The Judged, The Judges (5)
Appearing in the courtroom, Altonius turned pale. He grew uneasy as not one person who was with him in the audience hall came back.
(I will survive no matter what.)
Pale in the face, Altonius was determined to fight. Since losing meant death, it was only natural that his determination got renewed.
“Defendant Altonius, stand up.”
Altonius obediently abided by Ortho’s words. Altonius knew that resisting at this stage was not a good idea. After all, he reigned as the ruler of the Fildmerk Empire, so he was clear about the subtleties in this area.
“From this point onward, the trial of Altonius, the Fildmerk Empire’s Emperor for the Salbuveir massacre is in session.”
As Ortho made the declaration, everyone’s piercing gazes turned towards Altonius. Altonius showed no timidness in front of the hostile gazes of the Salbuveirs and looked straight at them.
“The Emperor of the Fildmerk Empire, Altonius II, not only did not stop the noblemen, knowing that the Salbuveir clan was completely innocent, but rather encouraged them in their atrocious massacre. His sin is clear and can never be overturned. Thus, we seek capital punishment in his case.”
The retainer that was the prosecutor read Altonius’ indictment. After the indictment was finished, Orto spoke to Altonius.
“Does the defendant accept the current indictment as truth?”
Altonius replied to Ortho with a composed expression on his face.
“I am very surprised by the claims that are so different from the facts. I have nothing to do with the Salbuveir massacre.”
Anger rose from the Salbuveir retainers in the audience, but Ortho controlled them with his gaze.
“It was decided in a court ruling that the Salbuveirs were trying to harm our Fildmerk Empire through other countries. I have only signed the outcome of that trial.”
Ortho laughed sarcastically at Altonius’ words. The emotions contained in his laughter could only be described as “hatred”. But, Ortho did not address his emotions.
“Even I, as the ruler, cannot bend the laws. If you want to accuse me of false charges, you should at least include evidence of my involvement.”
Altonius said with a generous expression.
(Heh, it’s a shame that you think you can survive by placing all the blame on your subjects.)
Ortho sneered inwardly. However, on the surface, he pretended to be unable to say anything. That made Altonius’ mouth even smoother.
“Salbuveir. I honestly sympathize with you. But didn’t you ladies and gentlemen also slaughter the innocent? There were many among the people you have killed that had nothing to do with the Salbuveir massacre. How are you guys going to atone for your sins?”
Altonius now started blaming the Salbuveirs. It’s a common practice to blame others to discourage their pursuit of oneself.
“So, answer me!! The people of Salbuveir!!”
Altonius’ words overflowed with confidence. The retainers of the Salbuveirs had angry expressions on their faces, but the patriarch of the household changed his expression to the one of composedness.
“Sure, you could say that what we did could be called a sin.”
Ortho affirmed Altonius’ declaration. Hearing that, Altonius’ face warped in a grin. Ortho continued speaking while watching Altonius with that expression on his face.
“Are you saying that it’s wrong for a sinner to judge another?”
“Correct. We have to make it clear how you will compensate for what you did before you charge me with any extra crimes.”
The grin on Altonius’ face became wider when he thought he won in the argument with Ortho.
(Hmph, you Salbuveir bastard. I will make you fold at once.)
When Altonius tried to speak up to confirm his victory, Ortho spoke up first.
“Are you done?”
However, Ortho’s words were not something Altonius anticipated as he made a befuddled reaction. Ortho’s expression was showing disappointment that could be interpreted as “That’s all you could do?”
“I asked you whether you said everything you wanted.”
“O, of course, I am not done.”
“I see, in that case, talk as much as you please. I guess… I can let you continue struggling pointlessly.”
Altonius’ voice shook.
“Oh, stop it. You have asked us to atone for our sins, but what in our actions was actually a sin?”
“What!? Didn’t you, the Salbuveirs, slaughter innocent citizens who were not involved in your massacre!?”
Altonius lost his composure and screamed. Unimpressed expressions appeared on the faces of the Salbuveir family.
“Oh. What’s the problem with us slaughtering the citizens of the Fildmerk Empire?”
“What part of the Imperial Law did we contravene by what we did?”
Altonius was dumbfounded by Ortho’s words. Seeing that, Ortho continued without regard.
“Do you want to say it’s the Article 43 of the Imperial Law and Article 17 of the Imperial Military Law?”
Ortho was completely ridiculing Altonius. Everyone in the place could feel that.
“Hey, Altonius. You seem to have forgotten, so let me remind you.”
“The Imperial Law and the Imperial Military Law were designed only for the living.”
Ortho’s words caused Altonius to utter a mumble in realization. Once he noticed that, the color in his face faded away.
“The first line of Article 1 of the Imperial Law reads: ‘The subjects acquire their rights and obligations at birth and cease to have them upon death.’ We are all dead. Therefore, we are not subject to neither the Imperial Law nor the Imperial Military Law. You said earlier that you could not bend the laws even as the ruler. From a legal standpoint, we are dead, so we are not subjects to any laws.”
“Besides. This place is held to condemn you for your sins, not a place to discuss other matters.”
After Ortho’s words were said, Altonius elation disappeared like a lie. Upon seeing that, the Salbuveirs pierced Altonius with ridiculing gazes.
“Geez Father, why didn’t you tell Altonius earlier?”
Emilia asked Ortho. Emilia found Altonius’s triumphant face offensive. They could have saved a lot of time by simply saying “That doesn’t concern us” and still causing Altonius to feel a substantial humiliation. Ortho smiled at Emilia and said with a laugh.
“I’m only playing. I wanted to knock him down just when he thought he got saved by defeating me in an argument.”
“Sheesh, you are so immature, Father.”
Emilia’s fed up voice brought up a heartwarming atmosphere among the Salbuveirs, but Altonius was naturally out of place with his expression of discomfort.
“Now then, let’s stop playing around. We now shall present the evidence of your involvement in the massacre. Oy, bring the witnesses.”
Several people entered the room in response to Ortho.