Veran stepped towards the gardener, seeing the fear in the man’s eyes. It wasn’t just an outburst of anger anymore. It was a display of power. Veran took a deep breath, avoiding the man’s gaze, put his fingers in a fist, and sent a thunderous punch in his face. The gardener released a scream of pain, then fell to his knees.
“Please…” - he pleaded, kneeling under the general.
“Hit him again, Veran.”
Once again, Veran sent his hammer of a fist in the man’s face. This time his nose crunched under his knuckles. Blood came rushing out.
“Please forgive my father!” - a boy rushed out of the crowd, yelling with teary eyes.
“No, stand back” - the gardener yelled, blood dripping down his chin.
“Hit him again.” - Ivan ordered.
“Please!” - the boy pleaded, his eyes white blue as if he’d cried away the color.
“Sire, I think he’s learned his lesson.” - Veran said.
“I said again, Veran!”
Veran continued pummeling to the rhythm of Ivan’s screams. Again! Each time the crowd heard the order, they closed their eyes. Again! The man’s son rushed to the boyar, kissing his hand and pleading forgiveness for his father before a guard tore him away. Again! The boy was screaming, and the man had no strength to protect himself anymore. Again! When he was lying in a puddle of his own blood, only then did Ivan decide he’s had enough.
“May this be a lesson to you all. Think twice before you steal from me again.”
It was a lesson for the Bozmaroff boys as well. They saw how one man, no different than any other, had the right to hurt an innocent man. Their father’s blood was no different than the gardener’s, yet one of them could have the other beaten to death at his whim. They walked to the keep, peeking back at the square, at the crowd that was now dispersing, suddenly forgotten about the man before them. The crying boy was kneeling in the mud, desperately trying to pick his father up.