Disclaimers: There is sex between women in this one. Also, there is one scene with BDSM overtones.
The dismal courtroom was bustling with people from all walks of life. It was uproarious like an orchestra tuning its instruments before a concert. All came to watch the best show in town, rich and poor alike clustered in the one place in which they were considered equal.
Old Judge Midonas strutted into the capacious palatial courtroom and towards his bench, like a peacock sans any grain of beauty. The commotion in the courtroom ceased and all spectators respectfully stood and waited for Judge Midonas to sit first.
The gaunt, ashen magistrate finally seated himself, and with him sat the curious audience. His apparel consisted of a black silk robe, a short bench wig and a prim expression over his face . Marinated in self-importance, he straightened his reading-glasses over his eagle-like nose and peeked at his pocket watch with a raise of a brow. The 48 hours he had given Chief Justice Lex were about to run out.
Just moments after Judge Midonas had pocketed his watch, Chief Justice Lex entered the hall. As she made her way to her bench opposite the prosecution, she was l ionized by her subjects, who deferentially bowed. Keeping courtroom decorum, the tall Lord Justice wore a short black robe and a short horsehair wig with curls at the side and ties down the back; the attire of a lawyer.
Judge Midonas rapped his gavel and demanded silence in his strident snuffling voice. All humming murmurs discontinued.
"In the matter of the Realm versus Princess Emma Catherine von Holtzberg, also known as Lady Emma - This court is now in session!" the old magistrate declared. It was the first time ever that Chief Justice Lex has been made aware of her Lady's full name and appellation. Lady Emma never spoke much about those days and the Lord never took issue with Emma's reluctance. She would find ways to tease Princess von Holtzberg with this priceless tidbit, nonetheless.
She then heard Judge Midonas address the prosecutor first, "For the prosecution?"
The thick-bearded, insipidly looking prosecutor stood up and replied: "Hector Linus, Your Honor."
Judge Midonas turned to Chief Justice Lex. "Please state my Lord's full name for the record,"
Chief Justice Lex stood square shouldered and clasped her hands behind her back. "Chief Justice H. Lex,"
"H?!" pressed Judge Midonas and tipped the glasses on his nose.
"It is t enuous, Your Honor. Everyone here knows who I am. Let's get on with it, shall we?!"
"This is my courtroom, and in this courtroom, I'm the one running the show," the old magistrate tenaciously insisted, causing a slight tumult in the hall .
"You'll do well to remember to whom you speak to!" the Lord Justice said in her most rotund stentorian voice, which abruptly hushed the crowd. " Your courtroom is in my Realm, and I am your Sovereign," and after a short pause she spat, "Your Honor", which sounded like anything but respectful. "Now let's get on with it," she r eiterated.
"Your point has been made, my Lord," said Judge Midonas. "Let us proceed then," he said and wiped his brow with a nervous hand. "Will my Lord be representing Lady Emma in this proceeding?"
"Yes, Your Honor".
"And in the matter of the warrant for My Lord's arrest?"
"I'll keep my own counsel, Your Honor."
Chief Justice Lex had spent years in courtrooms presiding as Judge but had never preformed in the capacity of advocate before. Nevertheless, she had seen enough lawyers stand before her. She was bright enough to learn from their experience and was resourceful enough to implement the knowledge she accumulated. Another advantage she had was the inquisitorial system she led in the Realm's Legal system. In the inquisitorial system, the presiding judge is not a passive recipient of information. Rather, the presiding judge is primarily responsible for supervising the gathering of the evidence necessary to resolve the case. He or she actively steers the sear ch for evidence and questions the witnesses, including the respondent or defendant.
"Very well," Judge Midonas concluded then turned to the prosecutor, "Call your first witness, Mr. Linus."
The prosecutor beckoned Doctor Mort to take the stand. The pathologist stood, collected his disarrayed papers and toddled to his place at the witness stand. His testimony comprised a dreary litany of dry scientific data, which divulged nothing that Chief Justice Lex hadn't already known.
Once Doctor Mort's direct examination was concluded, the prosecutor turned to the opposite party. "Your witness, my Lord," he called.
"Your Honor, I have no questions for this witness at this time. I reserve my right to cross examine him."
"So ordered. The witness will be subject to recall. Mister Linus, call your next witness."
