I felt as if I heard something snap. As her straightened back suddenly slumped forward, there was no vigor in Claudia’s face.
It looked as if the tension she’d been building in the string keeping her up had finally snapped.
In a fleeting voice so small it would die out any moment, Claudia muttered.
“I only tried to kill the demon lord. Why did it come to this? Why, why, why…”
I couldn’t bear to watch. The figure of a young girl’s stout conduct was nowhere to be found.
Far from a hero, she was a mere girl on the verge of collapse.
“Now then, is that enough?”
Without taking a glance at Claudia, the demon lord on the stand spoke to the judge.
“We answered all the questions in the case, right? It was a complicated and convoluted case, but when you open the lid, it wasn’t anything special. A crazy little brat got a crazy little notion in her head, and tragically attacked someone while playing hero of justice, but it was the wrong person. That’s all there is to it.”
The judge closed both his eyes, making a conflicted expression as he listened to the demon lord’s words.
“How malicious. Thinking you’re the most righteous person in the world, you have a terrible personality. It’s best you learn that everyone has their own sense of values.”
… Though it’s already too late, the demon lord said as he raised a boorish laugh.
“Hmm. I sympathize with the defendant’s unfortunate upbringing. But whatever the reason it is no justification for murder.”
“It’s just as you say, m’lud.”
… What’s with this air?
When you take this historic truth into account, among everyone in this courtroom at present, the most sinful one in this room should be the demon lord himself.
For some reason, an atmosphere as if Claudia was the only bad guy was ruling the court.
It’s true we couldn’t judge the demon lord’s sins under this country’s laws. But something didn’t make sense.
… I didn’t know what it was, and I couldn’t’ put it to words. I’m a failure as a lawyer.
Is this the end?
Claudia had completely lost the will to fight. Her fatigue had surpassed its peak, as she blankly let off something close to resignation.
There were still mysteries left in this case. But were they really truths I wanted to uncover?
The more I prodded at the core of this case, the more Claudia was hurt. Is there any meaning behind pursuing these mysteries any further?
… Should it really… just end here?
My will to fight was waning. So Prosecutor Schaefer’s objection of, “Is that really so?” made me feel I’d been saved for a moment.
“If there’s no absolute right, then is the law truly necessary? Everyone has their own sense of values? And so what? An individual’s sense of values has no meaning within these halls.”
… The law is absolute, Prosecutor Schaefer boldly declared.
“I don’t like it, how you do things.”
“… I don’t really get what you’re trying to say. What are you on about all of a sudden?”
The demon lord sent the prosecutor an unpleasant glare.
“When I’m getting the defendant guilty for you, why is the prosecutor putting out her mouth? That’s not how a first-rate professional is supposed to work.”
“I became a prosecutor to thoroughly punish all criminals. If it’s for that sake, I don’t care what means I have to use.”
Backed by belief, she had an awfully high level of persuasive power.
“I don’t do this job because I want to help someone or make anyone happy, I’m a prosecutor to broil criminals, and lock them away. That defendant definitely did commit a sin. But you’ve broken it too, haven’t you? The law.”
Prosecutor Schaefer looked at me a moment, immediately returning her eyes to the demon lord. It was such a brief event I thought it was my imagination, but I definitely noticed it. Was that some sort of sign?
“Do you know just how much trouble I had to go through to drag you to court? It’s no joke. I’m not going to let you get away now.”
“Ah, I see. So that’s how it is.”
The demon lord looked as if he had found a satisfactory answer as he looked at the prosecutor.
… Could it be she doubted it from the start?
It’s true, by Cate’s conduct in the trial up to now, it was slightly, no it looked as if she was really pushing it. When she had the perfect evidence together, the seams were coming apart all over the place.
Even so, by continuing to push through her opinions, I ended up objecting, and as a result, we experienced a logical failure. It was the opposite conduct of she who always sought to win any and every trial.
Am I thinking too much? Or…
“You want to indict me for my sins, Ms. Prosecutor?”
Prosecutor Schaefer didn’t say anything. She silently glared at the demon lord.
“But in that case, this court would be the wrong place. Don’t you think so, m’lud?”
Suddenly called out, the judge looked confused for a moment, before immediately answering with the face of a professional.
“Hmm, it’s true there is sense to the witness’ claims. To the end, this court has been called to charge the defendant for murder, and not to press the witness for his sins.”
“You’re exactly right, m’lud. If you want to charge me for my sins, I’d like it if you started with arresting me, and then indicting me. This is a constitutional state. You have to follow the proper procedure, Ms Prosecutor.”
… Of course, that’s only if I’ve done something worth an arrest, the demon lord emphasized.
“… I will honor the law. So I’m not thinking to drag out your sins here.”
The female prosecutor laughed scornfully.
“But that unconventional lawyer over there is a different story. It seems he has something, no quite a few things he’d like to object to this witness’ testimony.”
I made a foolish face.
“It seems that lawyer… wants to object in his suspicion that you’re actually the true culprit behind all of this.”
The judge opened his eyes wide, with an expression as if to say this was the first he’d ever heard of it. By the way, it was my first as well.
“W-what is the meaning of this, defense! Could it be you plan on indicting this man as the true culprit in this court?”
… Wait a minute.
This is going all sorts of places.
“I will not doubt my belief that defendant is the real culprit, but it seems that the defense believes in his defendant, and trusts that she never committed murder. Of course, if he’s going to say any strange nonsense, It shall be seen through at once, but… this is a court. No matter how absurd his train of logic is, he is granted the opportunity to object.”
… So why don’t we hear it? The female prosecutor said to me, having the time of her life.
“Why do you think the defendant isn’t the culprit? While you’re at it, what’s your basis for thinking this witness is the true culprit?”
… This woman, god I hate her…
She set me up.
Before I had realized it, all eyes in the court had gathered on me. Curious eyes, hostile eyes, and from Claudia, eyes mingled with anxiety and hope.
Don’t look at me like that. In the first place, this is just a job I took up for the money.
If you look at me with those eyes… it’ll make me want to save you.
Do I really have no choice? But can I do it?
I looked back on the incident’s information up to now. Sure enough, there were multiple points where I could point out contradictions.
Sure enough, all the people who could answer my questions were gathered in this courtroom.
An expert in magic and science, a witness who knew and lived through the Great War. It’s a rare sight to come across a trial with both the hero and demon lord lined up.
… But what happens if I drag the truth out? Will it hurt her more?
I looked at Claudia. Her face was fleeting, and if I gave it any more stimulus, it looked as if it was going to shatter.
Will I break her or save her? It’s all or nothing.
If there’s a possibility of saving her, should I bet on that?
I thought, and declared. “The defense… is prepared to indict the true culprit.”