The day of the trial has finally arrived. Each party member except Praxis arrives outside the Citadel of the Radiant Fist and is escorted in together by paladins of Torm. As eyewitnesses you are afforded special seats near the front of the great hall. The room is filled almost to capacity with city folk of Westgate wanting to get a look at Captain Gnash. During the week leading up to the trial each of you has heard many folk saying what a scourge on humanity the bugbear pirates have been. It seems that everyone and his brother have had a relative or a business associate that has been put to the sword by Captain Gnash and his crew. Many have assembled in the hall of justice to see the bugbear pirates get their due. A few minutes later a door opens and Praxis walks into the chamber. The guards salute him as he passes by. He walks over and sits with you at your table.
The Hall of Justice is a huge room with white marble floors and large stained glass windows. The sun shines brightly though the windows depicting scenes of mighty paladins smiting evil in many forms – undead, dragons, demons. 4 – five foot wide by 10 foot tall iron cages with iron bar doors lie off to the side of the great hall at the foot of a massive desk made of oak. About 25 guards are stationed in various places throughout the room. A door suddenly opens and one of the guards cries out, "All Hail Lord High Bailiff Tomass. A tall muscular paladin in polished shining full plate armor confidently strides into the room. He stands to the side of the great Oak desk and slams a mailed gauntlet on the desk. “Bring in the accused!” he shouts
Through the same door two bugbears, a tiefling, and a satyr are escorted under guard and locked into the iron cages. At the sight of the bugbears, the crowd starts to howl and hiss. You hear shouts demanding blood and justice. Some terrible curses and foul names are hurled towards the bugbears who stoically enter the cages doing their best to ignore the heckling.
Lord High Bailiff Tomass smashes his mailed fist on the desk once again. “Order! I demand order!” The ravenous crowd of rabble quiets down Another door opens and an old looking human in black robes enters the chamber walking quickly behind the desk. The Lord High Bailiff cries out, “All rise to receive the Lord High Magistrate Nigel Ravenquist.”
The Lord High Magistrate takes his seat behind the mighty oaken desk and says, “Thank you High Bailiff Tomass. You may all be seated. Please state the charges.”
Lord High Bailiff Tomass unrolls a scrolls and reads from it, “Captain Gnash and Fecar the Unclean you are both hereby accused of piracy on the High Seas, murder, rape, pillaging, looting, wanton destruction of property, theft, and engaging in the slave trade. Jeezel and Faunus you are hereby accused of gambling, racketeering, ritualistic murder, the eating of human flesh, and removing the will of men through coercive magic.”
Lord High Magistrate Nigel Ravenquist speaks in a loud and powerful voice, “Thank You High Bailiff. I have been entrusted through both the holy scriptures of Torm as well as the government of Westgate to examine and determine the innocence or guilt of all accused here today. It is my solemn duty to determine the appropriate punishment, if any, to be exacted as justice for the crimes you are accused of. Leading up to this trial I have received statements from many folk most importantly those heroes who have captured these prisoners and brought them to justice before you today.” The Lord High Magistrate gestures to the party and a cheer goes through the room before being squelched with another hammer like mailed fist to the desk by the Lord High Bailiff As the din quiets down, the Lord High Magistrate continues, “I have carefully weighed the evidence before me and gathered the facts. I now give each defendant the opportunity to speak. Do any of you have anything to say in your defense?”
Fecar the Unclean grimly shakes his head from side to side. Captain Gnash looks around with an icy stare, “Nothing I can say is going to change anything. This court is a sham!” The crowd goes wild and starts yelling at him at this point until finally quieted by the mailed gauntlet of the Lord High Bailiff once more.
Jezeel stands quietly his hands folded in front of him. He lowers his tiefling horned head and says quietly, “I am prepared to die for my Lord Azeeel.”
Faunus nervously shifts about and says, “I don’t want to die. I just want to run through the trees and smell the forest again.” He keeps warily looking at the iron bars surrounding him.
The Lord High Magistrate speaks up, “Is there anyone else who wishes to say anything regarding the guilt of the accused?”
