[Closed] Trials and Tribulations

The capital city of Anaxas and the seat of the government.
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Charity Valentin
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Thu Jan 10, 2019 8:04 pm

3rd Achtus, 2718
VIENDA COURTHOUSE | MID MORNING
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I​​​​t was a chilled, snowy Achtus day that morning. The flakes fluttered from thick heavy clouds like feathers shed from downy wings up on high, softly settling lightly on the rooftop of the Courthouse of Vienda. Where they landed on the cold cobblestone streets, they melted slowly into a cold slush, leaving a damp on the city that seemed to deep into the very core of one’s bones. There were no birds singing this morning, most of them either sleeping still in the wintery morning or having migrated closer to the less freezing deserts of Mugroba. It was a moment of strange quiet, captured in time. The world felt hushed, as though holding its breath waiting for something.
​​
​​Perhaps not the world, but at least one person did.
​​
​​Charity stood before the imposing building, staring up at its winter dressed brickwork, her legs seemingly caught in a quagmire as though she could not make it up the steps of the courthouse. Her still darkened locks were pulled back away from her face in a soft chignon, hood pulled down on her thick winter cloak so the icy flakes melted on her pale cheeks and caught in her hair. The Captain’s daughter’s breath suddenly plumed before her in a thick cloud, as though she’d been punched in the stomach.
​​
​​Father will be in there.
​​
​​ “I can’t do this Rhys.” The delicate pianist all but whispered, her brow furrowed and violet eyes shining with unshed tears. Her mouth felt dry and her hands trembled slightly, unable to stop herself from holding the not-galdor’s own tightly as the panicked fear reverberated through her field. Swallowing hard, Charity tore her eyes from the building to look at the Seventen beside her, taking a sharp inhale and shaking her head slightly.
​​
​​ “Clocks, I’m so scared to go in there. I’m scared to see him. What is he going to say. Gods, is he allowed to speak to us? Oh Alioe, I can’t do this.” Her breathing was rapidly speeding up, heart hammering so heart her chest hurt. Pressing a hand to her chest, she turned her back on the stone stairs that all but marched her towards certain doom, gasping another deeper breath and closing her eyes.
​​
​​The weeks, the seasons, between the riot and today had been emotionally and mentally draining. She was tired, tired of the terror and the inescapable tangled web that surrounded her every step. Her legs felt weak and her field waivered again.
​​
​​ “Tell me it’s going to be okay.” Charity begged quietly, opening her eyes to look at the Valentin again, knowing full well it might be a lie. It would be a beautiful lie though, maybe the lie she needed to gather herself. Around them, other people were filing into the courthouse, jurors and spectators, people attending the cases that would come after their own. She’d been advised that trials were brief things, and given all the evidence and witness statements surely it would be over and done and Damen would stand to go to gaol.
​​
​​Surely justice and good ethical people would stand up for what was clearly wrong.
​​
​​If that was the case, why did she feel like she wanted to empty her stomach onto
​​the cold wet street?
​​
​​ “Okay. Okay, I can do this. We can do this.” Charity said without confidence, straightening and lifting her chin. She took a few deep breaths, looking back at the courthouse.
​​
​​ “We can do this.”
​​
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Rhys Valentin
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Location: Vienda
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: It's Inspector to you, thanks.
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Fri Jan 18, 2019 8:19 pm

3rd of Achtus, 2718
VIENDA COURTHOUSE | MIDDAY
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Special Enforcement Sergeant Rhys Valentin hid his trepidation well behind a pressed and polished uniform, his glamour sigiled like a wall to protect the turmoil that slithered like serpents in the darkest recesses of his mind. His breath was a cloud in the frigid air, hot like the fire raging in the cavity of his chest, but his fingers curled protectively around Charity's trembling ones without a hint of his own very real fear.

He had a role to play today and he'd play it as flawlessly as possible: brave, upstanding galdor.

"You can. We can. We will." He offered quietly with a gentle squeeze, meeting her nervous violet gaze with his pale blue hues that were determined, hard like ice, "No one can hurt you in there. He can't touch you in front of so many witnesses without damning himself in the process, but you can't let him intimidate you, either. There in that court room, you can fight back and everyone will hear you tell the truth."

Slipping his hands from hers to hold her face, warm palms against her cheeks without care or concern who saw his expression of affection for the delicate creature who needed him far more than anyone actually needed justice in this moment, his smile was fleeting. Whispering softly, his words were encouragement, meant to hide the unspoken doubt he shared with her, sincere and ardent, "Mrs. Charity Valentin, remember, the first cut has already been made, signed, and sealed in that same courthouse up those same stairs just a few days ago. No matter what vitriol that ersehat of a man tosses at us, no matter how thick his lies, no matter what the court decides, you do not belong to him any more. Nor will you ever again."

Rhys trailed his hands away, taking her arm instead to lead her across the street and up the stairs, a wary eye on the small crowd of the curious who had gathered to watch the trials for the day—Valentin vs D'Arthe obviously being the headliner that had brought the very eager press. It wasn't every day an officer of the Seventen took one of their own to trial, and the allegations were quite a topic of conversation already.

