A Soulless Case Against Soulless - RPLOG
It's a fine afternoon for court. The heat outside is dispelled with subtle air and water magics that keep the interior of the court room comfortable. The Good King presides at the highest seat, while the Council of the People are arranged around the room in a loose circle. Other concerned people, or just people who like to watch such things, have seats towards the front of the room, facing the rest. The last case is just wrapping up, a council member speaking, "And that is why we find the defendant guilty of all charges, due to overwhelming evidence and her prior convictions, we have no choice but to harsh. Ten years hard labor, five years public service, followed by a year of militia to remind her what we work so hard to protect." The Good King apparently finds nothing objectionable about this, banging his gavel. The she-parrot is hauled off with a defeated expression, ending that matter.
Arianna has arrived at Court dressed somewhat better than she was seen in the marketplace the other day. She's wearing a dress which is by far not the finest among nobles, but a simple and clean gown that hugs her waist in, emphasizes her bodice, and matches a small jeweled hairclip in the top of her fur near an ear. One comes to court looking proper after all. She's been watching the cases quietly, with just the slightest bit of fidgeting as she waits for them to get around to the supposed debate about the Soulless. Her own Soul Gem is displayed rather proudly, hanging from her necklace into her cleavage.
Keeping quiet for the proceedings, Monique is among the usual crowd in attendance. She looks around for any others she may recognize. The thylacine is simply dressed, wearing her usual light shirt and trousers, conspicuously missing, of course, is her weaponry or indeed, any hammer at all, the burly smith devoid of anything to have in her big hands.
Bite hears the sentence as she seemingly aimlessly wanders the city thinking to herself. She looks the parrot over as she's dragged off and feels that she must have been doing something forgiveable, she doesn't really look so hardened. Giggling to herself she looks over the court with a smile, having never been here before. Hopefully, she never will be involved beyond having the pleasure of viewing it's workings. Her bandages have long since been abandoned and she has taken to her very drab method of dress.
Eleanor Solacious is sitting quietly on her seat, dressed as the etiquette requires. Over her noble dress there is, quite visible, her Soul Gem which she touches from time in time, almost finding such gesture relaxing.
"The next case before the court," announces the court crier, a ferret with a horn at his belt and a parchment in hand. He reads loud and clearly, "The issue of Soulless Justice. The treatment of Soulless while imprisoned. Arguing against the soulless, Sir Kaldon, of the Cliffside Crescent family. Arguing for, Arianna Strongheart, of the Stronghearts." Both are led up to small podiums facing one another. "Sir Kaldon, Present the argument, if you would, sir."
Monique goes dead quiet, wanting to hear this as clearly as she can, her hands trying not to fidget for lack of something to hold.
Kaldon is a male of the Clever Folk, by the seal that glitters on his sharp garments. Brightly clothed. He is a squirrel, flying variety.
And it's the moment she's been waiting for, Arianna stands up and moves through the small crowd to make her way to the podium. When she sees the other soul-less in the crowd, she nods to Monique, Eleanor, and Bite, giving them a slightly nervous smile but a firm nod as if to promise she'll do her best. When she gets up to the podium she makes a deep bowing curtsey, "Your Majesty, Officers of the Court, it is my deep honor to have been allowed to plead my case before your justice today." She turns to look at Sir Kaldon, turning her head slightly to look the squirrel man over.
Bite holds her tongue, preventing an audible hiss a she hears the topic. Soulless aren't unlike anyone else and deserve the same basic treatment. She squirms and smiles as she sees Arianna is in fact a soulless, and is defending their case. Setting down a bit she looks over Kaldon, and then the King himself, nodding in silent approval that he would see over proceedings. He is a great king.
Kaldon tips his head towards his opponent, Arianna, then to the council members and the Good King, "It is always an honor to visit your esteemed country," Fine words from a Cliffsider, who have warred with Sweetwater several times in the past. "Today I bring the case for disarmament of Soulless who are serving time for criminal activities. We have already begun this in Cliffside with great success. As you are all well aware, Soulless are very dangerous people, and criminals of their ilk more dangerous still. It is unthinkable to leave them with their gems and baubles, any more than you would leave a warrior with his blade." he argues, "The case is simple."
Eleanor takes a deep breath, her flickering ears betraying how much she's interested about this topic. She leans forward a bit, silent and giving her full attention.
Arianna blinks, taken a bit in surprise. She knew the topic was disarmament of course, but her eyes blink at Kaldon and she wonders, interjecting briefly, "Begging your pardon Sir Kaldon, but do I understand you to be suggesting that Soulless should also have their soul-gems removed from them, along with everything else?"
Monique's mouth is half open before she remembers where she is and clamps it shut.
