XLV - Courthouse Nuptials

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"Diodorus, second son of Vishenyas, Fourth King of Yehparnath; a prince of the noble city-state and heir to lands and titles of your birth land, you stand accused of treason and religious coercion. You also are accused of the charge of conspiracy to commit heresy against the laws and irreligious doctrines of your home country. You are being charged as a co-conspirator in the destruction and slaughter of the city of Larkhenya. You also stand accused of the murder of forty courtiers, the act committed itself in the royal palace. How do you plead?"

Adras clears his throat and nods, steeling himself for his answer. His knuckles turn pale as he grips the ledge of the box we stand within. "Not guilty."

The judge, a rotund, red-faced old woman smirks, satisfied with Adras' obvious resistance. "We shall see about that," she mutters.

"That's a fucking bias against the defendant!" I call out, pointing at the judge. "She can't openly root against you!" 

"This isn't Law and Order, Eris," Hades whispers behind me. He, Ares, and Aphrodite sit in their own box — close enough for hushed chatter. 

"Ah yes, the mouthy one." The judge turns on me and glares, "Eris...we need a last name for the records."

"Don't have one." I cross my arms, "Though you may refer to me as 'the goddess', 'most exalted being', 'god and creator of Ceris', 'Yahweh', 'your worshipfulness'..." 

I stop and look up at the judge with what I assume is a most innocent and adorable face. "Should I go on?"

"What are you doing?" Adras looks at me with bug eyes.

"No." The judge grunts. "Eris. Just Eris. You stand accused of the same charges as read above. How do you plead?"

"Well, it's all a matter of perspective...isn't it?" I start.

"Just say 'guilty' or 'not guilty'. You will have opportunity enough to prattle when it's time for your statements." The judge interrupts.

"Yes, of course. But that could days from now. And you've already been outwardly...how do I say this?...prejudiced against Ad— the prince so I just want to make sure we're leaving enough room for my own preferences to be known. Lest the jury gets a sense that this trial is unfair."

 A few people gathered in the room giggle. A hum of discussion buzzes in the air as people turn and comment on the proceedings with their neighbors. 

"I can remove you from the courtroom and forbid you from offering any statement at all." The judge looks at me with a deadly arched brow.

"Fine. But you need to keep your opinions to yourself. The role of the judiciary is to —"

"Guilty or not guilty!" The judge screams, slamming her hand down on the marble table she sits behind. 

I blink. I wait. She swears and shakes her hand, feeling the delayed sensation of pain from the smack. 

I smile at her, let her know I'm toying with her. Leaning over the box Adras and I are kept in, I brace myself against its sharp, square edge. Quietly and with a coy crook of my eyebrow I say, "Guilty to some, not guilty to others."

"That's not—" The judge starts, positively fuming.

Cyrus interrupts from his throne behind the judge's table, "She'll keep going on like this if you let her. She's been an absolutely miserable person to keep as a prisoner.  She pleads not guilty. Can we please move on?"

I smile brightly and wink at Cyrus who shakes his head, hiding his amusement under the twitch of his beard. 

I could have gone either way and, personally speaking, I was angling for a guilty plea. But, intervening princes will have their way so, I nod and accept his choice. In the end, it won't matter — we are going to lose this case. Despite the line of devotees from the caravan lined up and winding down the halls of the palace waiting for their chance to testify on our behalf. 

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