A Day In Court
The court date has finally arrived. Inside the Alexandria court house, one of the smaller court rooms is in use, with a line-up of cases waiting to be heard. There are stands for the involved parties, and seats in the back for witnesses; the magistrate is seated in the most important chair, as one might expect. He is a stocky man with a weathered face and braided beard, renowend to once have been an adventurer on the seas of all things, and now retired to a life in the pursuit of justice. Magistrate Ironshield thumps his gavel, completing a case and giving the involved parties a chance to disperse, with a judgement rendered. That done, he looks down his monocle at the next set of papers. "Bring forwards Delilah Valethor," he intones, his voice ringing out like a hammer on an anvil. "All parties representing the Crown and the Defense for Delilah Valethor, present yourselves now. Witnesses for this trial are permitted."
The tail flicks. Shaking on the inside, Chay stands to face the judge. "Chay, of the hunter-caste. Inquissitor to Gilead. Ssers," he adds hurriedly, and once eyes move on,he is quick enough to take his seat, again. He wears a wrap about his waist, Am'sheri style. The symbol of Gilead is stitched upon a sash, and this lays from one shoulder to a hip, over the light and protective armor he wears.
Seldan also stands, as if this was what he had been waiting for. "Seldan Padaryn of the Silver Guard, Your Honor." The blue and silver attire and the crescent moon openly worn proclaims allegiance to Eluna, and his words carry a thick Myrrish accent.
Sitting next to Delilah, a dark-haired woman that could otherwise be an exact copy scowls at her knees, one hand on Delilah's shoulder. Squeezing once, she leans over to murmur into the sorceress' ear, squeezing lightly. When Chay announces himself, she tilts her head, looking vaguely uncomfortable -- adventurers tend not to spend time learning courtroom etiquette, after all -- and rises from her seat. "Donna Valethor, y'honor. Sister to th'accused."
Having decided to make as unthreatening a presence of herself as possible in front of the law, the dark twin has left behind armor and gauntlets, and instead looks small, sullen, and exceedingly unhappy. But wild swiftclaws could not have kept her from having her sister's back, here.
"Delilah Valethor, your honor." Delilah speaks after hearing what Donna had to say; she nods to her sister, as she moves to stand at the spot indicated for the accused. She's left her hat behind, but otherwise is dressed as she normall does, sans weapons of course. She clasps her hands in front of herself, and after announcing herself, says nothing further.
Kaydin been wondering and wandering the city when he finds himself in the middle of a courtroom. He seems to be curious to the goings on, an armful of finger foods from various other places in his arm. His bow unstrung and on his back, arrows relinquished so he is technically disarmed. He eats a fruit and watches the women.
"Knight Captain Norrington, your honor. For the crown." The man accusing Delilah strides up to the accuser's podium, bearing himself with a cold confidence; as a guardsman he enjoys the privelidge of keeping his sword on his person, a rather large affair strapped to his back.
"Very well. All parties are assembled." Ironbeard squints through his monocle at the papers. "First, the matter of Miss Valethor's early release papers. Captain Norrington, do you have any additional charges to bring against Delilah Valethor, or her sister?" After Norrington admits that he does not, almost reluctantly, the dwarf continues. "Very well. Miss Valethor, you are accused of two counts of theft, in the matter of two necklaces stolen from merchant Arrin Goldstern, of the Upper Markets. How do you plead?
Delilah clasps her hands in front of her, fidgeting with one thumb over the other. "Innocent," she states, her voice carrying none of the nervousness that her hands give away. "I didn't steal the necklaces, your honor, I purchased them. At a fair price, after a little haggling, from a half-orc merchant in the lower markets."
While listening to Delilah's reply, Ironbeard has time to look up, in Kaydin's direction; at the sound of the fruit being bitten into, in his court, his non-monocled eye twitches. Twice.
Chay looks to the person speaking. Shaking? To be sure, but one controls it. One keeps it on the inside.
Chay draws in breath and focuses on Delilah as she speaks. Then just as swiftly, lets the breath go. Whatever he scents, he looks down, and adds a quick note to a book by his side.
More focused, if not more relaxed, Seldan also listens in silence to both the woman and the judge. The person he watches, though, is Knight-Captain Norrington, eyes narrowing. He says nothing, though.
Kaydin looks to the judge as he is watched at the man. He even gestures a fruit to him as if to offer it to the man sitting in the chair. He remains quiet though, not to interrupt anyone speaking. He eats and pockets the seeds and cores of an apple.
Chay's muzzle moves continuously, with small twitches. He twitches again, as someone moves past. One might compare it to a caffeine addict, who'd just sat down and having drowned the first cup of espresso, contemplates a second. Wired. Sniff. Sniff sniff. Twitch. When Kaydin gestures to the judge, his attention snaps that way for just a moment, raw and focused. Then, back.
