“Let me tell you this country’s history, or rather its background.”
I wrung out my insufficient knowledge to tell Claudia about Grimbeld.
“The country is the only country in the world that didn’t participate in the war with the demon lord fifty years ago. Why do you think that is?”
“No. If you trace history from the country’s founding, it’s a heinous land full of blood and violence, this place. The turning point in Grimbeld becoming the neutral power it is today was a lady called Gloria taking the throne. ”
“She did something?”
“Yes, she did. Or rather something was done to her. The people, you see. They locked Gloria in prison, and shoved all the responsibility of the war going on at the time onto the queen. She was executed. Her head lopped off; died instantly. She was eighteen, just like you.”
… After that, this country was visited by terrible calamity, I went on.
“Killing the queen and overthrowing the crown didn’t resolve a thing. The country at the time was terribly poor. In both the physical and mental sense. They couldn’t help but want to make it someone’s fault. Gloria was made into one of those so-called scapegoats.”
“Did she really have any responsibility for the war?”
“Who knows? They didn’t give her a trial or anything. Even if you call her a queen, she was a young lass oblivious to how the world turned, it seems, so I doubt she was actually responsible for anything. But there’s no way the people of the time could know that. Back then, there didn’t have the scientific breakthroughs we have today. With our current DNA analysis, we can tell if the person before our eyes is a homo sapien. But to the people of the time, the crown was akin to a mysterious monster.”
… They didn’t think to treat her as a human, I brought it to a close.
“And thus ends the history lesson. While facing an era of chaos, the people who overthrew their crown banded together, and in order to never let such a tragedy come to pass again, they set up laws of absolute adherence. They made it so whoever it was, they would be granted the opportunity of defense, and they stopped trying to shove everything onto a single person. For argument’s sake, there’s still royalty in this country, but while the king reigns, he does not rule. He has nothing you can call authority. He’s just a symbol.”
… This country will never ally with anyone, I continued.
“When the demon lord commanded his fearsome army, and declared war on the whole world, when he started his invasion, and even when a single country fell, we never joined the alliance, and we didn’t accept the demon lord either. There are some who speak ill of this attitude as cowardice, but… well, that’s true, but even so, this country respects the opinion of every individual. It won’t automatically label someone it doesn’t know about as evil or good. Those are the sort of rule that we live under.”
“And that’s why I was granted a defense attorney?”
“… That’s right.”
“But the people of the country surely think I’m mistaken, right?”
“Well, there are people who think that way, I’m sure. No matter how just they know the law is, there are some things they can’t convince their emotions.”
“Mr. Lawyer, at first you thought to refuse my defense, didn’t you?”
Claudia closed her eyes, and asked. “Do you hate me after all?”
“The reason I thought to decline was because I’m a civil lawyer, and I had an aversion to criminal cases. But in the end, I decided based on whether I would be getting paid or not. So it’s not like I hate you as a person or anything.”
… Money is nice, I continued on.
“When humans get emotional, they soon lose their rationality, and make mistaken judgement. When they really don’t know if the one before them is villain or virtue, they rashly believe in misleading information, and give an incorrect verdict. But money is always equal, you know. If I didn’t decide with money, and refused this request based on personal opinion, what would have become of you? You’d have long since gotten a guilty verdict. Because I calculated interest to make a rational decision, we’ve reached our current point.”
“Then do you think the demon lord may not have been a bad guy, Mr. Lawyer?”
“No idea,” I said at once. “Dead men tell no tales. No one in the world knows, something like that.”
“I… did something wrong?” Claudia made a grievous expression.”My father was wrong?”
“Claudia, right now, you’re relying on emotion.
I pointed out and kept on.
“I don’t know your father. So I don’t know what sort of thoughts he used to decide the demon lord was evil, and I don’t know if he was right. So I’ll have to put my decision for that one on hold. I, you see, I don’t want to decide things on emotion. So you have to be the one to decide.”
“That’s right. What do you want to do? After living eighteen years of live, what sort of future do you want to live?”
She went silent for a while. Staring fixatedly at a point above the table.
… I’m somewhat feeling unlawyerly right now. Am I supposed to be this child’s teacher.
“I don’t know. Back then, I acted thinking the demon lord was an evil that had to be killed. But right now, I don’t know. So I’ll stop thinking about the demon lord for a while, and use the same methods as you. I’ll try acting for my own interests.”
“I see, then that’s negotiations complete. I for my interests, and you for yours, we’ll cooperate with one another.”
… Let’s win in court, I said as I held out my hand to shake hers. And I noticed that the glass was in the way, making it impossible.
But it seems handshakes weren’t necessary. She trusted me. I could tell from her expression that had begun to brighten up.