The tall Sergeant didn't make eye contact with anyone, determined to get them both inside and under the watchful gaze of Captain Arthur Haines, the Investigative Division's captain begrudgingly supportive of Rhys' decision to take the Co-Captain of the Patrol Division to trial and attempt to have him stripped of command and shamed in front of the Kingdom for abuse and dishonorable conduct. Rumors of the judge allowing a passive witness had set fire to the papers for days, though the early winter snow had somewhat slowed down the enthusiasm:

"Sergeant Valentin, if you would—"

"—no, I'm sorry."

"Miss D'Arthe, do you have a comment on—"

"No thank you."

"Could you just—"

"You'll just have to wait."

There would be no escaping the attention no matter which way the trial went, either, the blond Seventen making sure he kept close to Charity to avoid any trouble, ignoring the glares of the uniformed Patrol Division officers and other Seventen who'd come out as a show of support not for himself but for Captain D'Arthe. His very small encouragement section were mostly on duty, but Constable Hours joined the pair in the hall once they made it through the intricately carved and gilded double doors into the courthouse,

"Pots sends his well-wishes." The older woman smiled wanly, her hazel eyes sweeping over Charity before tilting her chin in the direction of the crowd that was attempting to follow them. She lowered her voice, moving to intercept the hungry reporters who were obviously salivating for any tidbit of rumor, "Captain Haines is already inside. I'll field some questions while you two take your places. You'd best keep a game face on—everyone is out for blood—yours, Val."

Rhys scowled, but he was very aware of the extreme he was going to and the uproar he'd caused. He could only hope that Commander Morde himself eventually caught a glimpse of the truth, but the young Valentin was quite afraid that the High Judge's obnoxiously loud voice would drown out all reason, convinced there was some conspiracy he'd yet to see clearly enough going on. Gods, now wasn't the time to get too carried away.

He just wanted to make a statement. He just wanted folks to see some hint of the truth instead of always being fed some perfect image of his own organization. No one was perfect, but Captain D'Arthe was a clocking monster. Something had to be done, even if the Sergeant had the creeping suspicion real justice wouldn't happen here in this glorious Courthouse today.

"We must conduct ourselves better than your father and whatever croonies will be in there representing him. I don't expect any favors from the judge, either, but it doesn't matter. We're not wrong here."

The winter sun was glorious at midday through the stained glass windows of the courthouse, scenes of amazing justice meted out in centuries past casting their colors on the polished marble floors. There were many smaller offices in the halls of the court for much more minor cases, for meetings, and for lawyers to conduct their business. Rhys had been in the courthouse plenty of times, for being in the Investigative Division meant he dealt with far more capital cases than any other branch of the Seventen. He'd tried Resistance suspects, murderers, and even a few galdori businessmen accused of embezzling funds from their own factories.

He should have felt comfortable here surrounded by truth and legal process, his glamour bastly and his snaps polished with confidence in the evidence they had against the beast of a Co-Captain, but instead the young Valentin was wary. Doubt gnawed at the back of his thoughts, worry writhed inside the cavity of his chest, and the familiar nauseating sensation of vertigo threatened to make his steps unsteady. Still, he could put on a professional show of bravado for not only his sake but Charity's, so he did, prepared to stride into the courtroom and weather the storm.

"It will be okay. Somehow. I promise."
word count: 1121
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Charity Valentin
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Fri Jan 25, 2019 6:15 pm

3rd Achtus, 2718
VIENDA COURTHOUSE | MID MORNING
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C​​​​harity smiled at the sound of her newly forged name. Mrs Charity Valentin. It was strange to hear it still, so fresh in its combination, but curiously it also felt right. As though it was her name all along, just waiting to be discovered. Damen would not be happy, but they had done it for so many reasons, and his happiness was definiely not one of them. The legality of which man owned her, by the aged customs of Anaxi marriage, which man held her land and properties should she have them now fell to Rhys. In another time, another world, perhaps it would be an offence to think of it like that. But here, now, it was a win for them. A way to ensure the court couldn’t use that in favour of the D’Arthe captain.

The current brunette galdor didn’t focus on that though. Her heart swelled with the name, because after more than a decade, Charity had finally married Rhys. It had been a dream since they were children, a lost fantasy as teenagers, and a bittersweet desire as an adult. Now it was reality, and the petite pianist let it herald the start of a new life.

Nodding, she laced her arm in his, keeping her head down and violet eyes on the path before them as they passed by the vultures and lollygaggers. It was foolishness to think that privacy would be granted on such a bleak day, but it was Vienda, and it wasn’t every day a Seventen took his Captain to court. Even more so, the story was far more exciting than reporting on the latest shoes fashion, a flame for the proverbial moths. She huddled closer to the man she now called husband, trying to ignore the catcalls and questions, feeling the eyes almost boring into them both from the officers who had come to support her pathetic excuse for a father.

Once inside, Charity lifted her gaze to the Constable, offering a quick smile of thanks and a nod of understanding. Her eyes swept to Rhys at Hours last comment, before glancing up at the stained glass windows with a deep breath and a long slow exhale.

“It will be yes. Somehow.” She agreed quietly, before turning her eyes to the doors of the court itself as they swung open. A tall pale gentleman nodded to them both, his lips a hard line and green eyes full of self importance.

