The First Proper Trial on Hove
In the early afternoon, we flew here and there around the city collecting the seven assassins and sixteen of their co-conspirators. In the mid afternoon, Ythac and Llredh amended the Stone of Merraro to allow proper draconic justice. In the late afternoon, we held a private little trial. I was truthforcer and judgment-maker. Llredh was sentence-maker and executioner. Tarcuna was the crime-speaker. Nrararn was impresario. Some gendarmes and hoven judges were baliffs and attorneys. We were in an actual Dorday courtroom, which meant that some of us were hoven-sized for good reasons, and others were hoven-sized for other good reasons.
Tarcuna shrieked, “Some finding-spells say that you seven killed Bthera, and Dr. Grauzeng, and the family of Dr. Grauzeng. The rest of you made plans with them, bought them guns and kerosene, and encouraged them to the deed of flame and blood. I accuse you all of murder. Murder of the innocent, for children died. Murder of the distant, for they had worked no kind of harm to you.”
”You wouldn’t know about the harm, Miss Arch-Cunya,” growled the wiry black-furred one. “You think dragons are a good thing.”
“I know dragons better than any other hoven!” Tarcuna shouted. “I rein ‘em in better than any number of vicious killers!”
I shushed Tarcuna with a glare, and tried that on the murderers. I am not quite sure that they understood that I was glaring; they certainly continued growling out slogans and accusations. So I swished my hukuchô over them, not quite touching, and they fell silent.
Nrararn jabbed me in the flank with a claw, which I didn’t notice. So he said, “Jyothky, don’t do that. Get the baliffs to quiet people. That’s why we have baliffs. Oh, and you’re bleeding.” (-1 fiancé point.)
Llredh hissed at the murderers, “Grauzeng, did you burn her house, did you shoot her head?”
They stared at him quietly, though fearfully.
Llredh roared, “An answer! For to me you will make an answer, and you will make her now!”
They stared at him quietly, though fearfully.
“I don’t think they can understand you. You!” I pointed at the wiry black one, whose name I think is Carlio. “Answer, yes or no. Did you shoot Bthera, or Dr. Grauzeng, or anyone in her family?”
He clopped a hoof on the courtroom’s tiled floor. “Don’t see why I should answer that one. You’ll kill me if you want, you will.” Truthful, claw-rasp it.
“We are doing things properly. Ythac would have it no other way. Answer my question, and truthfully,” I said with all available dignity.
“Won’t, and you can’t make me,” he said.
“Baliffs, make him answer,” I said.
The baliffs stared at me. “Are you asking us to torture him?” one of them asked, smelling scared and upset.
“No, no, you should do that part. Baliffs don’t have hukuchôs,” said Nrararn. (-1 fiancé point.)
I breathed a bit of ice on Nrararn (-1 fiancée point, presumably) and then brushed Carlio with my hukuchô delicately twice or thrice, until he was shaking and vomiting. “Now, answer. Did you kill any of those victims?”
“No!” he snapped.
“You’re lying,” I said.
“Tell whatever fiction you want,” he said. “Or will you use that magic torture spell to make me tell it, monster?” He tried to stand, but couldn’t. His gang-mates helped him to his feet.
“It’s not a spell,” I whined.
“Do your worst! You cannot break the spirit of free Trest!”
“The spirit of free Trest is all about shooting children running from a burning house? How sweet. You are better off under Ythac and Llredh,” said Nrararn.
“Grauzeng and Bthera were cunyas — collaborators! They deserved to die!”
“So you killed them?” I asked, trying desperately to keep to the truthforcing.
“I asserted an obvious corollary of a moral principle, nothing more.” Which was true. Carlio was a slippery murderer.
Nrararn leaned his head over Carlio. “It has been some while. But didn’t Trest go to war with us over whether it was acceptable to kill children for their parents’ crimes? And was not Trest, at that time, opposed to it?”
“The situations are utterly different!” shouted Carlio.
“Ah, the cry of the moral relativist,” said Nrararn. “Before you die, I will bring you to the hospital — St. Ploque-Dar, let’s get it right this time — and you will explain to Lyre and Pasquara just why you killed their mother. I’m sure they will appreciate the ethical nicities of the situation and find great comfort in your thesis.”
“Ah, the cry of the kangaroo court,” said Carlio. “You have written the verdict and the sentence already. All that remains is the charade of arriving at them.”
“Nrararn’s not the judgment-maker; I am,” I said. “And we are going to have a decent trial. Your part in that is to answer questions and tell the truth. Did you kill Grauzeng and family?”
“I deny the authority of your court,” Carlio said calmly, truthfully, and uselessly. His co-conspirators agreed.
“My husband’s spells, they are not wrong,” said Llredh. “Carlio, the murderer is he, and the murderer of a hoven who worked mightily against the evil worms. Now, he dances and evades at court. Mercy, she will not come for Carlio!”
“My point exactly, monsters! Kill me — and I am sure you will — but I shall not submit to your wicked and illegal reign! Nor shall Trest!” shouted Carlio.
That was quite aggrivating. “Carlio! If you do not immediately and truthfully and unambiguously state that you did not participate in this arson and murder, I will interpret your continued evasions as a full confession!” I roared.
“Interpret it how you like. You will in any case,” he said.
“And that will have to do for a confession. Baliffs, take Carlio away, and bring the next defendant,” said Nrararn the impresario.
The rest of the trial didn’t improve a bit. Except for three of the hovens who weren’t at the murder itself, who tried to argue that they were innocent. They had bought guns for Carlio and made plans with him. One had even visited Grauzeng’s house and gotten a quick tour on some pretext, and sketched it for Carlio.
“I’m not exactly happy with what we’ve got so far,” I said. “Finding-spells and non-confessions.”
“Bah, the wicked ones, they are they! Death, she is their fate, and soon!” said Llredh.
“Let’s get some witnesses. That’s what you’re supposed to do at a real trial if the criminals don’t confess,” said Nrararn. “I’m sure that Osoth can help out. He should see you at least a few more times while you’re engaged, anyways.” So we stopped for for overnight, and extracted Osoth from his catacombs. We slept in the Grand Hotel Dorday Elysium, and I politely coupled with Osoth twice by way of thanks.