Chapter 47: The Trial
I layed down on the ground next to the judges stand. Thank god whoever built this palace made many doors to major areas excessively large. They were just big enough for me to fit through so that’s great. We were still waiting for them to drag the prince here for the trial so there was some time to read. I could feel the stares of the other nobles on me as I began to read.
Was it vaguely disrespectful for me to lie down here? Well yes but I didn’t really care. The whole plan was for me to come across as this old ancient creature that didn’t entertain the games of humans. It wouldn’t make sense after all if a monster conformed absolutely to the rituals and mannerisms of humans. I have this idea that if there was a feast at some point, I wonder what the other humans will think when they see me eat a whole cow. My body isn’t that suited for table manners after all.
“Friend, are you still reading about the Grahanam Crowns?” Cecilia asked casually from her seat on the judge’s platform. I sensed the gaze of the noble and the common folk shift their gaze to the pair of us.
“Yeah, interesting how you humans do your guesswork and rationalizations.” I replied as I looked up from the book. I thought back to some of the Eternal Mother’s memories and my mind wandered to how these coins were far more than just currency…
Afterall the Watchers were the creations of the Firstborn, an artifact used so heavily by that particularly powerful race would not be so simple. It even says so in this book, Grahanam Crowns were almost impossible to destroy, Grahanam Crowns have been dug out of the ocean from ancient wrecks that were almost a million years old by some estimates. The Crowns that they found were spotless and undamaged. Even at the bottom of the ocean, the Crowns were immune to the ravages of time. Palaces have fallen to dragon fire and the Crowns have been dug from the rubble requiring no more than a simple cleaning to get it back to it’s past splendor.
If those memories were true then… These Grahanam Crowns would be able to help me grow the Hive much faster than I previously planned…
“You know something about those ancient relics?” Cecilia asked and I could feel the attention of the whole room on us.
Everyone knew about Grahanam Crowns, a peasant can become nobility if he or she gives a Grahanam Crown to the rulers of a land. Wars have been waged, armies slaughtered for those ancient coins.
Why are they so prized? The reason is simple, the Watchers were suspected to be the first Humanoids. In this world what is old is powerful, and if all Humanoids come from the Watchers then this is a relic of a common ancestor. This was a relic prized by ALL the humanoid races, not just the humans. Grahanam Crowns are the star of any treasury, from Dwarven vaults to Elven shrines, from Orcish hoards to Vulpine reliquaries. Everyone wanted it, and if everyone wanted it then it’s valuable.
“I’ll tell you later, away from prying eyes and ears, away from wicked eyes and wicked hearts…” I replied with a smile.
This was another ruse, the common folk will spread word that the great beast of the Elysian Woods knew something about Grahanam Crowns. Further adding to the impression that I am not some dumb monster but an ancient creature that knew alot about the world. Which to be fair although I’m not ancient per se but my knowledge is vast thanks to what I got from the Eternal Mother. She was kind enough to give me the oldest and most useful stuff. As I examined the memories I realized she could only give me a small portion of her memories and I could absorb about 80% of that. But the thing was this incomplete assimilation on my part was not some unfortunate by-product. It turns out the vast majority of memories creatures have are unimportant, like what someone had for dinner or something mundane like that. The important bits only constituted a small fraction of the memories. Those small bits were all I needed, so I now had a vast store of memories. This meant the limited assimilation had little real impact, unless I’m looking for something extremely random or specific.
“Very well.” Cecilia said with a calm smile.
I could hear the hushed whispers from nobles and the commoners alike. Good let them speculate, a little mystique creates curiosity, fear and perhaps even awe…
It wasn’t long before I heard the clinking of chains and the sound of armored footsteps. The room went quiet as all eyes turned to see Prince Pelice being dragged in chains into the courtroom. The courtroom was laid out with two aisles, on the left aisle were seated the nobles and on the right aisle were seated some selected commoners. Both aisles didn’t have any actual decision making power since Cecilia the Queen was presiding over the trial. Ironically chances are she’s going to ask for my opinion so a monster will have more power than the people.
The prince was screaming into a gag as he was dragged between the two aisles towards the front stand where he is supposed to stand trial.
I heard the people whispering as the prince walked past. The nobles especially were going hard on the gossip.
I heard the prince has gone mad, yowling in the dungeons about the queen as some doom bringer…
I heard he raped this poor servant girl…
I heard he deluded himself into thinking that girl actually loved him…
Yes, some in palace say the king raped that same servant girl and the prince went mad with rage…
The commoners of course weren’t silent. Naturally the two aisles couldn’t hear each other but I could hear a pin drop on the farside of the room so this was no challenge to me.
The king went mad, of that I’m sure
It looks like the madness runs in the family
Shush, the queen is here
But the queen seems fine, she looks sane
Talks sane too
But what about the beast? Isn’t allying with a beast madness?
