Chris doesn’t answer to that. Still with fury in his face, Chris lets himself be dragged without resistance. As he is midway to the exit, suddenly the door springs open. Two guards come in and stay on the door, and one of them shouts an announcement.
‘To the patrons of the Holy Ground, please welcome the Grand Envoy of the Emperor of Arcadia, Marquis Talbot Reis du Bois.’
Talbot, a tall, bald, skinny man enters the Inquisition Hall. He looks quite gaunt and rickety in his fifties, but his face is still radiant with intelligence. His eyes sweep around like a vulture, hungry for information and knowledge to help him win arguments. His black eyebrows and moustache are thin and extra-long. His thin beard, however, extends from his lips down and splits on the tip of the chin, making an impression of a serpent’s tongue. With his high-wide collar robe, all in all he looks like a cobra-man. His voice sounds buzzing and snake-like when he speaks.
‘Pardon me about zee interruption, Your Graces. Let Vadis be merciful upon my late coming. I also ‘ope zis doezn’t offend you.’
Cristophe stare at him with an utmost loathing. He hopes the Cardinals send this Talbot away. Cardinal Nicodemus replies,
‘By Vadis, you are pardoned, Monsieur Talbot. But the court is adjourned now. The next hearing will come into session when we apprehend the main suspect, and we won’t fail to invite you beforehand.’
‘But Your Graces, I am here just to deliver a message of very urgent importance from our Emperor, Sage the Fourth, so urgent and not secret that a special meeting is not necessary. Now is zee perfect time, with all zee prominent officers of Valanis in place. Now I ask for your permission to deliver it.’
‘Well, as this is the matter among sovereigns, we can lend ears to it. Do proceed,’ says Nicodemus.
‘Zank you,’ says Talbot, clearing his throat and taking out a sealed letter written on a piece of goatskin. And then he reads it aloud. Written in the letter is as follows:
To the Cardinals, Judges, Leaders of Valanis
To Whom It May Concern:
We, the Emperor of Arcadia, hereby plead to you, Protectors of the Right Way, to give freedom to our royal family members, H. R. H. Cristophe Jean de Galantine Deveraux, and Carolyn Lldamarí du Favre Deveraux, along with their companion, Lavennia Iris of Thyrine and place them under our supervision instead of custody.
I, the Emperor of Arcadia offer my soul in your disposal if they are found guilty as charged. As a servant of Vadis, my blood worth less than the Pope, but more than the three accused altogether, so it’ll be fitting for me to take their place.
Please give me your answer through my envoy, and perhaps, your immediate action as accordingly. For that, I thank you.
With a good will for a greater good,
- Sage IV Marcus de Nouvre Deveraux, Emperor of Arcadia
The letter has the Emperor’s seal on it.
Chris is thunderstruck on hearing that. His mind is racing.
Father... He uses his own life as collateral for our innocence? How unlike him! He is always so hard on me and Alexis, but he favors brother and somehow pushes me away. Why the sudden change? If it’s a matter of Arcadia’s honor, he still doesn’t have to do that. There must be other reasons, and filial love is certainly not one of it.
Chris is right. There must be another reason, and Cardinal Dulvenia is emphasizing that in her comment.
‘What a very, very intriguing offer your Emperor has. Fascinating, too. An Emperor, owner of the vastest territory and numerous kingdoms in Vadisdom, is willing to guarantee a bunch of convicts with his own life? For what reason? For the fact that they’re champions of Vadis? Cristophe and Carolyn’s royal status? Or what? It’s not in the letter!’
‘That because if an Emperor dies, ‘ees successor will step up in ‘ees place. But if a strong ally of Light dies, it’ll weaken zee Light Side. Finding zee chosen ones for Aegis, Yggdrasil and Eshmyria will be much more difficult indeed,’ says Talbot coolly.
‘Tchah, there are so many undiscovered talents out there, yet you say it’s difficult to replace them.’
‘Difficult, I said, and nearly impossible. Who else in zis world can summon Aegis, Eshmyria and Yggdrasil? Barely one in a million! And a prince, zee future Grand Marshal of Arcadia, one of zee leaders of zee empire. ‘ees true potency is yet to be found, but as zee direct descendant of Sage the Fireheart, I’m sure one day ‘ee can make ‘ees family proud.’
Cardinal Ladimenus adds his argument.
‘Monsieur Talbot, no matter how potential they are, but if they convert to the dark side and committed the basest of crimes, to let them live will be very dangerous indeed.’
‘Zat’s why it’s necessary for my liege to guarantee them. Not only his life will be at your disposal, zee criminals will also be stripped from their powers and be banished forever from Aurelia. Just think about it and consider. It’ll be our great empire’s contribution to Vadisianity.’
The judges then ask for time to confer among them. After a while, they sit straight again and Cardinal Nicodemus passes the decision.
‘After considering the offer, we came to think that we can’t afford another attack from inside should the heir invade Valanis before we execute Robert and his accomplices. Therefore, for that reason and that reason alone we decided to accept the Emperor of Arcadia’s guarantee.
Prince Cristophe, Lady Carolyn and Lady Iris, we will place you under Brother Andreas and Brother Bernides’ supervision. You are under city arrest. You must stay in Myrcalia at all times. Death for any of you setting one foot outside the one mile perimeter outside Myrcalia city gates. And for the supervisors, banishment and excommunication from the Church of Vadis.
If we find Robert and his friends guilty as charged, Emperor Sage the Fourth will surrender his life in the Church of Vadis’ disposal, and eternal banishment from Aurelia for Cristophe, Carolyn and Iris, stripped off their titles and powers.
Decided as is. Court adjourned until further notice.
May Vadis’ justice rule supreme upon us.’
Carolyn and Iris sigh with relief. At least they got their freedom, though a limited one. The City of Myrcalia, Capital of Arcadia Empire is now their prison. In spite of all that, one thing for sure, they can’t hunt monsters anymore – as long as they’re still in probation.
Cristophe, however, doesn’t share his partners’ relief. He stares at Talbot du Bois with a very grim face.
That snake! He came without invitation and shoved his head into anything. I know father would never bail me out. Sacrificing his life for the champions? Pah! He’d rather do that for Alexis alone. And that put me in a more difficult situation. I’m free, all right, but I’m forever in their debt. Damn that Talbot! That’s why I hate that snake!
Talbot knows that Chris is staring at him. He stares back at Chris and puts on his most fiendish, snake-like smile yet.
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