Mirrored from Sythyry.
Sekhidi: [climbing onto the judicial sphere] “Ah, Miss Sythyry, Miss Arfaen. I had not expected to see you ever again.”
Me: “Well, we are back for the judgment, despite the efforts of various great monsters to get us to escape from justice in the style of Hanija.” I carefully didn’t say ‘justice, or your best approximation thereof’. Really. Even if the judge heard that.
Sekhidi: “The nendrai’s failed attack on the city does somewhat change the scope and character of the trial.”
Me: “She was merely making an emphatic request. If she had attacked the city, the situation would have rapidly become both complex and dire. Still, I have discussed the matter with her at some length. She will attempt not to interfere in matters of Hanijan justice. For punishments that she does not interpret as depriving her of us, I suspect she will succeed.”
Sekhidi: “It is somewhat early in the trial to decide on punishments, and somewhat presumptuous for the accused to express preferences.”
Me: “My own preferences are mute! I express the nendrai’s preferences, without regard for my own.”
Sekhidi: “Even so, I have never seen such a pained expression on Shirahung’s face. You have engaged a skilled barrister; why not allow him to speak in your place?”
So I tried that.
Sekhidi: “First of all, is there any doubt that the crime was committed?”
Sekhidi: “Are there mitigating circumstances?”
Khohu: “Miss Arfaen is a Cani; she is subject to the loyalty instinct. In the case of the transaffectionate, this loyalty can become sexual from time to time. Miss Arfaen requests a diminuation of punishment in light of Unavoidable Instinctive Behavior.”
Sekhidi: “Granted, in the traditional and routine degree.”
Khohu: (to Arfaen) “It’s not much, but it’s something, dearie.”
Sekhidi: “Is that all?”
Khohu: “Not all! Miss Sythyry is the captain of the skyboat, and of the adventuring company that employed Miss Arfaen. Zie made it be well-known that zie wished for the intimate attentions from zir crew. Miss Arfaen was subject to easy coercion because, first, she was an employee of little power or status, and, second, the aforementioned loyalty instinct. As is often the case, the tofyof was manipulated into improper activities which she would never have entered on her own.”
Arfaen: “Wait, what? You’re trying to make Sythyry out to be the villain! No! That is not true or right!”
Khohu: “I’m simply trying to defend you, dearie. I do have affan at law between us.”
Arfaen whined, tucking her tail between her legs.
Shirahung: “Miss Sythyry wishes to dispute Miss Arfaen’s story. No coercion was involved. Rather the opposite. Miss Arfaen is the skyboat’s pony — all get a ride who wish one.”
Me: “Quiet, Shirahung! That is not true!”
Khohu: “Even Miss Sythyry accepts my version of events. Zie compelled… ow!”
The “ow!” was because Arfaen had bitten her own barrister on the shoulder.
Sekhidi: “Oh, great gobbling gods. These foreigners are the oddest case I’ve had in court in many a year. If I weren’t paying attention, I would think that they were colluding together, to prosecute their barristers.”
Me: “I don’t think the barristers are doing what we want them to. They’re just doing their job.”
Sekhidi: “And what mockery of the court, and of Hanijan law, do you wish them to do?”
Me: “No mockery. I don’t want Arfaen punished for this. I shouldn’t be sleeping with my clients, no matter what the local laws say. I am at fault here.”
Arfaen: “What — I threw myself at zir, and so zie gets punished? What sort of justice is that?”
Sekhidi: “Well, it’s quite clear that you two love each other. It is a pity that you didn’t figure that out before you wound up in court about it — shall we say, two days ago, when it would have been the simplest thing in the world for Miss Sythyry to take Miss Arfaen as a tofyof. If the court were moved by sentiment, the case should be dismissed straightaway. However, the court is moved by laws, and the legalities of the matter are clear enough.”
Barristers: “We simultaneously proclaim the reasons for our respective clients being given light punishments, even at the cost of the other defendant being given heavy ones, in defiance of our clients. However we are wary of physical violence, and, indeed, edging nervously away from them. It looks quite odd.”
Arfaen and me: “Stop that!”
Sekhidi: “I believe that it is time for a long detailed discussion of precedents and legal nicities, which neither Miss Arfaen nor Miss Sythyry has the slightest chance of being able to follow.”
Arfaen and me: enter a dazed coma.
Barristers: invigorated and encouraged by the flood of legalisms.
Sekhidi: “So we sentence Miss Sythyry to class-5 punishments, and Miss Arfaen to class-1b.” We looked confused. “Miss Sythyry is getting the worse of it, as is standard, because zie is the employer.”
Barristers: “Now, O most obstreperous and unruly clients, will you let us do our work?”
Us: “We suppose so.”
- So, no prison time, to avoid tugging the nendrai’s tail.
- Arfaen pays a smallish fine.
- I pay a largish fine.
- I pay Arfaen triple what a tofyof should get paid.
- (I work for a bit selling magic items to cover these! But that’s not part of the sentence.)
- I get beaten, twenty standardized strokes with a knout and twelve with a standardized heavy wooden club. Indoors, in private, with healers around to make sure that I get all twenty and twelve standardized strokes. The twelve, by the way, are required to break both my wings — a slight surcharge for being Zi Ri.
Arfaen: “Oh, no!”
Me: “Not a terribly big matter, really. It’s not the first time I’ve been fined for transaffectionate matters, and certainly not the first time I’ve been beaten for them.”
Arfaen: “I want to make it up to you! May I be your tofyof afterwards?”
Sekhidi: “No; zie will not be allowed to take any tofyofs for a period of seven years.”
Me: “Hm. Can I be Arfaen’s tofyof?”
Sekhidi: “Are you mad? It would be a terrible plunge of status!”
Me: “That means yes?”
Sekhidi: “Such a thing is never done!”
Me: “That means yes?”
Sekhidi: “… yes … it is legally possible … “
Me: “Let’s do that, then.”
Arfaen: “… !”
I’m not quite sure if I’m (a) fleering and flouting at Hanijan law, and/or (b) belatedly admiring Hanijan law, and/or (c) apologizing to Arfaen, and/or (d) proclaiming my support for the concept of the tofyof, and/or (e) fleering and flouting at social status altogether, and/or (f) getting a good story to laugh about a century from now, and/or (g) making sure I have amatory access to Arfaen. (I suspect d and e.)
It is certainly a grand and dramatic gesture, even if I don’t know what it is a gesture for.