“This way, to the defendant’s seats, Mister and Mrs Valentin.”[/color] He said sharply, waiting by the door with a gesture to their places. Inside the court consisted of a long room, with seating on either side and a balcony above the right hand side for the jury. On the left, Rhys and Charity would be guided to sit, and on the right glaring at them with seething hatred was Damen and his support. The older Bastian’s crisp blue eyes followed the duo as they crossed the room to their seats, focused on Rhys with a tangible hatred in his field. The pianist removed her cloak, folding it in her lap and sitting with a nervous swallow. Damen’s gaze swung to her, looking over the dark of her hair with a disapproving shake of his head. The man beside him, a younger officer with ginger hair leaned over to whisper in the Captains ear, causing them both to chuckle at some private commentary.

“He’s not scared at all, is he.” She stated quietly, looking away from the black dressed man to her hands in her lap, settling her field as best she could. It was clear her father expected this would be his playground. His win. As people began to file in, the seats on the right were filled far more than the ones on the left. Haines would be there, and Hours when she could get in. Any other of Rhys’ defense would also be there. In the center of the room was a long frame, and at both ends contained a chair, ready for witness questioning by the prosecution or defendant. At the front of the room was a large throne-like seat, with four flanking two a side. On the left sat Commander Morde and Captain Haines, on the right Captain Redden and Deputy Chief Lars. As the jury took their final seats in the balcony above, and gawkers peered in through the open door, the attendant pushed them back and shut the doors tightly. A movement caught the young womans eye, and she watched as High Judge Azmus slipped his way in to sit just behind Damen.

“Quiet! Quiet in the court!” The green eyed attendant shrieked, looking around the room with his field bristling, daring anyone to challenge his words. The murmuring of people talking settled into an almost eerie silence, before he cleared his throat.

“Rise for the Honorable Low Judge Ogden.” He announced, sweeping his arm towards the seating at the front. From a side door, the hunched man entered, dressed in official Anaxi government robes and a thin weasely mustache. He made his way to the large chair between the four official court witnesses and sat with a frown, seedy eyes looking around the room as he settled himself in the chair.

“Be seated.” He said gruffly, drawing a pair of spectacles from his pocket and taking a piece of paper from the attendant. Looking over the paperwork, Ogden didn’t bother to lift his gaze as he nodded to the man. Turning on his heel, the attendant called out again in a grating voice.

“The court is in session, for the matter of Valentin vs D’Arthe.” He yelped, taking a breath to read the charges.

“Rhys Valentin calls into question, the good name of Damen D’Arthe, father of Charity Valentin nee D’Arthe and Co-Captain of the Patrol Division of Vienda.” Charity’s eyes couldn’t help but flick to Damen, as her new name was announced. There was a moment of barely veiled shock, before the Bastian lifted his blue gaze to her own, darkening with rage. The vein in his temple throbbed, Gods she could see it from here, and from behind Azmus leaned forward to place a hand on the Captain’s shoulder, muttering something in his ear. Damen scowled, nodding slightly before tearing his eyes from his daughter, dampening his field as it ebbed with fury.

“Per charges raised, on the 32nd of Yaris, Mrs Valentin presented at Mister Valentin’s with injuries consistent with a physical assault on her person. Her written testimony states that Mister D’Arthe did attack her, with intent to murder. Noting, Mrs Valentin also advises that she has suffered attacks by the hand of Mister D’Arthe more than once prior to this occasion. The prosecution seeks to have Mister D’Arthe placed into arrest and stripped of his Seventen snaps, for the abuse of position and physical harm on another galdor. The defense seeks to appeal these charges under the claim that these testimonies are not factual, and are a woven story by the defendant in a ploy to sour Mister D’Arthe’s good name with intent of personal gain.” Pausing for what could only be considered dramatic effect, the man looked around the room before he continued.

“The court calls to the stand Baelish Stantson, council for the prosecution. Mister Stantson?” He gestured to a short man with dark auburn hair and golden eyes, who stood from his place on the left with a cut nod. Approaching the stand to face the Judge, Mister Stantson placed his paperwork on the frame and clasped his hands behind his back.

“Prosecution calls to the stand, Miss Odette Grey.” A small young woman, with mousy brown hair and scared wide eyes was brought from the side door and seated in the chair before the judge, facing the council. A wave of murmuring rose from the room, and either side of her two magisters hovered, fields bolstered threatening. The word was clear as a bell over the din.

Passive.

“Silence in the court!” Low Judge Ogden barked, before giving Baelish a look.

“Is this a joke, Mister Stantson?” He asked quietly, causing the short man to shake his head quickly, rocking on his heels.

“Not at all Honourable Judge. Miss Odette is an eye witness, per the statements from Mrs Valentin.” Turning his golden gaze on the passive, Baelish nodded to her.

“Miss Grey, would you please tell the court what you witnessed whilst in the home of Mister D’Arthe?” Odette twisted her hands together nervously in her lap, looking first at Charity then at Rhys, before glancing at Damen for a second. Her fear was tangible, and she quickly turned away from him, swallowing hard.