Apart from a searing glower shot Norrington's way, Donna manages to hold her peace, even if every instinct to tell the judge 'she didn't do anything wrong, that jackass is wasting everyone's time and threatening our livelihoods because I don't even know' has to be firmly sat upon as Not Helpful In This Moment.
Perhaps if called to speak, circumstances may change.
"Very well." Ironbeard shuffles his papers, "The plea of innocense is recorded by the courts." And, indeed, it is; sitting beside Ironbeard in a much lower chair is a halfling scribe in white robes, with an oversized pair of spectacles perched on the bridge of her nose, who is buisily scrawling down everything said on a long scroll. Every. Word.
"Knight Captain Norrington, you may present your case."
Norrington steps forwards from his spot, approaching the magistrate's chair. "Your honor, witnesses of the court," he begins, keeping his tone even, almost pleasant. "Five days past, a complaint was made in the upper markets, by the merchant Arrin Goldstern. His shop was looted of a pair of gold necklaces while he was doing business; they were described as identical chains, with similar black and white pendants. Half an hour later, the accused was spotted -- by me -- in the markets, wearing both pendants as described." While Norrington speaks, Delilah clenches her chaw; one can almost hear the teeth grinding. Almost.
"Where is merchant Goldstern?" insquires the magistrate.
"He was unable to be present," Norrington explains, "His daughter is to be wed today. However, I have a signed affidavit confirming that the pendants matched what was stolen from his shop. ...Upon encountering Delilah Valethor, I placed her under immediate arrest and brought her directly to the holding cells. The necklaces were confiscated, I have them with me to present as evidence.
The necklaces and a signed piece of parchment are taken by a court clerk, and provided to Ironbeard for his inspection. He studies them for several minutes, while the courtroom goes more or less silent; aside from the magistrate looking up once, just once, to glare in Kaydin's direction and mutter something mostly imperceptible, about courtrooms and taverns. Once he is satisfied, he sets the items aside. "Chay, Inquisitor to Gilead. I would hear your accounting of events; Seldan of Padaryn, you may give testimony when I am satisfied."
If Delilah's grinding teeth aren't audible, Donna's certainly are. Her free hand curls halfway into a fist, but freezes as the thought strikes her that maybe lunging across a packed courtroom and punching a Guard Captain in the mouth might be a bad idea.
Drawing in a breath through her nose, she instead chooses to release her grip on her anger in a long, slow sigh. She's here to have her sister's back, not get them both bunged into the dungeons.
Kaydin just watches the goings on and the magistrate muttering gets a weird look. He then looks to the scribe and he then turns to the others speaking. "So you say that you didnt actually see the theft, but rather saw two necklaces on a woman so she must be the one to do it?" He asks as he stops eating and waits for an answer.
Delilah has reached the part where she just has to be quiet, and wait for other people to decide what her fate is going to be. She deflates a little, and shifts her hands to clasp behind her back, isntead of in front. The sorceress does spare a quick glance over her shouder, towards Donna; if there is one thing in this world that always, always makes things just a little bit better somehow, it's sisterly support.
"Ssers," the sith-makar says. Cognizant, painfully, of motions and perceptions he picks up sheaf of papers, and lifts one of the pages to consult it. As though to consult it. All the while, his muzzle twitches, catching air. Catching...
"The Captain came onto the sscene, and made a statement against the accused ssers, of theft. The Accused at the time denies this claim, ssers."
"At the time ssers, the Captain stated his certainty that the necklace the Accused then possessed was the exact one that was sstolen. However ssers, this was a falsehood at that time."
"Under the honor of one's office ssers, one offered him an opportunity to retract thiss sstatement. He did not, ssers."
While Chay is speaking, and while Norrington presents his case, Seldan watches the guard captain closely. It is not, however, his turn to speak, and so he remains silent for now.
Ironshield leans to his side, and quietly instructs the halfing scribe to make note of something in particular, before he looks back up at Chay. "What was your impression of the accused, at the time of her arrest?" he inquires. "How did she respond to being apprehended?"
"Sshe believed in her innocense at that time, sser," the sith-makar states, when asked. The tail flicks.
Norrington clicks his tongue disapprovingly; Ironshield arches an eyebrow, but makes no comment on it. "Very well. Thank you, Chay, Inquisitor to Gilead." He adjusts his monocle, and settles back in his seat. "Seldan Padaryn, of the Silver Guard, you may now give your testimony. After that, I will provide an opportunity for the accused to speak in her own defense. Seldan Padaryn, the floor is yours." He glares at Kaydin one last time, as if to check to see if he's still eating something.
