The Judged, The Judges (6)
Witnesses entered the room in response to Ortho. Their age and genders varied, and the total number of people amounted to six.
(Who? Who are these people…?)
Altonius racked his brains. It’s not like he remembers the names of everyone who worked in the palace, but he can at least remember them by face.
However, Altonius had no clue who these people were.
“Now then, witnesses, please introduce yourselves.”
When the prosecutor said such, the witnesses lined up in a row and proceeded to give their names from right to left.
“My name is Jester.”
“I’m called Wendy.”
“I am Anne.”
“My name is Krueger.”
The six introduced themselves. Things progressed smoothly so far. After the six gave their names, the prosecutor urged them to sit down.
“Are you certain that the defendant was involved in the Salbuveir massacre?”
When the prosecutor gently questioned the witnesses, the six nodded all at once.
“I have no doubts.”
“Altonius… he certainly directed the massacre of the Salbuveirs.”
“He ordered to make them suffer and kill as many as possible.”
“He gave the orders to kill.”
“They were ordered to make the Marquis Salbuveir’s family suffer especially a lot.”
“He instructed to kill the retainers and their families too.”
Altonius was confused by the statements of the witnesses. He certainly issued a command to make an example out of them, but he had no recollection of instructing his people to make the Salbuveirs suffer. He hinted at it, but he never said it out loud.
“Stop kidding with me!! I have no recollection of ever saying anything like that!!”
Although Altonius’s rage echoed around the court, the Salbuveir clan completely ignored his excitement.
“What a horrible thing. Altonius, why do you bear such enmity towards our Salbuveir clan?”
When the prosecutor questioned in a monotone, one of the witnesses answered.
“Indeed. He was always envious of Lord Ortho’s ability of territorial management. I have no doubts it was because of that.”
Jester’s tone was flat, almost as if he was remembering what he had written on a piece of paper before.
“Stop joking!! I have never said anything like that!!”
Altonius’s outrage was ignored by the Salbuveirs once again.
“In other words, Altonius took such foolish actions because the Salbuveir fief was more prosperous than the Capital.”
The prosecutor nodded in understanding.
“Defense attorney, do you have any objections?”
“There’s nothing I can say to deny such credible testimony as this.”
“Stop shitting with me!! Are you taking me for a fool!! Where exactly is this testimony credible!? Just where did these people hear such testimony from!?”
Even during this exchange that was basically a farce, Altonius’s outrage did not dissipate. Upon seeing that, laughter began to roar from the Salbuveirs in the courtroom.
Altonius was stunned by the sudden laughter.
“Altonius, this was just a farce, but you did not have to make us laugh this much.”
Ortho remarked while laughing. Altonius’s thought process had not caught up yet, so he stood still with a blank expression on his face.
“It’s pretty obvious, but these six are Salbuveir retainers.”
“Their testimonies might be completely made up, but we shall accept these fabricated testimonies as evidence.”
Ortho sneered with a grin. This was probably his expression when he released his pent-up resentment. Altonius was stunned and when he looked around, he could see the same kind of radiant expressions on other people’s faces.
He finally noticed that he was being played around with. And the same time, his heart got wrapped in despair.
“What a nice face you are making, Altonius.”
Ortho said in a good mood.
“We acted out this farce only to see you make this face. Your execution had already been decided upon a long time ago. It was fun seeing you try so hard to save yourself without noticing that.
Ortho’s words were digging into Altonius’s heart.
“We have been saying since the beginning that we don’t intend to let a single one of you scot-free, but you seem to have interpreted things your own way.”
When Ortho finished, Elsapia spoke up.
“Please be at ease. Your family will accompany you to death. After that, you will serve us for eternity as undead slaves, no as livestock.”
“Etra and Shukul were already turned, so you should become undead soon, too.”
Altonius, whose face turned pale, couldn’t say anything in response to the Salbuveir couple.
“Oh, of course, I will take care of Etra and Shukul, who did not try to escape their responsibility as members of the Imperial family, to some extent. But, don’t expect such consideration for the rest of you.”
When Kulm interjected, everyone nodded in agreement.
“Stop shitting me!! Salbuveirs!! What about justice!! Have you forgotten about fairness!?”
Ortho replied to Altonius with a sneer.
“We have experienced hell because of what you have done to us. And we have decided to take revenge against you for it. It’s simple as that.”
Ortho’s words silenced Altonius. No, he was not exactly silenced by words, but silenced by the hatred that made him tremble from the bottom of his heart.
“I will declare your judgment.”
Ortho announced coldly.
“Altonius, you will receive all of our anger.”
“After month-long torture, your hands and feet shall be smashed. You will be then dragged to the Salbuveir fief where you will be burned at stake.”
Altonius fell down powerlessly. He had no strength left to argue.
“Additionally, to prevent death… I declare that proper treatment is given after each session of torture.”
Each and every one of the Salbuveirs present happily nodded in agreement.
Ortho’s declaration ended the last trial.