“I saw Master D’Arthe…he used his fist against Miss D’A—Mrs Valentin. He brought her to the ground, sat down on her, and began to hit her a lot. I was scared, I thought he might…he was so angry I thought he might kill her. I stepped forward and he pushed me, and I fell. Mrs Valentin escaped, and I was disciplined.” The members of the court muttered their opinions as Baelish raised his finger and spoke louder.

“But this isn’t the first time, is it Odette? You’ve seen this before yes?” The young passive nodded slowly, knowing that each word was her own death sentence should her protection be removed.

“I was assisting Mrs Valentin in the bath. Master D’Arthe insisted on entering, even though my lady was unclothed, and when allowed in he grabbed her around the throat and held her before tossing her across the room.” Charity blushed, her violet eyes brimming with tears as the passives words brought all the memories painfully to the surface, years of abuse untold here and now but flashing in her minds eye. She squeezed Rhys hand, field flexing with anger and grief. How had it gone on so long? How had she let it?

“No further questions for the witness Honourable Judge.” Baelish said, picking up his papers to take a seat. From the right, a man, further on in years than Damen himself with greying auburn hair and sharp blue eyes stood to take the stand. He held no paperwork, instead tucking one hand in a pocket and looking around at the court with a scoff.

“Defense council Thomas Lauderson. Ladies and gentlemen, are we to believe the testimony of a passive in this most prestigious Anaxi court of law? Are we to trust the word of a woman that the mona itself refuses to acknowledge? The word of a woman who has all good reason to slander the name of this good man?” His hand swept to Damen with a laugh, looking up at the jury and over at the Judge.

“What passive wouldn’t jump at the chance to take down a galdor, let’s be honest here. They are dangerous, a timebomb in waiting. I personally find offence that we’ve allowed her to be here at all, is the safety of the people no longer a concern here?” Ogden raised his brow in warning, before Thomas offered an apologetic smile.

“Honourable Judge, good people of the jury, I implore you to see through this charade. Passives will do whatever it takes to escape the harsh truths of their lives, bitter and jealous of our superiority. What good reason would she have not to collaborate on Mrs Valentin’s story? I imagine there’s a nice place for her in the lady’s own home, I mean, by all I’ve heard the two women were close. Her story is most likely a fabrication to support the entire lie that Mister Valentin has built to destroy this poor man’s reputation.” Pausing, Thomas looked at Odette and waved his hand.

“No questions for the witness, your Honour.” He said with an air of distain, making it clear that he placed no value on her story. Lifting his eyes to the left, the greying man smiled with all the welcoming grace of a banderwolf.

“Defense calls Mrs Charity Valentin to the stand.” The pale pianist took another deep breath, looking at Rhys for a moment before moving to place her cloak on the seat and approach the stand. Her eyes stayed on the floor, before lifting to look at Thomas, and around the room. Swallowing her nerves and fear, Charity curled her hands into her lap. The blue eyed council gave her a small bow.

“Mrs Valentin, I congratulate you on your very recent marriage.” The court hummed with quiet murmurs, before Thomas continued.

“Tell me, have you known Mister Valentin long?” Charity nodded, wetting her lips and speaking up.

“Yes. We were contemporaries in Brunnhold together.” The man nodded, shifting to put both hands in his pockets and looking around the room again.

“Ah yes, and I understand during this time, you and Mister Valentin were friends. Even though the records show that he was rather…rebellious as a child. Your father, knowing that Mister Valentin was not a good person, forbade you to see him is that not right?” The blonde frowned, looking at Rhys for a moment.

“Y—yes but..”

“And is it true that regardless of this, Mister Valentin continued to pursue you? I understand he purported stealing you away to the Stacks, and continued to groom you for more than friendship.”

“What? No that’s—”

“And then all of a sudden, when you are brutally attacked in Roalis by unknown hooligans post a theater production, Mister Valentin found you. How very coincidental that it just so happened to be him, instead of one of the other on duty patrols.” The murmurs continued, and the greying man found his stride.

“Further from this evening, you Mrs Valentin were lured into a sense of security that Mister Valentin was some sort of hero for you. Clearly, you conducted some sort of relationship, given the fact you are both now married. Now, you appeared, according to Mister Valentin, on his doorstep just days after the end of the riots of Yaris. You were beaten, and bloodied. We have it on good authority that whilst the riots were over, there was still infighting in the streets. Is it not possible, Mrs Valentin, that you were never in fact assaulted by your father and actually attacked by one of these ruffians? Prior to these claims, there are no recorded charges from yourself about your fathers so called abusive history, not even this perpetrated bath incident the passive girl claims to have seen. If Mister D’Arthe had indeed been physically abusive, there would be statements and records. All we have is a flimsy story and a clear motive by Mister Valentin to brainwash you into marriage for his own personal gain. Mister D’Arthe has a substantial amount of money, and you yourself have a rather lucrative component of this family wealth. It is known that Mister Valentin was the child of a farm owner. An Elmonton boy with little to his name. Let the court hear that this union between Mister Valentin and Miss D’Arthe as she was previously known would have been most benificial for Mister Valentin.” The muttering had now become all out conversation, the attendant calling for quiet as Thomas shot Baelish a confident smile and nodded to Rhys. From the seating, Damen smiled like a shark, his blue eyes hard. Charity shook her head, panic in her field and violet gaze turning to Rhys.