Norrington, meanwhile, turns his gaze on Seldan; he rests his hands on his hips, coolly waiting for whatever the paladin is about to say. Delilah does likewise, but with considerably more nervousness.
Kaydin did go back to eating once his question never got answered. He watches the goings on, even more confused as to what is going on. "So did she do it?" He asks, clearly having no ettiquette when it comes to these things
"I was a bystander at the time the arrest was made, Your Honor." Seldan steps forward then, turning his focus from Norrington to the judge. "Knight-Captain Norrington stated to me that a number of items had been stolen from the shop in question, not just those necklaces. No mention has been made of the fate of the other items, nor did the Knight-Captain display any interest in questioning the half-orc merchant from whom the accused claims to have purchased the items in question. When questioned on the matter of his evidence, he seemed certain that the accused was guilty, based solely on his previous experience with her. In the interest of learning the whole truth of the matter, I took it upon myself to seek out the merchant from whom she claims to have purchased the necklaces."
Donna glances at Chay, but only the weary gratitude in her expression can convey her thanks; with Norrington on the warpath and in his element, any show of gratitude could be construed as collaboration. Which... probably wouldn't help matters much at all. But Norrington is still very, very much a threat, even with a Temple fact-checker on the job, and thus the dark twin's sullen desperation remains.
Seldan takes a deep breath, then continues. "The merchant confirmed Delilah's story of having purchased them from her. Furthermore, when I visited the vendor who had been robbed, the description he gave of the stolen necklaces does not match the ones that the accused held, and he stated that several more items had been stolen besides, items that the accused did not have in her possession. It is my belief, Your Honor, that the Knight-Captain seeks to satisfy a vendetta of some kind."
Ironshield settles back in his seat, and makes mention of something to the halfling scribe. He rests his hands on his knees, and generally glares at the courtroom for a moment. "Miss Valethor, you may speak in a moment. But first." He eyes Seldan through his monocle, "Do you have any evidence to substantiate your claim, that the Knight Captain is acting under the premise of vendetta?"
Norrington, meanwhile, is glaring at Seldan; but nothing overtly hostile. No, that he's reserving for Donna and Delilah, and even then it's kept to a bare minimum. It's not his turn to speak, so he keeps his arms crossed.
Kaydin watches and smiles. "So she didnt do it! we must let her go!" Kaydin says as he looks to the magistrate as if he was going to do something else. He then looks to Delilah and Donna, cheering for them.
"Only the Knight-Captain's certainty of her guilt, of statements that he repeatedly had tried to pin her down and believed that he had her this time. I spent no more than an hour's time collecting the evidence of which I speak, and none were uncooperative." Perhaps Seldan should not have said that, but what's done is done.
The Magistrate arches an eyebrow upwards. "The court is interested in facts, not speculation," he states, firmly. "Delilah Valethor, you may give your account of events." He settles back in his set, toying with his gavel, though his eyes remain fixed sternly on the young sorceress.
Delilah clears her throat, and takes a step forwards. "I was shopping, your honor," she explains, quietly. "It was my sister's turn to find an inn for us to stay in, the last one kicked us and several other aptrons out to make room for a... doesn't matter." She shrugs, "While Donna was making the rounds, I was browsing the lower markets. I happened to stop at one merchant's cart, where she was selling a variety of curiosities. She had a couple of matching pendants, and I wanted to get them for my sister and I, as a present. ...We share everything."
Delilah pauses, perhaps aware of Norrington... watching her, a bit like how a hawk watches a rabbit that it can't quiet reach. She glances back at her sister, and continues. "So, I bought them, at a fair price that we agreed on. I uhh... can't remember her name, but she was a half-orc, dark green skin, greying hair, and... built." She pauses once more, glancing towards Chay and Seldan, as if she might get some support there. Heck, even Kaydin's declaration is appreciated. "About half an hour later, Norrington arrested me, just like Mr. Seldan described. ...He also arrested a gnome for destroying some furniture, and he only had one set of handcuffs, so I just walked to the jail without. Where I stayed for four days." She pauses, and smooths out her skirt nervously. "And... that's basically it, your honor.
Ironshield listens to Delilah's version of events, and taps his fingers on the gavel. "Very well," he answers. "Does anyone have anything they wish to add at this time? If not, please declare your testimony complete. Miss Donna Valethor, if you have anything relevant to add, you may do so at this time."
"As of the events of today, sser, one may tesstify that both the Accused and Accuser believe their sstatementss to be true, sser." The sith-makar looks to the earth. If a hole could open beneath him, he would fall into it so quickly.