The next one to take the stand wore his disrespect in his slothful strides. A bold tubby man with beady eyes, whose affidavit had been given to Chief Justice Lex by the prosecution during pre-trial disclosure, flung down onto his seat. He looked like a person who lives in society's margins and the sort to be the first to foment a fight in a tavern. He made no effort to hide his contempt. He acted like he had better things to do than serve the interest of justice by giving testimony in a matter which didn't concern him. Like Dr. Mort before him, he was sworn in by the court clerk.
"State your name for the record," asked Mister Linus.
"Lester Dumas," stated the man and rested his back comfortably against the chair.
"Please tell the court what you witnessed on the night Penurius disappeared."
"I was sitting in a tavern in the Northern Quarter located not one mile away from Penurius' estate, in my usual stool at the edge of the bar, when I noticed a pretty little blonde, whom I've never seen before around those parts. I heard one of the patrons referred to her as 'Lady Emma'. She was the woman I recognized in the picture array that the prosecutor showed me. She reeked of money and class. I remembered that I had heard her name being mentioned in passing before. She's known to be an assassin in certain circles."
"Objection, hearsay," darted Chief Justice Lex from her seat.
"Sustained, the witness's last remark will be stricken from the record," ruled Judge Midonas.
"You can't un-ring a bell, your honor," Chief Justice Lex asserted.
"I'll give you latitude with this witness when it is your turn, my Lord," said Judge Midonas then turned to Dumas, "Go on".
"I moved to sit next to her, and that's when I saw a dagger sticking out of her purse," he unfurled.
The prosecutor took up the golden dagger from the desk before him. "Is this the dagger you saw?" he inquired.
"This very one," confirmed mister Dumas.
"Thank you," said the prosecutor and returned back to his seat.
Chief Justice Lex scanned the papers, which rested on the desk before her, and not because she was less than perfectly prepared. She thought the tactic of keeping the aweless impudent Mister Lester Dumas waiting would cause him to react i n a more compliant and servile manner, which would benefit her cross-examination. In the courtroom, just like outside of it, it was all about power. She kept him waiting for a long time, and disregarded his restless impatient wriggles on the stand. No one in the courtroom dared rush her. When Lester Dumas finally subsided, she rose to her feet, briskly swaggered from behind her desk and began her interrogation.
"Please tell the court where you live, mister Dumas."
"Objection. Relevance?!" Jumped mister Linus from his seat.
"The relevance will soon become apparent, your honor," Chief Justice Lex countered.
"Proceed," ordered Judge Midonas.
"Answer the question mister Dumas," instructed Chief Justice Lex.
"I live in the Northern Quarter."
"And where did you live before that?"
"In prison," mumbled the witness.
"Speak up so the Judge can hear you".
"In prison," Dumas said again, louder than before.
The prosecutor rose to his feet and objected again.
"It goes to credibility, your honor," argued Chief Justice Lex.
"We're talking about a woman who kills for a living, Your Honor. Naturally the witnesses against her won't be a bunch of nuns," claimed the prosecutor.
"The weight of a testimony is a matter for the court to consider. Your objection is overruled, mister Linus, and in the future you will refrain from sharing your personal opinion regarding the defendant with the court."
"You were convicted of armed robbery, correct?" Chief Justice Lex continued her cross-examination.
"You testified that on the night before Penurius' disappearance, you were sitting in a tavern. What did you have to drink?"
"Ale, as I always do."
"How many pints? Two? Four? Six?"
"I don't remember, it was years ago,"
"How much do you consume on an average night?"
"About five, I reckon."
"I see," said Justice Lex suggestively.
"Hey, I can ha…"
"You will restrict your responses to a simple 'yes' or 'no' and only when I ask you a question." Justice Lex cut through his speech. "Tell me, the tavern - was it a famed distinguished establishment?"
"The place was a dump," Dumas answered.
"And the patrons?"
"Suited the establishment".
"All but Lady Emma. That's what first drew your attention to her, correct?"
"Now, you also testified, and I quote: ' I noticed a pretty little blonde'. Isn't 'gorgeous' closer to the truth?" That question extorted a few chuckles out of the audience.
"Your Honor…!?" protested mister Linus.
"It is your witness who opened the door. Answer the question, mister Dumas," Order Judge Midonas.
