The Fall of Lord Blackthorn


The crowd cheered and both Nyomae and the one she had named Windemere raised their eyes to stare down at the entrance of the Britannian Supreme Court. The Lord Mayor of Yew, the highest hand of justice in the land, emerged from the dark halls, robed in green, the Scales of Justice embroidered gold upon his silver tabard. He halted just outside the door to squint against the sun, and those who followed him, each wearing the trappings of his or her own town, stopped and waited. And though the light briefly blinded them, they did not disrupt their leader's formation by taking time to pause when he continued on.

As the cheers by those who wished to see Windemere condemned swelled in volume, so did the silence among those who had supported him. And although the boy Blackthorn wished to greet the Lord Mayor with an enthusiastic smile and a cheer of his own, he remained still, staring straight ahead as the Lord Mayor passed him and took his place at the podium, a stand centered between Nyomae and Windemere. The other justices filled the last of the vacant seats, forming a half-circle around the accuser, the accused, and their judge. The Lord Mayor, a tall and elegant man, his hair dark as night, save where a single lock of white touched the middle of his brow, waited as Dryden stepped away from the boy and raised his hands. Silence slowly followed, and only when the breeze whispered did Dryden speak.

"In the name of the eight Virtues and the Three Principles on which they are founded, and in the name of our Sovereign, Lord British, I declare the Supreme Court of Britannia returned to session. May His Honor, Blackthorn, the Lord Mayor of Yew, the Supreme Justice of Britannia, oversee these proceedings with wisdom and virtue."

The boy Blackthorn watched as his father acknowledged the clerk's announcement with a nod. Hands languidly clasped at his waist, the Lord Mayor pivoted himself to address the accused.

"Councilor Windemere—" And then Windemere was on his feet.

"My name is Aegean," he stated, face now free of tears. "And as I have done so in the past, I humbly ask that this court respect my wishes to be addressed—"

It was the Lord Mayor's turn to interrupt, voice stern. "Thou hast gone by many names," he said. "‘Scourge of the Seas', ‘Bather of Blood', to name but two. However, on this day, in my Court, thou art Windemere, as named by this woman who sits next to thee."

"And as revealed by thee," the boy heard Windemere murmur, and indeed, it had been the Lord Mayor, one of the Councilor's companions at The Slaughtered Lamb that night a year ago, who had noticed the embers of guilt in the Councilor's eyes.

Why the Lord Mayor had chosen to pursue the matter had never been clear to the boy Blackthorn. Yes, the Lord Mayor and the Councilor had never been friends, but neither had they been enemies. Mutual respect had described their relationship, perhaps tainted by the usual distrust shared among government officials. Yet the Lord Mayor had visited Nyomae at the healers the next morning, and had listened to her tale. Slowly, gradually, he had begun the investigation into the Councilor's past, and slowly, gradually, the inconsistencies and the lies of one of Britannia's most highly respected men, had been unearthed.

The audience was cheering again, and the Lord Mayor quickly silenced them. "And thou, too, shalt be silent, Windemere, until thou art permitted to speak. For thou hast already had a chance to state thy pleas, and thy jury hast listened; a jury, I might add, like no other. Not once in Britannia's history has the Lord Mayor had to call the highest justices in the land to serve in his court, yet here they sit, as deemed by thine peers on the Great Council and as deemed by Lord British himself!"

And directly behind the jury, Windemere's colleagues, the members of the Great Council not confronted by the Lord Mayor, stirred restlessly at the mention of their name.

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