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Paragon Forgotten Chapter 34

Minor crimes

The crime’s severity earning no more than 5 months incarceration in the ranger bastille in the city. No trial, but the Ranger Investigation Master is responsible for verifying facts and evidence. If facts/evidence cannot be verified within a week of the suspect being incarcerated, the suspect is released with a time served credit applied to future incarceration. If they are verified, the suspect remains in custody until time served.

Up to 2 offenses each: Theft, vandalism, assault — so long as the victim recovers. However, if there is any loss of function (blindness, permanent limp) assault is moved to a major crime.


Kingdom law gave Cohthel five days to gather witnesses and alibis. He didn’t hesitate to request a Writ of Summons for Markie and Atalixsphere, who would both verify his location at the time of the dragon egg kidnap.

Kingdom law did not allow Cohthel visitors before trial. This protected him from the opinions, complaints, and threats of friend or foe so his innocence or guilt would not be further influenced.

The Human Realm low on crime throughout the populace and major crimes — which is where the law tiered his alleged kidnapping charge — even less so, Torc Thoraus slotted a trial date in seven days, giving him enough time to work through every question they would ask him. He forged his defense dragon-made strong. It wouldn’t be a problem. The torcs would find him innocent and they’d let him go.

Rangers escorted him to the castle the morning of his trial, through a side passage used for trial transports. The trial room lacked windows, except for a skylight center of the square chamber. R’th light blossomed in any remaining dark corner.

Two columns of ten benches each centered the room below a raised rostrum and platform. The nine torcs in common-form sat behind the rostrum, looking toward the benches. Since the crime crossed realms, all torcs would attend to make certain realm-bias did not taint the verdict.

Mother, sitting at the benches, grabbed Markie’s arm and pointed at Cohthel, dabbing her eyes with a handkerchief he’d seen Markie use before. Atalixsphere sat with them, long ears twitching so hard Cohthel looked for flies. And the mother dragon, clutching a single piece of eggshell as she rocked back and forth, back and forth.

Others too filled the room. Kingdom law made all trials public and anyone could watch. Neleci’s classmates apprenticing with Government sat together as part of their course work, as well as all the ranger apprentices, minus Thaen. Cohthel burned with embarrassment. He recognized all of them.

The rangers led him to the single chair below and center the rostrum. Both rangers stood to either side of him. He sat, facing the rostrum. He breathed normally. Even smiled. He’d be back home before lunch.

The elf torc, Elyulara, approached the rostrum. Torc Thoraus would not conduct this trial. This was to further prevent racial preference to his realm, since the one accused shared human kinship with him. The other torcs chose Torc Elyulara because she was common-from — like Cohthel — so she already understood the working mechanics of a ten-fingered hand in case that nuance arose in questioning.

Elves were the “longest” of all races, not only in height but also in ears, hair, and fingers, as if having a subtle relationship with weeping willow trees. “Today is the 19th of Paragons,” she began without preamble, “year 2,862 in the Human Realm. I am Torc Elyulara and I will host this trial.”

A clerk’s quill scratched away somewhere behind the rostrum, loud in the stifling room.

“The accused, sitting before us, shall be named Cohthel Faunt, sometimes nicknamed ‘Evermore’. The alleged crime is thus: someone nabbed two twin, red dragon eggs from the Dragon Realm on the 40th of Gods. The dragons were due to hatch soon. A human who chose to remain anonymous provided information to a traveling falkon, the human’s information saying that he witnessed Cohthel Faunt take the dragon eggs to his house.”

Of course Father wanted to stay anonymous. Cohthel burned with the lie. He’d spent most of the past five days scrambling to figure out how the eggshells arrived under his bed, and how the rangers knew where to find them. This new knowledge did not comfort him.

Or…angst curddled in his gut. Was it Thaen?

“The falkon reported this information to Torc Thoraus and Torc Thoraus sent rangers to investigate. The investigation found red broken dragon eggshells under Cohthel Faunt’s bed as if the dragons had hatched and he relocated them. They gave a piece of the shell to the mother dragon who verified the smell as one of her eggs.

“These are the first three facts. This court gave Cohthel the chance to gather witnesses. The first witness will be Markielson Esterway from the Human Realm, tell us the truth of what you know of Cohthel to this date.”

Markie stood, hands clasped in front of him. “I work for the Trading Cycle.” His voice belted out deeper and stronger than Cohthel had ever heard him. It put a little fear in his heart. “I sponsored Cohthel during his time in the caravan. A falkon-sent letter first notified us of the kidnapping. We received this letter just before we reached Forever Ice. Cohthel was with me. This is my statement.”

Elyulara acknowledged with a slow nod. “Cohthel’s second witness will speak. Atalixsphere from the Pegasi Realm, please proceed with your statement.”