"Of course," says Sir Kaldon, "Otherwise they can weave terrible divine mathematics with nothing else, and use other techniques of highly specialized nature that makes them more dangerous than many others. Without them, they are weak as newborns and easier to handle," he argues, "Your guards should not have to fear for such terrifying power while upholding the law. The cost in life and capital is unreasonable otherwise."
Bite holds her tongue as she glares at Kaldon. Taking away their soul gem for the entire sentence essentially will lead them to losing who they are as a being. Sure they'll be simple to deal with for a time, until something gets ahold of them.
Sitting still as can be, Monique continues to listen to the knight mis-inform the court.
"Your Majesty." Arianna cuts in on Kaldon firmly, massive hands gripping the edges of the podium, digging her fingers in as if to keep them from turning into fists. "A Soul-gem is not merely another tool in the Soul-less skillset. They are gifts of the Creators which permit those who would otherwise be quickly lost in Shadow to not only join society, but to excel within it. This has been confirmed by the Church as a genuine miracle at the highest levels of the priesthood." Arianna touches the necklace around her her own throat, pressing her palm against it and her sternum, "It is true, that through the power contained within them we have access to many and often potent skills. But a magician without his recipes and notes is still a person. A warrior without his arms is still a man. To deprive a Soulless of their gem is to risk stripping this designation from them. It is true, we might survive for a time without them, we may even remain functional for long periods." Arianna purses her lips togethers before saying, "Majesty, if I may, a hypothetical...."
The Good King wobbles his gavel lightly, "Present your case," beckons the large hippo of a man. Kaldon settles back a little, patient enough to give his rival a turn at presentation.
Arianna clears her throat, "By the grace of the Creators and the Saints, your Majesty has just celebrated the birth of her Royal Highness the Princess." Arianna clenches her soul-gem now, as if remembering something from her own childhood. "Imagine that something were to happen to you, and when you looked on her you felt nothing. That when you looked on the rivers and lakes and hills of Sweetwater, you felt nothing. That when you remembered your childhood at the knee of the Royal Mother, you felt nothing stronger than a quietly bemused apathy. Is that not a fate worse than death? Is that not the definition of a monster?" Arianna pauses a long moment before she turns to Kaldon now, addressing his point more directly, "The vulnerability of the Soul-less to Shadow without their gem is well-known. I will grant Sir Kaldon's point, a Soul-less without their gem is a prisoner that's easier to contain. But at what cost?"
Kaldon presents a paper, held up. The court crier steps up to accept it. "This is the cost Sweetwater paid, per annum, to properly secure armed soulless. Fifty thousand crown per head on average, with one, especially belligerent, requiring a sum of over one million crown and the re location of over one hundred and sixty inmates. The repairs on the prison were just completed as I left the city," he reports. "Is this a price you are willing to pay, Good King?"
Nodding in belief of that well put sentiment, Monique waits to hear what the visitor's rebuttal to the argument is.
* Cliffside, not Sweetwater
Bite frowns. It sounds like even though they are removing the soul gems, they are still accumulating damage to the prisons. This is not a very compelling arguement without knowing when the removal was set in place. In Bite's mind she comes up with a very clever solution, and sits quietly with a glint in her eye, watching the king.
Eleanor rubs her chin, such numbers are really... well, not encouraging. Still, an idea is forming in her mind as well... one that could easily solve the problem without forcing one of her kind to lose the soulgem, with all the issues that follow.
"One wonders what price Sir Kaldon puts on his own soul." Okay, so Arianna can't hold back a bit of a biting comment as the question is reduced to one of crowns. "1 million crowns, 2 million? Tell us Sir Kaldon, how much do you think your soul is worth? Your mother's soul? His Majesty the King's, how much would you sell his soul for if offered?"
Monique can't help it, she gasps at the comment.
"Your argument is impassioned, but irrelevant. I am here to argue a matter of the court, not theology," Kaldon coldly snubs. "So armed, soulless remain a menace to society, loyal guardsmen, and to other inmates who are serving their time and deserve proper protection. There is no philosophy required to see this."
Bite winces at the questioning. It's a good, driving question, it gets the point across nicely but has the potential to land either side in hot water with the King. Doesn't look good on Arianna, but Kaldon's answer is all the more important now.
Eleanor writes something on a paper, before closing it. Then, she gives a light cough, attracting the attention of one court bailiff and giving it the message for Arianna.
"Principles of theology and philosophy are at the core of the argument. What seperates us from criminals if it is not our willingness to put principle above material gain?" Arianna turns to accept the paper from the bailiff, looking it over for a moment and reading it with a furrowed brow. She looks over the crowd for a few moments, examining everyone in it to see who might have sent it before looking back towars the court. "And on matters of practicality, Sir Kaldon misses the obvious humane and equally thrifty solution."
On the paper, there is written, 'What if just removing the soul gem, a new one, made for the criminals, would be made? One that would weaker the soulless to the point of being a common criminal?'
