"No, Overseer Drexel. I did not stop to consider the effects of my actions beyond my limited scope. What would you have me do?"
As he always did before making decisions like this, Drexel made sure to blink three times before delivering a verdict. He was not old, or at least not ancient. His graying hair was such that it still retained echoes of its rich chestnut color, and his face sported few wrinkles. He could have passed for someone ten years younger.
"I do not believe any monetary restitution is required in this case. What you will do is return to each and every person that you spoke these slanderous words to. You will recant the statements and instead offer a piece of praise for Fin. When talking with these people, you will also ask who they gossiped to. You will find those people and repeat this penance with them. Is this understood?"
The man bowed. "Yes, Overseer."
"Then you may go."
Turning sharply on his heel, the citizen made his exit, his footsteps muffled by the long, red carpet that bisected the compact court. It was one of the few items to adorn the small, bright room, made brighter by the blinding white of the walls, floor, and ceiling.
"That sounds like quite the undertaking. Do you worry that it was too harsh?"
Overseer Drexel turned to look at the man who sat on his right. "If I were proud man I would remind you that I have served on this council for close to thirty-eight years now. There are few who know better than I, the effects a simple decision can have on a person."
"A decision as simple as telling a man to pull up and quash every root of a rumor?"
"A rumor that he began, Virgil. Of course I do not expect him to find and talk to everyone. I do expect that he'll understand the scope of his actions. Authority has been entrusted to us to govern this city. Do you question the responsibility we have to exercise it?"
To one watching carefully, Overseer Virgil seemed to crumple ever so slightly. He sighed, but gave no other reply.
"Well," Drexel clapped his hands together, "is that it then? No more dispu-"
The doors to the audience hall burst open and a young man charged through, breathing heavily.
"Randall! What in god's name is the matter?"
"My name? Sure. My name is Aaron Schaffer, I've been in the business for about three years. Quite by accident, but that's a story for another time. I've played roles in 'Super-Sleuth,' and 'Guy Next Door.' I starred in 'The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee,' and was also an extra in the new 'Star Wars' movie, actually.
Today I'm trying out for the role of Randall Wynn. I think I'd make a good fit for the character; he's energetic, very full-throttle, and notices more than he lets on, obviously for a variety of reasons, and I loved his backstory. So uh, yeah! Is that good?
"Overseer, there's... well there's... something has happened."
Drexel rolled his eyes, "Clearly. What happened?"
"Sir, Wendell is dead."
Drexel blinked, then turned to pack his things without a second glance at Rand.
The young man turned to Virgil, who shrugged helplessly."I'm very sorry to hear that, but why are you telling us? You should contact the mor-"
"I don't think it was an accident."
At this, Drexel stiffened. "Of course it was an accident!" Rand winced as the Overseer turned to glare at him. "What you're suggesting... we don't have those kinds of problems. We will never have those kinds of problems. It's why this city was created in the first place. Foolish boy," he spat, as he turned back to his things,.
"Sir, Wendell worked in Infrastructure as a busser. I found him in a pool of his own blood with a cut across his next. That isn't an accident! And besides that, it... it just didn't feel right."
"Where did you find him?" pressed Virgil, as Drexel, who refused to look up, quivered in rage.
"Warehouse Four, sir. He was supposed to bring me a shipping manifest. When he never showed, I checked in at Infrastructure. They told me he'd gone down to pick it up over an hour before. I went to the warehouse and found him in the middle of the room."
"In the open?" asked Virgil, tilting his head.
"Yes sir. Under one of the lights no less. I-I don't know, Overseer, but the only thing that makes sense is that someone wanted him to be found. but, why even ki-"
"Because he wasn't killed," enunciated Drexel, now facing Rand. "But we'll humor you, Randall, if only to prove just how mistaken you are. Warehouse Four, you said?"
"Take us to it."