The defiance of Lotye O’Tulvar triggered a hearty laugh among the guardians of Sesus.
“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.
“Get your own,” the Key Sergeant taunted in return. “Shouldn’t be hard, just cover your eyes and point. One will do as well as another.”
He slammed the cell shut with the usual grinding clash of iron upon iron that rang with the weight of the law through the echoing tower, full of similar clangs as well as other voices of challenge or supplication or protest.
As the guardians withdrew down the stairs, the lawyers surged forward, five in all, but one beat out the rest in the race up to the cell.
“Don’t listen to that lot,” the merrow woman declared, “and don’t listen to these either.” She cast a sly glance over her shoulder at her frowning brethren as she held out a card in a thin hand through the bars. “Aeto Arrowwise Lalraas, Attorney at Law. I specialize in cases involving charges of magic and,” another arch look over her shoulder, “my rates are negotiable.”
Attorney Arrowwise smiled significantly at Lotye, though her comment was directed equally towards the other attorneys to plant in their minds the image of an indigent client while suggesting to Lotye a flexibility of fee that had yet to be tested. Whether or not the trick would have worked with Lotye, it worked on the lawyers, who yielded the case with professional bows and withdrew to approach other arrestees.
“Now, then,” grinned Attorney Arrowwise, formally setting her white “woolcap,” the long wig of her professional office, over her black braid and arranging it about her shoulders, “let us begin.”
This game was well established in all the lawful nations of Aeldreth, and while details of procedure and style might vary from place to place, the “drill” was always the same. Even the best attorneys went where the cases were, and those who specialized in criminal defense all but ran their firms from the jails and courthouse lobbies where they could conveniently meet with their clients, their counterparts for the prosecution, investigators, and anyone else they might need or want — a constant presence of the close-knit community of the Guild of Law, in their midnight blue suits and robes with the white lace, hose and wigs, and their satchels of books and papers forever under their arms, who kept the wheels of justice turning day and night, cooperatively and competitively by turns.
And when a city was swollen with the traffic of a major festival, as Sesus was now with the Feast of the Triumvirate, an attorney quick off the mark could earn a shiny copper, as the saying went, on new clients. Lotye was the fifth such Aeto Arrowwise had snared that day, and more beside for the week. Who knows but, with so much business in hand, she might actually cut Lotye a deal on fees — if absolutely unavoidable.
The lawyer pulled up a rough stool from a corner and sat herself on the more desirable side of the cell bars. Arranging the voluminous robe over her knees, she took a folio from her satchel and opened it, revealing papers both loose and bound, pens and other items of a traveling desk. She turned her sharp, sallow face, bearing the distinctive broad mouth and black eyes of the merrow tribe, to Lotye.
“I daresay you know the procedure,” she said. “Name, home, occupation, reason for arrest?”