“Tendrils had told us that he was in some sort of argument with Death. He wanted us to get some followers out of a temple of the Servant of Death to give him some sort of edge on her. I haven’t a clue what it was all about, so I won’t tell you.”
By now the court had gotten used to Janna’s passively disrespectful manner of speech. The judge, her brother Kain, had known that she was going to have this attitude. It was just how she was all the time.
“So, Drake and I did what we were asked. We went into the Death Temple, accused them of some sort of moose to get them riled up, and then waited for the more squeamish ones to exit. It was just four men and a woman left. I wondered if she was some form of Simperwald, and using her striking form to attract these men as some sort of harem.”
“That’s cheating, really. Anyway, they came upon us for our rude remarks, and also because I insulted them in the name of Tendrils. Death’s followers knew that the two were having a dispute at the time, which is what I was hoping for. Drake and I rushed back at them and we got into quite a skirmish.”
“I got an odd feeling after brawling for about five minutes. My vision clouded at the sides, shutting my peripherals and focusing me on the enemy. They became less, people we wanted to scare off for a bit and more, targets that I suddenly wanted to kill. I’d never gotten into a battle trance like that before. It was kind of weird really. Normally during combat, my head is clear, sometimes it even works faster than normal, I think.”
As Janna spoke, Chloe nodded whispering, “Clear-headed in combat. Just like our father…”
“Well, Drake had to pull me off of them long enough to let them escape. That’s the only reason no one died.”
At this, Drake stood saying, “I’d like to make a statement regarding this event.”
“Do so,” Kain said, motioning.
Drake came to the front where Kain had indicated.
He said, “I was there, and I’d like to state that something odd happened.”
“Go on,” Kain said.
“Right. There was a turning point in her fight. I saw the moment it happened, the instant you- the instant Janna started acting more… deliberate. She wasn’t fighting in a playful manner anymore either, but physically…”
“Get on with it, Drake.” Kain said, glancing nervously at the window, “I know we will be adding another day to this ordeal, do not stretch it to more by tumbling over your own sentences.”
“She had red lines running down her face on her skin. It was like the timelines of Tendrils, but upside-down, a bright red-orange instead of blue.”
Kain considered this.
Janna stepped up, determined to stick her piece into Kain’s thoughts as well.
“It is inevitable.” Janna stated, standing next to Drake, “Those were the words calmly repeating themselves in my head. It is inevitable.”
Kain leaned back in his chair, holding up his hand, seemingly asking for time to think.
Kain was a man who took a lot of time in deliberation. He had been entered into public school at the same time as Natasha, Chloe, and Janna. But he had lagged behind, becoming the last member of the family to finish, nearly twice as long as his siblings. But all that time spent learning and considering also had positive elements. Kain’s judgement came to lack bias. He was considered wise by many, and a sage in the Sol-Metch State where he now lived.
“Death.” He stated.
Janna’s face twisted into confusion and genuine disbelief.
Chloe jolted to her feet immediately, shouting, “Is that the verdict?!”
Kain waved his hands, “Ah, no! No! I just figured out, the Servant of Death was influencing her.”
Natasha, still sitting, said, “Is that really possible? Can not Servants only influence to aid? Does not the target keep its volition?”
Kain shook her head, and so did Chloe.
“No.” They both said. Kain looked to Chloe to explain, since he figured she was smarter.
“Ah,” Chloe said, “Okay, so Servants that got to their station via apotheosis can’t do that, you’re right on that note, Natasha, but Death isn’t like that. She was born a Servant. Let me use an example.”
Chloe had relaxed considerably; she was more comfortable talking about facts than her sister’s guilt.
“Any Servant born through the infrequent communion of Mother and Father Nature, that is the Servants of the Overside and Underside respectively, can take some degree of control. If you are part of the family line, you have a little more power. Otherwise, if you were once someone born and living on the planet, you can’t. You can provide unrequested aid as Conflict often does, but at the end of the day the mortal is in control.”
Kain nodded, after a short period mulling it over.
Janna said, “So, I could make a superior orders plea?”
Kain looked at her doubtfully, “I do not know. The superior orders plea is an odd one. Really, it does not apply here.”
Chance stood now, doing his job for the first time. He winked at Janna, and she got an uneasy feeling.
