Making Laws Can Be Pretty Fun if You Have the Right Attitude About it
Sam hated listening to petitioners so much. Henry had told him that there was a new justice system in place so less stuff had to get brought all the way to him, but all that meant was that he didn’t get to punish people for crimes anymore, and it still felt like a lot of people coming to him complaining about bad things that had happened to them. All Sam did was give people food because their crops had gotten sick or whatever, and it was boring.
Why did crops even get sick? Plants didn’t have lungs or dicks, what could be making them sick? But lots of people had sick crops in the southeastern corner of the plateau, and they thought Sam could do something about it.
Fortunately, Henry had warned Sam that this was going to happen, so he knew what he was supposed to say. “The crown feels for your plight,” Sam told the group of farmers, who’d brought a bunch of sick plants that couldn’t turn into food for him to do something with. “Even my power can’t cure this disease. But I will bring in as many resources as I can to help our people through this crisis.” Sam hadn’t really thought plants being sick was a crisis, until Derek had explained to him that diseases could spread even among plants and that the plateau didn’t produce much of a food surplus.
“Thank you, your Majesty,” said one of the stupid farmers who’d let his plants get sick. “We, we’re eternally grateful for your help. We can only hope that this disease won’t spread any farther.”
They’d better fucking hope that because they’d be the ones starving if it did. “If it becomes necessary, I’ll make sure food is imported so nobody has to go hungry,” Sam said, instead of that. It was winter anyway, why the fuck were they trying to grow plants in winter?
James had plants around his house in the winter, Sam thought idly. He’d probably be able to cure the stupid plant disease in two seconds. But Sam would literally rather starve everyone in the plateau to death than talk to him again, much less ask for his help.
Once the stupid farmers were done thanking Sam again and were finally led out, Sam leaned back against the cushions on the throne. “Is that the last of them?” he asked Henry.
“Two more,” Henry told him.
“How many times do I have to say the same…”
“These aren’t farmers. Well, the second one is a farmer. But they’re rape cases. One’s being appealed, and the second couldn’t find a neutral arbiter.”
“Oh.” Henry and Derek had explained the new justice system to him. It was something about mutually selecting a person to arbitrate a judgement. If they hadn’t been able to find anyone, that explained why they’d come to Sam. An appeal for the first case meant it had been to a judge—the normal justice system, the one Derek and Henry had replaced—and not liked the verdict. “Did you bring me rapes to cheer me up after a boring day?”
“Yes,” Henry said, brushing his knuckles against Sam’s cheek. “I’m calling the first one in.”
“Okay.” This was exciting. Sam loved getting to castrate people.
Some footsteps and chains, and a man falling to his knees. “Thomas Retke,” Henry said. “Found guilty of five rapes, of three men and two women. The judge in Jdinrma-Hash ordered him to be castrated. He believes that’s unfair.”
Of course he did, he probably liked his dick. He liked putting it in people enough. “Why is it unfair?” Sam asked. “Are you claiming you didn’t rape those people?”
Thomas was silent for a second, or rather he didn’t say anything. He was breathing heavily. “None of them said no, your Majesty.”
“You knocked them out and raped them while they were unconscious,” Henry said evenly. “They all remembered seeing you beforehand.”
Sam tried not to snort. So he was a coward. And a stupid one. “How many people did you rape who didn’t see you coming to identify you after, Thomas?” Sam wondered. Five people was hardly any. Sam had raped five people today before coming to sit in court. Six, if Todd counted as a person.
“Never touched anyone else,” Thomas said, voice barely audible.
“Sure you didn’t.” Sam said. Loser couldn’t even own up to what he’d done. “So your punishment is unfair because you didn’t get caught the other times, is that it?”
“No!” Thomas’s voice rose above a murmur, finally. “That’s not it, your Majesty. Castration isn’t a fair punishment.”
“I don’t think your victims would agree.”
“They don’t make the law. Put me in prison, I’ll sit there as long as they want. But it’s not fair to maim me over it.”
“You don’t make the law either, Thomas.”
“No, your Majesty, but you do.”
Sam snorted. He raised his hand to tell the guards to castrate this piece of shit right here in the throne room, then had a thought. He put his hand down. “You’re right, I do,” he said. Nobody cared what happened to rapists. “Fine. Thomas. The crown has mercy.”
“Thank you, your…”
“Shut up,” Sam interrupted. “From now on, the law in Ech’kent will be as such. They can be castrated and returned to their normal lives immediately. Or, they can be stripped naked and have their cock put in a cage for a year. Then they return to their lives, but for that year, they’re forbidden to wear clothes, and anyone they meet is allowed to do whatever they want to them.” Sam thought for a second. “Short of maiming or killing them. The law will not protect them from being beaten, raped, whatever. We’ll call it Todd’s Law.” That was funny, Sam decided. He liked that.
“That’s the price for keeping your balls, Thomas,” Sam said. He smiled. “Choose. You have one minute or I’ll choose for you.”
“I…” Thomas gasped, chains clinking. He shifted, then shifted again, breath falling hard.
Sam waited for what he thought was a full minute. “You’re out of time. Cut off—”
“I’ll take the cage!” Thomas’s voice was a shout. Sam smiled.
“Okay. Guards, strip him and get a cage fitted on him. Keep the key. In five years he can return here and get it taken off.”
“What, five years?” Thomas’s voice was shrill now. “You said one!”
“For each victim,” Sam said. “Obviously. Get him out of here.”
Sam heard the tearing of clothes as Thomas was stripped and then led away, crying. Five rapes, he thought. He was going to get raped at least five times before he left the castle.