Praxis stands up, “Lord High Magistrate, you know my position with respect to the accused. As you know, justice cannot be served unless all facts are brought into the light of Torm’s view. As such, there is someone present who would like to present testimony in defense of one of the defendants, Faunus. However, due to the fact that this individual is being pursued by agents of evil, he is afraid that disclosing his whereabouts through public testimony would give his enemies purchase. For what it is worth, Lord Magistrate, I trust this man’s word as if it were issued by a fellow Tormtar. And although I do not ascribe to his position on the matter, I believe that justice would only be served if this honorable tribunal were to solicit his testimony. Therefore, I request that this court clear the courtroom and allow this man to speak his mind freely so that it might be fully apprised of the nature of the situation. I also request that his identity be stricken from whatever record and I will vouch for his character and his appearance at any further hearing.”
With that Praxis bows and takes his seat.
A large grumble goes up almost instantly throughout the peanut gallery which begins to take on the sound of a roar of protest until the Lord high Bailiff crushes it to silence with yet another mighty smashing of his mailed fist into the desk. “I WILL have order!”
The Lord High Magistrate raises an eyebrow. “This is a most unusual request, Captain Praxis, but it is one that I shall honor. i know you would not make such a request unless the consequences would be dire. Guards please clear the gallery. All these citizens will wait in the antechamber until such time as they are allowed back in after this sensitive testimony is heard.”
Immediately the guards move forward and usher the folk of Westgate out of the great hall. Once the last has left and the door is secured, the Lord High Magistrate continues, “Now Captain Praxis who is this mysterious witness that must speak his peace? Scribe, please remember this is not to be included in the official record. Please put down your quill.” A young scribe off to the side of the chamber places her quill on her desk and folds her hands in her lap. “Thank you. Now let us continue. Say what must be said.”
Once the area is cleared, Shan Val Stands and faces the Magistrate.
I thank the Lord High Magistrate for allowing me the anonymity that I need to speak.
First, let me state my credential so that my words can be weighed appropriately.
I have spent several years in the court of the High Lords of the Seelie Fey and thus have a tacit, though incomplete understanding of their ways. In that time, I encountered numerous of the Kith and Kin of the summer court and I know that there are various oaths which neither the seelie nor the unseelie fey will dare break.
An important thing to remember about the fey is that they are not human though some may look and act thus.
It is my belief that Faunus was tricked by the Rakasha and meant no harm to the people whom he watched. The vile one approached him in his native lands and asked him for his help in watching his flock as he explained it. Faunus accepted, not knowing the full story and spent his time tending the humans and keeping the healthy, happy and hale. The fey draw humans and other mortals into their dances and feasts with an open heart and no ill intent, not understanding that we mortals end up confused, drunken or in a stupor while in the presence of a Fey beings glamor. It is my understanding that the Rakasha took advantage of this effect of the Faunus’s presence which was heightened by the drugs that the fiend feed to his victims.
I have asked Faunus to swear by Oak, Ash, and Rowan, and by the names of the Lords of the Sidhe that he did not know that the people left under his ministrations were being harmed. He swore this to be the truth and was horrified that the people in his flock were being killed and eaten. Those oath have great power for their kind and I believe that he spoke true when he swore them.
If we judge him unfairly, there is a danger. The Fey live long and have long memories. They have two courts. The Seelie and the Unseelie. You can think of them as Summer and Winter, good or evil. Neither fits truly, but Faunus is currently of the seelie court and if we treat him poorly he and thus who owe him allegiance may go to the unseelie court.
If you have any questions I shall answer them as honestly and fully as I can.
Shan Val stands waiting patiently for any questions or a release from the magistrate.
btw: (I rolled a 26 diplomancy)
The Lord High Magistrate nods solemnly. “Thank you Shan Val, your counsel is appreciated greatly. I will take your testimony under advisement. You may be seated. Now is there anyone else who wishes to say anything?”
Quagmire stands and asks permission to speak.
When granted he bows and says.
“Lord High Magistrate I will be brief. I echo Shan Val’s sentiment, that Faunus was tricked into serving the Calif and did not understand that his actions endangered others. For his part, he took away their fear and did his best to make them happy, as is his way. For my part I do not wish to see a Fey creature imprissoned in irons. As my friend Shan Val has said, this is a dangerous path.
If you feel punishment is needed in the case of Faunus, it should be fitting to his crime as he harmed no one directly. He should not be locked up but instead should be sent out on a form of community service, helping those in need for a period of time, contributing to the greater good. I would offer my guidance to Faunus and see that the laws of Torm are carried out for whatever period of time this court sees fitting. You have my word. Thank you for letting me testify."
Diplomacy 26 (I rolled a 20).
