“So, Lady Cliton,” said Dame Myrna of house Rotary, raising a javelin to her shoulder, “on that night, as the embassy keep in BenGayzi was being stormed and its defenders slaughtered, rather than mount a rescue force, you retired to your bedchamber. Is that correct?” She did not release the weapon, just glowered down at Lady Hersterya in the inquisition pit, trying to pin her in place with her eyes.
The Assembly of Knights BenGayzi Inquisition’s interrogation of Lady Hersterya Cliton had been in progress since mid-morning, and in a few minutes the sun would set behind the western battlements of the inquisition tower. Scores of javelins, maces, battle axes, and obsidian-tipped war bolos littered the floor of the circular chamber, and so far few if any of them had done more than inconvenience Lady Hersterya. Only her shield showed signs of damage, as it had by then deflected hundreds of blows.
While waiting for the other boot to drop from the preening Dame Myrna, Uma inspected the faces of the Grand Inquisitors, looking for some sign that they were tiring and might call a halt to this farce before it was dark. But she saw no such sign. Most of them, especially those belonging to the houses Republican, hated and feared Lady Cliton, as indeed they should, and they were as desperate as she had ever seen them in their lust to land a crippling blow. The Grand Inquisitors were arrayed in obsidian thrones atop a semi-circular stone palisade encrusted with the skulls and bones of the Inquisition’s countless long-forgotten guests....
The bone encrusted palisade placed the inquisitors a dozen feet above the floor, where Hersterya now stood, and the knights used their lofty positions to rain killing blows down upon the accused down in the pit. Or so they did in theory anyway. In truth, inquisitions in the present age were often boring, and despite a long and arduous gestation, frequently produced no issue. The knights of the houses Republican, who were in charge of this proceeding, were, with a few exceptions, notoriously poor inquisitors, more interested in displaying their prowess at brandishing weaponry, and being seen to bloviate energetically as they did it, than in striking deadly blows to the accused. Despite their reputation for witch hunts, carefully constructed over decades by the houses Democrat in collusion with the Medium, the timorous and inept knights Republican rarely if ever managed to secure their witch, and the chamber’s high-arched portal of defenestration invariably stood un-sated under their watch. When the houses Democrat were in command of the Assembly of Knights, things were very different, and anyone who was unlucky enough to become the object of an inquisition under their rule was almost certain to go out the port screaming for mercy, probably head first. The unscheduled dethroning of kings was a sterling example, she thought. Evil King Dik the Trickster, whose worst crime in truth had simply been being hated by all except the smallfolk and the middle-men, had not had tricks enough to save himself in the end, and he had left the chamber by the defenestration port. On the other hand, King Willie the Slick, who had single-handedly turned the White Castle into a bordello, had been subject to a typically inept inquisition under the knights Republican, and had left, whistling, through the door by which he had come.
"And were you alone in your bedchamber, Lady Cliton?” said Dame Myrna, finally letting go of the other boot, and hurling the javelin at Hersterya.
“Yes,” Hersterya replied, knocking the javelin aside with her shield.
“For the entire night?” pressed Dame Myrna.
Hersterya laughed heartily at this, then added, “Certainly. I am not my husband, you know.”
..."A good night’s sleep is important at my age,” Hersterya said brightly, and cackled again. There she stood, Uma thought with satisfaction, finally in her element, finally at her best: arrogant, unresponsive, dismissive, and rude, all within a single short exchange. Uma felt herself swell with pride for her ladyship, and for all of house Cliton. She was alone in the pit surrounded by a well-armed ring of hostile inquisitors, and she was not only holding her own, she was, as the popular expression went, drinking their mead-shake.
Seeing she was defeated, Dame Myrna cursed and threw her quiver of weapons clattering to the stones. “I yield back the remainder of my time,” she said in disgust.
The next inquisitor, Sir Gym of house Jardon, rose and began to swing a mace in a lazy arc above his head. “Lady Cliton, why did you lie to the entire Fifty Principalities about the cause of the BenGayzi massacre?”
“I have never lied to the people of the Fifty Principalities,” she said solemnly. Uma knew, along with everyone else in the chamber, that this statement was itself a lie. Hersterya did her best to uphold the traditions of house Cliton, but as hard as she might try, she would never hold a candle to the masterful King Willie, who could lie his way into or out of anything or anyone in the kingdom with remarkable ease.
“Is that so?” asked Sir Gym rhetorically. “You, as well as other king’s counsels, warged around the Principalities blaming the massacre on an obscure mummer’s play that no one has ever seen, but sent a message to your daughter Piccadilly through your private savant on the very night of the attack, saying that it was a coordinated assault by members of al Qaselza.” As he finished he released the mace, which had been picking up speed as he spoke. Hersterya, for once distracted by the challenge, was struck on the breastplate before she could raise her shield. She staggered, reeling from the blow, but did not fall.
“What I said,” she said once she had recovered, “was not that the assault was the result of an evil mummer’s play—which by the way was truly vile—but that others had said it was the result of an evil mummer’s play. Surely I am not responsible for what others say.” It was a riposte worthy of house Cliton, a lie nestled inside a fabrication, wrapped in an untruth, but if King Willie had said it instead of Hersterya, it might actually have been believed.
"You spoke over the bodies of the fallen and blamed a mummer’s play,” Sir Gym insisted.
“That is nothing but a foul rumor,” she said, waving the incident away as if it was a bad odor, “spread by the vast right-winged conspiracy like all the rest.”
