Taka held out his hands towards the images on the Mosaic.
“We are told by our Queen how to greet the living, and how to handle the bodies of the dead, so we may not be plagued by the disease that once ravaged our people. Whether or not to hold a stranger’s hand may seem like a small thing, but our Queen’s teaching was, and always will be, heeded nonetheless. So now, such habits, such...choices...are forgotten.”
“You gave the old woman a choice. One you had no right to offer. This woman still held humanity’s murderous habits in her heart. She was to be condemned, banished to the Wastes. It was good her son died before spreading his seed, for now his mother’s poisonous hate will not live on beyond her. And yet, even after her blasphemy, you let her walk out of the Amphitheatre with the illusion she was the one who decided the fate of the young man.” Taka looked back towards the mosaic, his eyes watering with tears. “She decided, and not, our Queen.”
“So you see, Daughter. The dead do not corrupt the living, only the living can do that.” Taka turned and looked into Aleja’s eyes. “You did that.”
Aleja, overcome by the force of Taka’s emotions, knelt down before him and hung her head down.
“This Daughter sees the error of her ways, High Chamberlain.” Aleja said through her tears. “How may she undo the damage she caused?”
“She cannot.” Taka’s voice was as cold as his eyes. “Should I fix my own error of appointing you as a Judge? Would it undo any of the evil of the Drowned World you tolerated today?”
Aleja furiously shook her head no. She wondered if Taka noticed her tears, and if he would be swayed by them.
“That is why you are not to judge in your own fashion. You are to only recite the judgements of the Queen. Your dereliction of duty has poisoned those who witnessed the woman’s hateful nature. You are not to give the people a choice. You must know your place, now more than ever, for the Queen has decreed it.”
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