“Quiet! I will have quiet in my courtroom!” Ogden boomed, his voice magically supported by a quick spell so it carried to all ears. The talking hushed, and he adjusted his glasses.

“Thankyou, Mister Lauderson.” He said sternly, before looking at Baelish over his spectacles, inviting the man to question Charity himself. The short galdor stood, straightening his jacket and approaching the stand. He looked at the young not-blonde with a small smile.

“Mrs Valentin. Why is it, you have never reported this acts by your father?” The council asked gently, clasping his hands on the wood before him, encouraging her with another nod. The petite creature stifled the tears that had come, dabbing at her cheeks with a kerchief.

“I was afraid Mister Stantson. Afraid for my life. My father is a Captain of the Seventen, and his word is far more powerful than mine. I was frightened that if I reported him, he would find out and he would…he would kill me.” It sounded so lame and feeble in her ears, but there was nothing else to it. Baelish nodded, looking at the Judge.

“No further questions, Honourable Judge.” Charity slipped from the seat, coming back to Rhys side with a quiet sob.

“I’m sorry.” She whispered, feeling any chance of success slipping through their fingers like water. Her field felt heavy, laced with defeat and fear, as they awaited the next part of the trial.
​​
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Rhys Valentin
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Joined: Sun Jul 08, 2018 5:06 pm
Topics: 8
Location: Vienda
Race: Wick
: It's Inspector to you, thanks.
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Mon Feb 04, 2019 2:16 pm

3rd of Achtus, 2718
VIENDA COURTHOUSE | MIDDAY
"I'm quite sure he feels as though he's untouchable, given his rank and standing." Rhys breathed his reply as he sat down in his seat, restless hands smoothing over the dark flap of his uniform coat, fingers fiddling with snaps. He hadn't bothered to even give Captain Damen D'Arthe the glory of a glance in the older man's direction, moreso for his own sake than for the entertainment of Charity's father.

He was too aware of his own feelings in this moment, of the kind of frustrated anger that smoldered in the cavity of his narrow chest.

He had no right to be a Seventen, half-bred bastard that he was, but he'd lived in ignorance and done his best to uphold the laws of the Kingdom of his birth with a kindness and a stewardship meant for all people, regardless of their race. Charity's father hadn't even honored his own children, disgracing his uniform with his abuse, and the young Valentin was quite convinced that such disrespectful home life only meant that his Captain career was full of corruption.

In Rhys' optimistic naïveté, however, he trusted the system of government he'd worked so hard to uphold, forgetful of all the chinks in the armor he'd spent seven years of a career in law enforcement to hold together with his bare clocking hands.

Idealism was about to bite him in the erse and he didn't even see it coming.

Only when the Low Judge Ogden read Charity's new last name with such unemotional flair and utter lack of the celebration it deserved did the tall blond allow himself a sidelong glance in Damen's direction, his sharp features completely deadpan despite the thrill he felt at hearing his wife—his godsbedamned galdor wife—announced in front of the man he sought to dishonor before their peers. The Captain's scowl was all the satisfaction he would get, however, returning his attention to Azmus' lackey in his justice robes in order to listen to everything unfold, glamour ramscott with confidence, brimming with trust that their case made some decent points that surely anyone on jury could see for themselves despite the obvious bias of those residing over the final outcome.

It was all he could do not to wince when Odette was called to the stand, the nervous passive such a scandal all on her own. He'd fought very hard for the admission of her testimony, aware that she was practically a non-person, but also aware that she was a key witness to the horrors of the D'Arthe household. Rhys' jaw clenched as he met the young woman's gaze in a silent urge for her to be honest, to say what needed to be said regardless of the social cost. Galdorkind may not have recognized her existence, but the whole Circle knew that the Special Enforcement Sergeant wasn't a galdor at all.

She did well and Mister Stantson asked the right questions, as they'd discussed.

Oh, but ignorance was close on the heels of such honesty, gnashing its teeth like murmurs of surprise among those here to observe. The young Valentin hissed in displeasure at the immediate discrediting of Odette's existence,

"But she's still a person—" He growled, palms coming to rest on the top of the table at which he sat with the rest of the prosecution. He curled his fingers against the wood, "—she has eyes—"

Resisting the urge to stand and interrupt the rubbing of the passive in the dirt in hopes of totally dismissing her testimony, Rhys spoke up too loudly, "—the D'Arthe household is her livelihood. Her food and shelter. Her guarantee of existence. What reason would she have to discredit her only means of survival if it wasn't the truth? Why would anyone considered a non-person be willing to stand up for something if they knew this—this ignorant clocking reaction—would be the risk?"

"Silence, Sergeant Valentin." Barked Judge Ogden, narrowing his eyes at the tall not-galdor, warning him, "Speak out of turn and I'll gladly have you escorted out of my courtroom for being in contempt."