The Lord High Magistrate furrows his brow. "Thank you Quagmire. I appreciate your concern in this matter and I value your service to this community. "
Dorian stands and graciously bows to the High Lord Magistrate. As Dorian speaks you all hear a new grace in his words, going beyond his usual beautiful speaking voice. It has power and authority, but still calm and almost singing. It’s like an iron fist wrapped in a velvet glove. Dorian employs his words of friendship (+5 to diplomacy).
“High Lord Magistrate, I am Dorian Bladesinger and I am deeply honored and grateful for allowing us to speak here today. Though the fight against evil usually cuts as clear a keen blade, as seen by the other three defendants today, I truly feel this is not the case with Faunus. First, most of the charges against Faunus have no evidence to prove his guilt. He was not part of the Rakshasa’s capital scheme, as described by himself and Shan Val, he served as just a shepherd. Though on the island, Faunus had no knowledge of the gambling and racketeering below. Also, he has little care for gold coins. Being of the Feywild, he prefers simple nature, dancing and freedom. So there is no motive to engage in such activities. Likewise, Faunus has testified that he did nothing to harm the humans he cared for, that includes ritualistic murder and the eating of human flesh. Faunus ate the fruits and vegetables and drank the spring water that was abundant on the garden level of the Rakshasa’s Island. The Caliph being a Rakshasa would explain why the murder and eating of human flesh took place on the island. But, Faunus was never aware of the Caliph’s true form and thus never participated in or was even aware of these gruesome events. All this speaks to Faunus’ state of mind. He believed he was given a Sylvan paradise with abundant food and the simple task to care for the well being of the humans.
Now, Faunus is not totally innocent of all charges. To the removing the will of men through coercive magic, he is guilty. He did so and I beseech the High Lord Magistrate to again recall the testimony of Shan Val. Faunus is not of this land. He courses through life with a different moral compass. Does that give him an excuse to not pay for his crime? Certainly not. But, I humbly ask the High Lord Magistrate to use this moment to spark a change in that moral compass’ heading. Show him the value of life, of all life and of dignity of will of all creatures. Though such magic is a helpful defense against aggressors in battle, let him understand the mistakes he has made and allow him a chance to learn these values. I do not mean to presume to pass judgement, that is your responsibility and I will bow to your divine authority (Dorian graciously bows again). Locking Faunus in an iron prison will destroy his love of life and as Shan Val puts it, allow the Winter Court to entangle him in it’s heartless icy grasp. It will not speak to him and it will merely shatter what will he has left to live.
But what of the humans? Don’t they have deserve justice? Yes, but I would like to point out that gambling is an offense this court takes seriously, hence charging it against Faunus. And it was gambling that brought all the humans to the Rakshasa. I believe the fact that the humans are still alive is justice enough, it allows them time to understand what fools they were thinking this mystical paradise was all it appeared to be. The true fiend behind this plot was the Rakshasa who tempted them all with illusions of fame, fortune and feminine companionship. He preyed on their weakness, was the mastermind and justice was served when his bones boiled away by Torm’s righteous fury. Now, the oath Faunus has given Shan Val is a good first step. And again, I beseech the High Lord Magistrate to allow Faunus a chance to learn the lesson Torm has put infront of him.
I thank you for your time High Lord Magistrate."
Dorian bows to the court again.
Diplomacy: 16+16+5= 37
The Lord High Magistrate nods and runs his fingers through his long mustache, “Well spoken Dorian Bladesinger. The satyr is lucky indeed to have such eloquent allies speak on his behalf.”
The Lord High Magistrate inhales and exhales deeply, “I thank you all for your testimony and participation in this trial. I also would like to thank all of you for your outstanding service to this community. Your bravery and honorable pursuit of justice should be an example to all those in service to Torm. Now we must conclude this trial. Lord High Bailiff now that the sensitive testimony has been heard please allow the public back into the hall.”
The Lord High Bailiff nods and salutes The Lord High Magistrate. “Yes M’Lord.” He moves to the door, opens it, and orders the guards to escort the public back into chambers.
Once everyone is back in the room and called to order, the Lord High Magistrate speaks again, “With all testimony heard and facts gathered, sentencing shall now commence. Captain Gnash, Fecar the Unclean, and Jeezel you have been found guilty of all charges. Faunus, you have been found not guilty of gambling, racketeering, the eating of human flesh, and ritualistic murder. However, you have been found guilty of removing the will of men through coercive magic and guilty as an unwilling accomplice to ritualistic murder and the eating of human flesh. All prisoners prepare yourselves for judgment.”