[Later Snidely Phukyuall is mentioned, aka Sydney Blumenthal]:
Then, perhaps sensing that Hersterya was at least rattled, if not actually wounded by Jardon’s blow, the Chief Grand Inquisitor, Sir Grey Growdy, lifted a jousting lance and said, “Let us now speak of your secret counsel and long-time henchman, Snidely Phukyuall, with whom you shared royal secrets, and from whom you solicited battle plans, in direct violation of the king’s order that he be banished from the realm.”
“People send me missives all the time,” she said. “My idiot personal savant will relay anything to anyone, it seems.” She glanced briefly, and contemptuously, at the home-brewed savant, who sat under guard to one side of the pit. He seemed insensible of the proceedings going on around him, stuck in an infinite loop perhaps, idly thumbing the pocket game he held in one hand.
Sir Grey raised the lance and pointed it at Lady Hersterya’s heart. “Nevertheless,” he cried, “in direct defiance of your king, you responded, and encouraged this scoundrel, this cutpurse, to—”
[Whence suddenly the hero John Boehner appears.]
Suddenly Uma recognized the orange knight. He was none other than Sir Yon of house Boner, ostensible leader of the knights Republican and Wind-talker for the Assembly of Knights.
Sir Yon gazed up at his fellow knights on their thrones, sitting in judgement, and, his eyes pleading, said, “Come down from your high dais bold knights and save me from this rabble, for they know not what they do.” And upon saying this, he began to weep.
Scores of knights, all of them of the houses Republican, whom Sir Yon had just christened the rabble, had emerged from the tunnel and run into the pit, shouting at Sir Yon and brandishing their blades, but when Boner stood and pled his case to the inquisitors, they became quiet. They stood and stared up at the inquisitors while Sir Yon wept. For half a minute there was silence, save for the blubbering, and no one moved. Then, as one, the inquisitors loyal to the houses Republican drew their swords, leapt down from their palisade, and joined the rabble in advancing on Sir Yon.
“Stop, you imbeciles!” he shouted, “I am your Wind-talker, and I love you as if you were my own bastard sons. Why dost thou forsake me?” Then, seeing that his words had had no effect, he turned and ran across the pit toward the battlements at the rear of the chamber. The angry knights stayed right behind him, and inside of a minute his back was to the battlements, with the tall black arch of the defenestration port in the center.
“All I ever wanted, since I was a lad scraping the scum from the cuspidors in my father’s ale house, was to be a knight of the Assembly, to someday rise to be the Wind-talker. I’ve wanted nothing else, cared for nothing more,” he said through his tears. He held his sword before him, and its blade rang almost continuously from the blows of the knights Republican attacking him from every side.
“And that is precisely the problem,” growled one of the knights. “Give us a Wind-talker who will stop talking for once—”
“Stop talking defeat,” insisted another, and a chorus of yeas was added to the clanging of steel.
“Yes. Stop talking defeat and fight,” said the first knight.
“But the houses Republican control only one third of one half of the—”
Hearing this, the knights snarled at Yon Boner as one.
“No? It is one half of one third then. But in any case not enough. You fellows never give me a break.”
The furious knights began to attack Sir Yon with even more vigor and he retreated, as was his way, until his back was to the dreaded defenestration port itself.
Then, suddenly, he dropped his sword to the floor, and said quietly, “You ungrateful bastards. Fuck the lot of you. I resign.” Then he turned away from them, stepped through the defenestration port, and disappeared.
It seemed to take a moment for the rabble to grasp what Sir Yon had done. Finally one said, “Good riddance,” and a few shouted out their agreement, but then were silent again. After a minute of standing beside the defenestration port, the knight who had been in the van said, “Fine, lads. We are all glad that it is done, and so neatly to boot.” He turned to face the rabble. “And which of you will be Wind-talker now?”
There was another long silence, then one of them said, “Why, we thought ‘twould be you, Sir Vin.”
Sir Vin laughed. “Not me, good sir, not until global summer comes,” he said, by which he meant never, since many in the houses Republican were Deniers. “I thought to nominate you,” he added, and pointed his sword at the other knight.
“No. I think not,” the knight said with a forced casualness, “I have these edicts in committee to attend to, you see.”
“So, we finally oust the useless Sir Yon Boner, and now no one wants to be Wind-talker? Why did not anyone mention this before we threw the wretch out the port?”
“He threw himself out,” said a knight from deep within the rabble.
“It matters not how he exited,” Sir Vin said in exasperation, “What are we going to do for a Wind-taker?” He paused to scowl in thought. “Who are we going to do for it?” There was another round of silence then. At last Sir Vin said, “Since none of you—” He raised a gauntlet to quell their grumbling. “—since none of us would have it, then there is no choice. There is only one knight courageous enough, pious enough, dedicated enough—”
“Foolish enough,” shouted another, and all the knights laughed, nervously.
“Yes, and foolish enough to make himself Wind-talker in these impossible times.” Sir Vin stopped speaking and waited for the call to begin.
“Tryin!” shouted a knight, and soon the cry was taken up by a dozen other knights, and echoing through the inquisition chamber. “Tryin! Tryin! He’ll do anything. Get Pall Tryin!”
April 13, 2016
Hillary and Benghazi Hearings, set in 1500s
A delicious medieval send-up of Hillary's capers and Republican follies:
Posted by TS at 11:11 AM