Rule of Thumb

An excerpt of Yari's life on post-Skath invasion Piraeus. The powers that be make a lesson of Yari, for her crime of domestic disobedience. Spoiler - it ain't pretty.

Rule of Thumb
Summary: An excerpt of Yari's life on post-Skath invasion Piraeus. The powers that be make a lesson of Yari, for her crime of domestic disobedience. Spoiler - it ain't pretty.
Date: 16/09/17
Related Logs:
Sheridan, Piraeus

Eight minutes, twenty-three seconds - the duration of her trial, one that Yari is certain must be a new record, in the deliberation of fates for disobedient wives. She'd heard stories of briefer sessions, some women dragged straight away from the scene of their crime to the gallows.

But she hadn't murdered her unborn babe. She hadn't gelded her man. She'd only bruised the tip of Titos' nose in a viciously reactive slap - one she hadn't imagined herself capable of until the sound of it clapped her own ears. Neither had he, of course. Which is why they are here. Some of the blame is his own to bear, bringing a lowborn, farming wench into the midst of lively conversation among her betters.

The trial was not to determine guilt, no, his word and the word of the other few faces present were more than enough to account for that. The trial was to decide if she ought suffer the full ten lashes that law dictates she receive for her trespass on domestic order, or if Titos might hold enough sway in the community, in the court, to reduce it to five.

She had birthed him 2 healthy sons already, he'd professed, and were it not for a treacherous poisoning of food supply by rebels earlier in their marriage, the count would by now be up to three. She'd nearly perished from the sickness, he reminded them, and from the miscarriage that followed. That sort of loss festers in the mind, said the respectable Doctor. Can drive the weaker sex mad. Besides, their younger son was still nursing and Yari had always produced good milk. He didn't want his boy's food supply endangered by too brutal a beating, or death.

How very touching.

Yari listened from the box they'd put her in - curtained off from all courtroom faces, lest any one of the attendees see the remorse in her eyes. Nay, that wasn't the real reason. The Priests didn't care, and it was their judgement that really mattered. They just wanted her to hear it. Wanted her to feel the fear and anticipation of the maiming to come. It's a feeling she'd grown accustomed to, by now.

The last fifty-eight seconds of trial were the worst because they were silent. She pretended she could hear their thoughts and just /knew/ they were ugly. Then a resolute thump of the gavel preceded a booming "Five lashes of the cane," and the curtain parted suddenly from behind, where a pair of rough hands jerked her out of the box and looped a cloth gag over her face. A third hand seized her chin, forced open her jaw while the person behind yanked the gag up into position.

Eight minutes and twenty-three seconds, she reminds herself as they march her through the street now, frightened eyes darting in search of a sympathetic face - any face - willing to make eye contact. A new record. Eight minutes of their precious free time they'll never get back. A triumph, even if small and pointless.

Someone throws a rock, then, followed up by a shout. "Ungrateful cunt!" It misses, thankfully, goes whistling by her ear and strikes the ass of the officer's mount in front of her. The horse snorts irritably and kicks up into the crowd until they can restore order to the beast's hurt feelings. One of her escorts breaks away to pursue the culprit whose terrible aim has just condemned him to a sound beating about the ears, but the rest of the procession resumes without a hitch and she's soon half stumbling, half lifted up the rough-cut steps leading to the hangman's stage.

"NNNGH!" Yari's throat is raw already, screaming pleas for mercy to her husband standing just over there as a booted heel drives into the back of her knees, one at a time, and drops her into a more prayerful position. Her wrists are loosed from their binds just long enough for them to wrestle her hands apart and tie her arms around a supportive beam in front of her so that crumpling into a pathetic heap won't be an option.

The crowd has reassembled after the brief confusion of that heckler's demise and all eyes are on her. Cold eyes, bored eyes, curious eyes, condemning eyes, scornful eyes, sad eyes. Sad eyes!? Yari fixates on the woman's face, 11 o'clock from her position, three kerchiefed heads back from the front. She isn't expecting an intervention on her behalf, or even a miracle. Just a kind face that she might concentrate on until this humiliating ordeal is at end, or she's lost consciousness. Her heart pounds furiously away, lungs aching for bigger gulps of air than the gag allows. It might not be long, now.

The sad eyes are looking past her then, to the shadow that looms behind and Yari twists 'round to also look, but has her head yanked back down by her hair. "Stupid girl!" The executioner sneers. "Ain't yer face the good Doctor wants smashed in, though if you were /my/ woman…" The scarf worn over her head is ripped off, cast aside and reclaimed by one of the attending priests. It was red, a holy color, and unfit for such a sinner as her. It is replaced with a drab brown one, then drawn roughly up and over her head, down over her face.