"Yes, it is. She was a stunner," Dumas reluctantly acceded.
"So here you are, a healthy red-blooded male sitting in the bar, drinking cool ale, when a gorgeous rich woman in a fine frock enters the tavern, alone, just like all women should be. All eyes are looking at her, men and women alike. From the way she walks towards the bar you can tell she's a woman of breed, not one who was raised to earn a living, but to inherit it. You see her opalescent eyes, and you know you've never seen a bluer blue. She lifts up her skirt only slightly to manage sitting on top of the high barstool without tripping over the hem of her dress, exposing petite feet in high heels and perfectly shaped calves. She sits down in the middle so that everyone could see her, her dress is lifted a hair higher and she reveals a hint of a shapely white thigh, and by the look on her face you know she enjoys teasing you all."
"Your Honor, where is this going?" the prosecutor interrupted.
"Quiet down, mister Linus. I want to hear this."
"All the patrons strip her with their eyes, and she knows it without even looking at them, because she's been getting these looks all her life, so much so that she believes she's entitled to them. They all covet her but you are the only one who makes an advance - not because you're the bravest, mind you, but because a robber such as yourself always aspires to live beyond his means, am I right?" In the art of creative cross-examination Justice Lex's understanding of human nature, imposing presence and sharp tongue were all condensed into brilliant extemporizations.
"N…No," stammered mister Dumas.
Under the learned assumption that the penalty for committing perjury wouldn't be a deterrent, Chief Justice Lex officiously decreased the space between herself and Dumas. She gradually closed in on him as she spoke. With truculent unwavering eyes and robe like the foreboding wingspan of a falcon before a strike, she made him feel small, timid and isolated. Lying demands greater effort to maintain concentration and consolidation of mind, and intimidation proved to be highly conducive to truth telling, or at the very least, bad lying.
"So she's sitting there, and as she brushes a few blonde locks, showing her long sensuous neck, you move to sit next to her and signal the barkeep to pour her a drink. Just as he's about to do so, the Lady with the fine breasts, which are packed in a tight corset, pushing their perfection up in your face, places a hand over her glass." She paused. It was effective. D isconcerted, Dumas cowered on the stand and as Chief Justice Lex kept taking shots at him, the obdurate delinquent began to crumble. "She rejected you."
"Y…Yes…No!" stammered the befuddled robber.
"She's rejected you the way every woman of her stature has." Justice Lex slanted her eyes and glowered at the malign witness .
"Objection, Your Honor," the innocuous prosecutor exclaimed. "Badgering the witness. Opposing counsel is testifying. Assuming facts not in evidence."
" Can the histrionics. This is an evidentiary hearing, mister Linus; you should know better," Judge Midonas overruled.
"You'll show her who is the master," continued Justice Lex relentlessly, "You'll give her a lesson that she won't forget! Aware of the rumors surrounding her, you'll frame her for murder. With the unspent hardness dangling between your legs, you took a blonde prostitute instead and roughed her up a bit to put her in her place, didn't you?! Think carefully before you choose to lie to me. I might have her waiting outside as a rebuttal witness," she warned and pointed her finger to the courtroom's entrance.
"The bitch deserved it!" Dumas snapped.
"Which bitch would that be, Sir?!" Justice Lex demanded to know, and inwardly she knew she had the witness right where she wanted him.
There was an instantaneous roar of disbelief from the gallery. Judge Midonas slammed his small wooden hammer, shout ing, "Quiet! I will have Quiet!" He peered down at the throng of babbling, churning spectators. "Quiet, I said, or I'll clear the courtroom."
"You're twisting everything," Dumas tried to pussyfoot his way out of it. "I didn't frame the snobbish bi…"
"Move to strike, Your Honor. The witness is non-responsive."
"I have no more questions for this… witness, " Chief Justice Lex concluded and turned her back to Dumas for the first time.
"The witness will step down,"
With faltering strides, Dumas stepped down, snarling an invective in resignation.
"I now wish to call Dr. Mort," Justice Lex announced.
As the physician settled on the witness stand, Chief Justice Lex picked up the dagger and showed it to him.
"Do you know what this dagger is made of?" she asked.
"I don't know which type of metal exactly, only that it is plated with gold," replied Dr. Mort.
