mention of a pension!
Thanking the constable, Helena stood up and guided Dalia out. Everything around her seemed brighter, as if something had lifted the dark shroud that had covered her vision and mind for the last few years.
King Daneel. She blessed this figure who had made everything possible with all of her heart. Vowing to be present at the coronation and see for herself how someone with such a gracious heart looked like, she took Dalia in her hands and walked down the steps towards a candy seller who had caught Dalia’s eye ever since they had arrived here.
All over the capital, such scenes took place with more and more people looking forward to the Coronation Ceremony that would take place in two days.
Meanwhile, the King who was responsible for all these warm hearts lay snoring on his bed, getting some much needed rest while dreaming about riding on horses to save princesses trapped in tall towers.
With the decorations ongoing in full swing, Lanthanor prepared to welcome its new King with a pomp and vigour that would definitely shock the heavens and startle the gods, making them look down with wonder to see just who was the one so beloved that almost everyone in the Kingdom would go all out to do everything they could to make his coronation a grand success.