The Lord High Magistrate looks at each prisoner in turn.
“Captain Gnash, for your crimes against humanity, you are hereby sentenced to death. A gallows will be constructed in the city square and you shall be hung by the neck until you are dead. Torm have mercy upon your soul.”
“Fecar the Unclean, you are hereby sentenced to death. You shall be hung by the neck until you are dead. Torm have mercy upon your soul.”
“Jeezel, you are hereby sentenced to death. You shall be hung by the neck until you are dead. Torm have mercy upon your soul.”
“Faunus, your sentence of death has been commuted. Though the charges against you are grave indeed, you shall be granted clemency. You are hereby sentenced to 10 years in the prisons of The Citadel of the Radiant Fist. You shall be educated by the priests of Torm in the hopes that you might one day understand the wrongs you have committed and be taught to value the free will of men. For no matter how cruel this world may seem, no one has the right to steal free will from men. May Torm have mercy on your soul and give you the grace to learn from your mistakes.”
The Lord High Bailiff smashes his fist once more into the wooden desk and decries, “This trial is now ended. Captain Gnash, Fecar The Unclean, and Jeezel will be returned to their holding cells. The gallows will be erected in the square this afternoon and tomorrow at mid-day when the sun is at its zenith in the sky, justice will be done. Faunus will be transferred to a long term cell in the dungeons of the Citadel to begin his 10 year sentence. Guards take the prisoners away.”
The guards remove the prisoners and the public begins to file out of the hall. The Lord High Magistrate retires from the chamber. The Lord High Bailiff approaches your table. “For what it’s worth,” he says, “I was quite moved by your defense of the satyr. It is not often that the Lord High Magistrate grants mercy on the accused. I just wanted you to know that he shall be afforded certain special arrangements provided his good behavior. I will ensure that his cell is only of wood and stone and that no iron is used in relation to his imprisonment. May Torm guide Faunus to cooperate and succeed in his re-education.”
Keeping a steely face, trying not to show too much emotion, Dorian turns to the Lord High Bailiff. “Lord High Bailiff, I thank you for the accommodations your are providing for Faunus regarding his harmful reaction to iron. I also humbly ask to try and see to it he can have sunshine. A dark cell will do nothing but darken his spirits, no matter what it is made of. I thank the court for it’s swift justice and I pray that Torm’s grace enlightens Faunus’ heart and makes him a wiser Fey. I also have a humble request. Can you see to it he receives a letter? I hope it to help him in the trying days ahead.”
The Lord High Bailiff frowns, “I am sorry but sunshine and fresh air will not be possible within the prisons of the Citadel. He must pay his debt to society. I hope it is enough that he shall encounter no iron. It is the best that I can do. I will see to it personally that the satyr receives the letter.”
I am sure you are bewildered by the human’s treatment. Why all this torture by locking us in cages? Why can’t we be free to run in the trees with the wind and sun? As you have heard and figured out by now, the Caliph’s Island was a place of evil, lies and murder. Though you weren’t behind these horrible acts, you had a part to play. But, that part has not warranted death. You can thank the mercy of the humans for that. You still get to live. Though, the price you must pay is giving them years of your life to understand what you did wrong and learn to truly value the will of others. At first this may seem worse than death, but take heart dear Faunus. You have an opportunity to learn more about this great realm. You have your fey nature as the backbone of your existence, to that you can add the civil, noble and gracious ways of the forces of good here in this city. As your behavior will dictate, you will be granted more and more freedom the more you learn. Why, in I time I am very confident that you could be an incredible Emissary of the Feywild and the mortal world. With your knowledge, alliances and bridges can be built so the powers of good from both realms can unite in times of great trouble. And those times are on the horizon, for there is also great evil that does not sleep, but waits, patiently in the shadows. This is a path that is open to you, a unique path that seems to be meant for you and you alone. And sometimes great responsibility and valor takes great sacrifice. Things will seem bad for a while, but remember every long journey must start one step at a time. Though our travels must take us away from Westgate, I promise I, Shan Val and Quagmire will come to visit you whenever we return. And have no fear, we will return. I look forward to hearing of your progress on this journey upon my return.
Sweet water and light laughter,
P.S. I promise to bring Oliver so can do a little jig for you as well!
