KeYnNamM ~ English Version

Chapter Three: A strange Trial

KeYnNamM hurried across the square toward the townhouse with the courtroom. He had never been in such a hurry, he wanted to be free, if possible immediately. He wanted to obtain the reward of his struggle on the ladder to heaven. To be free! Turn his back on the empire! Return to the Waste Land at the river Draa! To fulfill his task! His task as Amestan, as protector of the people of the Waste Land.
"Stop, stop" shouted the elder of the town guards, "Not to the town house! On a day like this, Governor Gwasila holds court in the garden behind his balance, not in the courtroom!" When KeYnNamM looked irritated at the guards, the other tried to explain it to him. "A proper court will be sitting in the villa, the governor, aldermen, the prosecutor, the town captain and a clerk."
"The captain is all right.” explained one of the guards, “He hunts all criminals relentlessly, but he is just. Believe me, all your misdeeds are recorded in his book, their severity, the place where you committed them, even the time!” The other guard added, "Anir the Accuser is new here! You need not be afraid of him. He is still young and he judges according to law and justice, report the accused! He does not bend the law." "Until now! He doesn't belong to....!" , but then fell silent. "To the city clan," he wanted to say, but preferred to remain silent. KeYnNamM was reassured, but his suspicion remained.
In the narrow alley that led uphill beside the townhouse, the hot air billowed in the late afternoon heat. The villa of the governor of Tinghir was the largest and last building before the steep ascent of the dusty alley from place in front of the courthouse to the plateau behind the town. The villa stuck to the steep slope like a swallow's nest. It looked powerful and forbidding. Adjacent to the building, at the level of the upper floor, was a garden carved into the flank of the steep slope. It had a trapezoidal outlay. Where garden bordered at the villa it was wide and spacious on its other end the width was only about two yards or three. The balustrade of the garden facing the alley was planted with vines that hung down over the parapet. To the rear, facing the hillside, a high wall protected the garden from the crumbling boulders of a steep incline. Vines climbed up this wall on wire frames to its top.

In the shade of the wall, a table had been set up, and the governor's guests were seated on the long side facing the wall. Governor Gwasila himself was enthroned in the middle, a broad, feisty and red-faced man. A turban with a golden tassel protected his balding skull. The seats to his right were occupied by three men, the three most important notables of Tinghir. The red-bearded one with the white turban ruled the night life of the city, i.e. he was a brothel keeper who supplied both rich and poor with "fresh meat," as he put it. The one with the black beard had brought the grain trade in the eastern part of the empire into his hands by bribing servants of the emperor’s court. The third, the gaunt one, was beardless. His caravans transported everything, legal as well as illegal goods. His camel caravans carried salt from the great desert in the southwest as well as dried fish from the sea in the north. But also figs and dates from the oases and even slaves from the dark kingdoms in the south. The three were part of the city's moneyed elite and controlled everything, including the governor.

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Today, Governor Gwasila had invited them as jurors to the trial of the Amestan of the Wadi Draa. He knew they were the right jurors for such a trial, which had to precede the final release of the winner of a fight on the ladder of heaven. All three of them hated the King from the Waste Land because he had disrupted their business while he was still free. Their participation was to ensure that the trial turned out the way the governor wanted and he wanted the Amestan, for whatever reason, to be put out of circulation for all time. A reason would come up in the trial, he would make sure of that, law or no law. To the left of the governor were seated the other participants of the trial, the prosecutor Anir, a young man recently sent to Tinghir by the emperor, the town captain, a grim but just man, and a scribe.

Governor Gwasila had plentifully dished up, couscous with the best cuts of lamb and fowl, the best vegetables the season yielded, pita bread topped with roasted meat of wild pigeons, sweet rice porridge, muhallabia, a sweet pastry filled with dates, green hot tea with mint leaves for the strict believers, and sweet wine for the others, among whom he counted himself.

Now, at the beginning of the trial, the jurors and the governor slouched in the chairs, full, tired, and slightly woozy from the wine. Neither they, nor the governor, therefore, noticed KeYnNamM as the two guards led him up the narrow stairs from the alley into the garden. The guards already knew the ritual and took a seat opposite the governor on a bench at the balustrade. The winner of the fight on the ladder to heaven was sitting between them.
Only the prosecutor alone looked eagerly at arriving. He was new in town and it was the first time he was to attend a trial that would decide the final release of a man who had mastered the ladder to heaven. Prosecutor Anir looked at the man across from him and tried to look him in the eye, but KeYnNamM kept his eyes closed as the late afternoon sun blinded him. Anir had imagined such a notorious criminal to look differently, more dangerous. He even felt a sort of sympathy for the slender man in the torn shirt. At last the stranger looked up, their eyes met and the prosecutor could not help but smile at him.

