A young woman named Chara stumbled into the room where Aena and I were taking breakfast. Her face was pretty, her eyes were a gentle blue, her golden hair was fixed in a messy knot on her left shoulder… but she had several dark bruises, and her tunic and skirt were torn in several places. The tunic hung loosely on her right shoulder. “Dear girl,” I said, “can I help you?” Her gaze was unfocused for a moment, then she dropped to her knees with a thump. “My king,” she said, “I… I’m not… no, I mean, you… please, help me! You sent my husband on a different ship, he is one of your guardsmen… if I was with him, this wouldn’t have happened… he protects me…”
I cursed softly when she explained that she’d been raped, and not by one of the sailors. A ship is a very small place; what kind of man is so terrible that he will risk everything for flesh? Such a man is dangerous, and perverted besides. After very brief counsel with Cedric I had the man found and brought to me. I had Aena guard Chara for the encounter, and I asked Chara if he was the man. She nodded. She spared only a glance for the man, then looked only at Aena and me. I sentenced the man to die. “Oh, king,” he said “oh wise and noble king! Surely I can work this debt off, like the last two people you judged? Aye, I’ll work it off and more, oh merciful king.” What a fool he was for presuming so much and for thinking me so weak, so gullible. He didn’t even deny his crime. But I’ll never forgive rapists. The morning I was woken by Eliana’s scream is still a painful memory, and that rape didn’t even happen. “It is a small thing to work for a loaf of bread or a bowl of soup. Even stolen gold can be earned back. But an unwilling woman’s virtue… there’s no price for that but blood.” The man’s semi-smug expression melted away. “Take him to the side of the ship,” I said. “I’ll do this myself.” Cedric nodded his approval.
The sword Cedric had given me was sharp and true. I had the rapist’s body thrown over the side to join his head.
I asked Mercy take care of Chara until she was with her husband again. Thankfully, that shouldn’t be too long. The good fortune we’ve had with constant, strong easterly winds lends weight to Cedric’s vision of hope. The captain said we should arrive early on the morrow.