0045 – Leftenant Faulkner: A Good Man, Part 5

“O hewa’re kai’koer, lawis o uha’se la’ihe.” Said K’Pale.

“So I took the blame for my sister breaking the spears.” Pak’ton translated.

“So…… I……… took…….” Cassius read aloud, obnoxiously, as he took each of Pak’ton’s words down.

Faulkner drummed his fingers impatiently on the tabletop. Every single question had necessitated this irritating wait. How could a man advance to the position of Scribe if he couldn’t write without narrating the words to himself? Or even, simply, if he was as atrociously slow at it as Cassius?

Finally, Scribe Cassius finished his sentence, laid his pen fully to rest, straightened his back, and assumed an upright, attentive posture once again. His face bore an irritatingly innocent smile.

“How long was your sentence supposed to be, before we came to invad–”

Cassius shot Faulkner a look. Only the correct terminology would do in the presence of a Scribe.

“… To liberate the village?” Faulkner finished.

“O Ka’hose lon’ihi make’tion on ava’ua ho’hir ka’hale?” Pak’ton asked, substituting Faulkner’s choice of vocabulary back into his phrasing.

“Umiq’ze journa’la.” K’Pale responded.

“Fifteen days.” Pak’ton translated.

“Fif……….. Teeeeeeen……….. Daaaaaaaayyysss……….” Cassius mouthed, impossibly slowly.

Faulkner rolled his eyes.

“I believe that’s all the information we need to facilitate the transfer of this prisoner formally to Regulan custody, and apply for his release in turn. Is that so, Scribe Cassius?” Faulkner asked.

Cassius responded to the question by painstakingly scrutinising every single piece of information he had taken down over the course of the entire interview. This took quite some time.

“It is.” Cassius concluded, once everyone else’s minds had already started to wander.

“Excellent.” Faulkner rose to his feet. Pak’ton followed suit, but Cassius simply began to meticulously pack away his papers. Given how easily they could be sullied if any of the seals did not hold, Faulkner actually didn’t blame him.

“Auxiliary Pak’ton, please explain to K’Pale what has to happen now.”

Pak’ton gave a salute, and then dragged a chair around to the other side of the table, taking a seat next to the young boy.

The Agarthan conversation began in hushed tones, and Faulkner took this as his cue to confer with Cassius.

“How long will it take you to have all the requisite forms drawn up?” Faulkner asked the bespectacled man. He wondered how such glasses even managed to fit inside the breather. Their rims did look a little warped.

“I really couldn’t say.” Cassius mused, carefully sliding the protective document tubes into their exactly sized holsters. “As I’m sure you can imagine, if the requisition forms for the replacement breather filters aren’t filed in good time, the Auxiliaries in particular could suffer dire consequences.”

Faulkner knew better than to question whether the Regulan army would allow its rank and file to suffocate for lack of the proper paperwork.

“Come on, Cassius.” He said, putting a black-gloved hand on the man’s shoulder. “This boy’s been sat here long enough. It’s only a couple of sheets, isn’t it?”

Cassius sighed. “In the morning, Leftenant. You’ll have them in the morning.”

“Good man!” Faulkner exclaimed, giving the feeble fellow a hearty clap on the back. Cassius coughed into his breather.

As Faulkner readied himself to leave the jailhouse, he gave both Pak’ton and K’Pale a kind look. The boy still looked dismayed, even though from the sound of it, Pak’ton was trying his best to make the situation sound optimistic.

Taking a gamble on the gesture meaning the same thing to Shrouders as it did to him, Faulkner gave the boy a thumbs up. He was met with a quizzical look in response.

——————-

As the C.O. of the occupation detachment, Captain Perrin had first pick of the houses in the village. A lesser Captain may have chosen the most opulent quarters for himself, but Perrin had opted instead for the most functional choice.

The vacant building had clearly, once, been a school. Its outer chamber had a variety of storage hooks and holes, perfect for storing equipment. The large hall, a former classroom, had plenty of chairs and a board that came in handy for briefings. The teacher’s study proved more than adequate as a private quarters, too.

Faulkner rapped on the Captain’s door, praying that he didn’t smell too strongly of tobacco.

“Come.” Captain Perrin commanded from within.

Faulkner opened the door and stepped beyond the threshold.

Most of the soldiers who were housed in one of Dark Hollow’s many empty cottages had, by now, made some attempt to make them a little more homely. The Captain, unsurprisingly, did not approve of this practice, and his own quarters showed it. The room was spotless but incredibly spartan, and Faulkner suspected that this was probably, cleanliness aside, exactly how it had been found.

Faulkner addressed his superior, his posture rigid, his salute textbook perfect.

“Sir.” He produced the papers, sealed in Scribe’s document tubes. “Requesting your signature in your capacity as Occupying Force Commanding Officer, sir.”

Captain Perrin always wore a sombre expression. His mood was virtually impossible to determine. He unsealed the documents, laid them out neatly on his desk, and read thoroughly, in silence.

Faulkner remained standing to attention.

After some time, Captain Perrin spoke. “The prisoner transfer is in order, Leftenant.” He took one of the many neatly ordered pens from the breast pocket of his dress uniform, and added his signature to those of Faulkner, Pak’ton, and Cassius.

Faulkner breathed a sigh of relief. The boy could now be fed properly, at least. “Thank you, sir.”

Perrin finished signing, meticulously stowing the pen away, before he spoke again.

“The subsequent release of the prisoner, however, is not.”

Faulkner had anticipated this hurdle. “He will require a trial, sir?”

“Under Regulan law, yes.” Captain Perrin had begun to roll and stow the documents. “Given the circumstances, and the close-knit nature of this settlement, his innocence should not prove difficult to establish.”

“Understood, sir.” Faulkner saluted. “Thank you, sir.”

“Arrest the sister.” Perrin ordered. “She will attend the trial, and stand accused in his stead.”

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