Finally, the governor took notice of KeYnNamM as well. He eyed him and then beckoned an old servant with another dish. He had thought of something special to humiliate the man, to irritate him, the Amestan, so that he would find a reason to refuse its release.

"Friends, now comes the best of today's banquet!" boasted the governor, taking the lid off the platter. There lay the governor’s favorite dish, the tharid, six steaming rolls of paper-thin flatbread. "Old robber chief!" the governor addressed the gaunt man, "sniff it? Do you smell it?" Then he held the plate under the noses of the two fat men, "Do you smell it? What are the rolls filled with? Who can tell me?" All three knew the fancy taste of the governor. The first to try was the brothel owner "Gazelle testicles!" he shouted. When the governor shook his head, the grain merchant tried, "Monkey testicles!" He shook his head again. "Lion testicles!" the grain merchant tried.

"Bah! Gazelle testicles, no! Monkey testicles, no! Lion testicles, no! I've already served you that. Today the King of the Waste Land is our guest!" and he bowed with a sneer in front of KeYnNamM. "What is worthy of a king!" Before speaking further, he made sure KeYnNamM was listening and then turned to the gaunt man, "Didn't I give your caravan three little whimpering boys as a tribute to the Emperor two days ago, three light-haired boys from the Waste Land on the Wadi Draa? Why do you think they were whimpering like that?" at this, he fixed KeYnNamM. "I castrated the three of them myself!" Now he turned directly to him, "And you couldn't stop it, you the Amestan, you the great King of the No One’s Land!" Satisfied, he puffed out his chest, "Testicles from wild-caught Draa boys are the best stimulant for us men!"

He turned to the lean man again, "How many sons do you have, crook? 20, 25? Have our pimps send you a virgin tonight!" Then to the brothel owner "You always have fresh meat in your establishments, virgins from the Draa, with blond hair, virgins from the south, black as the night, virgins from the coast in the north, white as the snow in the mountains! What can you offer him, him and your friend the grain merchant?" The governor puffed with pleasure, "Go ahead and grab one, I won't offer you these tharids a second time."

His next target was the prosecutor. "You've been prosecutor here for two months now. As a prosecutor, you've only had three trials to run. You won two of them! So you've had time enough for other things! You are young, you are a virile young man! And what do I hear? You have no wife! You don't even have a young whore living in your house to warm your bed. And pretty boys don't go in and out either! I bet your balls are full to bursting! Eat one of the rolls, it will give you courage and then go with him to his whorehouse." He pointed at the red-bearded man, "Choose the most beautiful girl! Do it with her until you can't get it up anymore!" When he added with a sly grin, "Or are you impotent?" the prosecutor just shrugged his shoulders and rejected the filled dough roll.

But the governor did not relent. "Remember this, young man, if you want to be one of those who govern this city, take my advice! Do you agree with that captain?" But he just shrugged his shoulders. The city captain put one hand on the accuser's shoulder to calm him down and cover his forehead with the other.

The governor did not notice the gestures of the city captain, as he was looking for the next victim, "Hello scrivener, are you keen on a roll? Do you think this is for you?" He held out the plate of steaming rolls of dough to the scribe, but immediately withdrew it with a grin. "Nothing for you! You already have a wife and four kids to support! With your salary! Then I'd rather eat the rest of the tharids myself!" Under the applauding laughter of his three friends, he devoured the dough rolls and then burped extensively.

The two guards had not taken their eyes off KeYnNamM during the governor's provocative performance. When he tried to jump up and grab the governor's throat while he was describing the fate of the three boys, they held him down and one of them hissed, "Do you want to forfeit your life? He's just trying to provoke you! He always does that!"

Now Governor Gwasila turned back to his target. First, he smiled, then he ordered KeYnNamM, "Stand up enemy of the Empire! You are not free yet! You stand before the representative of the Emperor, you self-proclaimed King of the No One’s Land, you self-proclaimed Amestan, you a protector of the mangy donkey-fuckers of the Draa, the sluts in heat of the Wadi Draa who love nothing more than to be fucked by the apes of the forest, you a protector of their hollow-headed freaks! Step forward! I can still send you back to the penal camp or have you executed! Your trial is not over yet!"

KeYnNamM was almost bursting with rage. But he didn't let it show, bit his lips, stood up, stepped forward and kept quiet! "What do you actually call yourself, you rebel who won't give the Empire what is due to it, the tribute of this depraved rabble that the Emperor protects, he who won't let even the lowest worms go to waste! You hide these freaks of children when the Great Emperor's soldiers come for them and put them to some useful purpose." The governor paused to give KeYnNamM a chance to object. Since the Amestan remained silent, the governor sought to irritate him in another way, "What do you think the simple-minded virgins will become in the capital? Housemaids? Servants? Their cunts are good for nothing other than to make our young boys sow their wild oats. With them, they can do what they can't do later with their wives. They take them like a dog takes his bitch, like a donkey stallion his jenny. They do them from the front, from behind, from above, from below!" Then the governor laughed derisively! "What are your blue-eyed boys needed for in the capital? Believe me, young and old men are lining up to bugger their asses! And your dirty women, those sluts? They are for the ls toothless soldiers! You won’t believe it, but these whores are delighted when a whole company of sweaty soldiers oils their cunts every night! Why else do you think the empire demands this pack as tribute?"

