Medievia Mudslinger

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 work.

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 in.

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 true.

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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