Cersei entered the hall with her usual escorts, and a groan escaped from her son’s mouth, as he sat atop his sword seat.
“Mother, must you interrupt justice?” he said with mock sternness. She said nothing and continued to approach him, indifferently stepping around a fresh puddle of blood and other indistinguishable bits. She was wielding a polite smile, in full view of the king now, and her guards fell back. She began to ascend the stairs while utilizing both hands to pinch her skirt so that it would not drag underneath her.
“What is it mother?” the king moaned. “I only have two more cases.”
“Cases? Are you a detective now too?” she smiled, showing genuine interest in her son’s growth as a king.
“Well mother, I have a hunch for figuring out the inner workings of my subjects, so yes I am quite an exceptional detective as I don’t need many clues, if any, not to mention that I can do all this while also judging.” He looked at his hand stretched low, pleased with himself. “But my talents are too many to list, and I would get quite winded telling you of all of them. Besides, it’s frustrating—my talents are too often wasted in the service of justice for the realm, and not often enough used for my own benefit. To that end, I have just two more cases, mother, and then I will go take care of my own interests, not have you dawdles beside me.
“Well it’s of those two cases, actually the next one really, your Grace, that I have come to discuss with you” she said courteously, in a lowered tone.
He adjusted himself to a lower tone: “I can’t be seen taking advice from you… make it fast please before the people start to notice.”
“I understand,” she said. “Your next accused is Walton Wissel of House Melcolm, and I think we’d be better to not upset any potential allies from the Vale.”
Joffrey was just going to speak when a side door clanged open and four guards, two in front and two behind, entered with a haggardly looking man. The man looked as if he weren’t aware that his surroundings had changed from the days of a solitary prison cell. Joffrey smiled.
“Ah, Ser Wissel, so nice of you to join us,” Joffrey got up from his seat. “Guards, you can leave his side, we are all friends here.” The guards stepped away and found wall spaces that were empty.
There was a nervous tension in the room that only Joffrey and Ser Wissel didn’t notice. Someone cleared their throat and Cersei looked up and swallowed, chasing away some inner thought.
Joffrey cleared his throat, “Ser Wissel, I have often been appreciative of your creative mind. As it is you are the only knight I have ever heard tale told of who has never owned armor. Your words are a real talent to you, something I can really relate to as an artist of the letter myself. You are a real muse to me, really,” he said with questionable sincerity. He let that last phrase linger in the silence.
“On previous occasions, when others had advised me to treat you with the full weight of the law,” he shot a stare at his mother, who was now standing very awkwardly. He continued, “When others wanted you brought to justice, I looked the other way, and took your perverted thoughts as necessities to generate your artistic proclivities that I find so akin to my own.”
Joffrey’s smile faded, and his demeanor became stern and thoughtful. He began pacing back and forth across the small platform, his hand pinching his chin as in deep reflection. Ser Wissel looked up at him, anguish now in his face.
“Sadly, Ser Wissel, this time your thoughts have led you astray, and I must assume my post as supreme protector of the realm, both it’s body and mind. I can’t have you disrupting the counting traditions in the kingdom. Peasants are confused enough, and what would The Seven think if they were no longer seven out of ten, but seven out of four?” Joffrey laughed aloud at his own comical mathematical analysis. “I have considered this too in my infinitely subtle mind, and in consulting with my own godliness,” he paused so the hall could consider his deity claim. “No god would stand for being counted as double digits.” Joffrey leapt from the upper to the lower platform of the approach to the throne.
“Just imagine!” Joffrey laughed, getting into his element. He mimed a hidden form: “Here is one god”. He stepped laterally, “here is the second god.” His mother stepped forward to say something to him, but he gestured her a look that made her step quickly back. She held her arms and took to biting her thumbnail and looking down and away. Joffrey moved another spot over.
“Here is the third god,” he outlined. Then he stepped over again, “and then here, here Ser Wissel, is your tenth god.”
“I won’t…” Ser Wissel began to say, but Joffrey continued without acknowledging him.
“Here is your eleventh god, Ser Wissel, and your twelfth god, and your thirteenth god!” his voice growing louder as he spoke.
“Thirteen gods! Just imagine the confusion of my people, Ser Wissel. Many of them are, well, not up to our caliber I’ll say. A base ten number system is challenging enough, moving to a base four system would cause great confusion among my people, it might cause a shut down to the economy. Thumbs should not be counted as fingers!? We have four limbs and four digits on the ends of them all, so four-ness carries the day. Do I have your argument right, Ser?”
“Your Grace, it was just an intellectual musing,” Ser Wissel pleaded “I didn’t mean for it to become anything more than…”
“Just,” Joffrey emphasized, “jussttt an intellectual musing? Well my people’s confusion isn’t the worst of it. What would god’s ten through thirteen think of your,musing?”
“I won’t do it any more, your Grace,” Ser Wissel said in the most apologetic tone he could muster. He was still kneeling but he began to approach Joffrey, grovelling in his own fashion.
“No, you won’t” Joffrey said, in lower tones, disappointed actually. “Maybe, you will,” the beginnings of an idea were evidently growing in Joffrey’s mind. “Since you have an obvious disdain for thumbs, lowering their rank in the hierarchy of digits, I’m assuming you won’t miss them.”
“No, Your Grace!” Wissel pleaded. “I’m only suggesting that thumbs be understood actually as part of a greater order.”
“Are you correcting me Ser?” Joffrey asked. “No, you are quite upset, I can understand why, my being someone who is also often frustrated by the stupidity that leads to misunderstandings of my great ideas.” He looked over to his mother.
“Your Grace,” Wissel ventured. “I am guilty as charged, and I had not considered my claims to the depths that your great mind has taken them. I never intended any offense to you or The Seven.”
“I understand Ser Wissel, I understand,” Joffrey said in a strong and reasoned voice. “All the same, a punishment must fit the crime.” Wissel was crying. Joffrey motioned to Ser Ilyn. “You may keep your fingers, for your counting, but your thumbs are mine.”
Ser Ilyn took out a peculiar device that he regarded as a wonder as he brought it to fix on Ser Wissel’s thumb. Ser Wissel screamed out in pain, but the guards holding him didn’t show any signs of emotion. “I want his big toes as well,” Joffrey said, “I wouldn’t want to rob him of the symmetry.” Wissel now had to be propped up as his old body was giving out.
“Ser Wissel” Geoffrey said walking down onto the hall’s floor, but Wissel could not respond in between his furious sobbing. “Ser Wissel” Geoffrey said louder, standing a short distance away.
He gestured at Wissel’s groin, “Do you consider that to be a thumb, or just a mere finger?” Joffrey now began broadly smiling, he walked right up to the whimpering Wissel, “Finger? Is that finger, I heard you say? Good choice! You can keep that digit for your counting, though I’m sure it is, should we say, quint unessential, ha!” he laughed to himself. “Yes, I believe his counting days have long been over by the looks of it,” he said to the guards with a smile, and he regarded the old man with kind pity.
He walked back towards his throne. “Dog, take him away.”
[minor edits on 2016-03-30]
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