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07.25.2127 - A Girl in Hell

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07.25.2127 - A Girl In Hell

Although the scene around her was a living and breathing canvas of incredible tranquility, Shannon could not even see it through the shroud of fear that clouded her vision.

The trees, flowers and other flora that were so apparently abundant around her hadn’t received more than a passing look from the ten year old. The songbirds, singing to a clear blue sky morning, received not even a smile for their praising of the day. She shivered in the shade provided by the canopy of tree branches above, even though the rising sun promised a very warm day. And beyond the edges of the tailored and trimmed landscaping that decorated the courtyard, was the most elaborate of architecture found in the entire Kingdom. But the sculpted granite columns, huge stain-glassed windows and myriad of artistic elements simply poised in her ignorance.

Shannon would have thought herself in Heaven, if she didn’t already know that she stood at the precipice to Hell. The small girl was atop the tallest structure in Safe-Haven, the Church of Kaine, and awaiting a trial that could end with the execution of her parents. A sentence that would be wrought based on Shannon’s own testimony, as she had been a key witness to the alleged crime.

A small circle of white sand formed a clearing within the grass of the courtyard. Shannon sat upon a featureless bench of black and white marble at its center. The Council of Five sat opposite and above her on tall thrones of the same white and black marble, each of theirs however, were ornately crafted from a single piece of marble, and, along with the appearance of being wrapped in a leafy vine, included a small set of spiral stairs wrapping the column.

On the throne to the far left was Cyric Longbow, leader of the Warden Council and, according to Jena and her other short list of friends at the orphanage, her only hope on the council.

To his left was Mindera Michaels, an old lady who not only controlled the mining guild but was the most ornery of the council members, and therefore no help.

At the center was High Priest Fresenius himself, his throne just a bit taller than the pairs that flanked his left and right. He would be the true judge, jury and executioner on the Council, for it had been told to her that he indeed controlled Safe-Haven.

To the left of the devil sat Mark Jamerson, Master of Commerce and to his left, Shannon’s far right, was Leroy Jenkins. Leroy was a Colonel of the Outer-Rim Defense, and along with Mark, was of no known help to her.

The three Judges of the House Guard of Kaine stood in front of the pillars and were all in their full plate-mail armor uniforms. Shannon had no idea which figure was that of Judge Nathaniel Criss, but she was sure he wasn’t the man at center. The man at the center looked to be at least seven feet tall!

‘Be Brave’ Shannon thought. It was a notion that had come to her so very often in the last ten days. She sat before the intimidating figures and tried to smile but couldn’t. Her time at the orphanage was completely miserable and was made even more so by the beast Shanteel.

The trees loomed over her like hungry vultures and the shade that was cast by them kept the warmth of the day away from her. It was as though they were in league with the court that sat before her and mocked what little hope she had left. They were just trees and had no opinion of her at all but she sat in the shadows of tyranny just the same.

She thought to herself what she had said to the judge, ‘Kaine knows the truth. Though my parents may go to prison their hearts will always be free…as will mine’. As if to accentuate her point she fingered the golden silk ribbon tied around the picture she drew for her mother during her stay at the temple. The picture was of a right peaceful day she had spent in the park with her folks. She hoped it would have the same heartwarming affect on her mother as it did her. In looking at the looming court above her, she wondered if they would let her mother have the picture.

Shannon eyed each of the council members and the judges. She wanted to tell them that her parents were good people and did what anyone would do. It didn’t seem as though they would listen. They had made up their minds and were going to do what they wanted regardless. Could they be trusted to judge fairly? Would they know her father had given years of blood to defend this very temple? Would they even care? Judgment may be blind but that may only prevent them from seeing the truth. “Who watches the watchers?” she thought.

Before she even knew she said it she demanded, “I want to see my parents. I want to give my Mom the picture I drew for her.” The manners in asking never even crossed her mind.

Seven men and women seemed to tense, but none of them even for a moment looked like they wished to respond.

The eighth did.

"What if the members of this court do not submit to your request child?" asked High Priest Fresenius in a smooth tone.

Shannon wasn’t sure if that was the answer she expected but it lent no less an opportunity to remark on some recent events. Perhaps it would even cause them to question the ethics of those they commanded. She could only hope.

Slyly she responded, “Then I’ll know that the only thing that makes this court different than the bully beast in the orphanage and the spineless guard that put a dagger to my throat are the robes they wear.”

She thought herself rather clever for insulting them without insulting them. She had grown confident since her moments of truthful revelation. Anything bad that they did to her now would only serve to fuel her vendetta.

The High Priest and the Judges didn't even flinch from her backhanded insult. Cyric stifled a smile and the other councilors shifted uncomfortably in their seats.

Fresenius didn't miss a beat, "you would be best to mind your tongue in this court as you would within Shanteel's office young lady."

"Your request will of course be denied, we can't have you sending messages to your parents through art now can we?" Fresenius said matter of factly.

Cyric looked over at the High Priest as if the man suddenly went mad.


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