Rabble rabble rabble.
Rabble rabble rabble rabble rabble…
Was the visitor’s gallery this noisy last trial?
What greeted me upon entering the court was a peculiar heavy our clearly exceeding what I experienced last trial.
It’s true last trial’s gallery was fully booked. But if I had to say, the ones from that time were court enthusiasts curious about a murder case, or journalists interested in a scoop who just happened to come by and peek in by chance.
But this time’s court was ruled by a more bizarre sort of zeal.
… Were we getting attention?
Just what had happened in those few days I was off investigating?
I got my answer as soon as the defendant stepped in.
The door opened. From beyond, an unmistakable beauty. The defendant in this case, Claudia Rheinland appeared.
It had only been a few days since we last met, but it felt as if that meeting was quite a long time ago. And I thought once more.
… This kid’s no ordinary person after all.
Her black hair fluttering, with her cold eyes turned straight ahead, she preciously held the holy sword in both hands as she boldly took a seat on the defendant’s bench.
She wasn’t handcuffed anymore. With not the slightest restraint on her, she saw with exceedingly calm mannerism. With her back up straight and her sword simply placed across her lap, her form bathed in all sorts of inquisitive eyes, rather than a criminal, it was…
… A hero?
There’s something wrong.
There was something considerably wrong.
There were no heroes here. All that was here was a defendant, a judge, a prosecutor… and an attorney.
… I see. So the people in the gallery came to see Claudia.
It finally hit me.
In general, photos were banned in a court of law. Conveying situation in the court depended on a specialized court sketcher artist.
They would be stand-ins for a camera man.
I thought as I looked over the gallery.
Generally, there was only one sketch artist in court. Unlike the clerk, they just had to draw the situation in the court, so one painter was plenty.
But in today’s trial, there were at least ten painters. They were all painting Claudia from separate angles, some even desperately painting as they stood on their tip toes.
If guilty—the cruel, calculating, cutthroat beauty.
If innocent—a miraculous turnabout, the goddess of victory smiles. I could already see the headlines.
We were gaining attention. Even if they didn’t listen to the trial, anyone could browse the records, so I’m sure the audience in those seats had already filled their heads with the last trial’s happenings.
First degree murder, and a peerless beauty.
The perfect pair, is it not? This is quite the scoop ain’t it ya’ bastads.
“Um, Mr. Lawyer.”
The dock was close to the defense’s desk, or rather they were practically touching one another, so there wasn’t much distance between me and Claudia. She turned towards me, and sent me a fixated glance.
“Um, are you okay?”
“Hmm? Y-yeah, I’m fine.”
“Really? I somehow get the feeling you’re more haggard than last I saw you.”
I found myself touching my face.
… Come to think of it, I haven’t gotten any decent sleep these past few days.
Get a grip, man!
I clapped down on my own face. Perhaps I had put in a bit too much power, as a powerful slapping sound echoed through the court.
“I’m fine. It won’t affect your defense.”
Her eyes blinked as she made a somewhat anxious face.
“I’m telling the truth. Trust me a bit.”
“… I do trust you.”
Claudia picked up her sword, and hugged it tight to her chest.
“I’m just scared.”
Claudia closed her eyes, and bent her spine to look down. Her silky black hair dropped down, obscuring her expression.
“I got to learn a bit about this world.”
“Hmm, from who?”
“Um, the female prisoners at the detention center.”
… I hope she wasn’t taught anything strange.
“People much older than me, and younger, I got to talk to all sorts of people. They all carried their own upbringings, and while they were a bit unhappy, some part of all of them was looking towards the future.”
… The female prisoners were? I think that’s a problem in itself.
I wanted to retort, but as we were having a serious conversation, I held down my impulse.
“But everyone was scared of death.”
Claudia quietly muttered.
“Scared of death, hating it, doing whatever they could to avoid it, they all looked desperate.”
… They were desperate to be saved.
“When none of them had committed a crime heavy enough for a death sentence, why were they all so scared? At the start, I couldn’t understand it all.”
… But it came to me yesterday, said Claudia.
“Being forgotten from society isn’t living. It’s death. Being within those walls is the same as death.”
… I was dead.
I put my question to mouth.
“That’s right. It was the same as if I wasn’t there. I mean, no one knew that I was alive… I hadn’t lived any of the eighteen years I spend in that forest. I was dead.”
… That’s why it was so painful. And I was so delighted.
“It’s not like I wanted to kill the demon lord. In truth, I never cared about anything like that. I just wanted someone to know I was there, I existed.”
“… I see.”
“But I never should have done such a thing. I want to live more. I don’t want to die. Do you think I’m a selfish person?”
“I do,” I replied at once. And continued on, “You’re a child, so become more selfish.”
“don’t give me an ‘eh’!”
Her face was so blank I slapped her on the back.
“Fire yourself up. Show some more motivation. Be more selfish. Assert your legal rights. You’re a human. No one will be able to tie down your actions. If you committed a crime, then accept it. If you didn’t give a firm opposition. Don’t mind other people. Just leave your support to me.”
… I’m a professional, I said to finish. Claudia circled one hand around to rub her back. “Okay. I’ll leave it to you!” she smiled.
The door opposite to where we were opened.
The prosecutorial assistant appeared from the door first. Following along, the sound of high heels played a symphony for Caitlin Schaefer’s appearance.
She’s already the bright shining star of the courtroom, I thought as I looked at the gallery’s reaction to her appearance.
Silent from beginning to end, even after taking her seat at the prosecution’s side, Cate kept silent, closing her eyes, crossing her arms, with her head tilted up.
She’ll do her utmost to make Claudia guilty.
I need to take that on.
Before long, two clerks, and the judge in silk robes took their seats.
Whap! The judge’s gavel sounded. The courtroom went silent at once, and after clearing his throat, the judge spoke.
“Then it is time for us recommence the deliberation.”
The second trial was insession.