Chapter 13

Chapter 13

"This not your first time here. In fact, it is your seventh. Correct," Sister Eineke asks me from the floor looking up to the witness stand where I sit.

"That's correct. I won’t tell any lies," I put on my best polite voice. I know they've already decided I'm guilty. I'm just hoping I can change a few minds. I couldn't get anyone to defend me so I'm here alone. I have to do everything I can.

"Do you recall your first trial?"

"I was caught with banned weapons," I answer honestly.

"How did you get those weapons?"

"From the weapons armory."

"Which armory," Eineke wants me to incriminate myself for sure.

"The experimental, untested and extreme armory," is it incriminating if everyone already knows I did it?

"Which weapons did you take?"

"I took an experimental crossbow. It was rigged to fire exploding bolts of sunlight. It would have been a much better weapon to tack down the vampire threat. However, the bolts took much too long to craft. They were also easy to explode while transporting. I took a shillelagh because I was young and dumb. I was told that Leprechauns once used the enchantments to defend their lands from Far Darrigs. It was indeed enchanted but the enchantments were weak and almost useless. Lastly, I took a staff, that would allow the user to cast out bolts of magic even if they were not proficient with magic. It worked, but the results were varied. Sometimes it could be a blast of fire, other times it would send out a healing pulse or transform the target. It was uncontrollable and therefore useless as well. None of the weapons I stole were particularly good." I explain in detail the weapons I took.

"Can you explain your logic?"

"Sure. There's a very limited range of weapons provided for students to use. Most are outdated. They aren't the best options anymore. Staffs, bows and swords were great options centuries ago. But, the world has evolved. The people who can use magic effectively is even more limited. I can use enhancement magic to increase my speed, strength and durability. Some students can use their magic to fly. But to actively fight? Most of us can't do that."

I actually have Elser to thank for that one. He understood my concerns, despite being a stickler to the rules. He actually allowed me to test each of the weapons so that I would understand why they weren’t to be used. He hates the idea of me using a gun, but occasionally I catch him smiling. He told me it was up to me to find a weapon that would work for me. He didn’t like what I chose but I know he gets some joy in the fact that I took his advice and it has worked out mostly for the better. He could have raised more concerns and penalties but despite his remarks he looks the other way on it. He’s not all bad, just an asshole who lives in the past.

"Very well, your second offense was unauthorized hunting. What did you hunt and why," Eineke glosses over my answer and moves to her next question.

"I killed a vampire that had been getting closer to the school grounds. It was hunting the forests nearby. Students had gone missing and rumors persisted. I got the job done," they let me off easy on that one. It had to be done.

"Your third trial was when you attacked another student in a fit of rage. Is that correct?"

"That is correct," a simple answer for a simple offense.

"Would you care to share the reason why Mr. Zadok," Eineke presses me harder.

"He stole from me."

"What did he steal?"

"I prefer not to answer," in reality he had stolen contraband from me. A small portable music player. I didn't care for any of the songs but it amazed me how so many songs could be on one small device. I believe it was called a Zune.

"Very well. You next formed a gang, or attempted to," Eineke exaggerates.

"No I attempted to unionize students. We do dangerous work on hunts. The temple receives pay. Often times, large sums. We do not get any of that pay. When asked about it we are told that our rooms and food and clothing are enough pay," if we're doing professional work why should we not receive professional pay? Especially if the temple has one of the highest rates of completion.

"You have your own abode correct?"

"Yes, because everyone else refused it due to the repairs that went ignored and the failure to update it"

"I believe having your own abode is a dream many have and you've accomplished it at twenty-one. Bravo," Eineke says sarcastically. "I believe you faced a combat trial for that one. Not many come back from that," she continues. "What was your sixth strike?"

I wait for the giggles to end. The senior eremites and jurors got a kick from that one. They probably remember it much funnier than I do.

"Fraternization," I answer calmly.

This time student observers giggle. A few blushes in the crowd. No doubt guilty of the same. Some looked confused about the term. Eineke doesn't let the confusion sit.

"Would you tell us what that means in your situation?"

"I broke a vow."

"What vow?"

"A vow of celibacy until I reached a senior rank and received a title."

"How shameful. What of your partner?"

"They chose exile," I should have followed the example. I regret it a lot.

"That brings us to your current trial. The same as your last. Disobeying the orders of a field captain and senior Eremite. Two counts of engaging in unauthorized combat. Two counts of refusal to yield and wait on assistance. Abandoning a battle. Causing the injuries of a dozen students. Two counts of engaging a threat outside of your rank limits. 4 counts for the use of prohibited weapons off school grounds. Four counts for storing those prohibited weapons on school grounds. An additional forty-seven counts for each round of ammunition found. Combat attire benefiting of a student. Destruction of temple property for the destruction of your robes. Thirteen counts of attacking Thames. Seventeen counts of insubordination. How do you plead?"

I look into the crowd and see Mother Dalia. She looks nervous. She wasn't able to defend me in this trial. But I know she wants the best for me. Elser sits several rows behind her grinning at the thought of me being gone and out of his hair for good. Students look disinterested as does my jury. They've made up their minds already. I made my mind up. Several days ago.

It didn't matter how many people I saved. It didn't matter that no one was injured. It didn't matter that Elser was going to leave those people behind. The deck had been stacked against me. Charges I didn't see as reasonable. Any back up I had was cut off from me. They were going to railroad me on this trial.

"I plead guilty to all counts."


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