Within the Country of Skill, in the city of the Grand Coliseum, the hustle and bustle of the city had reached a feverish pitch as the start of the Three Battles approached.
Today, a case was about to be tried behind closed doors in a certain court of the Grand Coliseum.
I had to say though, even if all the evidence and testimonies had actually been collected and reviewed yesterday, the timing of this trial was simply too quick.
It’s as if they were dying to get rid of me.
As I was led up to the courtroom, my heartbeat quickened slightly as a question lingered within my mind. Did Breman finish the necessary preparations?
Perhaps my decision last night wasn’t the right choice after all…
The “accidental” killing of those two youths had triggered a change in me.
In the past, I wasn’t particularly adept at handling the intricacies of human interaction. However it was these intricacies that often decided how a person truly thought of you deep down in their heart.
Even so, I elected to avoid socializing whenever I could. Compared to reading books or studying, interacting with people in the real world was infinitely more complex.
This was a behavior I kept even after transmigrating to this world, whether it was in the expedition or in Reitdarke.
Of course that was assuming no one was out to get me.
As long it was within reasonable limits, I was content to remain by the sidelines of the crowd, alone. That was how I spent the majority of my time in my previous world.
Perhaps even I didn’t know that I would’ve had such a violent reaction when I was angered or violated.
However, I now understood why this happened…it was because I had never been treated in such a manner before.
Having being treated like this for the first time, my reaction was understandably excessive.
I guess even if they convicted me of excessive self-defense, it was an outcome I could accept.
After all, wasn’t that how I acted in my jail cell as well…harming those who wanted to do harm to me without a second thought.
The desire to want to avenge, to violate and to act out…all of these were like drugs; the second time was always easier to accept.
Especially given my vast amount of wish points, there was an even greater need for me to control myself.
That’s right, during this trial I must control myself.
Di Qi Ju: …
As I lifted my head, the grand doors of the courtroom swung open.
Just looking around, I saw a room filled with uniformed personnel that gave the courtroom a certain oppressiveness.
Seated right in the center was a gray bearded judge dressed in a typical judge’s frocks similar to ones on Earth.
On what looked like the defendant’s side was Breman, Naysis Ferne, Bailey, Carmen and an unfamiliar lady seated right behind them.
On the other side was a solemn looking couple who without saying, were obviously the plaintiffs. Standing in front of them was a middle-aged man who I assumed was their litigator. Unlike my side, their seats were markedly empty with no witnesses in sight. Perhaps they hadn’t been summoned or perhaps they simply didn’t need any.
They turned to look at me, their eyes fuming and their teeth grinding against each other as they held back their fury.
I know I’m in the wrong here…if I had another chance, I would definitely try my utmost best not to kill them. However, saying all this now was also useless.
Judge: Court is now in session. The plaintiffs, family members of the victim, Mr and Mrs Ferdila; defendant, Di Qi Ju.
Judge: Will the plaintiff’s litigator make the opening statement.
While I wasn’t sure what an ordinary trial was like, this seemed like an extremely laconic opening. It almost had a matter-of-factness to it.
The middle aged man took the stand as requested and started on a long rambling speech of which the majority had to do with describing the scene of the crime in detail taking care not to leave out even a single drop of blood.
Naturally, the crowd began to lean towards the side of the deceased.
Right at the end…
Litigator: …we have reason to believe that after the matter had been settled violently, the defendant persisted in his violent actions resulting in the tragic deaths of the two victims.
Litigator: I beseech the court to find the defendant guilty of culpable homicide and sentenced to the death penalty.
Di Qi Ju: …
If I’m not mistaken, wasn’t I charged yesterday with the crime of excessive self-defense? How did it turn into culpable homicide today?
A mote of fire lit up in my heart but was immediately extinguished the moment I noticed it. There was only one thing I should be doing right now and that doesn’t include being angry.
Judge: Now, will the defendant’s attorney begin their defense.
Breman: Your Honor, I thank you for the chance to represent the defendant.
He gave the judge an elegant bow before stepping up to the defense counsel’s podium, his every step exuding the natural grace of a beautiful teenage boy that instantly captured the attention of those present.
Breman: Allow me to introduce myself, I am the commander of Faith’s expeditionary forces, Breman.
