[From earlier this year.] "Your Grace, " the guard said as he dropped to one knee and bowed his head. Ariana lifted her delicate hand upward slightly as she signaled the man to rise, giving her unspoken permission to approach her. "Here is the incident report from last night, " he said as he handed her a long scroll to her with another bow of his head. She arched an eyebrow as if enticing the man to speak further on the subject as she quietly unraveled the scroll. "A visiting peddler was arrested promptly for speaking blasphemy against our Lord Church, " he continued, "We acted quickly for it pained our very souls to hear our Lord spoken of in such a vile and disgusting manner." He took a step back, keeping his chin tilted downward and his eyes lowered. Ariana lifted her pale blue eyes to study the man for a long moment. The slight tremble of his body and the quickness of his breath spoke volumes. She was sure had she had the sensitivity, the smell of fear would have been rank and suffocating. She smiled calmly and her tone had a sultry gentleness to it, "As it should 'ave f'our Lord is nay deservin' o' such unkind words. Our Lord is one t'whom we all should be eternally grateful for he in 'is venerable wisdom 'as given love an' attention upon our noble city t'at the ignorant would seek t'destroy. It is by 'is grace t'at we live an' it is 'is words t'at feed our souls the succulent nourishment t'at will sustain us long after most others wither an' die. It is only wit' 'is power t'at we may go beyond t'at which others cannae' an' nay even death will 'ave power o'er t'ose wit' whom he is pleased an' whose faith is strong." The guard bowed his head deeper, "You speak only truth, Your Grace." "Indeed, " she said. She looked upon the scroll as she continued, "He 'as been placed in a secure jail cell?" "Yes, Your Grace." "Were there any witnesses to 'is verbal atrocities against our Lord?" she asked. "Myself and two of the other guards, Your Grace. As soon as he started, we quickly moved in. We moved him away as much as possible from the citizens so as to not burn their ears with his vile words. He continued to speak ill of Lord Church as we escorted him to the jail and we finally had to render him unconscious so to not upset those loyal to our Lord." "Very good. It would seem as if 'is guilt is beyond question t'en." "I have no doubt that he will be found guilty at trial, Your Grace." Ariana's pale blue eyes flickered up from the scroll to study the man with a deadly calm, pleasant smile, "Surely ye are nay suggestin' t'at I am lackin' in some manner t'at ye would express a doubt upon such a verdict from my own lips an' retain thy support f'a verdict from t'ose whom are beneath me. I was appointed by our Lord t'care for this city an' surely ye donnae' doubt the judgment o' our Lord, fer if'n I am 'is voice t'an my words speak only truth an' justice. " The guard looked up and paled slightly, "Uhh.. No, Your Grace. I didn't mean to..." She spoke again, raising her voice very slightly to silence him mid-sentence, "Should I 'ave any reason t'doubt my own guards o' our city f'their truthfulness?" "Of course n...n...not, Your Grace, " he said as his voice wavered slightly. She continued to smile, her tone mimicking her facial expression, "I'm relieved t'ear t'at. For if'n I thought even f'an instance t'at I could nay trust the words o' any whom who guard our fair city, I'd be forced to 'ave their... employment... terminated." The guard swallowed, attempting a nervous smile, "Yes, Your Grace. Our love and loyalty is yours. " She looked at him for a long moment and then let her eyes drift back down to the written text upon the incident report. "Are t'ere any others currently bein' detained in our jail?" "He is the only one, Your Grace." "W'en there is nay one t'guard in the jail... w'at is it t'at my loyal an' lovin' guards do wit' their time?" she asked inquisitively. "Our scheduled patrols. In the evening f there are none to guard, most of us can have the night off to relax at the tavern, Your Grace." he said cautiously. She lifted her eyes, attempting to capture his gaze as she did so. "So if'n t'ere was nay one t'watch this evenin'... ye an' most o' yer men would 'ave the night off t'drink an' enjoy yerselves?" He answered hesitantly, "Y..Yes, Your Grace." She slowly began to roll up the scroll, leaning forward slightly on the throne with that same pleasant smile. "It seems almost injust t'me t'at this blasphemer is nay only given food an' water t'at would go t'furtherin' the health o' our loyal citizens, but t'at he deprives my loyal an' lovin' guards o' enjoyin' themselves after t'ey work so diligently in the care o' our city... after all... t'ere is nay doubt in 'is guilt... is t'ere?" "No doubt, Your Grace..." "Splendid. T'en I will trust ye t'see t'at 'is pathetic life does nay cause further hardship on our city than is absolutely necessary..." The guard swallowed as he grasped what she was suggesting. He bowed his head obediently, "Of course, Your Grace." She smiled and gestured towards the double doors with a couple flicks of her wrist. "Thank you, Your Grace..." he said as he bowed and then turned to leave.