Wolf was lying on her cell’s wooden bench, staring up at the ceiling, when she head the clanging of the exterior prison gate. Judging from the angle of the sunbeam rectangle, she guessed it was some time around mid-day. She suspected the Safety Committee had come with another prisoner, as her trial would not be for another day. But after the gate closed, she heard only a single pair of footsteps walking up the narrow corridor.
“Top of the morning, guv’nuh.” The prisoner in the cell next to Wolf’s sounded surprised, and when the solitary figure stepped into her view, Wolf understood her reaction.
He was a slender man, with a neatly trimmed goatee, and he was wearing the cloak and tunic of a New Frisarian magistrate. New Frisaria was a large colony, along the southern border of Philos; the two colonies had been rivals since their near mutual founding half a century ago, and had narrowly averted war just two years past. Wolf had no interest in the political rivalries among the colonies, yet knew enough to appreciate the oddity of this man’s appearance before her.
“Prisoner Three?” The New Frisarian spoke the language of Philos with the distinct accent of his country. His tone was polite, almost deferential.
Wolf sat up on the bench, her knees propped in front of her. “That’s what they call me. And what do they call you?”
“That is not your concern.” His voice was now harsh, dismissive. “I’ve come to discuss your situation – ” he paused, and glanced over at the other cell – “and with you alone. Prisoner Two, what crime have you committed?”
The woman in the next cell growled before answering. “Obscenity.”
“Ah, a misdemeanor, then.” He reached into a pocket in the interior of his cloak. “Punishable by a fine, of how much?” The prisoner told him the amount, and the New Frisarian went back to the main gate, calling for the guard. Within minutes, the prisoner was led out of her cell, the amount of her fine in her hands, leaving Wolf alone with the magistrate.