The court went silent. The eyes of the audience sitting in the gallery gathered on one place. The defendant’s seat.
Claudia raised a cry that couldn’t be called a voice, covering her head with both hands, messing up her pretty black hair as she caught a firm grip of it.
“No! That’s wrong! The one I attacked was that man!”
Her arm lightly shaking, Claudia pointed at the demon lord.
“I saw it! At that time, I saw that face.”
“To be more precise, you saw the face of the hero who resembled me. We’re twins. It’s nothing strange for our faces to look alike.”
In contrast to Claudia’s disarray, the demon lord spoke awfully calm.
“I-I would never make such a mistake! And, and…”
Claudia began plucking her hair as she desperately tried to make a protest. But no matter how she mulled over it in her head, she couldn’t find her next words.
“If the one the defendant attacked on that day was not the demon lord but the hero, there is a single strange point.”
I came to Claudia’s aid.
“The holy sword Blutgang she possess, well to be more precise, the Godragon Sword is a sword that has been verified to only be able to cut the demon lord.”
“R-right, that’s right, Mr. Lawyer!”
Claudia showed an extremely calm, relieved expression. But the demon lord gave an undaunted smile, refuting without a moment’s delay. “The one the holy sword can kill isn’t just the demon lord, or rather, it isn’t just me.”
“I just said it, didn’t I? The Godragon’s Sword is a double-edged blade that can only harm its master and whoever they want to kill. That sword chose the hero as its master. It isn’t just the demon lord. The truth is, it can kill the hero too.”
… Hero, eh?
I tried asking.
“By hero, can I assume you mean the one who killed you in the world war, Roland Rheinland?”
“Why was the hero there? Even if it was a long time ago, you wanted to kill one another, right?”
For a moment, the demon lord’s smile ceased. He became expressionless as he looked intently at me.
… What is it? It looked as if he was thinking over something.
“Even if we tried to kill one another, brothers are brothers. When I apologized and said I’d never do it again, he forgave me.”
“If what you’re saying is true, the hero really was a dunce.”
Prosecutor Schaefer put in a sharp retort.
“Well I won’t say you’re wrong. Though I’m sure he had some thoughts of his own. For these fifty years, he kept me under his watch.”
“Watch, is it?”
“Yeah, I’m sure he couldn’t trust me from the depths of his heart. He kept watch over me around the clock to make sure I never did anything bad.”
“Then he was at the scene in order to watch you?”
“That’s right, or at least half right. The other half was to do his job.”
Job? I put together my information on hand, and answered.
“Could it be the hero was a certain Andre McHirsh, who’s been missing since last month?”
“Congratulations. We’d just gotten hands on a second life after all. We chose to change our names. To add onto that, my Hal Anderson is a name I made up when I acquired this country’s nationality.”
… I’m sure.
I called over to Cate. Making an expression of reluctance from the depths of her heart, “What is it?” she answered as she folded her arms.
“Do you have a photo of Andre McHirsh?”
“… I have pictures of everyone related to the incident. Of course, I have one of Andre McHirsh as well.”
“Hmm. Then shall we verify if their faces are similar or not?”
As the judge said that, her reluctant face did a complete turn, the prosecutor smiling as she replied, “Go right ahead.”
… Really, what an easy-to-understand woman.
As she was fiddling with the machinery on the prosecutions’ desk, Claudia in the defendant’s seat approached me. “Um, Mr. Lawyer.”
“For before, um… thank you.”
I was about to reply something to her subdued and feeble voice, but on a call of, “The preparations are complete,” from the prosecution, the words coming out of my throat were pushed back down.
On Prosecutor Schaefer’s signal, the courtroom darkened for a moment. Eventually, the large air projection display started up in the center. At present, the screen showed nothing but a staticy sandstorm.
“Then first, let me bring up Hal Anderson’s photo.”
Alongside Prosecutor Schaefer’s words, the picture of a single man, the demon lord standing at the witness stand came up.
The photo was from when he worked as a guard, with him staring straight at the camera in his uniform.
“Next, here’s Andre McHirsh’s photo.”
The first picture slid over. In the right side display was Hal Anderson, and on the left, Andre McHirsh popped up.
Hal Anderson and Andre McHirsh’s faces were… subtly similar.
It’s true, the look in their eyes, that well-ordered nose, their mouths, the overall shape of their faces, it was somewhat reminiscent.
But in contrast to Hal Anderson’s short hair, Andre McHirsh’s grew to his shoulders.
On top of that, because Andre wore black-rimmed glasses with a relatively thick frame, the impression he gave off at a moment’s glance was like that of a different individual.
“… What is the meaning of this?”
The judge furrowed his brow, emitting a serious voice.
“I do think these two individuals look alike. But I do believe it’s a bit of a stretch to say they’re so similar you’d mistake them…”
“Of course you do, m’lud. I mean, our hair styles are different. Change the hair around a bit, and voila, identical twins.”
When his own claim was collapsing, the demon lord sounded awfully disconnected. It looked as if he enjoyed being in a pinch.
“I do not know this person!”
Claudia stood from the dock, her shoulders shaking as she spoke.
“The person I attacked had short hair, and he didn’t wear glasses. I’m not mistaken!”
“We all know that already, brat.”
The demon lord raised an overly indifferent voice. In that instant, Claudia slammed her open mouth shut, and didn’t say any further.
“The defendant has a point.”
Those were Prosecutor Schaefer’s words. Hearing her unconcerned tone, I ended up mutting myself on guard.
“It’s true their facial structures are similar. But with so many different characteristics, I doubt she’d make a mistake. Then what if we do this?”
I had quite a bad feeling about this.
The prosecutor sent brisk instruction to Prosecutorial Assistant Eugine.
“Eugine, first, remove Andre McHirsh’s glasses.”
Giving a mechanical response, the assistant touched the touch panel display, and processed something. And suddenly, the photo of Andre McHirsh floating in the air lost its glasses.
Without the glasses, his face became clearer, and its overall geometry became more distinct.
The female prosecutor continued on. “Next, shorten his hair.”
With practiced movements, the assistant swiftly altered the photo.
Eventually, Andre McHirsh had short hair. Seeing the photo, the audience in the gallery began acting up.
“Now then, we’ve taken away all the unnecessary thing. How about it girly? Do you have a recollection of this man?”
Claudia touched a hand to her mouth, looking up at Andre McHirsh’s face without blinking.
Eventually crumbling at the knees, she fell into the defendant’s seat. She offered but a short line, “Yes, this is the man I attacked.” It was the first time since the start of the trial that she accepted the charge.