The governor had talked himself into a frenzy. His head was red, drool was running out of his mouth, and he was sweating all over. Now he yelled at KeYnNamM, "Tell me your name, your real name, the one your whore of a mother called you! Tell me at last!"

KeYnNamM was quivering with rage! He wanted to lunge out at the governor, but the guards held him down. However, someone else prevented him from doing so. The prosecutor Anir looked him in the face, looked into his eyes, he said "Calm down! Calm down! That bastard there! He's just trying to provoke you! Don't make a mistake now!" and clearing his throat of the city captain said, "Forget the provocations if you want to get free!"

"State your name, at last, you son of a bitch and a mangy dog!" the governor shouted again. But KeYnNamM remained silent and the governor turned to the clerk, "What does the interrogation protocol say, KeYnNamM? No-name! KeYnNamM, the name of the man who is less than nothing, less than snow in the summer heat, less than moonlight at the time of the bright noonday sun!" As KeYnNamM continued to be silent, the governor sat back, exhausted. His provocations had not achieved their goal. The man had not insulted him, had not pounced on him. Now the prosecutor had to do his work and he ordered, "Prosecutor Anir, you angel of vengeance, prosecutor, your task!

The prosecutor looked at the man for a moment and then calmly began, "KeYnNamM, King of No-One’s-Land! You are summoned before the representatives of the Empire. I, as the representative of the Emperor, accuse you of having prevented the tribute payments of the inhabitants of the Wadi Draa to the Empire for repeated times. Those tribute payments have been due to the Empire for more than a hundred years for the protection that the Empire gives to the inhabitants of that river valley. He protects these people from the predatory sons of the desert, the Tamashek, the Saad and Maqil!" He then disengaged his gaze from the man, flipped through his papers, and fixed him again. "KeYnNamM, you boast of being the Amestan, the protector, of the inhabitants of the Waste Land! What gives you the right to deprive the Empire of its tribute, which is:

  • Per year six boys and six girls in infancy,
  • per year six virgins and six youths,
  • per year six boys and six girls of childbearing age,
  • per year six women of childbearing age!

What gives you the right to withhold from the empire the tithe of the cattle, of the horses, cattle, sheep and goats? By your actions, you have not protected the Waste Land, but endangered its people!"

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KeYnNamM let his eyes roam over the court, the governor, the assessors, the city captain, and the clerk. His gaze finally lingered on the prosecutor: "The Kel Tamaschek and the inhabitants of the land around the Wadi Draa have settled their feuds and made peace after the chief of the Banu Saad died a quarter of a century ago. The Saads and Maqils are now one tribe with one king and one law. Therefore, the elders of the land by the Wadi Draa have requested from the Emperor the termination of tribute in exchange for offering their eternal services to the Empire as allies and mediators between the Desert Sons and the Empire." He took a breath, "But the Emperor and his advisors ridiculed the Elders and drove them from the court like dogs. “Get out of there! The Emperor has shouted to them, we, the chosen of the Lord, do not make treaties with the offspring of monkeys and goats!"

He now fixed the court with a glare, "I, KeYnNamM, as I am called, tell you: now that there is no danger on the eastern border of the Empire, the tribute demands are only an arbitrary robbery! Robbery, however, is a crime even in the Empire!"

The prosecutor listened intently to the man's arguments. Then he took a breath. "The elders of No-One’s-Land and the Empire hold opposing views on this matter. What is certain, however, is that agreements can only be changed by mutual consent. I concede that the negotiations have not progressed! But that does not give you the right to prevent the collection of the tribute."

KeYnNamM noticed that the prosecutor was regretting this interpretation of the facts and was therefore surprised when he continued, "In the name of the Emperor, I accuse you KeYnNamM of having prevented the collection of the tribute during the last years." He then turned to the scrivener and ordered, "Recite the individual crimes of this man!"

The Amestan, however, forestalled the scribe, "That is not necessary! I, KeYnNamM, proudly confess to the deeds as determined by the police and the soldiers! For these have been for the welfare of the people!"

The governor's face, which had listened almost impassively until now, flushed red at the last words. He jumped up and pointed an outstretched finger at the KeYnNamM, "You!" he roared, "You! Have you forgotten that you stand before a court of the Emperor? You!" Even the city captain, who had listened motionlessly to the prosecutor's lecture, showed his displeasure and shook his head, "KeYnNamM!" he hissed, "Do you want to talk your head off!"

