TRIAL OF UNEN
Fade was summoned to a place she had seen before, yet knew not where it existed. The courtroom smelled of oaken floorboards and antiseptic magic. Gathered before her was a motley crue of adventurers and townsfolk. There was rushed jury assembled across the floor, consisting of Grant Welter, Seril Tylnessa, Vurag and Bugdush Kibird. Alongside Fade was Aahz and Abe, an old commoner who seemed to have eyes that dealt pain with their looks. Sweetblade escorted everyone in, and she held the defendant, an elven man of unknown origin called Unen Zyrustafer.
The judge was a Cruces Guard of high ranking, who would sometimes step in as relief judge. The trial began with Abe’s lament, how he saw this man attack his wife, kill and rob her, and then attack several other commoners. He was quite clearly in a very distressed state, tears would roll down his face and then dry off to the intense heat of his anger as it burnt his skin the colour of fresh blood. Fade felt for this man deeply, he was an old man with few years left, yet those last years would be filled with loss and torment and grief. A sad end to a short human life. The judge asked pertinent questions and interjected when the cloaked elf tried to explain himself out of turn.
Abe recanted how he’d been clearing his old adventuring equipment out of his house and had emptied a vial of old potion into his mouth to see what it tasted like, to see if he could recall his adventurers spirit. This vial held an arcane fluid that could alter the eyesight of its taker and make invisible slightly less so. Little did he know it would be so crucial to his identification of his wife’s murderer. He was attracted at first by the disassociated splashes happening around the town’s water gullies. A hint of intruder setting the hackles on his neck alive with motion and dread. He saw Unen cajole the Belen guards who descended upon the town, leading them forward from his dissipated state. He’d seen him over his wife, stripping her amulet from her half cocked neck. If he was twenty years younger he would have simply ripped the mans throat out and would have asked for immediate execution for himself.
Fade noticed his tired eyes, tired of seeing over and over again the death of his most treasured companion. Briefly his eyes shut, as if to block out the pain and embrace the void. Fade patted him on his back in a feeble attempt to comfort him and also to let him know he’d done the right thing, this was a task for justice and she knew Amon would not let evil prevail here.
Next to speak was Unen himself, a sly wily fox of an elf, shrouded in black hood and bound leather body. At night, you could almost believe he would be invisible without the need for any magical assistance. Unen addressed the court as he would another vagabond on the highway, with malice and covert cunning. He explained that he was in the forest area because he’d been chased by some adventurers from Castle Hyde. They’d attempted to detect evil within him using a magical spell and he feared for his life. Utilising his powers of slight of hand and illusion he was able to slip into the shadows of the forest like a snake slithering through the toes of its prey. Whilst ducking in the shadows, he’d heard a commotion around the entrance of Port Cruces, there seemed to be Belen guards heading that way, with blood on their minds. He followed as he was naturally curious.
Inside the town he saw the slaughter of the commoners, and he picked his way through the bloodied streets, stumbling upon a lady strewn out on the pavement. As he tumbled slightly he saw a flash of gold in the pink bloodied water below. He picked it up. It was a fine amulet if he ever saw one. He was admiring the beauty of such a piece, when he turned and saw a man crazed running towards him with was seemed to be a wooden club of some sort. The man was howling like a moonstruck wolf. Immediately Unen fled for the comfort and anonymity of the forest. In the panic, another man attacked Unen, unexpectedly. This man turned out to be Kristof. Yet more events unfolded and Vurag took Kristofs attack to be the cause of this slaughter, so Vurag joined in the melee. Confusion ensued. Unen scrabbled out as best he could. He still had the amulet in his possession. It was simply a mistake. He was there at the wrong time, with the wrong intentions and now he had to prove his innocence. Fade struggled with the dark elf’s story, something about his ways seemed to leak deceit through the pores of his very pale skin. Like this was familiar territory for him, like he was used to such interrogation.
