· Featuring Arilin

Arilin is summoned to jury duty in Mensura, and after not being able to convince a bureaucrat that not being able to fit in the courthouse is sufficient reason to be excused, makes a point of showing up.


Arilin Thorferra

Arilin tapped her sandal impatiently, waiting for the light to change.

Lights, plural, technically: the traffic lights the cars used, hanging around her knee height, weren’t for her. Instead, the cat watched the lights on top of the streetlamps, lights intended for giants like her. As she’d approached, those signals had switched on along the entire street ahead, holding on red while the signals for motorists changed timing—and flashed warnings they were about to share the road with paws bigger than most of their vehicles.

After another thirty seconds, the lights switched to green, and she started walking forward, checking the map on her phone briefly. She just had another two blocks to walk, then a left turn and another block, and she should be at the courthouse. A zoomed-in satellite view made a good approximation of her “street view.”

She turned the corner, walking directly over a car with out-of-state license plates that had come to a screeching halt at the sight of her. “That’s a good way to get either rear-ended or stepped on,” she said, looking down over her shoulder at them, and motioned with a hand. “Keep moving.”

They hesitantly started inching forward.

Rolling her eyes, she continued on, then stopped, tapping her chin. The courthouse complex was set back from the street, but she had nowhere to stand that wouldn’t block traffic, the sidewalk, or most of the main entrance plaza. Well, most was better than all. She stepped onto the concrete and slowly crouched down. Pedestrians—and, she suspected, some other summoned jurors—scattered. The guard fox outside pressed himself against the wall by the door, ears going back.

She fixed her gaze on him. “I’m—”

He darted inside.

Sighing, Arilin crossed her arms, trying to curl her tail to keep it out of trouble. It really wanted to start lashing, but this low to the ground it would propel anyone who didn’t see it coming into temporary flight.

Two guards came out a moment later, both the fox and a tiger, along with an actual sheriff wolf and a rabbit in a business suit. All four were men. “Can…can we help you?” the rabbit said, loudly and stiffly.

Arilin pulled out her phone again, and opened the scan of the summons notice she’d received two weeks earlier. “I have received,” she lowered the phone down to about ten feet in front of them, “this.” For her, the phone was an average size, the equivalent of a six-inch display. In real-world terms, it was a ninety-two-inch display: not quite a movie screen, but bigger than any practical television.

The guards stared. The rabbit swallowed nervously, reading the poster-sized text on the phone. The sheriff wolf put his hands on his hips, smirking.

“Did you, uh.” The rabbit swallowed again. “Did you ask to be excused, Ms., uh, Thorferra?”

“No. I explained over the phone to one of your clerks that I’m a giantess. She insisted that, quote, ‘necessary special accommodations are not automatic grounds for an excusal,’ and I would need to report to the courthouse if assigned. I was, so I have.”

The wolf snorted, clearly choking back a laugh. The rabbit gave him a nervous glare, then looked back at Arilin. “Could you wait here?”


He darted inside.

Arilin stood, then leaned over and tapped the building in a few places.

The wolf tilted his head. “What’re you doing, ma’am?”

“Seeing if this building is strong enough for me to sit on without bringing it down. I don’t like the aesthetics of this architecture style, but it’s extremely sturdy.”

“I, uh, don’t think you should—”

She brushed off the roof a little, then sat. “That’s not an order, is it?” She leaned forward, readjusting her glasses.

The wolf, and both guards, stared straight up the length of her sleek legs. “No, it’s, uh…never mind.”

“Good.” She crossed her legs, smoothing out her skirt.

The guards looked away, but the wolf kept staring. “I don’t know whether to run in case this all collapses, or head up to the fourth floor for a better view,” he muttered under his breath.

Arilin kept her tone flat. “I didn’t catch that.”

“N-nothing. Ma’am.”

Another few minutes went by, a crowd slowly gathering across the street. Then the doors by her left sandal opened and the rabbit came out again, looking distraught. “Uh, Ms. Thorferra—” He stopped, staring at the sandal, then looked straight up. “I, I, I, wow, I don’t think you can sit there.”

“The deputy gave me permission.”

The rabbit gave the wolf an alarmed look. The wolf shuffled his paws. “I didn’t technically say that, ma’am, I just didn’t order you not to.”

“Why not?” the rabbit hissed under his breath.

“Because she’s kinda intimidating, Fred, all right?” the wolf snapped.

“I’ll stand, then.” Arilin planted one sandal with a deliberately sidewalk-rattling thump a yard from both of them. The wolf’s tail bottled out; The rabbit—Fred, evidently—jumped backward, hiding behind the wolf. Murmurs and a few snickers rippled through the crowd of spectators as she brought her other sandal down and rose to her full eighty feet.

“No, no, uh, please sit—please sit—” Fred looked around frantically, then pointed toward his right and Arilin’s left. “There’s an employee parking lot there, and we could—page employees to move their cars?”

Arilin looked at the lot. It had only twenty spaces, ten on each side of an aisle, and most of them were full. “That would inconvenience them, and the asphalt’s likely even dirtier than the roof was. If you don’t want me to sit on the building, then I’m going to sit here.” She carefully lowered herself to the plaza, crossing her legs.

His nose quivered, and he nodded shakily. “So, ah, we’re, we’re, it’s like this, ma’am. There’s no procedure for this, so the clerk was technically correct. But we, we can just say that you’re free to go, and we’ll count it as a hardship excuse.”