Her comforting eye contact with the stranger in the crowd is severed by sack cloth. It absorbs her tears, stagnates her air.

A terrifying *RIIIP* sends buttons skittering across the wooden deck. The same hands which redressed her head are now tearing open her gown, exposing her back, from nape to rump. Calloused fingers paw at her brassiere, but a sharp word from Titos can be heard over the crowd and the clasps are spared. It was expensive.

She can hear the dull thud of boots ascending the steps to her left, then different hands take over and gently undo the delicate bits of hardware. The whole thing gapes apart and slides more or less out of the way, caught inside the sag of her gown's front between spread arms. At least the breeze feels lovely, whispering through the gaps 'round her ribs. She wonders if folks viewing from the side are getting the eyeful they'd hoped for.

And then, the jeers and cheers start to die down, dropping the din to a low hum of muttering, expectant stares.

"ONE!" So it begins.

The cane cracks down hard across her back, a stroke that spans from shoulder to shoulder, she's sure of it. She hadn't a good look at the punishing stick, wasn't sure of its width, but the force it wields speaks for itself. Although Yari needn't cry out to testify to its power, a yelp of pain and surprise squeaks out anyway, followed by a few hiccuped breaths and heaving whine.

She wants to vomit.

"TWO!" a few voices in the crowd join in the count this time.

Nononononononoooo *THWACK* A deeper, more soulful cry sobs around the gag before she sucks it back in, swallows it down, holds her breath. What prayer must she utter to descend into the depths of Poseidon's peace? To drown by her own will? She tries to picture the milky shimmer of light over the ocean's floor, to feel the caress of lapping waves turn to silky seaweeds as she sinks down…down….down.

"THREE!" A bark of jubilant laughter from off stage threatens to jerk her up from the depths, and instead of soft sand, it's splintering beams her knees get ground into by this third strike. The blow is more glancing than direct and her skin splits open across the hump of rib.

The light castoff of blood gets the crowd roaring again and all eyes that might have been sympathetic are mindfully glazed over with neutral expression. Yari's face twists fiercely under its shroud and an enraged howl forms deep in her throat. The sharp pang of breaking fingernails barely registers as her hands make a final attempt to claw at the wood, claw at the ropes, wrists writhing like strangling snakes in their nooses.

What little reverie she'd found is broken and once again it's the stink of her own anguish that fills her nostrils, the bitter taste of sweat frothing in her mouth.

"FOUR!" She hears the blow more than feels it, body already numb with the agony of the first three. The force of it knocks her forward and her brow connects with the beam supporting her arms.

Darkness. She's found it. A swirling, whirling sensation draws her under the churning storm of consciousness and leaves her floating in blissful nothingness.

The crowd pauses in its noise when she slumps over, held up solely by her bound arms. The executioner lowered his arm, waiting to see if she'd pick her head up again. She doesn't. His boot kicks out lightly, knocking her hip, but there's no response, no flinch, no whimper. Her bruised and bloodied back twitches - shallows breaths a sign that she's alive enough. He turns to look between the priests and Titos for a declaration of what to do.

Titos rolls his eyes grimly aside at the disgusting swine of a crowd that's gathered to witness this display of law and order. They'd love to hear her cry out one more time, he knows. How disappointed they must be…

"Go on," he barks irritably, waving a hand at the cane-wielding oaf. "Let's be done with it and get back to our lives. I'm sure these good people have a full day of honest work they ought be returning to….."

Said oaf actually seems a little disappointed. He nods, obedient nevertheless and winds back his arm for the final stroke. The fifth lays out across her buttock - a fine parting shot to send the bitch on her way.

Titos does not appear half as amused as the rest of the spectators. He's already back on stage, shouldering the executioner aside and tugging what he can of Yari's gown back into place to deny the man his perv-eyed view of his handiwork.

It is done.

Hours later, Yari's head swims with angry squalls of sound. Too topsy turvy to make heads or tails of it all, let alone why the sun has gone away and is replaced by twinkling starlight out her window. The sheet smells perfumed beneath her cheek - freshly laundered. The curtains dance and a cool breeze burns over her naked back.

Bits of the senses merge into stronger consciousness by the time Titos is done slathering her hide in salves and bandages. More's the pity. She can hear the ice in his tone as he asks if she's comfortable.

"Good," he replies, despite her inert silence. "Because tomorrow sees us back on schedule."

Schedule. Dr. Titos Baltus - ever the professional.

Yari doesn't answer and lets her lashes flutter shut. Despite feeling as though she's been rolled over by a rhino, she can honestly say it was worth it, that slap. Worth it even against the rule of thumb, or (as she'd swear it was) rule of wrist.

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