“Hey,” He swaggered, “Do not you think that she has the opportunity for a more favourable plea?”
Janna was surprised; she wasn’t expecting Chance to actually be good at his job. He’d been a real vagrant back in school, and even now he still looked it, wearing a tattered bathrobe to work.
Chance continued, scratching his messy hair and smiling to reveal missing teeth, “Look, right, I am proposing a partial loss of volition plea. She was clearly marked by Death, and her thoughts turned to ‘it is inevitable.’ Obviously, the thoughts imply, ‘death is inevitable.’ Would not then Janna be able to justify her actions through the warped lens that the people she was attempting to kill were going to die regardless? Since death is ‘inevitable?'”
Janna smiled and sat down with him.
While Kain was considering this, she whispered to Chance, “You didn’t tell me you were competent.”
He wasn’t insulted; instead, he smiled confidently, “I love it when people underestimate me.”
Kain was writing furiously now, which worried Janna a bit. Before he had only written short notes, a word or two, sometimes even a sentence. It looked like he was trying to scrawl out an entire essay in a single minute.
Chloe and Drake had also sat back down.
“It seems as if you two have decided to make my life difficult,” Kain stared at Janna and Chance, “But the difficulty is in your favour today.”
He rearranged his stack of sheets. Janna’s heart was beating dubiously, regardless of what he said.
“We will finish a few minutes early today. Tomorrow will be the final session. You will tell us of the murder, and then during the break,” He pointed quickly to the window, “I will consider further. I will not rush. If I am late, you will simply have to wait. Then, I will give you your sentence.”
His voice had the tone of impending closure.
Janna was breathing heavily now. Even though she was hearing good news, her nerves were on high alert. She would have only one day and one night to consider it all; one more night of the vague freedom that her verdict limbo had allowed.
Then, somewhat abruptly, Kain said, “Drake and Janna, switch places. I will deal with Drake right now.”
They obliged. Chloe and Drake seemed to have been ready for this/ Janna was caught out of the loop. Chloe pulled out what seemed a scrap of paper in comparison to Janna’s scroll of incidents.
Chloe read off his offences, a lot of which were aiding and assisting Janna. He had also overstepped some sort of iron forging regulations in Baracus. Janna waved it off as a business issue. Not really a violent or serious crime in her eyes.
“It is not so bad. Do you have anything to say in your defence?” Kain asked.
“Seems about-” Drake started.
Chance had cut him off, “This is not business court, and such a small offence should be paid via a fine, not a sentence.”
“Correct.” Kain said, and then, “Three months and twenty Solune, Drake. Pay within the year.”
Drake nodded, and then Kain closed the court.
“Goodnight everyone.” He said, taking up his notes.
“Go home!” Chance called after the bottlenecked crowd, “Tell your friends we get the results tomorrow during the second half!”
Janna shook her head and headed to Drake as the room slowly bled out its inhabitants.
“Looks like you’ll get some piece of mind now.” Janna told Drake.
“Yeah, well. Not until I know what’s to happen to you. Further, not until I know what laws are going to be put in place for our kid.” He pointed at Janna’s mid and continued, “Look, I think we both know that you’re perfectly capable of protecting yourself, but you won’t be nearly as capable once the kid is more developed.”
Janna nodded, “Honestly, I’ve been worrying about that too. I’ve been thinking about the future a lot more now, stretching my thoughts ahead.”
“That’s good,” Drake replied nodding, “very good.”
Natasha walked to them, “Yes, it is very good. If you are to become the next king, you will need that specific skill to be rightfully practised.”
Janna turned to her, “Why are you bringing that up now?”
“He will be announcing it, father, after your trial tomorrow afternoon. So be prepared for a long day, followed by the wearing of fancy clothes.” Natasha said flatly.
“What? I’m going to be announced as his heir and then promptly thrown into jail for a bit?” Janna asked, taken aback.
Chloe had joined her sisters by now.
“Sounds like something dad would do,” She interjected.
“Well…” Janna thought, “I mean, you’re not wrong.”
Janna smiled at Chloe. There was a jovial air about them now. The tension of the court had worn off for the moment.
Natasha said, “Do you remember when father announced that we were leaving for a bonfire at his brother’s place? Leaving the exact same day for a trip, almost a week’s walk?”
