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   Chapter 33 Keeper of the Crossroads

Keeper of the Crossroads By Valerie Gaumont Characters: 13956

Updated: 2018-03-13 11:06


Chapter 33

Jamie drove back to Albe's house, his lunch sitting like a rock in his stomach while Jim's information danced with Albe's newly released teachings. At the gate he added the new lock and continued on to the house.

"I doubt they would postpone the trial for a few days to let me sort my brain out, " he thought. The feeling of being watched increased as he parked and left the vehicle. There were rustling sounds all around him but there was no wind to account for the movement. He sighed, climbed the steps to the porch and opened the front door. It was a relief to close the door on all of the expectations of the world.

"Would you like something to eat?" Del called from the kitchen. Jamie walked down the hallway towards him.

"No, I don't think I could keep anything down." Jamie stepped into the kitchen and stood in the doorway his eyes opened wide at the sight before him. Nearly every flat surface boasted a tray of some kind. There were crusted meat pies nearly as big as his head and a tray of delicacies so small Jamie was unsure what they were. Cups the size of his fingernail were placed next to goblets he could probably drown in. All of the sizes in between were represented as well. While the larger sizes were somewhat disturbing, Jamie found himself drawn to the smaller items.

"How did you make pastry so small?" he marveled staring at a tray he could fit in the palm of his hand that seemed to be filled with glazed pastry twists. "Never mind, " Jamie corrected himself. "I don't want to know." Del chuckled.

"Very carefully, " he answered.

"Uh huh, " Jamie said. "If you have an enslaved army of ants that do your bidding, I definitely don't want to know."

"Very well, " Del said a twinkle in his eye.

"You don't do you?" he asked. Del only chuckled. Jamie sighed.

"We have about an hour before I'll need to start taking this to the front yard for the early arrivals, " Del said. "You'll want to change and get ready." He eyed Jamie who sighed again.

"And I won't be able to mix with the crowd until after the completion of the trial." Jamie said. Del's shoulders relaxed a little as he realized Jamie had managed to read up on basic trial procedure, what there was of it. Jamie left Del to his preparations, realizing he was more in the way than anything else. He went upstairs and took a shower.

As most of his better thoughts had come to him when he let the water run over him, he was hoping inspiration would strike. The hot water felt good against his back and shoulders and he ran it hot enough to redden the skin. No earth shattering ideas arose, just one word swimming like a fish through the sea of information crammed into his mind. Jamie turned off the water and reached for a towel.

"Balance, " he said aloud. Everything the Keeper did was for balance. Every lesson, every ruling. Del had told him that the Keeper was human so he couldn't take sides. "And evil is due to intent not inherent nature, " he thought remembering his first guest with the birdlike features.

His newly freed mind supplied details of what that creature actually was, but he pushed the thoughts away for later. Jamie stepped out of the bathroom and into the small bedroom he had always taken at Albe's. His clothes were spread out, but he rejected the clothing that resembled office wear.

Instead he dressed himself in a plain button down shirt with jeans. He pulled on a sturdy pair of hiking boots, making sure to knock the mud off of them first. He slipped Albe's worn traveling satchel over his shoulder, adding a few items he thought he might need through the evening. Jamie squared his shoulders and went downstairs.

Del had taken the trays t the front yard and Jamie could hear the noise of the gathered crowd through the still open front door. They were not loud, but he could hear the shuffling and movement as well as the low rumble of sound indicating a mass group all having low voiced conversations in a confined area. Jamie stepped through the front door and on to the porch. He knew he was not allowed to mingle with the others yet, but nothing prevented him from taking a seat on the p

"Mans told Maashin throw rock bad mans."

"I quite agree, " Jamie said. He turned to the High Talbot. "I, as Keeper recommend that Maashin not be punished for the thrown rock as no one was hurt." He turned towards Masshin. "And I recommend that you not throw rocks again just because someone says it is okay to do so." Maashin nodded.

"Still throw rocks at crawlies to eat okay?" Maashin asked.

"That's okay, " Jamie said not wanting the creature to accidentally starve. He had the feeling that despite his claws most things he ate were killed using a smaller rock than the one hurled at his head.

"Okay, no mans just crawlies."

"If that is your decision, " the High Talbot said. There was no inflection in his voice to indicate his feelings on the matter. He gestured towards one of the waiting guards who stepped forward and removed the chains. "Maashin, you are free to go." Maashin looked up at the words, still rubbing his newly freed wrists. He glanced at Jamie who nodded. Maashin gave a whoop of delight and turned a summersault.

"Mans nice, Maashin go." And with that the creature raced off into the night, sometimes moving on two legs and other times on four, and moving swiftly in the direction of the Lustan.

"Our thanks Keeper Fulton, " The High Talbot said. As he opened his mouth to give the formal words of closing Terrell stepped forward.

"This is outrageous, " he said. "That thing tried to kill the Keeper and he is just turned loose?"

"Maashin tried to kill me at the behest of someone else, " Jamie said softly, but firmly.

"And you didn't even ask who, " Terrell declared loudly. "You have only been Keeper for a few short days, due to the conditions of training it is clear you are unable to make this decision."

"Maashin was told to kill me so I could not make a decision regarding the Lune Merdos. The man who convinced him to throw the rock was either of the Federan or the Gederan, " Jamie said calmly. Terrell had gone pale, but after a second recovered his voice.

"And the creature could have told us which. He…"

"He could have told us who the man appeared to be, " Jamie said. "He could not have said if it was a Federan or a Gederan in truth. He could not have said if the man was a Federan dressed like a Gederan or a Gederan dressed like a Federan. Or someone who was neither dressed like one of them. All he could do was state what he saw and thus cast aspersions on one group so that when I made my decision regarding Lune Merdos I would be inclined to favor one or the other. I was asked merely to determine the guilt of Maashin tonight, not the fate of the Lustan on Lune Merdos."

"But he threw the rock, " Terrell said weakly, realizing he had lost the argument.

"And I maintained the balance."

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