Though one of Atalixsphere’s legs remained cast, she stood, using the back of the bench in front of her to steady herself. She kept her voice monotone as if she’d rehearsed her exact words over and over in tight little sentences to avoid saying something offensive.

“I was injured near the Ecthore Realm. I didn’t want to be left in the Elven Realm to heal. So Cohthel offered to carry me. He carried me on his back all the way to Malandore. I first heard about the kidnappings in a letter brought by falkon. We were near Forever Ice. Cohthel is full of love for other kindred. He is not capable of harming anyone.” She sat down. Though she clipped through her statement with zero passion, Cohthel beamed at her. Coming from the pegasi who hated all kindred, her approval of him earned more clout than any opinion from torcs, clerics, or goddesses.

“Atalixsphere,” Elyulara said, “you say Cohthel is not capable of harming another kindred. And yet Torc Thoraus received a report from Caravan Master Kitannia two months ago saying Cohthel assaulted a member in the caravan.”

Mother gasped so loud, several heads turned to look at her. Cohthel shrunk in his seat, looking behind him. Markie leaned over to Mother, whispering. He and Markie agreed they wouldn’t tell her. How further would his embarrassed shame drop?

“Since that is a separate offense, this trial will understand I revealed that to clarify Cohthel’s character since it conflicted with his witness’s statement. Lukkiaraa, mother of the eggs, from the Dragon Realm, ” Elyulara continued, “will provide the fourth fact. You must report only what you personally witnessed.”

The mother dragon stood, cradling her single eggshell like a human would swaddle a baby, her tail flicking behind her. “On the 40th of Gods I slept heavily with an intense dream. I’ve never dreamed like this before. So heavily I slept, I did not notice anyone enter my nest and did not feel my eggs being taken. I woke and smelled the lingering trace of my eggs, smelled the trail leave my nest, but the trail faded and I lost it.

“I suspected the Dark Elves and would have torn myself underground except for that damnable armistice and the Kingdom hostage those bile worms took. Now I learn a human took them.”

Cohthel was glad he faced the rostrum with only occasional glances over his shoulder. He was unable to witness the hollow dread on her face. I didn’t do it, he wanted to scream. But it was not yet his turn.

“These are the first known facts,” Elyulara said. “The torcs will now take turns asking questions.”

The Ecthore Torc in common stood since he sat in the first seat. A large, wolf-like kindred, not much changed in their common-form except they now had fingers, and walked on two legs instead of four. “A question for Markielson. Has Cohthel been with the Trading Cycle before?”

Markie stood. “No. That was his first run.”

“Caravan Master Kitannia hired him?”

“No. Cohthel lost his father many years ago while his father worked the Trading Cycle route. He wanted closure and joined the caravan to get information about him.”

Elyulara raised her hand. “Do any of the torcs require proof of his claim from Caravan Master Kitannia herself as to the reason Cohthel joined the caravan?”

None of the torcs signaled affirmation.

The Dwarf Torc stood next. Five feet and bearded. “What is Cohthel’s motive for kidnapping two dragon eggs?” He sat.

“It’s common knowledge,” Elyulara’s voice reached into the room, “that dusutri are fond of dragons for war, riding, and cargo. Wild drakins live and breed in Forever Ice, but they are smaller. The dusutri have manifested that they consider all races subservient to them, and have voiced their desire to enslave dragons to their will. Cohthel’s motive could have been to sell them the dragon eggs.

“Ranger investigation revealed that Cohthel’s school mentor said he maintained a good friendship with the half-dusutri named Mianda Aspenstar, who has vanished from her guardians and school.”

Cohthel watched Torc Thoraus with a hot gaze, expecting the man to raise his hand and clarify that he had sent her quietly away to be his spy.

He did not. He sat and sweated instead. Cohthel noted the R’th light glossing over the sweat on his forehead.

Cohthel clenched his hands until they numbed.

The Falkon Torc stood next. Where other races shrunk when they transfigured into common, falkons grew, but only by three feet. Still covered in black feathers, their beaks mushed into lips, wings became arms and fingered hands, though they kept their yellow scaled clawed feet and legs. “How did Cohthel steal dragon eggs from the Dragon Realm when he was on the other side of the continent by Forever Ice?”

Cohthel exhaled relief with the question. Until Elyulara said, “There’s no proof he took the eggs, but there is proof of his involvement. There is no record that he, at any point, reported the eggs found. Instead, this court found evidence of them in his possession at some recent point.”

The Dragon Torc stood. “If selling them for money was his motive, why didn’t he give the whole egg to the dusutri instead of allowing them to hatch in his custody? Transferring eggs is easier than transferring two angry dragon whelps who crack their shells open with claws and teeth.”

“It could be speculated,” Elyulara surmised — her job as trial host — “the eggs hatched before the transaction could be finalized.”

Cohthel wanted to vomit.

The remaining torcs — human, pegasi, gryphon — took their turns standing and reporting they had no questions. Thoraus’s voice was the only one that shook.

