It had been two weeks since the trial. Old memories bubbling up, Janna watched the officials assemble on the platform. She shuddered and George put his hand on her shoulder as the crier opened his scroll.
"...With the great gratitude of the Sparrow family and with the gratitude of the Mayor and the Empress, we present a reward of five gold coopers to Claire Parker for discovering the crimes of Conrad Joiner. Lady Parker will also be given into the care of the Master Herbalist Fox, who has graciously taken her into his household and will teach her his trade."
"Told her I'd get her something." George muttered to himself, dropping his hand to his side. Janna smiled.
Claire, looking different in a dress that fit, shyly crossed the platform. The Mayor handed her a bag and a scroll. The bag quickly disappeared into her skirts.
"The Empress has also decreed a reward of three gold coopers and a commendation be given to Captain Byer of the Imperial Navy ship Osterman, as a reward for his work in alerting the Guardsmen of Maple Station."
Captain Byer, resplendent in his dress uniform, marched to the front of the stage. The Mayor handed him a bag and a scroll, which he accepted with dignity.
"Daddy! Daddy!" "Hooray for Daddy!" two little girls called from the crowd. He smiled as chuckles rippled through the crowd.
Janna looked over at the mage's family. The girl, her name was Martha, looked drawn and stared out over the heads of the crowd. George had said her injuries were deep, but now not even the barest smudge of a bruise marred her face. The Imperial Healers had done an amazing job, the only remaining sign of her ordeal was the cast on her right arm. She watched Captain Byer quietly as crossed back across the stage in front of here, then turned and said something to the woman next to her. The woman said something and she nodded. The woman whispered to a man on her other side and he leaned forward and looked at the girl questioningly. She nodded again. All three of them stood up and walked off the platform.
"...You, Conrad Joiner, have been judged by Imperial Law and you are to be hanged until death." The scroll closed with a snap. He turned to Conrad. "Any last words, sir?"
He shook his head, and his chains rattled.
The executioner stepped forward and started to lead him to the gallows, Janna turned away. George followed her as she started towards home.
They strolled in silence for a while. "Benjamin, used to have us work the crowd at hangings." She said, after several minutes.
"Benjamin?" George asked. "Was he the one from before?"
Janna nodded. "Before I met you."
"One time... He said I needed practice. I don't know what I did, but he got angry and he said I needed practice." She paused and took a breath. George waited.
"He sent me out to the gibbet. It was so hot that year. You couldn't breathe it was so hot. So he sent me out to th-the gibbet and he said get me the money in the man's pocket. That man... th' body –" she swallowed, "had been there a while. Oh Gods, the smell! And Guards all over... and the crows... They made so much noise! But I had to get it. I reached in there, deep..." She paused again, staring at the cobblestones as she walked. "I got a handful of maggots. There was no money."
George sighed. The only outward sign of his emotions.
"You did a good thing, you know. Helping that girl." he said, after a moment.
Janna squinted up at the bright afternoon sun. "Thanks." she said.