Cassie blinked a few times. First there was the confusion. Then the small relief that Juneau might have been telling the truth.
And then the boiling rage.
“You…” Cassie stopped herself from talking and clenched a fist. Sam had been there when they had promised her…
“So then this is your fault.” She said, in a quiet voice, trying to not have a repeat of lashing out.
“No, I would argue that I didn’t kill your family. Though I did fail to bring them back to life by killing Twitch, so I suppose I am at least partly responsible.” said Samuel, with just a hint of sarcasm. He turned to look at Cassie.
“Unless ‘this’ refers to something else?”
“It’s your fault that thing isn’t going to suffer a single day for its crimes.” Cassie responded, slightly shaking from annoyance and anger at Sam’s snarkiness.
Samuel sat up straight, looking Cassie in the eyes.
“That decision lay with the Council. But yes, I did provide the strongest argument for the Child’s incarceration in a mental facility. As for suffering, well, I think it has suffered enough. If you don’t believe me, then perhaps you should join me when I visit. You can see the scars for yourself.”
Samuel turned back to the table, taking a pamphlet.
“Scars? From what? From blood magic? Do you honestly think that just because you can get a few gashes across your legs, you have paid for the cold blooded murder of even one individual?” Cassie sputtered, rather astonished that Sam would make such a petty comparison.
Samuel looked pointedly at his own groin region, and grimaced.
“That would be some rough blood magic. Though I was referring to the years of mental torture and mutilation in that hell hole, personally. I actually hadn’t considered the scratches on its arms.”
Samuel looks at Cassie.
“But even those deserve some consideration, considering that the only other blood mage I know, Juneau, had maybe a spot on his palm and no more.”
Samuel returned to his pamphlet and frowned. The Complainer, and an old one. He threw it away.
They’re going to go under if they can’t maintain a schedule.
“So you’re equating physical beatings to murder? Really? Should the dethroned King Hal be put into therapy because of you cutting off his ears and making him suffer?” Cassie replied sarcastically. “Or should we just say it’s ok because the thing was some sort of self harmer? That doesn’t justify anything! Especially not my parents, or anyone else they murdered! That thing mutilated them. I had to see them. Jaws were entirely ripped out. None of my family members even looked familiar anymore. No self torture caused that. Only your friend did that.“
Samuel turned back to Cassie.
“I did not say anything about it being equal. I simply said that Twitch had suffered. Which is what you asked for. To add further suffering would be redundant. Now, considering Arthanu. Do you remember what he did?”
“Suffering doesn’t get applied retroactively, General!” Cassie snapped, not answering Sam’s question. “It’s all too easy for you to be high and mighty about this considering how you don’t have anyone on the line who actually hurt because of the bastard! How would you feel if that thing had murdered that boyfriend of yours? Huh? Mutilated his body, propped it up for the world to see?”
Lin has picked a terrible time to walk into the room and overhear the conversation, which stops her dead in her tracks for a second. She lingers in the doorway, almost hidden, just to listen and gauge how terrible it would be to march over and smack them both.
(What the hell are they–!?)
The comment about the “murdered, mutilated boyfriend” knocks her for a loop. Considering that she hasn’t been there long enough to find out what they’re really talking about, it hits her even harder. Lin staggers and leans against the doorway for support, feeling sick.
Samuel notices movement by the door, but ignores it.
“I know how I would feel, and I know how I would act. I removed the tips of his ears. Now, I ask again Cassie, and you would do well to answer a question your commanding officer asks you: what did Arthanu do?”
“He overthrew his own father, and continued the war against us, and invaded Ko’ebbe to boot.” Cassie muttered sharply, willing to see where he was going with this. Easy for him to say. He got his revenge. She wasn’t an idiot, she knew the importance of cutting the ears of elves. And he had been sentenced to life in prison.
She didn’t even get that.
So they were talking about the massacre of Cassie’s family, and the Dwarf had been comparing it to something in Sam’s past. That had to be it. It wasn’t about Kilik…
(Gods, she’s spitting mad. But she’s my senior and I can’t call ‘er out on it! I just hope Sam has the guts to put her in her place–poor thing.)
Of course, Lin feels terribly for Cassie. Lin grew up watching her family and friends slaughtered, one by one; she can obviously relate to that kind of pain. And to have all of that happen at once, and then for the killer to avoid capital punishment…there’s no excuse for being an insubordinate solider, but Lin is at least human enough to recognize suffering when she sees it.
“No. He slaughtered millions of Halflings, continued a mindless war, and was responsible for the death of millions of elves. Before that, he personally tortured and broke several boys to build an elite team of assassins. Your parents were mutilated, but they died as themselves. I saw someone perhaps irrevocably changed due to his brutality. I had every reason to murder that man. To put him through the same torture he had put both the love of my life and my home through. To make him feel that same pain.
“Instead, I just removed his ears. Millions of people dead, lives destroyed, and the desire to do more, and I removed his ears. I did that not because it would satisfy my own desire for revenge. I did so because it’s what he deserved. Because killing him would have made me another tyrant; just another result of the machine that is Exbaltaira. I removed his pride as an elf and his ability to dominate and control others.
“Twitch will lose its magic and, with time, the deranged values that Isiastride had instilled in it. And that is Justice.”
“…no it won’t.” Cassie replied abruptly. “That’s not how the Ryque family works.”
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