"Move faster!" The guard yells. We shuffle our feet faster. I roll my eyes, why was I even here? A few feet in front of me, a girl trips and falls to the ground, nearly knocking everyone else down with her, disturbing the line. I sigh, this was going to be a long while to wait. Some people shout at her, others curse, and no one helps her up. I laugh inwards bitterly. What a selfish world we live in. She quickly apologises and tries to stand up, only to be pushed down again by a big, muscular boy in front of her. He steps on her wrist, and she cries out in pain. Bending down right near her face, he smiles a crooked smile, showing very yellow teeth. I don't really understand the reason for him to do it, but I guess he needs to feel superior to live. Others around her whisper and some even still glare at her. No one helps her, still. No one stands up for her. No one cares. Of course they don't. I turn my head back towards the girl and sigh. I'm tempted to just run and leave this slow line, cause I have somewhere to be.
But looking at the girl, tears streaking down her face, silently crying while everyone else stares down at her, I can't go. I sigh once more. This time, at myself. Guess I really do have to step in today. I slowly walk over to where the girl is. I can feel everyone's eyes on me as I directly reach my hand down to her. Her eyes widen in shock, clearly not expecting help from a stranger, much less after that scary looking boy pushed her. But after a moment, she hesitantly lets me help her up. Her glossy black eyes stare into mine questioning, why? And I merely shrug. Her eyes seem to widen even more. I ignore the not-so-nice comments from the people as we stand. The boy looks at me with disgust. I return the look, pointing my finger to his chest.
"Touch her again, and you will lose a hand." It was clear. Simple, and direct. I wasn't here to start a fight, but I had to warn him. My patience had been ruined because of him, afterall.
"What can a girl like you do?". He scoffs, "Yell at me? Oh no I'm so scared!" He laughs in my face, swatting my finger away. "I don't have time for your petty threats little girl. Now, bow down and beg for mercy before it's too late, and I might just forgive you." I glare at him in response. Just because my sixteen-year-old body is a little tiny, people call me "little girl". What they don't realise is that this little girl can beat their asses in two seconds. I tilt my head, and smile up at him. One punch won't do much damage. As I start to lift my hand, one of the guards comes running towards us.
"What's going on here?!" He looks really old, and tired. "You're not in your backyard, in here you work!" He says sternly. I turn my eyes back to the boy and smirk.
"Why sir, just a certain someone was trying to stop this poor girl—," I gesture to the girl next to me, "–from moving in line. And when I tried to get them to move again, he just goes and tries to start a fight." I put on my best innocent face. I am just a little innocent girl trying to follow the rules. No one can blame me right? "Oh lord! Just look at the state he put her in, she's crying so badly. It's all his fault!" The guard looks at the boy, apparently deciding from his body and expression that he is guilty after all, because I see the guard bring his hand back. I turn my head in time to see the boy go pale. The guard looks at him and brings his whip in a swift motion, and strikes the boy on his arm. The boy screams and crumples to the ground. The guard, satisfied, turns and walks back to the end of the line. I look away in disgust. I had forgotten that the guards' way was always whipping people like us.
"Get back in line!" He yells over his shoulder. The boy, now on the ground being ignored by everyone else, clutches his arm. I walk over to the boy, and grab him by the same arm to pull him up. I don't give him the chance to speak.
"I'm not sorry, I will do it again if I have to." My gaze pierces through him. "Hope you've learned your lesson. How's little girl for you now, bully boy? Try not to get hit again." I squeeze a little tighter, and he winces in pain. Slowly, everyone gets back into line, the girl behind me now.
"Um, -I...thank you." She murmures. I shrug not looking back at her.
"I did what I thought was right." I reply in a low voice. That seems to quiet her. For a while, anyway. After a few minutes, she speaks up again.
"I'm Celia, by the way," she whispers quietly.
"I didn't ask for your name." I turn to look back at her. At her messy blond hair, way better than my jet black uncontrollable hair. She goes red at my comment. She looks like she's hurt. It's not like I said something mean to her, just stated a simple fact to tell her I don't really care. I sigh in my head. I sometimes forget that people have these kinds of personalities too.
"Margaret, Mar," I say after another couple of minutes. She grins immediately, and somehow I think I see her black eyes glow. She's a strange one.