The well dressed court representative accepts the note, and first takes it past the Good King, who nods in approval before it can be passed along to Arianna. Wouldn't want anything subversive being passed around the court, would we?
Kaldon leans forward towards Arianna, "Don't keep us in suspense, good lady. Share with the court. The tales of your family's cleverness are wide spread across Promise." A back handed compliment if ever one were delivered, "I eagerly await your proposal."
"It is well-known among Soul-less that if your soul gem is ever destroyed or lost, the Church or the Freeswords Inn can provide you with a new one free of charge. A gem which allows you to keep your mind and thoughts intact from the Shadow, protecting you with the Creator's Light." A small smile from Arianna, "But with few or no skills or knowledge attached. The Church does this to save us from what the Patriarch himself calls a fate worse than death. Why could not Soul-less criminals be provided with something the same?" A brief pause, "We understand, your Majesty, that we are a new caste, and that society is still struggling to find a place for us within it. Let us make no decision too rashly. Bring together a council of the Church, the Soul-Less, your Majesty's own court. Alternative plans can be created. The kingdom's treasury is not endless, but I have always known the King to be generous with it when it may mean saving some of his own people."
A slap of the gavel, "Bring forth Mione," speaks the Good King, "I would have his word on this matter." Mione, royal scholar, is brought in hastily. He must not have been very far in the first place, perhaps just in an adjacent antechamber. He moves up to a third pedestal and bows to all assembled.
"How may I serve, your majesty?"
"Please explain to the court the nature of the gem given out freely by church and Freeswords' guild, and what it allows and does not allow."
Kaldon looks like he would like to say something, but dares not interrupt the monarch's own line of inquiry.
Bite likes this solution, smiling and watching the going ons with a bit of sway. Soon there will be a decision, likely in the favor of replacement soul gems.
Smiling again, not just liking the idea put forth but also liking Mione, at least for how he allowed her to test the first berserker soulgem, Monique listens on to hear what the mouse councils.
Upon learning of this court matter on the soulless, Ictus quietly slips in and takes a seat in the audience
A polite clearing of the throat, "Ah, yes, the so called 'Parent' gem, most often created by the imprint of two expecting parents. The 'raw' version, without the individual flavors of the parents involved, is, indeed, available, your majesty. Reportedly less 'tasteful' by the soulless I have asked, it does serve its job well enough. Soulless with it are a little tougher than usual, but express no strange abilities or magics. It is most often put aside once a soulless can afford more 'interesting' gems," he dutifully explains, "It does prevent shadow possession."
Kaldon slaps the wood in front of him with a hand, "Shadow possession? That is a myth," he hisses in sudden irritation.
Bite audibly shifts in her seat at Kaldon's outburst, having first hand fought a shadow possessed goat who had slaughtered his siblings. She thinks on this and tries to contain herself.
Mione frowns, but just barely, "Let us not forget the taking of Mossy Stone, only enabled by..."
Kaldon leans forward towards Mione, "By your own lack of preparation and ill trained guards." Startled gasps lift through the room. One poor gentlebeing's monocle clatters as it hits the ground.
Bite again glares at Kaldon, obviously not being as good a representative as he appeared at first in the manner of addressing relations between countries. Insulting an old rival openly in front of royalty is an insult of great weight.
Monique gasps more than a little loudly, an insult toward her country, toward her king, strikes at the very heart of what she upholds.
"Your Majesty." Arianna suggests, raising her voice above the general startled gasp. "Clearly this is a matter which has aroused the passions of many people. Perhaps the matter can be tabled until Sir Kaldon is able to regain his composure and treat the court with the respect and civility it's office requires." Arianna purses her lips distainfully, reaching for her stomach and crossing her arms to sort of heft her bosom up and adjust her dress for a moment, straightening her bodice and smoothing out the hip line of her dress as if to make sure to have something to do with her hands.
Ictus hmms at Kaldon and shakes his head sadly, he looks at the man and tilts his head curiously as he clearly wonders if the man is insane
The Good King looks... calm. Deathly calm. He rises from his seat, "The good Lady Arianna speaks truly. This session will bear no further fruit with such... distasteful air. Escort our guest back to his room. Court is in recess for one hour hence, this matter is closed. Prepare the next case." One can guess that Kaldon will not be remaining in Firmament for too much longer. He makes to say something, maybe apologetic, maybe not, but the king's glare promises uncomfortable things, and he is led silently from the court room.
Monique can't help it, hearing the Good King defend the country and soulless makes her beam in pride, she gives a small cheer for her monarch, grinning like a fool.
Eleanor relaxes a bit on her seat, seeing the wisdom of her Good King. She hides a smile as she notices that her pride is shared, a bit more openly, by someone else as well.