Yeah, but letting Tralis march their way here is madness too
Says alot about Tralis if a monster is more reasonable
But look at it, it’s reading
Yeah it said something about Grahanam Crowns as well
We all know the stories, the ancient creatures are the wisest and most powerful…
Finally the Prince was dumped on the stand and the Royal Guards had to hold his writhing body down.
After the room returned to silence Cecilia rose to her feet and she looked down at her brother and I could see the contempt in her eyes.
“Prince Pelice Averlon, I Queen Cecilia of house Averlon, sovereign of the city of state hereby levy the charges of conspiracy against the crown and regicide against you.” Cecilia said.
“How do you plead?” Cecilia asked as the guards pulled the gag off.
“SHE’LL KILL US ALL! THE PROPHECY…” Pelice wailed but the gag was swiftly shoved back into his mouth.
“Of course…” Cecilia said as she looked down in mock disappointment.
This is great, who knew show trials could be this entertaining? Someone should have made a TV show about this or something back in my old world. They could call it False Justice or something.
“For the charge of conspiracy against the crown, I would like to first call Spy Master Sarana Lohse to the stands.” Cecilia said as she sat back down.
Sarana stood up on the witness stand and I watched as Sarana gave the Prince a look with the slightest of smiles. The Prince’s face went purple as he thrashed and screamed into his gag.
“The Prince confided in me that he wished to usurp the throne, when the late king used that poor servant girl the prince wanted vengeance. He seemed to have deluded himself into thinking that the servant girl loved him.
But of course, as you all know. When royals make requests, there is little a commoner can do to say no.” Sarana said calmly.
“And how did you come to know all of this?” Cecilia asked.
“I am the Spymaster your grace, I have many little birds in many rooms, they sing many little songs in my ear.” Sarana said with a small smile.
“But perhaps I am not the best source, the word of a Spymaster is always suspect after all. So I have brought the servant girl to testify as well.” Sarana said according to the script.
“Very well.” Cecilia nodded and Lily was brought up to the stand.
“Your name?” Cecilia asked.
“I am Lilian Nash, I am a servant in this great palace.” Lily said nervously as she used her assigned false name. Good thing Lily was a common name…
“Tell me Lilian, what has happened to you?” Cecilia asked.
Lily proceeded to tell the court how she was brought into the palace and how she caught the prince’s eyes. I could see pheromones radiating off some of the males in the room, if Lily was anything she was beautiful thanks to that little trick of blood magic.
As Lily told her tale, painting her experience as a poor girl forced to spread her legs for a royal every night. How when the king had his way with her, how she was overdosed on the potions and how the Prince promised he would kill the king for her.
I looked at the noble ladies and I saw them all covering the bottom half of their faces with fans. Cecilia told me that was a sign of contempt and disapproval in the aristocracy, a vestige of the Elysian Empire where the aristocracy wore eye masks. It's a guarded posture, for in the Elysian empire if the lower half of your face is covered then you might as well be masked, since the only part of your face that was revealed would be your eyes. Thus the contempt in one's eyes would be the only thing the other would see.
Cecilia mentioned that rape was frowned upon greatly by the court. For in the Elysian states women held a decent amount of power in the noble houses. The men were expected to be the face of the house but the women were the ones that kept the households running. It wasn’t uncommon for policy ideas to come from the minds of women. After all, if a noble lord died in battle someone needed to keep everything running until a suitable replacement was decided upon.
I looked at the prince and saw him screaming into his gag as he gazed hatefully at Lily. Lily for her part managed to look completely disconcerted by the prince’s muffled shouts. Cecilia told her the tricks of the trade and Lily was playing her part to the tee. Crossing her arms and rubbing her arms with her hands. Raising her shoulders as if bracing for a blow and head slightly lowered. The body language was clear for everyone to see.
“Before I continue does the defendant have anything to say in his defence?” Cecilia asked as she cast a falsely weary gaze at the prince’s thrashing figure.
“YOU LYING WHOR…” Pelice roared immediately after the gag was removed and the gag was swiftly shoved into his mouth.
“Of course… why do I even bother…” Cecilia said as she pinched the bridge of her nose.
Again I heard the whispers…
Disgraceful, to think we were almost ruled by this cretin…
The Queen is quite patient, I would have just had him killed to save us all the time…
Indeed, he already murdered the king infront of all of us, his fate is already sealed…
I suppose it is a sign of the Queen’s grace, justice must be dealt correctly…
A good sign then…
Yeah that’s right you blithering idiot, scream into the gag. Dig your own grave, keep going there’s only so deep you can dig, let’s see how far you can go…
“Pelice I am about to render judgement, I will give you one last chance to defend yourself.” Cecilia said with a sigh as she looked up from the table. At those words the guard took out the gag again.
“I DID IT FOR YOU! YOU WHORE!” Pelice roared at Lily, visibly flinched at those words.
“Enough! Gag him again.” Cecilia said impatiently and the royal guard obeyed.
“I never wanted any of this…” Lily said softly, her voice thanks to magically enhanced acoustics of the room carried easily to the aisles.
The royal guard next to Lily leaned towards her and gently asked if she was ok. Lily in turn tearfully nodded in response.
