The towering grandfather clock on the opposite side of the room ticked with anticipation. It’s pendulum seemed to move more and more slowly as the seconds swung by. Five-year-old Princess Jessica swung her feet beneath her oversized chair and felt very small. Everything in the court room seemed so big! She didn’t like being in here, no, not at all! She plastered a convincing pout on her face just to prove it.

Kaia jabbed her in the side and hissed, “Pay attention!” but Jessica only stuck her tongue out at her older sister. Kaia ignored this and continued to stare out at the man being convicted, her hands folded in her lap just like a proper princess. Just because Kaia was older, she pretended to be really interested in the Royal Court, but Jessica knew that her sister was just pretending because it made their mother happy. She sat back heavily against the velvet cushioned chair and looked at the ceiling. She could see the clouds and blue sky through the pretty dragonglass, and it was almost like being outside on the big hill, lying in the grass.

“Do you know who that man is?”

Jessica turned to look at her father, who had leaned down to whisper in her ear. She shook her head, reddish-brown braids tickling her ears as they swayed. Jessica noted the particular twinkle in his eye that there was whenever he was about to tell an exciting story. She pushed all thoughts away of her mother and the Royal Advisor who were talking to the red-haired man on trial and focused on her father.

“Tell me who he is, Daddy!”

He laid a stern eye on her. “You must promise that you’ll sit very quietly.”

“Oh, I promise!”

A glimmer of a smiled played on his lips. “Very well. That man is a pirate. Do you know what pirates are, little Jessie?”

She shook her head, but her gut feeling told her that pirates must be something terrible and exciting.

“Pirates are tricky people. They sail on big ships that all men fear. They steal lots of gold and hide it on secret islands,” he tugged at her braid. “This man is a very scary pirate indeed. He stole gold from three of our ships, and even more from the Kryii king.”
Jessica scrunched up her face. “Shouldn’t we like him if he stole from the Kyrii king?” Young as she was, even she knew that the Kyrii people were mean people, people who ripped the heads off little girl’s dolls and made their ponies run away.

The King nodded and chuckled. It seemed like they were invisible to her mother and the Court, and Jessica reveled in it. “We do like him, Jessie, or at least, I do. Now pay attention.”

As though on cue, the voice of her mother rang out into the din. “The Court may now offer their opinions on the sentencing of the pirate Captain Ronald Silard.”

Her father stood. Jessica thought he looked very handsome in his fine purple and gold vest and shined shoes, but apparently her mother disagreed, for she glared at him when he spoke. “I propose that the pirate be not imprisoned, your majesty, but instead offered these conditions. He should be allowed to sail the Water with his same crew unpunished if he agrees to pay a commission to the country of Malai and ne’er again poach one of our ships.”

“Nay, Majesty, kill him,” hissed the advisor.

Jessica watched intently, looking from her proud father to the pale advisor who always stood at her mother’s side. The two locked eyes, blue eyes holding hazel as her father pushed. Finally the advisor pulled his gaze away and looked at her mother. The Queen appeared tired, blonde strands of hair pulling loose from her impeccably tied bun.

“Your Majesty?” the advisor pressed.

The Queen stood. Her white dress robes fell around her like clouds. “Let it be known that on this day the pirate Captain Ronald Silard was sentenced to a life of servitude as a privateer in the Malaian Royal Navy. He is to sail with his same crew and pay a commission of twenty percent of his findings to the state. Should he or any member of his crew harm Malaian personnel or property, they shall all be put to death without trial.”

She turned her gaze to her husband, eyes narrow in warning. They seemed to say if anything happened, he would be held entirely responsible. Her father nodded and sat back down. Jessica turned her eyes to the pirate. He bowed his head down and muttered, “Many thanks, your Majesty,” and Jessica wondered if he was talking to her mother, or to her father, who truly rescued him. Jessica smiled and hugged her father’s arm. He did not hug back, but she knew he had to be very official in Court.

The Queen picked up the golden septer by her throne and tapped it three times against the floor.

“Court adjourned.”

.

Word: Pendulum. || Time: 15 minutes. || Character: Jessica fa Laure.

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something to think about

"You know, I don't know if you'll understand this or not, but sometimes, even when I'm feeling very low, I'll see some little thing that will somehow renew my faith. Something like that leaf, for instance - clinging to its tree despite wind and storm. You know, that makes me think that courage and tenacity are about the greatest values a man can have. Suddenly my old confidence is back and I know things aren't half as bad as I make them out to be. Suddenly I know that with the strength of his convictions a man can move mountains, and I can proceed with full confidence in the basic goodness of my fellow man. I know that now. I know it." ~ End of Act I in the musical You're a Good Man, Charlie Brown.

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