After the King dismisses the court, lowers the gavel, and begins to leave, Arianna steps down from the podium and takes a slow deep breath. She bows and curtsies to Mione, and then begins heading back into the general gallery where the fellow Soul-less await. She's muttering, quite out loud but mostly to herself. "That... that... that /man/."
Fortunately, recess has been called. Though still something of a misstep, cheering in court, it is excusable between cases. It does get Kaldon's ire though, a few foul words escaping him before he can be properly evicted off to his room. The council members rise and begin to disperse. Some talk of lunch is had. Life goes on. Mione moves over towards the King, speaking to him quietly a moment. It is well known the mouse has the Good King's ear, as a trusted advisor, despite his official title of scholar.
Bite smirks, creeping to a wide grin of satisfaction. He's a great king she thinks to herself. Hearing Arianna she hisses and shakes her head. "He's dispicable, a terrible representative of his country." she says, and then thinks to add "Or maybe not, depending on their intentions. Suggesting something that has been seemingly fruitless to their country to ours is a bold move that could have lead to us becoming weaker."
Ictus smiles as Kaldon is removed from the court and glances at the others with a slight chuckle, he hmms? and nods to Bite, "Agreed, though I had no doubt that the Good King would have tolerated such a threat."
"I was told that we'd be discussing the Soul-less in the criminal justice system and prisons. But I had no idea he was going to suggest /that/." Arianna says with a nod of her head. She huffs once or twice, great warm intakes of heaving air from the rather huge (in many ways) cow-girl before she offers, "Which one of you sent me that note? It absolutely saved me, my mind was racing to think of something and there it was."
Eleanor smiles as she moves close to Arianna, when she hears herself being addressed. "It was my idea, lady Arianna." Eleanor says with a light smile, bowing a bit her head, "I'm glad that such note helped you... and all of us.".
Bite smiles. "I had a similar idea but I wouldn't just come out and say it sssweetie, I was too busy holding my tongue against his suggestions and mannerisms." she says with a giggle, giving Eleanor a pat on the back to offer a congrats.
"Well thank you, so much." Arianna bows to Eleanor, making a curtsey and then grinning broadly at the rest, apparently in a good mood now that the court is over. She lets the previous anger wash over and pass through her, a solid sort of person is the Strongheart woman, not about to let something like this unbalance her, "Thank you /all/ for coming. We really need to make an effort, all of us, to be involved with stuff like this, so our voices can be heard."
Monique avoids the little group of Soulless and instead, tries to catch Mione's eyes, giving them a smile and a half-bow if they can.
Mione isn't hard to catch, once he's finished chatting it up with the king. He turns to depart, and encounters a Monique, "Good afternoon, madame," he greets, returning the gesture, "How can I help?"
"Thank you, for being there for the Soulless." Monique says with a smile, "You are a great asset to this country and an example to all."
Ictus looks at Bite with a nod, "Yes, though I was only here a short time... He did seem rather hostile."
"It's our interest to stick together and help each other." Eleanor says, "Especially since there are many that fear us, not understanding us."
Arianna nods her head in agreement with everyone, "And I thought that the sticking together was going to be mostly when we were out fighting monsters and putting some good back into the world." A brief pause, "It's a little disheartening to realize we might not get rest all the time back home either."
Mione holds up a gloved hand, "I serve the king first, madame. I only presented the truth. As the Creators said, once the truth is clear, Justice is inevitable. It is but one reason I hold my profession in such high regard," so says the scholar. "I only hope that there will be precious few soulless that we will need to practice these laws on, madame."
Bowing again, Monique replies, "Thank you, anyway. I am a simple smith, not accomplished with words, forgive me, but you do the whole country a service."
Bite tilts her head at Arianna. Rest is the furthest thing from her mind usually, her current line of thought was leading her to profit. "There's always a need for help, it leaves very little time for rest sssweetie. Just moderate how much you exert yourself and you can rest all you like." she hisses happily.
"Hmmm, yes," says Mione, who appears a bit distracted, "Tell me, madame, does it worry you that, perhaps, our guest was not just a rabble rouser, but, indeed, a representative of the thoughts of his nation? It is most worrisome to think that others are dismissing our reports of the Shadow. So, I put to you, that your work against them is at least as valuable as mine. We will be relying on your skill in the months ahead, I am certain. Good day, madame, Creators watch over."
"And over you, master scribe." Monique replies, smiling but thoughtful at the words.
"True enough ma'mam, true enough." Arianna nods to Bite, taking the advice with a brief bow of her head. She looks around for a moment and then says, "And with that said, I guess I'm back out there to get to work, clearing the fields of cackles and squirkiks and findind a place to stay."
Eleanor makes a bow to Arianna and Bite, smiling before disappearing as well, back to her home. Definitely, she seems in a better mood than before now.