Ferdila’s Wife: !??
Hearing that, the plaintiffs jerked in their seats as if they had been shocked by this sudden bolt from the blue.
Breman: I’m extremely sorry to hear that my direct subordinate has, in the process of “carrying out his mission”, encountered a tragic incident and so the role of his attorney will be carried out by me.
Breman: Normally, this matter should’ve been transferred over to our country’s military court as per regulations…
Breman: However, in lieu of the fact that this incident happened at the doorstep of the Divine Hall and also in consideration of the feelings of the victims’ parents, we’ve decided to go through with this trial.
Breman: I hereby plead not guilty on behalf of my adjutant, Di Qi Ju.
Hearing this, the prosecution began whispering to themselves.
Litigator: Master Ferdila, this’s the first time I’ve heard of this.
Ferdila: …that can’t be right. According to my investigation, he had to resort to using underhanded means in order to enter the National Fragrances, there’s no way he’s such an esteemed personage.
Litigator: But no matter how you look at him, he’s no ordinary person. I’ll just take it that he’s exaggerating his own influence, I’m sure the judge will side with us on this.
Ferdila: …alright then.
From the looks of it, that Ferdila person heard about our adventure in the National Fragrance as well and had even come to the same conclusion as Naysis Ferne.
Perhaps this might become a turning point for our defense?
Breman: …based on the facts, the victim was the aggressor in this case, engaging in potentially fatal acts of violence even after the defendant made his move.
Breman: This fits perfectly within the limits set within the laws of this country. And so I believe that the defendant had no choice but to kill the victim in order to protect himself and Reitdarke’s princess.
Breman: That is all, Your Honor.
Judge: The opening statements have been delivered, will both sides bring forth their evidence and will the witnesses take the stand.
The proceedings dragged on without much incident. Our side presented the victim’s weapon and the testimony of two witnesses, the Wilderness Eagle was even brought into court to emphasize the point. The prosecution on the other hand merely presented an arrow and a prepared testimony.
As of now, it seemed like the odds favored us but there was no telling if the judge was one of them or not.
Judge: …next, I have a question to ask of the defense.
Judge: Di Qi Ju, your attorney claims to be the commander of Faith’s expeditionary forces and you’re his adjutant, am I right in saying this?
Di Qi Ju: …that is correct.
Judge: Do you have any proof of that?
Di Qi Ju: ……
Breman: –I object, Your Honor.
Breman: How does this have any direct relation to the case?
Judge: Overruled. This has an inseparable relation to the defendant’s identity.
Breman: Fine. What kind of proof does the Country of Skill require?
Judge: Your army, your authority and your power.
Breman: Hoh…what a uniquely local way of proving things.
Breman: If that’s the case, does Reitdarke’s royal family have to come down personally to prove the princess’s identity as well?
Judge: The princess is well known in the Country of Skill unlike you, hailing from the distant Country of Faith.
Judge: The two aren’t even comparable.
A look of displeasure crossed his face to which I shook my head, expressing that there was no point continuing down this road.
Judge: Since there’s no proof, your identity will be taken as false.
Ferdila: Hmph so it was fake after all.
Judge: Taking into account all the facts, this case is a simple one, the key lies in the circumstances behind the use of violence.
Judge: The plaintiff argues that there was no need to use force while the defendant argues that the victim has undertaken action that could lead to death.
Judge: The defendant’s evidence is the poisoning of Princess Naysis and the fact that the defendant’s eyes had been stabbed. Is that right?
Di Qi Ju: Yes, Your Honor. If his attack had gone any further, it might’ve pierced my brain causing a fatal injury.
Judge: Yet, there was no trace of blood or flesh on the arrow presented.
Judge: That proves that the victim’s weapon didn’t in fact cause you any harm and so your argument of justified self-defense doesn’t stand.
Di Qi Ju: But he tried to take my life.
Judge: An attempt is just an attempt, we only look at outcomes and facts here.
Di Qi Ju: …
I finally understood his meaning…
If justified self-defense is defined by the harm caused by the other party then this law in itself is pointless.
In actuality, there might as well be no law here.
Even though I hadn’t said much this trial, I’ve lost the desire to continue arguing.
Perhaps my decision that day was bad one after all…they never intended to let me win at all, did they?