Sam wondered if that would encourage him not to do it again in five years. At the very least, it would encourage him to get fucking better at it. “Make sure that law gets sent out around the plateau,” Sam told Henry.
“I’m writing it down now. And adding a clause that female rapists get a similar punishment.”
“What the fuck do you put in a cage for a woman? The tits?”
Henry patted Sam’s shoulder. “Your utter lack of knowledge about how women do anything is hilarious. I think I might hire someone to come in and give you a hands-on demonstration about how they work someday.”
“Don’t you dare,” said Sam. Henry was using a tone of voice that made Sam unsure if he was joking. But at least he wasn’t lecturing Sam about making the law. That was good. “Bring the next one out.”
“Walter Geddn and his son Wyatt,” Henry said. “And their neighbour, Randall H’Bakk, all from Y’Nek. Walter is accusing Randall of raping Wyatt.”
Stupid thing to accuse someone of, Sam thought. Why wasn’t Walter raping his own stupid kid? “Why couldn’t you people find an arbiter for this? Was everyone in Y’Nek busy?” There weren’t that many people there, to be fair. It was the closest village to the castle.
“Couldn’t find anyone impartial, your Majesty” said one of the men. “Everyone I suggested, Walter shot down.”
“Everyone you suggested is a pervert,” said another man’s voice. “Your Majesty, this man raped my son. Repeatedly, for months.”
“I never raped Wyatt, not once.”
“I caught you in the act.”
“Never said we didn’t fuck.”
“Quiet,” Sam said, and they shut up. “Is your son here?”
“I’m, I’m here, your Majesty,” said a quivering boy’s voice.
“Wyatt’s a child, your Majesty,” said Walter. “He can’t testify.”
“It happened to him,” Sam said. “Wyatt, do you understand what rape is?” He should. He didn’t sound that young.
“Y-yes, your Majesty. It’s, it’s when someone makes you do sex and you don’t want to.”
“Close enough. Did Randall rape you?”
A silence fell. This time nobody’s breathing was audible. Sam listened closely. Walter broke the silence, though. “Wyatt, you tell the truth now, son.”
“I’m not allowed to want to have sex,” Wyatt said, voice quiet. “Because I’m not old enough. So yes.”
“Wyatt…” said Randall.
Sam sighed. This was stupid. “I didn’t ask what you were old enough for. I asked if you wanted Randall to touch you or not.”
“Well…yes. I did. I liked it.”
“But I did, Daddy!” Wyatt said, a stomping sound accompanying him. “I love him and it’s not fair! You can’t, your Majesty, Daddy says I’m not allowed to see Randall anymore, even though we did b’veek and everything!”
B’veek was the name of the knife-passing ritual Sam and Henry had done by accident. “You got married?”
“He…Randall has my knife,” Walter confirmed.
“He’s telling the truth, your Majesty,” Randall said. “He offered it to me and I accepted. Four months ago.”
“You married a little boy?” Sam asked.
“I love him.”
“He’s a child!”
Sam sighed. He reached over and touched Henry’s arm for just a second, feeling calmer. “Love is a stupid emotion,” he said, thinking of Henry, hugging him and whispering that he loved Sam. “It makes people act stupid and forget how to think. But I’m given to understand it’s also not a controllable emotion. You can’t make yourself not love someone, no matter who they are. If these two love each other and they’re both happy and Randall didn’t force Wyatt, then a rape didn’t happen. A legal marriage did. Forcing them to stay apart is the crime.”
“Your Majesty,” Walter pleaded. “Wyatt is not old enough to marry.”
“He is now. Whatever the marrying age is, it doesn’t exist anymore. Rape is already a crime. People are going to fuck kids anyway and it’s stupid to call them rapists if they’re not hurting anyone. If somebody younger than marrying age wants to fuck or get married and they understand what that means then why should the crown tell them not to? We’ll call it the Wyatt Exception.” That wasn’t as clever as the last one, but it still sounded official.
“But your Majesty…” Walter pleaded. He could hear Wyatt crying, muffled. It sounded like he was whispering a string of I love you I love you I love you. It would have been more fun if Randall had raped him, but this was okay too.
“This is the crown’s ruling,” Sam said. “That’s all. Take your son and your son-in-law and go home.”
“Thank you, your Majesty,” Randall said, sounding passionate.
“Just because he’s your husband doesn’t mean you can’t rape him, Randall,” Sam warned. “I expect your father-in-law’s going to be keeping a close eye on you.”
“Let him.” Randall sounded triumphant. The three of them were led out of the courtroom.
Then Sam slumped on the throne. “That was kind of fun, actually.” He hadn’t gotten to torture anyone, but still.
“Yeah. Now there’s a dozen more farmers…”
“I’m going to kill you,” Sam warned.
Henry laughed, helping Sam stand. “Just kidding. Any more social norms you’d like to destroy today?”
Sam leaned on him a little. “Yeah, from now on clothes are illegal.”
“Hm,” said Henry, as they walked out of the throne room. “How about we just make them optional? Abolish the misdemeanour of public nudity.”
Sam supposed that was good enough for now. “Whatever. Call it Lord Henry’s Edict or something.”
“Or something,” Henry agreed. “Now, I know your next step is going to tell people they can fuck in public, but I think you should wait a while. Let people get used to these changes before you make more.”
Sam hadn’t even thought of that, but why not? “Fine. But when we do that one we’re also making incest legal.”
“We’ll call that one Saul’s Law,” Henry teased.
“I hate you.”
“I love you too.”
A stupid fucking emotion, Sam thought. It made people do stupid fucking things.