The prosecutor, however, now realized that any further discussion could only harm the defendant. He, therefore, recited his conclusion. "You KeYnNamM are unrepentant! But the law of the empire is created for all, repentant and undiscerning!" The Prosecutor took a breath to encourage himself, because he knew what he was about to say would anger the Governor and the court member in the strongest possible way. "For your deeds, you served almost a year in the penal camp. Then you had the courage to put your fate in your own hands. You chose the fight on the ladder to heaven! You won! Therefore, these accusations lose their value. Your guilt is erased!" He hesitated only a moment, then spoke emphatically, "By the law of the Empire, the governor and the court have no other option but to release you! Go now!"

"Go now! Go now! Since when does the prosecutor decide the trial!" It looked like the governor wanted to tear the prosecutor to shreds. But then a thought occurred to him. "Amateur, your indictment was incomplete! You forgot his most serious crime!" He gasped! Then he roared, "Scrivener! The book!" Hastily he leafed through it! Then he shook the notebook and yelled at the city captain! "Here the main crime is missing! Town captain! Why is the murder of four soldiers of the Emperor not recorded in it? He!" he pointed at KeYnNamM with an outstretched hand, "He, the king of the No-Men’s-Land, has cut the throats of three of our best soldiers cowardly in their sleep! The fourth made it into the bog and survived!" Full of rage, he turned again to the town captain, "Tell Captain, why is this majestic crime not recorded in your book!"

The captain had watched the trial with a frown, finding the governor's behavior unworthy of a servant of the Empire! Not that he had any sympathy for the accused, no! He understood his arguments to a certain extent, but rebellion against the laws of the Empire was a crime and it was his responsibility to prevent and prosecute crimes and to bring the perpetrators to justice. The governor's accusation struck him deeply, as it cast doubt on his integrity.

He thought only briefly, "Clerk, pick up the file of unfinished cases!" Then he shot back, "High Governor do you remember when these ghastly murders happened? No!" and he fixed the angry man. "In this book is recorded the exact time when the murdered were found! Scrivener read!" As the latter flipped open the file and began to leaf through the pages with crimson head, he snatched it from him and read for himself, "It says here! The three bodies were found with their throats cut in the 4th tent camp on the Draa. A fourth body was not found. The weapons of the three were all in the camp and their three horses were grazing in the paddock. The fourth horse had disappeared, as had the fourth soldier. The valuables of the three murdered men were also missing. The time of discovery of the crime is given as the morning of the 16th day of the fifth month. Since the bodies were otherwise intact, that is, not eaten by dogs or wild animals, the murders had occurred only a short time before, probably during the night!"

"And?" the governor harangued him, "And? Does that speak against the King from Waste Land as a murderer?"

"Not that, but the timing! The King of the No-Men’s-Land was in the penal camp at the Crystal Mine from the beginning of last year until last night, and he spent the last night here in prison!" Then the town captain added, "He never left the penal camp at any time, that is certain! But the murders happened only three months ago!"

"And further?" raged the governor, "The murders are enemies of the Emperor like the King of the No-Men’s-Land! To release him is a danger to the Empire. He! He endangers the order of the Empire, this....." With that, he pointed with an outstretched right hand at KeYnNamM.

At that moment, a large clay pot with dried flowers began to wobble dangerously on the top of the supporting wall that bordered the garden facing the mountain. The pot lost its position and tumbled in a high arc down into the garden. It touched down on the raging governor's right shoulder. The large pot threw the heavy man forward. Face down he fell on the table. A second, smaller pot followed, and hit his head behind his left ear. Governor Gwasila cried out in pain. A third pot narrowly missed his head, hit the table, shattered, and scattered its dried contents on the tabletop.

It took the participants of the court session a moment before they grasped what had happened. Then it was the two guards who first rushed to the governor's aid. They tried to lift him up, but only succeeded when the prosecutor and tone of other guests grabbed the lifeless man, pulled him up and put him in his chair.

Two servants rushed out of the house after getting aware of the confusion. Excitedly, they struggled to help their master, but did not know what to do. Only at the command of the caravan operator they fetched wet cloths and refreshed the dazed governor. This brought him back to life. As soon as the governor had shaken off his drowsiness, he began to curse and shout.

The city captain did not trouble himself about the injured man, but was immediately in his element as an investigator, trying at once to find out why the pots had fallen from the wall. From where he was sitting, he could not spot anyone hiding behind the flower pots on the top of the wall. However, his experience told him that such heavy pots could not come off their places all by themselves. Someone had to have pushed them off the wall. But who? Who was responsible for the attempted assassination? He shook his head, lost in thought. Then he rose to look for traces of a possible assassin.

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