Janna pressed her hand to her face, and then the small group just laughed. Kain came over.
“Are you guys making fun of me for being chair?” He asked.
“No, we’re talking about dad and his abrupt decision making,” Chloe said, beaming at him.
“Oh man, do you remember when we left for that bonfire at our cousin’s place? He gave us, what, a few hours to prepare for a five day walk?” Kain added.
“Funny, we were talking about the same thing,” Janna said.
“It was worth the rush though,” Natasha said, as the group headed out of the now empty courtroom and down the tower stairs.
“Yeah,” Chloe’s eyes glazed over, “We learned so much about our uncle’s family. And our own.”
“Hey!” Kain said excitedly, “We should have dinner together after…”
He trailed off, and Janna gave him a sombre look.
“Yeah, after my sentence,” She added on to his sentence, and then, “I can bring my kid by that time.”
Kain nodded, but Drake and Chloe’s eyes widened. Kain wasn’t supposed to know about that.
“Oops.” Janna cringed a little.
Kain’s slow mind finally comprehended what she had just said.
“Wait! What kid?” He shouted as they got to the bottom floor, “I- I can’t be judging someone who’s pregnant!”
Kain pointed to Janna’s stomach accusingly, “He’s not dividing your sentence in two, counting as a second person you know.”
Janna looked at him in brief disbelief, and then laughed out loud, “Really? I wasn’t expecting you to joke about it!”
They exited the tower. Kain and Janna led the way, Natasha looking over their shoulders, and Chloe and Drake in the rear.
“I’m not allowed take that into consideration though, I can’t give you and easier time. Worse, there’s a huge chance that someone in the prison there will give you a hard time. You’re royalty and worse, you’re an Agent. There will be people with grudges, probably people with heavy grudges against you, possibly even ones you captured yourself,” Kain looked back at Natasha, “We have measures to protect pregnant inmates, right? I didn’t have to study that part, so I didn’t.”
She shrugged, “Really there is not much support for this sort of situation in the actual text of the law. I am going to be working on amends for it though. Janna will be fully capable for a while yet. We should be okay, I have changed the laws before.”
“Alright.” Kain said tentatively, “I’m trusting you. I don’t want to have not held back on her and then something awful happens like a prison skirmish and then I have a stillborn nephew or something.”
They had all stopped near the east side of the castle. The air was dead. Chloe, Janna, Natasha, Drake, and Kain had gotten really serious now.
“Alright?” He repeated.
“I will be on it immediately after the trial,” Natasha said.
“I’ll help!” Said Chloe.
“And we’re in a good spot too, I’ll be out long before Janna, so I can set things up outside,” Drake said.
“Do I have your word, Natasha?” Kain looked at his twin seriously.
“Yes. I promise.” Natasha’s face, which had been neutral until now, became very earnest and formal.
Kain then looked at Chloe, who nodded.
Janna blushed a bit, pulling her head down into her collar, “All this for me? Well, I won’t say I don’t deserve it, because really I do.”
She gave a long wink. They said their goodbyes, now each with a small sense of hope.
Then, Natasha brought Janna and Drake to their prison room.
Natasha stopped at the doorway and said, “Janna, you do not have to worry. Just call for me if you have any troubles during your time.”
Then she stiffened saying, “That is not a privilege mind you, any prisoner is entitled to my attention if something is amiss.”
Janna waved, and Natasha exited. She lay back in her bed.
On the other side of the closed door, Natasha stopped hiding her worried expression. She was unsure if she would be able to make the necessary changes in time. She had no experience with this sort of situation.
She was just going to have to hope that Janna was not so foolish as to not report conflict, and as Natasha walked down the stairs and out towards her office, she worried. Janna was the kind of person who relished in conflict, and now she was caged in with the right kind of people to enable it.
Natasha sighed as she stepped into the substitute Enforcement Hall. It had been a larger house before it was repurposed. She immediately went to her desk, and grabbed a pen and some reeds paper, and sat down to work.
The Evidence Series seems really kind of campy, and doesn’t have a huge resonating theme. Despite this, I still sort of like it. Looks like we’re almost done… I’m actually sort of excited to do a second draft of this. I think that the quality will magnify with a bit of work!