"Yes, your Honor." The blond could only clear his throat in further response, nodding his head and attempting to not blurt out more of his personal objections to how things were already unraveling as Charity was called forward to defend herself and their position. Words seared their way up his throat and against the tip of his tongue, pressed as it was against the back of his teeth. He had so much more to say and worried all of it was useless now, left as he was to offer his delicate pianist the flash of an encouraging nod, unwilling to say anything else but making sure his fingers brushed her own while he reached to straighten her discarded cloak before she headed for the stand.

That was the only possible pleasant moment.

He'd never heard his own life laid out in such a negative light except in his own mind's eye. To come from the lips of a stranger, of a man who'd never sat next to himself in class, who'd never trained with him in Numbrey, and who'd never wrestled criminals to the ground while bleeding was more than just simply insulting.

It was disgusting.

Rhys' hands curled into fists and his sharp blue gaze narrowed, digging like a knife into the back of Mister Lauderson's head with a vehemence he didn't even know how to deal with.

This was not at all who he was. He may not have been a galdor. He may not have always been a good person or made the best choices. He may have had self-destructive tendencies.

But.

No. Just no.

"I would never—"

It was literally all Rhys Valentin could do not to climb over the table and strangle Thomas of the defense the moment he began to twist and change their personal history, and, more importantly, the wick's character,

"This is slander!" He hissed, looking helplessly at Baelish, who'd sat down next to him and was now looking rather nervous. The lawyer shook his head as if to remind the other man to be quiet, and Rhys simmered, face twisting into a frustrated sneer, turning his wrath on Thomas with the expression but barely managing to wrestle control over his tongue.

"Oh, for godssake—"

Ridiculous lies!

"Rhys." Hissed Mister Stanston.

He wanted nothing. He cared little for his father's estate, let alone for any worth that Charity was heiress to. Money mattered little to the Seventen who made plenty and spent hardly any of it. Money had never mattered. Neither had his social standing, for that matter. He just wanted to do his fucking job and protect the people, especially the woman he'd made his wife.

Clock the Circle, he knew that Damen would do his best to undermine everything, but he had vastly underestimated the monster's ability to do so. He refused to look at the Captain, instead attempting to meet Charity's questioning look with something that at all resembled what was left of his confidence in what was going to come of this trial. Once she was dismissed and back at his side, he sighed,

"You have nothing to be sorry about." The young Valentin whispered furtively, reaching for her hand, "None of that is true. I have plenty who can speak to my character, like Captain Haines, who know what kind of person I really am, even if they haven't known me from childhood. We can all only tell the truth, even while everyone else lies."

He was frowning, however, his own glamour taut and practically scalding with the impotent anger that burned within the cavity of his chest. His pulse thundered loudly in his mind, the very sound threatening him with the kind of vertigo he hadn't experienced since recovering from the Riots of Yaris. The tall blond sighed, tilting his head in his own Captain of the Investigative Division's direction as if asking wordless questions, blue eyes searching the face of the man he trusted, the man he'd always felt cared for him like the father he'd never had.

Arthur didn't look any more encouraged than he did, but the other man's deeper blue eyes held his Sergeant's for a moment, the gaze exchanged one of determination. At least one person in all of Vita had his clocking back in this godsbedamned courtroom, but that didn't mean the other Captain's word would mean anything when the Low Judge Ogden was clearly already biased and the rest of the jury was already biased.

The rest of the trial was surely doomed to go up in flames like a runaway airship and there was absolutely nothing Rhys could do about it other than hold his ground.
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Charity Valentin
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Fri Feb 08, 2019 6:13 pm

3rd Achtus, 2718
VIENDA COURTHOUSE | MID MORNING
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Charity nodded, stifling the tearful sounds that wanted to escape as she dried her eyes and took a few deep breaths. It was a disaster, she could hear the murmurs, people judging Rhys’ motives and in turn her credibility on the accusations against Damen. Thomas’ ability to spin the truth into an almost lie was a skill that Baelish didn’t have, and the nervous man bounced his knee as he considered his next move.

“Mister Stantson? Mister Stantson! Do you have anything further to raise?” The attendant snapped at the man, dragging him out of his own thoughts. Baelish stood at the stand, clearing his throat.

“We have…uh…we have character statements from Mister Valentin’s employe—” Judge Ogden waved his hand with a frown.

“I have all the character statements in writing Mister Stantson, that will not be required. We run a courtroom here, time does not allow for this. I will call a short recess, whilst the jury deliberates on the evidence and charges presented. Back by quarter past.” The attendant took a pocket watch from his jacket, taking note of the time, as the Judge stood and moved to leave by the side door. Captain Haines walked across the room, taking the chair beside Rhys with a sigh, leaning forward to look at the young married couple.

“I’m sorry. I didn’t expect we would be denied time at the stand.” The brunette looked at the man with a gentle smile, taking Rhys’ hand and holding it tightly as though she could draw strength from him just by touch.

“You’ve already done so much, Captain. Please don’t say sorry. I don’t…I didn’t…” Her eyes drifted to Damen, shaking her head slowly as she watched the man casually converse with the High Judge, laughing with his defense. He didn’t act like a man worried about the outcomes of this trial, he acted like a man who knew he would be fine. Swallowing with a frown, her violet gaze moved back to the Captain.