“Cohthel Faunt, the torcs have no more questions. You may make your defense now. Answer the question: did or did you not take the dragon eggs?”

Cohthel hated Thoraus for not saying anything. Cohthel watched the man sweat, his palms scrubbing both thighs.

“I was never involved in the kidnappings,” Cohthel spat. “I have no motive. I do not need money. Someone else put those eggshells under my bed. I don’t know who took the eggs.” Thoughts screamed in his head. He swallowed hard. What to say? “I didn’t do it” over and over? They had several facts, but only one damned him: rangers found the eggshells under his bed. Cohthel sent a direct stare at Thoraus. The knuckling coward wouldn’t maintain eye contact. “My father framed me.” Fury at his torc’s ignorance burned in his throat. For now, he’d count Thaen a victim of this same crime and not blame him along with Father.

“Truly?” asked the Gryphon Torc. He looked much like dragons while in common, except feathers covered him instead of scales.

“Prior investigation into Cohthel’s family history revealed the Human Realm disinherited his father, Rodrue Faunt, from the Kingdom ten years ago,” Elyulara intoned for the benefit of the court with perfect control of her voice. “Do you have proof of him framing you?”

“He stole into my house seven nights ago and told me—”

“Stop, Cohthel, provide your proof first before you speculate what he may have told you. Is there any proof that he framed you?”

No, Cohthel had no proof Rodrue was involved. But he knew, just like nervous, sweating Thoraus knew.

“I don’t have proof.” He scorched Thoraus with a stare. “But Torc Thoraus does.”

A unified gasp rippled around the room, the drama deepening. All waited for Thoraus to answer.

Thoraus could provide his testimony to the negotiation between him and Cohthel, testify he sent rangers to capture a man, and verify that man escaped. It could then be honestly speculated that that man two days later planted evidence on Cohthel for revenge. With Thoraus’s voice joined with his own, they’d win this.

But questions of why would have to be answered with the Dreamer, betraying that the human race wants to rise above the other eight. Would Thoraus risk civil war over the justice of a single human kindred?

Thoraus scowled and shook his head. “I don’t have proof. You’re desperate, Cohthel, to randomly accuse like that.”

The torcs chuckled, and Cohthel felt himself die.

“Are there any more facts you want to add?”

The question hung in the air, choked Cohthel like a noose. Cohthel turned in his seat and connected eyes with Mother. Unblinking, they stared, exchanging heartache across the room.

“The torcs will now gather and discuss all facts. We will return with a verdict.” Elyulara breezed away from the podium. Chairs and feet clattered on the platform in front of Cohthel as the torcs filed into a back room and closed the door.

Cohthel prayed.

Prayed Thoraus would tell the eight torcs the truth, confess the humans found the Dreamer, and advertised Cohthel as their first victim displaying not only the Dreamer’s warning, but his power and reach. Sitting there in those harried moments, Cohthel found three different ways Thoraus could confess and not bring civil war into the Kingdom. Thoraus would think of them, too, and set Cohthel free.

He prayed to all the sovereign gods, Fate, and the R’th God Astorous too, not even caring Astorous vanished from Everlasting Earth when the Kingdom formed. Gods didn’t stop being gods, nor would they ignore a desperate mortal prayer. He invoked their names separately, made promises to each of what he would do for them if they set him free. He promised to forgive Mother for lying to him and to apologize to her for his awful behavior. And just in case the gods only waited on him to decide his apprenticeship before they answered his prayer, he chose at that moment to apprentice with Arts since he could fill a niche with his self-taught acrobatics.

The room remained a constant murmur. Mother sniffled and blew her nose into Markie’s handkerchief, burnt-gold face tucked into his shoulder for protection against what she did not want to see. Markie looked up to communicate with silent eyes.

Cohthel looked down. “I’m innocent,” he whispered.

The nine torcs finally emerged; Cohthel lost sense of how much time passed. They took their seats. A thousand falkon wings beat inside Cohthel’s throat.

Elyulara approached the podium.

Cohthel held his breath. Thoraus confessed. They had cleared Cohthel. Of course they cleared him. He was sixteen figuring out life like all other kindred. He’d get home tonight and laugh about mortality’s little interruptions.

“The torcs have reached a verdict,” came Elyulara’s clear voice stripped of emotion typical of elves. “The crime of kidnapping is classed into a major crime, and from there it splits depending on two factors: whether or not the kidnapped victim is recovered.

“Because of the facts connecting Cohthel Faunt to the kidnapped dragon eggs, and the fact that the whelps themselves have not been recovered, nor has any help been offered as to where they can be found…”

Cohthel heard her voice long before she said it: Torc Thoraus has stepped forward and offered personal evidence of his own that clears Cohthel Faunt of all fault related to the crime.

“…the verdict reached is Cohthel Faunt will be executed tomorrow at the eighth hour.”

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