From Brinnalamaya: It is Giftingtide, and the Freefolk have had their festivities interrupted by the discovery of Mirramarduk hiding in the stables. Their hated enemy, who caused so much suffering, has been delivered to them. Now justice can be done.

“Well then,” Tristramacus said, “Back to the subject at hand.  How do you people intend to execute this being whom you have condemned to death?”

There was an uneasy and confused murmuring among the Freefolk, and even as they spoke among themselves indecisively, Per pushed his way forward.  “Excuse me,” he said, “I know I sort of stepped aside to let younger folks run things, but I’ve got to speak up here.  Now, you all know I’m about as fond of the old snake as the rest of you.  But killing is not our business.  And besides, he is of the Elder Race, and I’d feel real uncomfortable being party to the killing of one of them, even him.  Especially since the Lord seems to be going out of his way to tell us he thinks maybe it isn’t such a good idea.  We’ve never gone wrong trusting in the Lord and Lady.  I say we don’t stop now.  Lord, I’ll ask you point blank, do you think we ought to let the old snake go?”

“We can’t just let him go!” Tam cried.  “He has got to be made to pay for his crimes!”

“What, with his life?” Per replied.  “What’s that coin going to buy?  Nothing good that I can see.”

“It is justice!” Tam insisted.

“Not as I see it.  And I think Kel wouldn’t see it that way either.  No, she’d want what’s best for her people, and it sounds like what the Elder Folk have got worked out pays off more handsomely than any single corpse.  Besides, blood makes a bad meal, especially at Giftingtide.  You folks do recall it’s Giftingtide, don’t you?”

They glanced at one another uneasily.

“That doesn’t enter into it,” Tam insisted.

“Oh, doesn’t it?” Per replied.  “It’s the season when we’re supposed to look in our hearts and try to find the best that’s in us.  That means forgiving our enemies and making peace.  That’s easy when it’s kin or neighbor you’ve just had a bit of a quarrel with.  It’s a bit harder when it’s someone like the Prophet of Lies.  Puts it in perspective, doesn’t it?”

“How can we forgive him for what he did?” Tam asked.  “For the sake of my father, for the sake of Kel’s kin, for the sake of all of us who have seen people we loved suffer and die because of him, we must see justice done!”

“Is killing him going to bring your father back, Tam?  Just make you feel better, that’s all.  But it’s a mean kind of feeling better.  A kind of feeling better that doesn’t make you any better off.  Your father will still be dead, Tam, and any good the old snake might have done to make up for his past wickedness is out the window.”

“I don’t believe he’d ever change.”

“Well,” Per said, “The chances he would are a sight better if he’s alive than if he’s dead, eh?”

[from Brinnalamayaread more excerpts]


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