“I honestly didn’t expect anything better than this. I know you know him Sir, you know what he is capable of. I just hold some hope that the people of Vienda can see through the spin that Mister Lauderson has spewed forth. Absolute garbage. The man is a hatcher.” She snapped the word angrily, her field brimming with the rage that had been simmering for seasons. For years in fact. It echoed her fathers, snippets of his own fiery anger embedded in her, inescapable by biology and environment. It disgusted her, and she pushed it away with a shudder.

“I just want this to be over.” She sighed, looking over Rhys’ face and smiling a little.

“At least the jury heard Odette. Regardless of Mister Lauderson’s disregard of her, the people of Vienda can’t unhear her testimony.” It was a weak clutch at hope, a desperate faith in strangers who had no moa in the race. Time passed, the minutes feeling like hours, before the attendant finally returned and called for the court to find their seats and quiet as the Low Judge returned to his seat.

“Does the Jury have a verdict?” He called to the group collected in the stand. The nominated foreman of the party stood, clearing his throat and reading off a piece of paper.

“In light of the evidence provided, both by Mister and Mrs Valentin’s statements and charges, as well as the witness testimony, we the Jury find Mister Damen D’Arthe guilty of assault and unlawful activities against Mrs Valentin.” The courtroom murmured, Damen frowning and adjusting in his seat with an uncharacteristic uncomfortableness. Charity couldn't help but look at Rhys with a smile, her heart racing with surprised delight. They had won!

“Quiet! Quiet in the court!” The self-important attendant wailed, bringing the attention back to the Judge as he nodded.

“The court hereby finds Mister Damen D’Arthe guilty. He is ordered to pay a fine of four concords to Mrs Valentin for compensation, and will be held to a legal order that he must not approach Mrs Valentin or her place of residence for any matter what so ever. Mrs Valentin will have her possessions removed from Mister D’Arthe’s at his expense, to a place of her choosing. However,” He paused, a silence on the room as the first part of the sentence settled in. Charity trembled in her seat, field drawing closer protectively, hand tightly grasping Rhys’.

A fine? And a restraining order. That couldn’t be it. Surely!?

“In light of your years of impeccable service to the Kingdom, which far outway your poor self-control, you will continue your role in the Seventen.” The galdor felt as thought the breath had been knocked out of her chest, releasing it in a huff and staring at the Judge with shock. They were letting him go, not only that they were letting him continue to operate in a position of the law?! Tears burned her eyes and her chest ached.

“Furthermore due to the disruption of daily civil operations, and unbiased personal prosecution of a superior officer, Mister Rhys Valentin will be suspended till the new year commences, without pay. Surrender your snaps to your Captain, Mister Valentin, before you leave this courtroom. Case closed.” Judge Ogden said loudly as the courtroom erupted in mixed conversation, immediately for and against the verdict. People began to stand as Ogden left his seat, moving to the side door to wait for the next hearing.

“No!” Charity cried out, unheard over the din. She looked at Baelish with shock, the defense lawyer shaking his head and throwing his hands up helplessly.

“I’ll collect the fine, and make arrangements for your possessions Mrs Valentin.” He said lamely, smoothing his jacket and approaching the attendant to leave the young couple on their own. Lifting her eyes across the room, Charity blinked through the tears to see her father smiling and shaking hands with Azmus and Thomas, laughing and shrugging. He looked at her, directly at her, and chuckled before looking at Rhys with a mocking sort of small bow.

“This isn’t right! This isn’t fair! How…why….Rhys this is wrong. This is wrong!” The brunette choked on her words, voice hitching with emotion, eyes red with tears. She turned her back on her father and his troupe as Captain Haines approached with a frown.

They hadn’t won at all.

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Rhys Valentin
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Location: Vienda
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: It's Inspector to you, thanks.
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Wed Feb 20, 2019 4:03 pm

3rd of Achtus, 2718
VIENDA COURTHOUSE | MIDDAY
Rhys looked in helplessness at his Captain as Arthur sat next to him, feeling Charity entwine her hand with his. The tall blond's face was set as if out of stone, blue eyes refusing to drift over the older galdor's shoulder to glare at Damen; instead, they held the Investigative Division's Captain's darker blue hues with a furious determination. It was all the Sergeant could do to keep his mouth shut, jaw clenched, field a bastion barely containing his mixed emotions.

He heard the hardly hushed laughter from over the broader shoulder of Arthur, gaze drifting over the snaps of his captain, downward to stare at his hands and the pianist's in his lap, saying nothing.

"I know him—"

"Then you should be the one leveling these charges, Haines. I'm—" The young Valentin hissed in a whisper, attention snapping back to the older man's face with accusation, "—I don't understand why I'm doing this alone."

"—my daughter. I can't just go traipsing through the ranks of the Seventen, cleaning everything. It would ruin me. It would ruin us. She's all I have."

And the young Valentin had nothing? Was nothing?

Did he ever matter?

Rhys bit his lip at the caution, reading between his superior officer's lines. He trusted Arthur more than anyone else in the entire organization—if there was anyone who shared his uniform, Captain Haines understood him. While he could have taken it all personally, while he could have heard the other man saying he wanted the Sergeant to become a scapegoat so that he wouldn't have to be, he understood the admission that Damen was just the tip of the iceburg. What the blond had poked at was not simply one beetle, but a whole hive of bees.

