April 22, 2001
Sea of Scrutiny - by Ratarko
He was tired of being watched. His neighbors watched him. His
landlord watched him. His government watched him. His boss watched him.
Everyone watched him. He could go nowhere, without eyes being on his
back. He was trapped, in a sea of scrutiny, and he could take it no more.
His name was Janaeer Trycrous, and he was a simple janitor, keeping the
streets of Medievia City clean. He had been doing this job since he
was a lad, now he was a man of 21. He dutifully, without complaint,
swept and collected the trash left behind by careless adventurers and
tourists. He paid his annual tax of a gold coin, he tipped his hat to the
Mayor when he went by, he suffered without question the many deaths he
suffered at the hands of traveling adventurers. How often he cursed
that he, like everyone else born into this world, would always rise from
the dead soon after passing. He didn't ask for much, and he didn't make
any noise. He was tired of it, and could take it no more.
The week previous, Janaeer invited some friends from work over to his
home, which weren't many. Janaeer was pretty much a loner, and didn't
have much in the way of real friends, but he sought companionship
whenever possible. His colleagues arrived at dusk, and a little ale flowed
amongst them. Things stayed pretty quiet, and the party dispersed a few
hours before dark.
In the morning, Janaeer woke, bathed, and ate breakfast as he usually
did. He put on his gear, looked at himself in the mirror one last time,
and headed out to work.
Opening his front door, he found a piece of parchment tacked just above
the lock. Pulling it off, he opened it, and read the contents. It was
a letter from his landlord, giving him two days to move out. An
eviction notice. The paper cited the reason for this as "disturbing the
peace" by his "drunken revels".
The landlord lived across the street, in a rather fine home. Janaeer
looked up, only to see the curtain to the upstairs window of his
landlord's house fall back into place. The landlord had been watching. He
cursed, throwing the paper to the ground. This was unfair. Nothing had
happened, and he knew for a fact that the neighbors had not complained.
The eyes. They were always on him. He locked the door, and headed for
Janaeer's spirits rose when he spied, walking in the opposite
direction, Kaiylia, the butcher's daughter. He had been quite smitten with her
ever since he had become interested in girls, yet he said nothing to
her, in his shyness. He had never been able to talk to the fairer sex
without blushing and stammering.
Not watching where he was going, he walked straight into a City Guard.
He felt the cold steel of his armor hit him, and he stumbled backwards,
and fell. The guard looked down at him, and sneered.
"Janaeer Trycrous! You clumsy oaf!" He brushed off his breastplate.
Grabbing the janitor by the collar, he picked him up, Janaeer's feet
dangling off the ground. "Better watch where it is you're going, you
worthless piece of offal!" The guard looked around, to see if anyone was
watching. Satisfied that no one was paying any attention to them, the
guard backhanded the thin, stick-like janitor hanging in his grip.
Janaeer felt the plated hand connect. It actually didn't hurt at
first, the shock of it numbing the affected region, but the pain started to
creep in. He knew his cheekbone was crushed. The guard dropped him,
mumbled something about being more careful next time, or you'll get
worse than that. The injured janitor reached into his belt, procuring a
green potion an adventurer had dropped on the road just a few days prior,
and quaffed it. He could feel his cheekbone begin to reconstruct
itself. It wasn't the most pleasant experience, as he held the vial fast,
his knuckles turning white. After a few moments, the pain was gone, and
his face mended, though it was still somewhat sore. He stood up,
dusted himself off, and looked around. Kaiylia looked at him, shook her
head, and walked off. The greengrocer across the way watched him as he
talked to a mounted guardsman. Again, the eyes.
Finally reaching his place of employment with no further difficulties
(he took the back alleyways and such, to try and avoid any new,
bloodthirsty members of the dreaded Newbie Clan), he walked into the employee
lounge, put his spare belongings and lunch (roasted banelar and okra)
into his locker, grabbed a mop, paper spear, and rag, and went to sign
His boss, Yrelliun D'Merlax, was a heavyset man in his forties.
Balding, overweight, and altogether nauseating, he slurped up hot mold juice
from a cup he held in his left hand, a Medievia MudSlinger in the
right. As Janaeer walked to the counter, grabbing a quill, Yrelliun spoke.
"YOU'RE LATE!" Spittle flew.
"I'm sorry sir, I didn't realize it." He didn't make eye contact.