As we continue walking we see a huge, fancy, brown door. It opens up wide, almost making no sound. Before us, a large hall spreads out into a huge room. We slowly trudge forward, still in one line. The walls seem to be made of very expensive materials. A huge opening at the top is the only light source in the room. Although, it's still fairly hard to see much in the room, it seems like the sun hasn't fully risen yet. There's also an enormous vintage clock on the wall to the right of us. The time reads 6:07. I yawn, looks like I really didn't get enough sleep yesterday. Huge pieces of furniture surround the room. Wonder how much one could get me? So, it looks like this was one part of the royal castle. We move forward, allowing me to capture more of the surroundings near me. I gape in amusement. The amount of money I could get-
"First time?" Celia whispers. I nod ever so slightly, still staring at the room. I can see Celia beaming right next to me, itching to talk. I face back at her, I wonder how old she is. She looks about my age, if not a bit younger. She's also pretty tall. Way taller than me. At least she has something good going for her. Although her height doesn't compensate for how frail and weak she looks. She looks like she couldn't hurt a fly, let alone end up in a place like this. What is she doing here? She doesn't look like a typical criminal, then again these types of people did have the benefits in being a criminal. Whatever small and easy crime it could be. I turn my head back to the room. The old guard comes out from the back off the line, and scowls at us. I scowl at him right back. He's a monster, just like the rest of the guards. I pay no respect to him, nor will I to any of these dirty scumbags. They do this work right under the king's nose, and the king doesn't even know. Who knows where we will end up now, us criminals.
"Lower your eyes down!" He says to me. I grit my teeth, these people really need a lesson, but not now. I have to find out more important things, so I had not better get into more trouble before. I bite my tongue from saying not-so-nice things that may get me into more trouble. Hesitantly, I let my eyes down.
"Sorry sir, but what is going on? It's kind of my first time here?" I ask sweetly. He frowns at me like I'm stupid.
"All of you here are responsible for crime or are bad influences that need to be punished. And you—" He points at me, "—you are held responsible for assaulting and nearly murdering a courtsman!" His voice booms and everyone stares at me. I just stare at him in shock, I want to laugh so bad that I have to cover my mouth with my hand.
"I'm sorry, what?" I put ona confused face.
"Don't act innocent, girl. Don't tell me you forgot what happened yesterday already?" I think of all the things that happened yesterday, trying to figure out what he meant. Oh-
So that man was a courtsman.
"Wait, you're telling me bumping into someone is assaulting?" I answer with an amused smile. The old man laughs at me.
"You won't be smiling when you get your punishment." He grins. I roll my eyes and look to the front of the line. I've seen the worst, nothing that he can give me as a punishment will hurt more than what I've already seen, and witnessed. That day, when I was just ten…I had seen something that would burn as a scar in my mind forever. My mind wouldn't ever be the same, and I wouldn't ever think the same. I shouldn't even think about it, because of the deep ache inside my chest, that keeps pulling me towards something that lurks beneath the shadows, dark and threatening to open. And when it does, let's just say…all hell will break loose. And I don't want to be a part of it. I shake my head to get rid of the thoughts.
"Hey, you okay? You look lost." Celia whispers in my ear, that sends chills down my spine.
"Yeah I'm fine, it's nothing. Where are we anyways?"
"Looks like we're right before the court…" She stares at what now looks like the entrance of very high ceilings and very professional looking brown wooden benches. Rising above all, is a judge seat surrounded by pictures of some people on the walls. Our line keeps moving straight inside, where there are more guards instructing people to sit on the more dirtier, old benches behind the polished brown wooden benches that were almost impossible to see until now. They were like hidden in the dark, almost purposefully, I suspected. I guess some people want to watch from the shadows.
As we reach the guard, one of them points to me and then to the benches to the right. When I look back, I see Celia moving to the left benches, as she turns around to pout slightly at me. I don't return it, but I do scoot more towards the left a bit. Not because of Celia, but because I just happened to notice bully-boy next to me. He sort of looks afraid of me, and I guess he should. Remember that the next time he decides to cross me, it would probably end worse than a whip on his arm. Ouch! I laugh darkly to myself. Honestly, sometimes I think I have a living devil inside me, merciless. And ironically, I'm not the only one who thinks that. I smirk and lift my head towards the front. People keep talking and whispering near us. Looks like I'm not the only first timer here.
"Shut the hell up before I hang you all!" A loud voice thunders and I look to see who it is, only to find a relatively tiny man with an abnormally large grey beard, standing on a podium to the right of us, facing us with an angry look in his face. "You all are criminals, so you are treated like criminals," He moves forward a bit. Suddenly, I notice a bit too many people with fresh new whip marks all around me. A man dressed in full black comes out of nowhere and whispers in the man's ear.
"I need Margaret Langan to come up here right now."