And Arthur was helpless without more evidence and support.

This meant, of course, that this trial would be useless.

"I just want this to mean something." Rhys' face twisted into a frustrated sneer, heart sinking into the writhing darkness in the cavity of his narrow chest.

Everyone eventually fell quiet. The testimony of a lone passive against the weight of the Co-Captain's so-called accomplishments was nothing. The tall blond had done his job, investigating his own, but it had honestly been too personal. He'd overstepped his oaths, he'd let his emotions blind him, and yet he'd sought to desperately protect what he loved. The accusations of purposeful grooming, the twisting of the truth of his relationship with Charity, cut deeply. His reputation among his peers, a decent handful of which were here sitting in this courtroom, would be more than just simply tarnished.

The Low Judge returned to his seat and Rhys let his attention shift to the jury, determined not to give Damen the satisfaction of a glance. The first indictment brought a sigh to his lips, held breath escaping through his teeth even as his lungs burned in protest. While his fingers tightened around the delicate pianist's hand for an encouraging squeeze, he kept his eyes on the jury, smirking as the entire court murmured their opinions.

Four fucking concords.

Is that all Charity was worth to the Courts of Anaxas?

Rhys tried not to scoff at the thought, allowing for just a moment the warmth of hope to tingle up his spine as the attended continued his sentence. She was a Valentin at last—all his, forever.

The thrill was short-lived.

Snuffed out like a candle, his next breath stolen by the next series of phrases. Captain D'Arthe's Seventen position wasn't even touched. He was immovable despite the pronouncement that he had, indeed, revealed himself a wretched sort of creature. Did the Kingdom of Anaxas truly believe such ruthless cruelties were the best representations of justice?

What the clocking hell—

The not-galdor shifted uncomfortably in his seat, Damen's freedom and continued service in the same uniform meant that they—

Suspended.

The Special Enforcement Sergeant blinked, releasing Charity's hand to curl fingers into the green-dyed fabric of his well-pressed uniform trousers, crisp and bright. The colors most likely perfected in his own father's dye vats. The inescapable consequences of his hunger for truth sank sharp teeth into his heart, unmoving for a long moment as Judge Ogden's words rattled between his ears with a discordant rhythm that rang out above the roar of his pulse.

"Captain Haines, I didn't—" He stared at Arthur, heart a burning coal against the back of his throat, betrayal searing through every vein.

Choking on the rest of a series of syllables that never made it out of his mouth, Rhys stood. Ignoring the din of conversation, ignoring the laughter at his expense, ignoring the fire that smoldered within, shaking hands reached up and began to mechanically remove the four snaps he'd risked his life over the past eight years to earn. The youngest Sergeant on record. A decorated achievement. The out-of-the-box thinker. The valued officer. Instead of looking at his captain as he did so, however, blue eyes finally fell upon Co-Captain Damen D'Arthe, face an emotionless mask of nothingness.

He didn't look back to Arthur. He didn't look at Charity. He didn't look back to Baelish even as conversation went on around him, weighing the four round pieces of metal in his palm, curling his fingers around the small decorations for a moment while he memorized every age line and every pock mark on Damen's smug face.

Tearing his stare away reluctantly, he flicked his attention to his Captain, the older man holding out his hand for Rhys' snaps and whispering his apologies. The tall blond's jaw clenched and he blinked again, slowly, eye lids fluttering heavily, before he rolled his wrist and opened his fingers, purposefully dropping his snaps onto the floor at the galdor's feet instead of into Arthur's expectant palm, the little metal pieces tinkling uselessly against faded, waxed wood.

"This is chroveshit." He said without bothering to whisper, loud enough that anyone standing nearby heard clearly every word, "I can't wear this uniform anyway if this is the kind of legal system I'm expected to uphold, if this is the kind of law I put my godsbedamned life on the line for every clocking day."

He shrugged off his jacket, hands trembling with a barely contained anger as he tossed the green-dyed fabric onto the chair between himself and Arthur, growling his words. For a moment, his hands strayed to his belt with the obvious implication that had he truly felt the need to fully express his disapproval, he'd be removing the trousers of his uniform in full public view as well, just to make a statement. He refrained, however, for the reputation of the woman he genuinely loved, of the woman he'd always loved instead of groomed for his own selfish purposes,

"When all of this comes back to bite our Kingdom in the erse, I won't be dying for this kind of clocking obvious corruption. See you in the new year, Captains. Don't let Benea blind you by lighting this dark path you're all on too brightly. Not until I'm there to arrest you, anyway."

Rhys sneered, turning to snatch with forced gentleness for Charity, his hands curling needfully around her arm as if she was the only anchor to his self-control that he had left. His hurt and anger were, of course, obvious to her, and it was with great difficulty that he dropped the volume of his voice to a whisper, leaning to press lips close to her ear,

"Let's go. Wrong or not, Alioe forgive me if I'm still here when they let the press in."

Never in his life had he felt so helpless and so angry at the same time, and it took everything—everything!—in his limited stores of discipline to lead them both from the courtroom through the crowd, eager to crawl away home and hide from the world, from a Kingdom that had forgotten how to uphold real justice.
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