Yesterday was brutal for everyone. The process of switching out guards so that every person would have a chance to make an appearance at Will Price's trial was way more demanding than I expected. That being said, we did manage it. Trial concluded, verdict read to the populace.
I won't leave you in suspense. Will is alive.
Rich did an amazing job in his capacity as our judge. He listened patiently to every piece of testimony, every argument and reason why Will should be allowed to live or put to death, depending on the person talking. Hell, in the four hours I was there, Rich didn't even get up to take a leak, and he was drinking water pretty steadily all day.
I have to say, I'm actually pretty happy with this result. I heard so much about Will's actions while the compound was occupied by the Richmond soldiers that it's hard to remember it all. Many, many accounts of him helping people steal food so their families wouldn't starve, or standing up to one of the soldiers when they'd try to intimidate one of our people. He did a lot of good, but the unavoidable reality that it was his actions that brought the soldiers here in the first place couldn't be ignored.
His reasoning for doing so was sound. Will explained, again, that when the burden of leadership fell to him, he made the choice to allow the soldiers in if the other option was all-out war. Will was in the best position to know exactly how well our defenses would have held up to the enemy, and according to his own testimony, we'd have basically been fucked from the get-go.
The Richmond soldiers were desperate for food. That's the entire reason they came here. See, at first they stayed at the base, guarding the truly epic amount of incredibly dangerous weaponry there against theft from dangerous groups. After so many months, though, their supplies started to get low. Hunting wasn't doing the trick, and they hadn't the time or knowledge to farm effectively. Will, in the brief time he talked to Frank Cardwell, the man who led the soldiers, learned that they were going to give us three chances to surrender. For each refusal, they would drop a mortar on us. They'd scouted the land around the compound and found a hill that would have let them do that with ease.
So, Will gave us up to save us. I believe that, I think, even though I feel he went about it in the wrong way. A lot of people agree with me. The problem is, about half of them don't think his good deeds during the occupation quite make up for causing the occupation itself. One last act that I haven't told you about was what changed the minds of some the people who wanted him to get a death sentence.
Over the last few months, discipline among the soldiers grew lax. Surrounded by a good number of women, some of the boys from Richmond started getting very...forward. Most of them took getting shot down and moved on, but at least three men actually attempted to rape our women. The first time, the lady fought off the soldier. The second time, the act was interrupted by another soldier who stopped it. That was when Will let his former brethren that if another woman was assaulted, he would personally kill that man. In front of people.
The third attack came, and it succeeded. When the news got to Will, he hunted down the man in question and without warning came up behind him and cut his hamstrings. He pulled the crippled soldier across the compound, right up to the theater, people following the spectacle. Will announced the man's crime in front of the crowd, and then castrated him right there, leaving him to bleed to death.
For that act, Rich ultimately decided that Will should be allowed to live. Not as a free man, mind you, but a life in chains is better than no life at all. Will's primary duties will be dangerous ones--ferrying people back and forth between the compound and the nearby farms (the zombies are causing a lot of problems at the farms now, more on that tomorrow) as well as doing whatever life-threatening work we need done, such as repairing the roof of the sniper tower. That kind of thing.
Rich's decision, however, came with a strange set of conditions: Will is not allowed to eat at any communal meal like those we serve at the house we use as a mess hall. He's allowed to drink from the creek, but any food must explicitly be given to him by a citizen of the compound in good standing. Similarly, a citizen in good standing may ask him to perform any task that does not directly injure him, so long as it accomplishes useful work, and Will must obey. Think about all the things that even we, the citizens of the compound, take for granted--food, clothes, shelter, even a haircut. Will must be given anything by a citizen. He simply isn't allowed to receive communal goods or services. Only help from individuals.
His Karma will be the shackles that hold him. He has done a terrible wrong to the people here, but his intent was to save lives. I believe that Will Price is a good person who has made bad decisions. His life, from here on out, will be in service to the very people he betrayed with those good intentions. Last night it got very, very cold, yet he slept outdoors because no one offered him shelter. I wonder how long people will watch him suffer before they offer help? I didn't, honestly, because a part of me wanted to see what fate did to him. You can die from exposure when it's twenty degrees warmer out than it was last night. Yet, he lives.
Oh, and before you start berating us for not having him in literal chains--he is, when not on active duty at a regular assignment. Anything he has to do for a citizen, he wears chains for. If he's on compound business, there are people with him, guards that would be there anyway, to watch him. It's not a pleasant existence, but it's living. Can't say that I'd turn it down if it was offered to me in his situation.
You know, I've been so wrapped up in the liberation of the compound, Will's trial, and a million other things that I almost forgot that tomorrow is a big day...do you realize what it is?