Fade had been given Sister Ann Brights notebook of events, and was there as proxy to tell the facts that her holiness had written down. Sister Ann’s character could not be brought into question, Amon smiled upon her and she would always honour the truth. Fade mentioned that Unen had shouted comments across the city streets after the attack was over. He’d said that the “slaughter at the Port was a success”, he’d taunted Vurag with “look at your peasants now Vurag” and finally he’d closed the taunt with “that was for you”. Unen tried to deny these comments, and then wormed them around his finger like they were string. He said he was just commenting on how it seemed the slaughter at the port had been successful, and that he was in outrage that Vurag’s peasants had been murdered so viciously. There was a gleam in his eye as he held the jurors gaze and played with them like a magician does a coloured knotted scarf.
Unen was led out of the court, after much consternation at one point Unen being reprimanded by the Judge for disrespect. The juror’s had to make up their mind. They’d been given all there was.
Fade knew he was guilty. Her elven senses hadn’t let her down in so many years, but the Human court would not allow such intuition to become the basis for a court case. The comments seemed too spiteful, he’d been seen by the bodies picking them clean like a vulture pecking the last strips of flesh from the ribcage. He used the powers of darkness to shift through the city unnoticed and he reaped the golden medallions he knew he could sell as ill gotten gain. Fade was sure he was guilty.
The other jurors bashed the decision around the room like a drunken fist fight. Declaring the verdict seem to prompt the other jurors to place their hearts where the facts led them. Unen was found guilty of the charge of murder by 6 of the people attending, to 1 against. The one protestor, Seril, proceeded vehemently to called the court a sham, and lit up a torch in defiance of the majority decision. Short of contempt of court, the Judge calmed the situation and arranged the punishment. It was deemed that 7000 gold pieces be paid by Unen to the families of those who have lost their loved ones. It was also deemed that he lose the ability to progress in the monastery where he gained his monk training for at least one season. Reducing his skills by a seasons progress in one foul swoop.
Unen was returned to the courthouse and upon hearing the verdict of guilty and his punishment, he proclaimed that there was only one option left to him. “Japanese suicide”. Fade could not source what the word “Japanese” meant, but it seemed to describe a culture of some sort, perhaps a Belenese sub culture? She knew exactly what suicide meant, and she did not want his blood on these sacred floors, in front of Sweetblade and the judge, so she braced herself to restrain Unen if she could. It looked like Unen was fumbling for what seemed to be a potion of some sort from his hidden waist pouch, but then he lunged forward and struck the Judge across the chest with a martial blow. The judge reeled backwards in shock, having little time to raise his sword. For that moment, if Unen had been quicker of mind, he could have laid waste to at least two or three of the people in that court before anyone would react to stop him.
Thick, yet evasive, it trickled through the cracks in the flooring. He was still trying to escape.
Fade reached behind her, and unsheathed both vile rapiers, if Unen was going to attack, she would be ready to protect Sweetblade at least. Vurag spun his Great Axe into swinging position, and Seril unguarded his sword. In a few short blows the darkened man was slumped in a pool of defiant blood. Thick, yet evasive, it trickled through the cracks in the flooring. He was still trying to escape. His corpse was removed swiftly, and he was resurrected somewhere far away from the town of Port Cruces. His punishment served.
Abe collapsed in a heap, and sobbed. No matter what has befallen that mysterious sneak, he could never bring back his Gerty. His life was over. A time of waiting to die was upon him. As the jurors left the chamber, Fade picked up a small piece of rag from the floor, it was a cutting from Unens dark tunic. Through the fibres in her fingers she could feel the torment of that elf. He had been raised as a monk, with Amon in his heart. Yet there was a dark side to his nature, a side that longed to hide away, translucent as dragonfly wings. He was in a constant battle between monk and stealthy thief. Perhaps an assassin in the making? She crumpled the cloth and tossed it into the fire. The light of the flame exorcising the cloth from its evil past. She hoped this trial would do the same for the one they call Unen Zyrustafer.