The Quest for the Sword Of Justice! Part One: Brutus
This is my NaNoWriMo project for 2016! New Posts Daily, collected as a “Book” when it’s done.
Brutus hated his job. But it paid him well.
“Okay, you filthy vagrants, listen up!” Brutus scratched his chin where the top of his armor would sometimes rub him. “The King has ordered that you are all to be cleared out of ‘ere by the end of the day. I’ve never been much for waitin’, so you’ve got ten minutes to get packed up, and then I get to clearin’.”
He looked down upon the assembled peasantry inside the old barn. They were a pale, dusty sort, about fifty of them altogether. They sat motionless before the imposing captain of the guard. Brutus pulled a dented old watch out of his pocket.
“This is where you start movin’! You’ve already wasted twenty whole seconds!” Brutus tapped the watch face with his gauntleted hand. He smiled. “I don’t want to have to do this the hard way, but I am very good at it.”
A few of the peasants clutched each other in the hay. A low murmur spread across the crowd.
“Oy! What are you lot talkin’ it over for? There’s nothin’ to discuss! You now have…” Brutus looked at his watch again. “Nine minutes left before I make you leave.”
A little girl in the crowd slowly raised her hand. Brutus sighed. He put his pocket watch away. “Yes little girl? What is it?”
The little girl stood up. “‘Ello! My name is D — “
“Don’t tell me your name!” said Brutus, holding up his hand. “Makes it harder. Now then, what is it?”
“Why would the king care about us peasants being in this old barn? We’re not e’en on his land.”
“Now that’s where you’re wrong, little miss!” Brutus walked over to one side of the dilapidated barn. The peasants at the front of the crowd shirked away from his presence. He reached out his massive right hand and pulled on the old barn door. It went flying to the side on its old hinges as if it were nothing. Brutus pointed to the ground. “Do you see that line of dirt there, little miss?”
“I can’t see it, I’m too far away.” The little girl gave a curtsey.
Brutus rolled his eyes. “Come forward then love.” He beckoned towards the girl. “Come on then!”
The crowd quickly parted and the girl bounced forward. She was wearing a dress made from old burlap sacks. Brutus put his left hand on her shoulder. It was as big as her head.
“Now then,” said Brutus. “Do you see that line in the grass there? The line of dirt?”
“Ay, Captain, I do!” The little girl nodded.
“That is where the King’s land ends, and as you can plainly see, we are on this side of it. So you are all trespassers.” Brutus put his hand on the little girl’s back and gently nudged her out of the barn door. “There you go, little one. And so it begins.”
The little girl felt the wind in her hair. She saw the majesty of the line of dirt on the ground, and the grass, trees, and blue sky beyond the barn. She had forgotten how much she enjoyed being outside. “Look everyone! I’m outside!,” she said, waving her hands in the air.
“You were outside just yesterday Deirdre, don’t let it go to yer head,” said her mom from the middle of the room.
Brutus flinched a little at hearing the little girls name. Deirdre. He shook it off. “Right,” said Brutus, looking at the little girl whose name was definitely not Deirdre. “Now to get the rest of ‘em.”
A goat made a goat noise in the back of the barn somewhere.
Brutus’s head shot around towards the peasants and he unsheathed his sword. Everyone scrambled backwards, shouting in fear. Brutus held out his hand. “Oy! Calm down everyone! I’m a man of my word, I’m not about to go smiting anyone yet. Not for another few minutes at least.”
A brazen peasant stood up at the front of the crowd. He was a stout farmer, with dirt all over him. “You scared us by pulling forth your sword!”
Brutus stepped calmly forward and placed the tip of his sword on the brazen peasant’s neck. The man didn’t budge. “So? A brazen peasant, eh?.” Brutus spat on the ground and sheathed his sword. “I see you don’t e’en have a weapon. Must think you’re a strong leader to stand up to me.”
The peasant spit on the ground. “We peasants have taken the king’s beatings for too long. We’ve holed up in this barn because he burned our homes to make way for — “
Brutus held us his hand and flinched. “Yeah yeah, save it for the courts. Or the town crier. Or whatever. I don’t do politics. I do guarding.” Brutus picked up the brazen peasant easily with one hand, by the front of his shirt. The whole room gasped. “Now then, we haven’t got any more time for you. These peasants need to be going soon, and you’ll just slow things down.”
The guard captain walked outside and set the man down next to the little girl, in full view of everyone. Brutus then patted the man on the head. He shut the door to the barn, leaving the two outside.
“Yay!,” shouted the little girl.
Brutus returned to the crowd once more. He looked disapprovingly at his watch. “We’ve only got five minutes left loves, before I have to do that to all of you, only much more harshly. And don’t e’en think about trying to best me in combat. Even if you did succeed, killing the guard captain is punishable by death of your whole family line.”
The goat made a goat noise again. A man nearby hushed the goat.
Brutus drew out his sword once more. “Oy! There it is again. Okay! Who has a goat?!”
The crowd scooted back in fear once more. They made timid noises. Brutus scanned his eyes across the room.
“Someone has a goat out there!,” said the guard captain. “Who has a goat? Answer me!”
A man sheepishly raised his hand in the center of the crowd. Brutus gestured with his sword. “Stand up you!”
The timid man stood on shaky legs. “Y…yes sir. Yes Captain. The goat is mine.”
“Bring ‘im ‘ere!”
The timid man came forward with the goat.
Brutus inspected the pair of them, then he got down on both knees and gave the goat a good head scratching. He stood back up and stared at the timid man. “Why,” began Brutus, “would you bring a perfectly fine animal to such a horrid place as this?”
“D…did you not hear Ronald before you put him outside? Our homes have been burned down?”
Brutus scrunched up his face. “That’s no reason to get a goat involved. Poor little innocent. What’s his name?”
“His name? He doesn’t have one.”
Brutus pursed his lips. “Well! I’ll have to think of one, won’t I?” He noticed the peasant looking fearfully in the direction of his sword. “Oh! Sorry about that.” Brutus put away his weapon. He turned to address the crowd.
“Okay listen up! I’m taking this goat. He needs a good walking, some food, and a break from the smelly air in this wretched place. Truth is, I was never meant to clear you all out in the first place. The rest of the palace guard is coming in just a few moments to burn this place down, and I was hoping to scare you away before that happened. But don’t you dare tell anyone, lest they think I’ve gone soft! Understand?”
The peasants all quickly nodded in agreement.
Brutus nodded. “Good! Now clear out all of you, unless you like to be hot and on fire! Hah!” Brutus grabbed the goat’s leash from the timid man, and walked over to the barn door. He shoved it open easily, this time with just one finger. The brazen peasant (Ronald) and the little girl (Deirdre) were still standing outside.
“Yay!,” shouted the little girl.
Brutus shoved his way through the middle of the two peasants, and began to walk across the adjacent field. Ronald raised his fist into the air.
“The Sword of Justice shall save us from the tyranny of your so-called king!”
Brutus turned and let out a hearty laugh. It was the third-heartiest of his life. “Hahaha! Oh you silly lot. The Sword of Justice is a myth! Created by the wealthy to give hope to scum like you. Get your facts straight!”
The guard captain turned to his new goat friend. “Come now Barry, don’t let that man scare you with his rubbish. Brutus’ll keep you safe.”