Renegade's Magic by Robin Hobb

Description : Renegade's Magic
SOLDIER’S END

I never spoke up for myself at my court-martial.

I stood in the box where they put me, and tried not to think of the agonizing bite of the leg irons around my calves. They were too small for a man of my flesh, and the cold iron bit deep into the meat of my legs, burning and numbing at the same time. At the moment, the pain mattered to me more than the oue of the hearing. I already knew how it would end.

That pain is chiefly what I remember of my trial. It hazes my memories in red. A number of witnesses spoke against me. I recall their righteous voices as they detailed my crimes to the assembled judges. Rape. Murder. Necrophilia. Desecration of a graveyard. My outrage and horror at being accused of such things had been eroded by the utter hopelessness of my situation. Witness after witness spoke against me. Threads of rumor, hearsay from a dead man’s lips, suspicions and circumstantial evidence were twisted together into a rope of evidence, stout enough to hang me.

I think I know why Spink never addressed any questions directly to me. Lieutenant Spinrek, my friend since our Cavalla Academy days, was supposed to be defending me. I’d told him that I simply wanted to plead guilty and get it over with. That had angered him. Perhaps that was why he didn’t ask me to testify on my own behalf. He didn’t trust me to tell the truth and deny all the charges. He feared I’d take the easy way out.

I would have.

I didn’t fear the hangman’s gibbet. It would be a quick end to a life corrupted by a foreign magic. Walk up the steps, put my head into the noose, and step off into darkness. The weight of my falling body would probably have jerked my head right off. No dangle and strangle for me. Just a quick exit from an existence that was too tangled and spoiled...

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