The golden lizard man farthest to the left withdrew a scroll from his robe’s white bell sleeve and unfurled it to read. “The hearing for the settlement of debt for the Debtor named Kyle Thompson—”
Mario blurted. “Kyle?!”
Cayn hissed faintly to warn him to be silent. The muscle of jailer’s square jaw bulged. His wide brown eyes flicked about anxiously in thought.
“Sorry,” murmured Mario. I haven’t seen Kyle in, what, six or seven years? Why am I dreaming about him now? I must’ve hit my head pretty hard in this car accident. Man, I hope I don’t have brain damage.
“The hearing has begun,” repeated the golden lizard man with the scroll. “The Debtor Kyle Thompson has failed to repay his debts and thereby accepts forfeiture of his agreed upon lien. By command of the dragon king, that lien, who is the human known as Mario Zickmund, is therefore decreed to be—”
“I’m unfamiliar with that surname,” said a bass male voice with a velvet timbre.
At the interruption, all five lizard men jumped in surprise. The reader rolled the scroll discretely and concealed it in his paws as the five robed lizards bowed deeply in unison.
A darkly dressed figure as large and muscled as Cayn emerged from a side door from the beyond the columns flanking the room. Trailing a midnight blue cloak, the figure bore scaled skin made up of a blend of uneven dark red hues stained with irregular charcoal-colored marks. Twin horns sprouted from his brow and curled backward tightly like ram’s horns.
Mario noticed the tension leave Cayn’s anvil-like fists and heard him exhale.
“Is that the king?” whispered Mario
Cayn nodded, visibly more relaxed.
Instead of climbing the steps to the throne, the king strode to meet the jailer who knelt reverently with a bowed head without giving any etiquette instructions to his shackled charge.
The king loomed over them. “Cayn.”
“This is the human?”
Mario stared back at the king’s eyes which glowed orange-red, like fresh lava. Mario expected to be afraid, or reprimanded for staring, or something. None of those things happened.
Instead, the horned giant smiled.
The king then turned to the golden lizard men standing abreast at the top of the dais and addressed them. “Why are you up there?” he demanded dryly. There was a dangerous edge in his tone. “Or did you mysteriously become the dragon king while I was on the other side of the city?”
No one answered.
The king nodded toward the floor. “Come down from there and give your rulings to his face.” Massive clawed hands clasped behind his back, the king bent to say to Mario, “Don’t forgive their rudeness. Hold it against them forever.” He winked.
When the golden lizard men in the white-and-gold robes were lined up on the ground level, the fellow with the scroll produced it and began from the beginning. The king gazed away to listen as if he’d heard it a thousand times. The scroll reader repeated everything articulately until sentencing when he stammered, earning inquisitive glances from the dragon king and jailer.
“Z-Zickmund’s future and fate will belong to his royal majesty King Vanentin w-which implies Universal Servitude.”
The king’s charcoal rimmed eyes to widened. “I decreed that?”
The reader didn’t look him in the eye. Only held the scroll. Perhaps, he hoped the moment would blow over. Or for the king to simply agree out of making the simplest decision in order to move on with his busy schedule.
“Don’t answer that,” said the king without expression. “I know I didn’t. What I would have written if I wrote that is this: I, the Dragon King Vanentin, commit this human to Special Servitude for the duration of his life as repayment in the stead of the debtor’s failed debts. Cayn, please deliver this human to the commander for enrollment.” Vanentin’s fiery orbs peered down at Mario. “Have you anything to say, Zickmund?”
Mario liked the king’s voice. It was both creepy and beautiful at the same time. “This is the weirdest dream I’ve ever had.”
Vanentin glanced quickly to Cayn who was frowning at his prisoner with the same consternation as when Mario had requested for things to read.
[to be continued…]