Dorian says to Praxis after the trial. “I pray for Torm’s mercy and Faunus’ patience. I truly hope good can sprout from the evil the Rakshasa had sown on that island. Is this goodbye Praxis? It seems we continue onward and leave Westgate, while your mission was to arrive here. Our band was truly singing a potent battle hymn with you on the front lines. Though I know you do not serve your own will. What is you next mission if you are at liberty to say?”
As soon as the Magistrate leaves, Quagmire looks to Shan Val, Quill and Dorian with a pained and sad look to his face.
“Let us leave this place and be on our way. Esmelteran awaits and the sooner I am on the open road the quicker I will forget about the court of Torm.”
He glances at Praxis and shuffles away thinking to himself about what he should have done…
When we are out of earshot of any agent of Torm Quagmire wispers to the remaining party.
“Ten years without grass or sunlight, Faunus will be mad by then. I should have broken him out of the wagon when I had the chance.”
Quagmire produces Faunus’ pipes from his robes as a tear streams down his face.
“I hope to never see an agent of Torm until I return with your pipes my friend.”
He makes a silent vow to return with Faunus’ pipes in ten years time.
Quill says, "quagmire, though I appreciate your sadness, remember the fey do not know time like we do. Ten years for Faunus is a but a blink in his lifetime. I honestly believe it is also difficult to predict the future effects. There may be some interesting evolution of the Torm education with Faunus. Or perhaps not…
In any case, Faunus will likely find a strength in himself he did not know he possessed to persevere. Perhaps there is good to come of this in the end."
“Thank you Quill, I know it will seem like an instant to Faunus, I am the one that will feel the guilt for ten long years. Let us get out of Westgate as soon as possible. I need to feel the ground beneath my feet and the warmth of a campfire under a starlit sky.”
After the courtroom clears, Praxis frowns and walks down the aisle out of the hearing room following the party out. Once outside, he banishes his armor, cracks his neck and shakes out his arms and tries to meet each of your silent gazes. After Quagmire speaks of getting away from the agents of Torm, Praxis raises his hand and says, “Quagmire, I’m not sure you appreciate the significance of what has just occured—the High Magistrate was well within his rights to sentence Faunus to death. You were able to accomplish a very remarkable thing by convincing the High Magistrate to institute a much less severe sentence—on which you and I will have to agree to disagree.” Praxis gives Quill a quick glance.
“As to your your exhortation to hit the road, so to speak, I would like to offer my service in your company on your trip to Esmereltan as I have been dispatched to Amn. I am, ready when you are, but if we are going to travel overland, I would suggest that we obtain horses and perhaps travel with a caravan.”
Quill says, "though the judgement of torm is foreign to me as well, i believe the nature of praxis’ glance to me, quagmire, was to highlight an example of agreeing to disagree. i differ from the rest of you in that i did not defend faunus in the trial. i did not because i do not disagree with the the judgement of torm as a whole. however, i was moved by the entreats of the party as much as the magistrate was so i am glad faunus did not die.
in any case, i agree we should leave the city and move on. i feel a… pull towards that tower in my dreams. i have had the dream again, friends, though i have no more insight than the last time.
praxis, what does send you to amn? i am curious."
Dorian says, “I for one consider the matter settled and look forward to returning here in a few years and be amazed at Faunus’ progress. I can’t help but feel optimistic about him. He has such a great opportunity, that is why I felt I had to write him that letter. Also remember, the jailors are true forces of good in the realms, not a corrupt cadre of cowled conjurers. It seems to me the Temple here has sent Captian Praxis to single handedly remove the cowl from the cowled wizards and restore peace and civility in that part of the realms. Considering what he did to the Rakshasa, I just want to go along and chronicle the holy fury being unleashed!” Dorian grins and slaps Praxis on the back.
“Shall we get some horses to aid in our journey?”
Smarting from the hearty slap, Praxis smiles at Dorian and says, “your enthusiasm is infectious not-so-gentle bard but the fury unleashed on that unholy spirit was a group effort. I am but a humble servant of Torm who is a protector and ally of all good faiths in the Realms, not only that of his followers.”
“Shan Val, most of my experience in battle was gained in fighting demons—my knowledge of devils is that they are beings of unspeakable and diabolical evil. I would endeavor to destroy them on sight.”
“As to my orders, suffice it to say that it is not a specific task so much as a general order to discover and report on Baneite operations. I do not mean to be mysterious but I do need to be discreet, so I would ask that if you are asked by other parties, you not disclose the purpose of my mission.”
“Finally, I would say that we take the route that takes us most expeditiously to Amn.”