The humiliation of being carted through the city like this, bound and thrown into a barrow like a bundle of clothes or a heap of coal, was nearly too much for Lotye. Guardians had caught her before, but never had her way to the next prison cell been made into a procession. If glares had been able to kill, most of the guardians would have fallen dead after only a few steps. But sadly, that was something she couldn’t accomplish no matter how angry she was. Strictly speaking, she couldn’t accomplish anything in this situation, so all she could do was shamefully sinking as deep into the barrow as possible and sending out angry glares.
She would have liked to curse, too. Would have liked to try out her impressive collection of swearwords she had learned from the travelling people, the sailors and even from a wizard. She knew cusses in a few dialects she didn’t even speak. But would they have helped her in any way? No, it would only make it worse. No, you gold-emblazoned frogs, I won’t grant you the favour to insult you. Just keep on playing triumphant little toy-soldiers, we’ll see who laughs last. That she would laugh last, on the other hand, seemed rather unlikely right now.
Of course the procession attracted attention, it could not have been any different. Fingers pointed at the sunken down woman in the barrow, who would have liked to hide, but had nothing else than her hair to do so, her mask long lost to the guardians. The only bright spot for Lotye in this situation was that the people didn’t begin to throw bad fruits and eggs at her. Most likely less out of respect for her person as much more out of fear of hitting one of the guardians escorting her accidentally. The closer they came to their destination, the more other guardians she saw, leading people with cuffed arms in front of them. Still, I’m probably the only one who has the luxury to be driven here by the guardians, Lotye thought with bitter humour.
But as humiliating as the way to the keep had been, the rest of the dance was always the same. The registration process, the lawyers with their powdered wigs, those things were nearly the same everywhere, or at least in the few prisons she had already seen from the inside. She submitted to the process and ended up in a cell, also like any other cell she had ever seen before. It was the same dance as always. Only one thing was different. This time she was in for more than just petty thievery or selling someone a love potion made out of water, cat urine and garlic.
When the forensic wizard came and took the cards off her, she at first was filled with a new anger. Anger about herself because she hadn’t let these pieces of evidence disappear somehow, anger directed towards the wizard for finding and taking them away from her, anger towards the cards which had brought her into this trouble. But when the cards were finally taken out of her reach, she actually felt a bit of relief she couldn’t explain to her self. She felt lighter, as if they had weighed down on her somehow. Ironically, she felt more free now. Doesn’t help me much, though, in prison.
At least the bonds around her ankles were untied now, with much clamour of the lawyers outside the cell. As quickly as possible, Lotye now struggled to her feet with a snort. She tried to stand upright and with dignity, but with her arms still tied, her attempts were most likely rather laughable. Nevertheless, she aggressively thrust out her chin and glared at the guardian who had just untied her with fire in her eyes as if she had been some kind of high lady he had treated not befitting her status.
“Thanks. And now get me one of these poodles out there.” She couldn’t resist to add a “Would you be so kind?” together with an ironic smile.
Of course Lotye first could have read through some of the cards they had slipped her. But what would have been the use? To read through all of this self-adulation? She would get that soon enough. Lotye didn’t feel much love for lawyers. Yes, she needed them and some of them had proven to be quite able at what they did in the past. But in her opinion, most of the them still were scammers, only out for their clients money, not much unlike her. The only difference was that they were on the other side of the law.