“Very well, Lilian, thank you for your bravery. The crown will compensate you for your suffering at the hands of my family.” Cecilia said.
“I’m just glad it’s all over… you grace…” Lily replied tearfully.
“Sir Holt, may you please escort Miss Lilian to a private room to rest. I am sure this has been a trying experience.” Cecilia and the Royal Guard next to Lily brought his fist to his chest in salute before he gently helped Lily off the stand.
“I apologise for your grievances Miss Lilian…” I heard Sir Holt said softly and Lily nodded mutely in response.
“Now then, for the charge of conspiracy against the crown I judge you Prince Pelice Averlon guilty.
I will now move onto the charge of regicide. The murder of my lord father.” Cecilia said.
“Now then I would like to first call witnesses to the stand.” Cecilia added as she moved a stack of papers in front of her, with a weary expression on her face as if she was about to call this long list of people. That’s my cue…
“Really?” I asked dryly as I turned to look at Cecilia who paused and looked at me.
“You need to call witnesses for this? The whole square saw it happen, yes he killed your father. In other news the sky is blue and grass is green.” I deadpanned.
“Friend, we must serve justice the correct way.” Cecilia replied patiently.
“Yeah, all the stuff earlier was a judicial process. This is just window dressing and bad theater..” I said in response.
At those words there was silence for a moment as Cecilia sighed. Sending the signal to the court that Cecilia felt I was right. The silence dragged on for a moment, only broken by the sound of Cecilia tapping the wooden stand with her finger as if lost in thought on how to proceed. Then one of the noble ladies stood up from the aisle.
“Your grace, may I be granted permission to speak.” the lady said.
“I am not familiar with you, my lady.” Cecilia replied courteously.
“I am Lady Carolin of house Castezin.” the lady said.
“Ah house Castezin, your family's artisans and blacksmiths arm half of Averlon.” Cecilia said with a nod.
“All house Castezin does, we do in service to Averlon and it’s people. House Castezen remains always at your service, your grace.” Carolin said with a small but graceful curtsy due to the limited space on the stands.
“Very well Carolin of house Castezin, speak your mind.” Cecilia said.
“My gratitude, your grace. It is of my humble opinion that the great beast of the Elysian woods is correct. The Prince’s guilt is plain and proven, he is a murderer, king slayer, conspirator and rapist.
There is nothing left to be said…” Carolin said.
“Your grace…” another young noble said as he stood up.
“Speak my lord.” Cecilia said with a wave of her hand.
“I am Lord Volare of house Straton.” the noble said with a bow, hand over heart.
“Well met, Lord Volare of house Straton. Your Lord father's bravery in the last war against the Marina is legendary. Speak your mind.” Cecilia said with a nod.
“Thank you, your grace. Lady Carolin words speak true…” Volare said as he gave Carolin a small bow who returned with a small curtsy of her own.
“It is heartening to see that you hold our judicial process with such regard but with such a clear crime, there is little more to be said. Prince Pelice has disgraced us, the nobility, the people, the nation, all of us.” Lord Volare said.
“Hear, hear…” the other nobles said as they slapped their hands on their thighs in response.
Cecilia paused as she looked at the crowd who all looked like they agreed.
“I mean you told me yourself the penalty for conspiracy against the crown is the death penalty. What are you going to do? Hang him twice?” I remarked dryly and drew a small rustle of chuckles from the crowd.
Cecilia herself smiled at my remark and she stood up from her seat and faced the gathered crowd.
“Does anyone oppose the motion for me to render judgement?” Cecilia asked and silence was her answer.
“Very well…” Cecilia said as she looked down at Pelice who had finally calmed down when he realised he was about to be sentenced to die.
“You seem calmer brother, do you have anything constructive to say?” Cecilia asked coldly.
“I’m sorry, I didn’t mean to do it…” Pelice begged.
“Didn’t mean to? So you accidentally concocted a scheme to lock away Cecilia and steal her birthright? Averlon must have some long stairs if you can do all that when you slip and fall.” I said dryly, to another round of chuckles.
“I suppose you drew your sword and fell on father too?” Cecilia asked dryly and chuckles turned to laughs.
“Please I am your brother, please sister MERCY!” Pelice begged.
“Yes… you are my brother… my flesh and blood… and what a pity that is…” Cecilia said coldly.
“I will now render judgement.” Cecilia declared and Pelice’s cries grew more desperate.
“Gag him.” Cecilia said and the gag was once again shoved into his mouth.
Prince Pelice of house Averlon
For the crime of conspiracy against the crown, I judge you guilty
For the crime regicide against my lord father, I judge you guilty
Your actions have endangered this good nation at a critical time
You obviously have no regard for the good of this nation…
Or the good of anyone for that matter…
By the power vested in me as Queen of the City State of Averlon
In sight of great nobles and good people of this nation
I hereby strip you of your name, titles and privileges
For dishonouring this great nation I hereby strip you of the right to live
The sentence is…