"You mean no one has bothered to check?"
"There was no reason to. This was the dagger that was imbedded in the victim and it's consistent with the stab wound. M'Lord saw it with her own eyes. There was no reason to conduct such test."
"I have here a report made by a forensic specialist, a respected colleague of yours, stating that this dagger is made of solid gold,"
The old pathologist moved uncomfortably in his seat.
"Tell me, Doctor, can a dagger made of solid gold cause the stab wound you found in the victim's body?"
"No, M'Lord," answered Doctor Mort.
"The blade that caused the stab wound chipped a bone. Gold is a relatively soft metal. It couldn't have chipped something as hard as bone."
"In your professional opinion, would a highly skilled assassin use a dagger made of gold?"
"So from your experience, what does the fact that a gold dagger was lodged in the victim's body in this case suggests to you?"
"That someone stabbed the victim with another dagger of the same shape and size, then pulled it out and replaced it with this gold dagger to make it look like the defendant committed the crime. Only whoever did this clearly wasn't aware of the fact that a real assassin wouldn't use a dagger made of gold."
"Thank you, Doctor. No further questions."
"Mister Linus, redirect?" asked Judge Midonas.
"No, Your Honor," replied the prosecutor in defeat.
"The court thanks Doctor Mort for his testimony. You may step down."
Standing before the court, "Your Honor," said Chief Justice Lex, "I think it is obvious that what we have here is a blatant attempt to frame Lady Emma, made either by mister Dumas or by Penurius' many rivals. The prosecutor went off half-cocked indicting a woman on the 'say so' of a man who chose a career of infracting the law. It is most fortunate that I didn't adhere to a knee-jerk assumption made by an overzealous and malicious prosecution, and saved the Realm the embarrassment . I move that both the indictment pending against Lady Emma and the subsequent warrant for my arrest be quashed."
"I'm granting my Lord's motion," ruled the old magistrate. He then softened his demeanor and hesitantly said: "Before we adjourn, I must beseech my Lord to consider…If being in lust with that ill-repute woman is worth undermining my Lord's position in the eyes of her subjects? If for appearance's sakes only…" he trailed off.
A silence descended upon the courtroom as if the audience held their collective breath.
Chief Justice Lex could barely believe her ears. When she'd been but a child of sixteen, she'd overthrown the Realm's corrupted regime and gave the people law and order, education and healthcare. She'd assembled and trained the Army of the People and her subjects had been able to prosper under the blanket of protection, which she'd been providing them for years. In spite of the fact that it was the uncontrolled idiocy of one man that birthed the question, her wrath could smite the entire Hall of Justice.
Amid her ever-growing vexed state, the words 'In Lust' forged a certain allocution inside her; She felt a fusillade of words generating a maelstrom in the pit of her stomach then hurdling up her throat. Next they were clogging her gorge, pounding against it like a raging river against a dyke, till they reached the cavern of her mouth where she muzzled them from bursting out.
Stock still, she fisted both her hands till her knuckles whitened, but other than that she maintained her stoic placidity. "With whom I choose to lay is none of my subjects' concern," she stated calmly.
She didn't wait for the gavel rapping, before she strode out of the courthouse, whilst her subjects evinced awe and genuflection. Despite the subjugation in court, she was crestfallen, almost infected with bereavement . The separatist Ruler entered a nearby alley on Court Street. Lamentably, she dropped to her knees and rested her palm against the cold stone wall covered in hyssop. While she leveraged her weight over her stretched arm, she retched violently losing the contents of her stomach. It was as if her body needed to ejaculate a foreign object.
From a distance, the Judge heard a high-pitched voice of a young child that sounded like a chipper, "Look mom, the black soldier is sick!"
She turned her head and saw a small girl pointing at her.
"Not sick, child, just shooting the cat," the mother replied with disgust and t raipsed the little girl away.
There was one last thing to do before returning home. The Justice flayed the clerk that was under her tutelage: "During the course of the evidentiary hearing the subject of my relationship with Lady Emma had been raised. You were the only one in the unique position to appreciate the true nature of it on account that you were the only one who'd seen us together in the Lodge. I understand that you were required by law, by a Judge's order to divulge that information. However, I cannot employ a servant whom I cannot trust with my private affairs. Your services are hereby no longer required."
End of Part 4
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