D'Merlax leaned forward in his chair, creating disgusting new rolls in
his stomach as he did so. Looking at Janaeer, he sneered. "I hear ya
got yer butt beat by a guard. Maybe that'll teach ya to respect yer
betters!" He snorted, a bit of green snot poked its head out from his
right nostril. "Maybe I should do that sometime, maybe it will make
you get here on TIME!" His face was red, his voice evolving into shouts.
Janaeer bowed his head, and said nothing. He didn't say a word. After
his boss's tirade, he signed in, ignoring the grotesque creature that
was his supervisor, left out the main entrance, and started to clean the
street in front of the Department of Public Works, picking up pieces of
debris, and whatever else might be on the road.
He toiled for approximately two hours, and stood up from his sweeping.
Running the back of his hand across his forehead, he looked up. The
sun was getting pretty high now, soon it would be time for a break. He
looked left; a young girl was playing with her dolls against the
backdrop of a large red brick dwelling, a weeping willow to the side of the
structure blowing slightly in the wind. Looking to his right, he saw
into the window of the Department of Public Works, only to see his boss
staring at him. Janaeer closed his eyes. He's watching me, he
thought. Why must I always be watched? WHY? He made a decision.
Storming back into his building, he ran into his boss's office. He
held the broom firmly in his grip, and set immediately to beating his boss
to death. He saw the fear in the man's eyes, saw a huge, intimidating
man cowering like a frightened child in front of him. D'Merlax wasn't
D'Merlax anymore. He represented to Janaeer every single man and woman
who had ever beaten him. He was every man and woman who pointed at him
and laughed, saying "There goes Janaeer Trycrous! Look at the
weakling!" They would always laugh. They would always watch him, looking for
an excuse to beat him. Well, he wouldn't be the one beaten, not this
time. He continued to pound Yrelliun.
He finally stopped. Looking down, he gasped at what he had done. His
boss lay in a pool of his own blood. A broken incisor lay next to his
head. Shaking, Janaeer bent down, and felt for a pulse. The man was
still alive. He looked around, afraid for what he had just done. For
once in his life, it seemed that no one was watching him. No one had
seen the atrocity that he had just committed. He looked at the broom in
his hand, and the blood that covered it. He threw it to the ground as
if it were some kind of venomous snake, and wiped his palms on his
shirt. Sweat rolled down his forehead. He looked around, not knowing what
to do. Due to an ancient pact with the Gods, registered adventurers
were granted immunity to the crimes of theft, assault, and murder. He,
Janaeer, was not. If his boss said anything to the guards, he'd be
arrested. He'd never be able to get another job in the city. His life
would be ruined.
Scared, the now ex-janitor grabbed a bag, and started to take anything
of value that was easily portable. He reached down and grabbed the
money purse from the now groaning D'Merlax. He was careful not to step in
the blood. After ascertaining that he had everything he could take, he
ran to his locker, grabbed his food, and sped out the door.
Walking down the street, everyone stopped and stared at the janitor
bathed in blood. Children hid behind their mothers, and guards began to
follow. He tried to act as casually as he could, as he headed east for
the city gates. He couldn't stay here any longer, that much was for
certain. He had to leave.
There were now four guards following him. They had picked up their
pace, and were quickly closing in on him. When they were approximately
twenty paces behind him, he broke out in a run. The gates were closing,
but he knew that he could outrun the guards, since they were laden down
with heavy armor, and he was not.
The gates loomed large as he reached them, and they were nearly closed.
A bell rang, over and over and over. Someone had found D'Merlax, and
he most certainly would have made the identity of his assailant known.
Running now with all his might, he felt his chest tighten, his lungs
unused to this amount of exertion. He closed his eyes, putting all his
strength into a final burst of speed that would carry him through the
city gates, and out of Medievia City.
Opening his eyes only when he felt gravel underfoot, he looked about
him. The cobblestone street of Medievia City had turned into a coarse,
gravel path. Grass grew green on the sides of the road, and beautiful
gardens bloomed all around him. The impossibly tall cast iron fence of
the graveyard loomed to his left, and the wilderness was open to him to
the east and the south. He stopped, wheezing, and looked behind him.
Several guards lined the walls, but there was no further pursuit. The
wouldn't come after him now that he left the city, but he knew what it
would mean if he were to return. He had heard stories, and he
definitely didn't want to find out if what the guards did to prisoners was
His breath regained, he started east. Medievia City eventually grew
dim on the horizon behind him, disappearing as if it never existed. A
grin stole across Janaeer's face. He stopped again, looked around in all
directions, and screamed in joy. There were no more eyes.
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