Benjitales Chapter 7: Judges

The Process required a new monarch on the throne in the Tall Tower at the middle of the city. Each time a monarch was selected a slightly different method had been employed- one year residents had to draw pieces of paper from a wooden box; another year residents had to elect one person from their street and then those people were assessed against one another and The Twelve selected.

This year it was dictated that the wooden door set into the bottom of the tall tower should be unlocked & whatever was inside would judge the city and select a new monarch.

The head butler in the tall tower was entrusted with the key by his father who had been entrusted with the key by his and so on. His heart sank when he was ordered to take the key and unlock the door. Children told stories to scare one another about what was held in by that little wooden door. Those that saw what was unleashed on the city when the door opened would never forget it.

At first there was the sound of ticking clockwork and of sharp metal scraping against sharp metal. With a whir and the sound of springs compressing the first of the clockwork children walked into the bright morning air. The clockwork children had been constructed and programmed for The Process to use to find one monarch from the residents of the city. There were several hundred clockwork children in the basement area stacked against one another. They were squat, almost comical because they had the appearance of being made entirely of circles. The round globe that formed their torso was highly polished brass, stubby metal legs with integrated springs gave them a rolling, swaying quality. Their arms were jointed black metal blades, clearly the designer wanted to ensure that these were contraptions not to be trifled with. Their heads, such as they were, were a slightly smaller globe of metal that rotated on a collar that formed a kind of neck. Absurd looking, of course, but you were sure you’d never disagree with an instruction issued by one.

Residents waited in family groups in each street for their allocation of clockwork children to arrive and the instructions to be given. Some residents were uneasy because they weren’t sure how the clockwork children would speak but had been reassured their intentions would be absolutely clear and instructions were mandatory and should be followed.

In one street all residents were indicated to remove their shoes, line up on one side of the street and walk across with their heads covered. The clockwork children scrutinised their feet as they walked.

In another street each resident one by one sat on a chair as one clockwork child measured the circumference of their head at the same time another measured the length of their nose.

Another street were instructed to swim across a stream. Another street had the irises of their eyes closely checked. (One resident fainted due to having such a sharp blade near her eye) In another street residents were bound together in pairs and dropped in the river. (One resident drowned. The clockwork children unable or unwilling to show any emotion or remorse at this) Another street held hot coals for as long as possible, others slid walking on ice. Another street recited children’s poems. Another cut logs.

Street after street strange arbitrary seeming tasks were carried out under the watchful ever-seeing gaze of the clockwork children. Everyone waited for an indication that the new monarch had been found. At sunset the clockwork children had completed their inspections, turned towards the tall tower and started their strange lollaping walk back to the centre of the city.

No monarch, it seemed, had been found.

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