A man lucky enough to arrive at the gates on a day of celebration found it easier to gain access. Crowds moved from the outer tents and fields through the entry. Throngs surged along the roads, through the alleys and foot ways, like a flood. King Bera, and his entourage and soldiers, marched at the head in a show of strength and pomp. People stood on walls, climbed onto carts and clustered onto the brick buildings to shout praise or whisper insults to the king. The clamour of the crowd beat down the rhythmic tread of the soldiers, some 300 men with spears.
"Is that a king, or an Edamite pawn," shouts a man from within the crowd. Heads turn, but he is gone before his neighbors lay hold. There is hardly better sport than turning a man in to watch the king's justice at work.
Shabby-clothed Amaret shouts back, "In the games of the Gods, we are all as pawns." Heavy hands grip his arms and hold him aloft for the soldiers to see. Amaret is known to them. A harmless beggar always at the market and the well. They wave him away, uninterested in the task.
An old woman spits on Amaret. He rubs it into his skin, "Thank you for the shine, witch."
"I'll give you more to shine," she croaked.
"Oh no. Please. I could not repay you! And Naptha, the king's justice, would demand I return my shined skin to you."
"And, what am I to do with such a soiled rag?" Laughter curled around the edges of the words.
"Am I to know the wisdom of the justices? He's there, by the king. You go ask him."
The crowd, enjoying the play, nudged the old woman in the direction of Naptha.
"Nay, fiends! Nay. I'll not ask Naptha nor Eranti what their justice may be. Perhaps the Justices please the ear of their king, but their answers sting and their justice leaves sourness in the mouth. I'm through with you." And, on this declaration, she moved through the crowd away from Amaret.
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