“I didn’t ask to be excused.”

“You…” He trailed off, eyes getting even wider. “I don’t think I understand, Ms. Thorferra.”

“As you said, the clerk was correct. Necessary special accommodations aren’t a reason not to serve.” Arilin took off her glasses, leaning down toward him. “Surely you’re obligated to at least make a bare effort to provide said necessary accommodations.”

The rabbit opened his mouth and closed it several times. “I’ll, I’ll, be right back.” He ran into the building again.

The deputy watched him go and ran a hand through his short buzzcut hair, then looked up at Arilin speculatively. She lifted her brow.

“I just, uh…” He looked around furtively, then cupped one hand to his muzzle as if hiding a whisper. “I don’t run into many normal folks who’d say they’d want to serve on a jury.”

“I’m a normal folk, so you’ve met one.”

The wolf’s ears skewed. “I meant, you know, size.”

“At the college we say ‘giant’ and ‘little,’ to acknowledge that ‘normal’ is a matter of perspective. I’m giant to you, but you’re little to me.”

“Oh.” He furrowed his brow, then nodded. “Okay, makes sense, ma’am.”

She lowered her head toward him. “I think,” she murmured, “what you’re really asking is if I’m just fucking with you.”

His ears skewed again as he stared at her huge, uncomfortably close teeth, and it took him a moment to find his voice. “Well, uh.” He ran his hand through his hair again and cleared his throat. “Yeah.”

“Of course not.” She winked and straightened up.

He furrowed his brow again.

Fred the rabbit came back out, this time followed by a sheep in black robes. She had grey hair, a stocky build, and huffed from the exertion as she hurried after him. When she saw Arilin, she stopped, staring up and putting her hands on her hips.

Fred caught his breath. “Ms. Thorferra, this is the Honorable Beth Pilken. Your honor, this is Arilin Thorferra, a prospective juror for your case today. And, uh…” He waved his hand up and down.

“And a professor at Mensura College. We haven’t met, but I know who you are, Ms. Thorferra. I was involved with the Steadwell disappearance case last year.”

Read about Rory, Arilin, and her student Jen Heath in Teacher’s Pet.

Rory Steadwell had been a serial murderer who’d gone after one of Arilin’s little students. When he and his gang had pushed it too far, she’d taken care of it, in ways the Honorable Beth Pilken would decidedly not approve of. “I do remember that.” She kept her expression pleasantly neutral.

“I bet you do.” The sheep met her eyes coolly for several seconds, then sighed. “Look, Fred, just fill out the hardship form for her and I’ll—”

“I didn’t ask for the hardship form.”

The sheep stared up again, incredulous. “Are you trying to make some kind of point?” she finally said.

“It’s not wrong to expect me to fulfill civic duties here to the best of my ability. But you could have talked to the city’s liaison office once I said I was giant, rather than dismissing it. You could have had a representative travel to the college campus, which has facilities expressly designed for multiple sizes to meet. Or you could simply have set up a remote video call, which I suspect is the only way I could serve on a jury without moving the entire trial to the campus.” She pushed her glasses up her nose. “Which is something you have to at least consider. A giant could legally be charged with a crime in your court system, and a jury of their peers can’t exclude giants.”

“Yes, one could, and don’t think I haven’t considered it.” Pilken let that hang in the air a few seconds, then put her hands on her hips. “But that ‘liaison office’ made it clear years ago that any problems with giants, whatever they are, should get passed on to your campus, and you’ll handle it.”

“We are equipped to handle situations that might be difficult for off-campus authorities. Not just giants, but sorcerers.” Arilin tilted her head. “Even so, it’s not as if we exist in some secret dimension you can only travel to on a magical train or other such nonsense. If we intend to be part of the world—and we do—we can’t be treated as if we’re above the law.”

“I’m sure the irony in your choice of words is unintended.” The judge grunted. “Consider your point made, Ms. Thorferra. We’ll come up with instructions on how to handle cases like this in the future, although I won’t hazard a guess just what those instructions will be.”

“And this case, right now?”

“It goes one of two ways. You can make the attorneys come out here and question you to see if they can find a reason to excuse you for cause. They’ll know you and I have had this conversation already, so they’ll feel like you’re deliberately drawing this out and wasting their time. At that point, one of them will use a peremptory challenge to dismiss you, although the other one might challenge for cause first. Which I might allow.”

Arilin lashed her tail. Several pedestrians screamed.

“Or,” she continued, “you ask for your service to be deferred, I thank you for your service, and grant your request. Then it’s on us to figure out how to handle giants more gracefully before your deferment period ends.”

“I get the distinct impression you’d prefer the latter.”

“Your impression is correct.”

Arilin pursed her lips. “All right, then.”

“Thank you for your service.” The judge spread her hands. “You’re free to go.”

“Thank you, your honor.”

“You’re welcome, Ms. Thorferra.” The judge met her eyes again. “Watch your step.”

“I do my best.”

“Mmm.” Pilken turned and walked back into the building, motioning for Fred to follow. With a nervous glance, the rabbit did.

Arilin watched them go, tail lashing once again, then started to stand.


“Yes?” She paused, still half-crouched, looking down at the deputy wolf.

“You mentioned ‘sorcery.’ The school does teach magic, doesn’t it? You have wizards there.”

“We do.”

“So couldn’t one have just, uh…” He waved a hand. “Shrunk you?”

She regarded him silently for a second, then winked again, straightening to her full height and walking away.