Breman: —Your Honor, my adjutant did in fact receive a fatal injury then and had in fact had his life threatened.
Breman: The reason why he’s alive today is because of his revival ability.
Breman: Since Your Honor only looks at the outcome and facts, should this not count as well?
As those words left his mouth, those present revealed a look of astonishment on their faces, this included Naysis and Bailey.
Judge: Revival ability?
Breman: That’s right. It’s a blessing by Westrealm…no matter the injury, as long as there’s enough time and the situation allows it, he will be able to heal himself back to his original unharmed state.
Litigator: —I object, what kind of inhuman ability is that?!
Judge: …objection sustained.
Breman: Is there even a point to your objection? This is fact.
Breman: Even if you’ve never heard of the expeditionary force’s commander, you all should at least know what kind of missions the expedition undertakes.
Breman: The dangers we face are lifeforms and environments several times more treacherous than humans. Without such talent how could the Country of Faith achieve the status it has today?
Judge: If it’s such an exceptional person…compared to the victim’s value…
Ferdila: Your Honor! Please do not be influenced by the customs of our country!
Ferdila: This is a court of law, please make your judgements on the basis of fairness.
Breman: Isn’t that useless, Mr. Head of the Military Police Division.
Breman: The values of Skill do not include the word “fairness” within them only “justness”.
Breman: To you all, the value of a person is the determinant of justice is it not? If I’m not mistaken, you all do not believe in the notion of equality.
The man’s face began twitching as if he was desperately trying to stop himself from shouting in court.
Breman: Truth be told, I kind of like this country’s system and values.
Breman: Exceptional people should be treated as such while the powerless should never be a part of the law’s consideration.
Breman: Even if that person has an extremely influential father…
Breman: Because he himself is nothing but a coward that picks on women.
Ferdila: Shut the f*ck up!!!
Ferdila’s Wife: ……
Judge: Please restrain yourself, Mister Ferdila…
Ferdila: Your Honor, I request for an examination of the defendant’s abilities.
Ferdila: If he possesses the ability his attorney claims he has, then he’s basically an immortal.
Ferdila: There’s no way such a person will merely be an adjutant. I believe that they are lying!
Judge: That makes sense. As a key factor in this case, we need to know for sure if Di Qi Ju possesses such an ability.
Judge: The court will go into recess while a suitable test is prepared.
Di Qi Ju: …
I wasn’t taken away as expected but was instead left in the accused box.
Breman and the mysterious lady beside him walked over to me, their eyes still fixed on the prosecution.
Di Qi Ju: Errr…Officer Breman, exactly what’s going on?
Breman: Did you forget that Skill is a country that worships a person’s individual ability.
Breman: Take for example the top four winners of each battle within the Three Battles, they are immune to prosecution.
Breman: The survival of the fittest, that’s how it is here.
Di Qi Ju: Is that so…
Breman: I still have two more trump cards to play but it seems like they won’t be needed after all.
I glanced at the lady standing next to Breman. She wore a light suit of leather armor with a leather cap on her head. Just based on that, she didn’t seem like an ordinary person. Noticing my gaze, she gave me a slight smile.
Breman: Our princess Naysis should have a trump card of her own although we have yet to see it.
Naysis Ferne: Of course, I brought mine along. If the need arises, I won’t stinge on it.
Breman: Of course I believe in you, after all, you managed to get off scot free even though you poked a few holes in their son’s face.
Breman: Oh right, I’m not ignoring your contributions as well, Miss Bailey. Thank you for your testimony just now.
Bailey: That’s nothing.
Breman: By the way, if I’m not mistaken, that judge should be one of Ferdila’s men.
Breman: I’m afraid the following examination won’t be an easy one…
Breman: This is the outcome of your choice, are you alright with that?
Di Qi Ju: ……
Mhm, even I had noticed that much. Everything up to this point had been the result of my choice. There’s no need for them to talk about their trump cards. Since I made that decision yesterday, I was already prepared for such a possibility. Only by doing so will I be able to ensure that I won’t go down this slippery slope.
Di Qi Ju: I understand.
Di Qi Ju: Don’t worry, no matter what happens, I’ll take it all head on.
Special thanks to Steve Granger!!