"Blind"

When their first son was born, Leaori and her husband Silvanus decided to name him Justitia. They then called him Niko until he left home.

He was a pretty, funny boy with rather long dark hair, and he chased butterflies. No one ever called him Justitia, saving his parents when they were angry. He grew up thinking everyone's parents did the same thing--chose an unrelated nickname and used it so that the impact of the real name would prove how great their anger was. At any rate, he didn't annoy them enough to be called Justitia often.

When he was twelve he got his first pair of spectacles. At first he was proud of them and proud of having something to make him different. Then they became boring and irritating, and he hated not being able to see the very instant he took them off. He couldn't see after walking into a warm room from the cold; he couldn't see when too much dust got on them; he had to take them off to swim and couldn't see then; he also couldn't read properly. With his glasses on, the pages didn't look as clear and were almost blurry; without them, everything was brighter, but it was twice as blurry. The whole situation was quite impossible, and there wasn't anything he could do. So, sulkily, he accepted his spectacles.

He loved to paint. Paints were expensive, but he saved and bought them. He set up his easel in his parents' small field and proceeded to paint very odd pictures that confused them. He painted pastel blue canvases, and then painted birds all over them. What was particularly odd was that he painted certain kinds of birds and named them. "Raven, lapwing, shrike, phoenix, kestrel." He painted them all in red.

His parents thought this quite senseless, as it was only the kestrel that was important.

But Justitia listened to stories.

He loved to paint, so of course he went to law school. To be a judge, he said jauntily. With that, he tied back his long, dark hair, stuffed the cloth he used to clean his spectacles into one pocket, stuffed four paintbrushes into the other, and left for Marianstat.

Of course he'd never wanted to be a judge at all. Of course he hated the thought of doing anything but painting and reading. And of course he stopped going to classes after the first month. But there was no 'of course' as to why he instead happily became a revolutionary.

That, that must have been where he was finally called Justitia again. "No one ever used the name anyway," he told Theo. "Justice," he added. "It sounds like 'Justice'."

"Very well," he was told.

And that was how Niko-the-unpopular-boy-in-the-field-with-the-easel became Justitia, "one of the best" by Theo's own reckoning. He was quite proud of it. In fact, the only thing at all the wrong were his spectacles. Revolutionaries, he was quite sure, did *not* wear spectacles.

He became even more sure during what he fondly called, 'The Night Attack'. Steering a ship when he had never touched one before in his life wasn't hard. What was hard was putting his spectacles in his pocket, getting over the side of the ship without being able to see a foot before himself (to his great chagrin, Oracle had to give him a little push so he could jump off in the right direction), and swimming to the rowboat. In the process, he lost the spectacles.

Clarion was quite friendly about it, and lent Justitia his monocle, but that didn't do anything to remedy the fact that Justitia was as good as blind. He sat in his rooms and traced beneath and above his eyes with a soft paintbrush and sulked, while someone else arranged for him to receive new. Clarion comforted him, insisting that it wasn't hard to find a pair of spectacles that were especially strong, that any one of the thieves they knew could steal a pair, that it would only be a day at the most. When Justitia asked Clarion why he was spending so much time trying to make him feel better, Clarion replied that he wanted his monocle back.

Clarion, of course, was right, and Justitia soon regained his eyes.

But it only made him more inclined to hate them.

A little while later, the fighting began. Nothing was going in order, but that was quite all right; he was going to have his share in the fighting just as any other. He caught up a pistol and ran down his stairs, mumbling, "Raven, lapwing, shrike, phoenix, kestrel..." He left behind months of painting. He left behind months of berating himself for not being perfect. He left behind months of months and ran down the stairs as quickly as he could.

He was stopped by a street patrol and questioned before he could truly get away from all the things he'd left in his rooms. It was perfectly reasonable to be stopped and questioned, but Justitia wasn't perfectly reasonable that day. He was ready to feel alive. He was ready to fight. So, of course, he tried to break away.

And they broke his spectacles instead.

For some odd reason, he couldn't think about what his parents would do when they found out he wouldn't be a judge after all. He couldn't think about the fact that he'd never properly thanked Clarion for the monocle. He couldn't think about the 'Revolutionary Cause' and that he would die honourably for it if need be, as he'd said a thousand times. He couldn't think about all his patrols and that they'd be leaderless. He couldn't think a thing about all the things he should be thinking of.

All he could think was that he couldn't see anything, that once again he was blind, that he couldn't distinguish anything more than coloured shapes in front of him. He fired his pistol wildly and stumbled off, losing it. His hand smacked roughly into a wall and he felt that he had just time enough to bleed.

And then he heard the street patrol fire.

And it was all the fault of his damned spectacles. He'd always known they were something revolutionaries shouldn't wear.

Fin