He looks to the Captain then, and down to the earth again. He's still listening to thoughts. Still, watching expressions. Still... At present, he selects a piece of paper, and passes it to the bailiff. "Sser, one resspectfully requestss the Accuser be quesstioned regarding the merchant, as well as the nature of the necklecess, sser. There iss a grayness in the ether, sser."
"Y'honor," Donna says, oddly subdued for those who may have seen her at work. "Unno how much it'll mean, but, Delilah an' I are Guild adventurers. We don't gotta steal for anythin' we want, an' robbin' folk ain't what you'd call fun for us, neither. Freely admit we like to get up to shenanigans when we're bored, but nothin' that'd get us any more than a day in the rowdy tank to cool off."
When 'a day' is said, and stressed with wounded justice, she does give Norrington the ol' sidelong stinkeye. Yooooouuuuuuu.
"Its clear they didnt do it!" Kaydin says as he watches the goings on, seeming to try and rush things to a head. He claps at Delilah's events and he nods. "See, if she was guilty she wouldnt willingly go to jail!"
No, Seldan shouldn't have said that. He subsides without a word, but watches all participants closely. It's out of his hands now.
"Silence from the observer's gallery," Ironshield declares at last. "The court keeps its own council." He doesn't shout, or even so much as raise his voice, he simply speaks with the surity that comes with decades of authority. Towards Donna, he nods once. "Understood, Miss Valethor. Not really evidence, but the insight is useful." And then, towards Norrington, he arches one eyebrow, stroking one of the braids in his beard. "Please, Knight Captain. Elaborate about the merchant, Goldstern. There is discrepancy about the number and quality of items stolen."
Norrington stands in his spot, considering his answers for a long time. Or at least, it seems like a long time. "Goldstern did indeed comment that multiple items were stolen; a total of five. The search for the other three is ongoing. He did list a pair of similar but not matching pendants amongst the purloined items. When the recovered necklaces were shown to him, he initially did not remember, but signed the statement after he'd had long enough to think, your honor. Miss Valethor was searched before being admitted to the jails, and no other jewelry relevant to the case was found."
Ironshield relaxes back in his seat, and rumbles audibly. Now, he takes his time to think, and taps his gavel against his hand. "This court," he begins, "Finds insufficient evidence to convict Miss Valethor of the accused crime. Knight Captain Norrington, the court reminds you to be dilligent in investigating *all* aspects of a crime, and hopes you will be just as dilligent in searching for the outstanding pieces of jewelry." He pauses, collecting his words. "Miss Valethor, you are acquitted of all charges. The necklaces will be returned to you, and you are free to go. You and your sister are both released from the conditions of your release agreement, and may come and go from the city as you please -- which I'm sure will benefit your adventuring career. Case dismissed."
WHACK. The gavel comes down.
The only thing keeping Donna from melting in relief on the spot is the fact that she needs to grip her sister's shoulder to, very likely, keep from doing exactly the same. When she's certain she has her footing underneath her, she shoots Norrington a truly poisonous glare, then turns to Chay and Seldan.
"Thank you," she says around a sigh. "Seriously. Thank y'both."
Seldan simply nods satisfaction at the verdict, and turns to go, but before he does, Donna speaks, and he turns again. "You're welcome," he replies in low tones. "I must go, but perhaps at a later time, I would hear more of your experience with the Knight-Captain." There's something brewing in his head, that much is clear.
Delilah would keel over, if it weren't for Donna's hand on her shoulder, as predicted. While it might be a breach of protocol, it looks like Ironshield is willing to overlook the detail. "Thanks," she whispers. "And thank the *gods*.
It's about then that Norrington walks past, clearly experiencing the height of irritation, along with a helping of humiliation for the brief but pointed dressing down from the Magistrate. He looks Delilah over, then Donna; an eyebrow arches, and he scratches behind one ear. "You have good friends," he comments. "Rather fortunate for you both."
"Yeah," Donna mutters. "Good luck we got friends with good bullshit-detectors, Cap'n." Not pitched for the room at large, and really this isn't a fight she wants right here, right now. "C'mon, D," she says, firmly steering her sister toward the door. "We got us a bar tab that needs runnin' up." Norrington doesn't reach with anger or a snide comment, in the face of Donna's rebuttal. He looks the dark-haired twin over, down the bridge of his nose; and then he smiles, lips turning up at the corners, by all accounts a warm and benevolent smile, were it not for the coldly malevolent gleam in his eyes. "Take very good care of your sister," he calmly replies, before he turns on his heel and strides for the door.
Delilah watches Norrington go, and breathes a sigh of relief once she finally sees the Knight Captain walking away. "You're not kidding," she replies. "Just make sure I don't wake up in bed tomorrow morning next to someone I'm going to regret, yeah? I'll do the same for you. Hard liguor, full steam ahead."