“Bring the culprits in,” the Judge commanded.
Two guards dragged a sobbing Eris and a deeply shaken Ker into the centre of the courtroom.
“Coroner Mim, what are the results?” the Judge asked an old man seated at the far left corner of the courtroom. Coroner Mim bowed and made his way towards the centre of the courtroom, carefully avoiding the two maids as if wary that one of them might suddenly produce a knife and stab him.
“Your Honour, I am deeply regretful to say that we were unable to save Physician Ko. He was killed instantly by a blow to his neck. From our experience, it seems like he was pushed violently and smashed his neck against the edge of the table,” Coroner Mim said and passed a thick scroll to the Judge.
“He…he… di…died?” Eris whimpered and looked up at Ker. Ker did not seem to hear her as she continued to stare blankly at the floor.
Bang! Bang! Bang!
Eris and Ker both jumped as the Judge slammed his hammer on the table.
“Such atrocity from mere commoners! This is unheard of! Do you even know the consequences of murder let alone killing a Royal Physician?”
“W…we didn’t know that we killed him… it was just a push… to save ourselves from him… he was going to … going to…” Eris blubbered and sobbed.
The Judge seemed oblivious to Eris’s outburst and continued his questioning.
“Do you two maids plead guilty for your act of murder?”
“It was an accident,” Ker said bitterly and finally raised her head to meet the Judge’s eyes.
“He tried to rape us and we defended ourselves by pushing him away. We didn’t know that he would break his neck; we thought he just blacked out from the impact of the crash,” Ker continued.
“So you do admit that Physician Ko was killed by the both of you? You do admit that you two caused the death of Physician Ko? You do admit that he died?” the Judge asked again.
“Yes he di…” Eris cut in, but the Judge banged his hammer again.
“With the four Princes and the many of you present for this trial, I hereby declare the two maids guilty of murdering the Royal Physician Ko. They have confessed their sins and all of you have been witnesses. They have commited the most heinous of all crimes, against a valued and honourable member of our kingdom, no less, and as such, they will be punished accordingly. As the Chief Justice of this kingdom, I hereby sentence you to death. Guards! Throw these maids in jail until the execution date is confirmed.”
“NO!No!… We didn’t… we didn’t kill him! He tried to kill us! He tried to rape us! We were just trying to save ourselves! Please! Judge! Please listen to us!” Eris screamed and struggled as two guards grabbed her arms. Tears were flowing freely over her cheeks.
I bit my lip, pondering their situation. It really was unfair that they hadn’t been given the chance to defend themselves or tell their account without the Judge jumping on their words and twisting them to make his case. I never liked the Physician and had heard stories about him from Yoochun who had his girlfriends’ being personally ‘examined’ by the doctor. An excellent and efficient physician he certainly was, but an honourable man, that I wasn’t so sure about. There’s probably some truth to the maids’ words, I decided, at the very least they should be given the chance to clear their name. I opened my mouth to protest when …
All eyes were riveted on Jaejoong as he made his way into the courtroom. Whispers rippled through the crowd as he stopped behind the two maids.
“Release them,” He commanded.
The guards bowed and slackened their grip on the two maids.
“Have you all gone deaf? I said release them,” Jaejoong voice dropped low; a dangerous sign which meant that he was not pleased at all.
The guards looked at each other and released their hold on the two maids. They bowed and retreated aside hurriedly.
“Your Royal Highness, please do not trouble yourself with such mundane issues. These maids have received their trial and are awaiting their rightful punishments. Your Royal Highness has far more important concerns on hand, so please return to your throne,” the Judge said and bowed slightly towards Jaejoong.
Jaejoong smiled; a glint of hardness appeared in his eyes.
“Are you mocking me … Uncle?”
The Judge feigned a look of shock.
“Mocking you? Why would I do such a thing? Is your Royal Highness suggesting that I the Chief Justice of the Kingdom, Second brother to the King hold the Crown Prince in anything less than the deepest esteem and the highest regard? That is an outrage! I who love my brothers and my nephews, I who painstakingly took up the job as the Chief Justice of the Kingdom to lessen my dear Princes’ troubles and worries; How can your Royal Highness suggest such a thing?”
“So by condemning these maids to death, without listening to their side of the story, it is considered to be fair and just?” Jaejoong asked and crossed his arms.
“Your Royal Highness…” The Judge smiled and sighed.
“I have of course listened to their futile attempts at avoiding the fact that they were the ones who caused the death of Physician Ko. However, they were unable to provide any evidence to prove that their case.”
“Their state of clothes? ” Jaejoong asked.
“That can be faked,” The Judge smiled.
Jaejoong raised his eyebrows slightly and nodded. “Her neck?” He asked again, nodding at Ker’s neck.
The Judge chuckled.
“Physician Ko must have been acting in self defense before he was flung towards the table,” the Judge continued.
“So you are suggesting that these maids have superhuman strength and were able to fling a full grown man who probably weighed more than both of them added together?” Jaejoong asked with a hint of astonishment in his voice.
A wave of laughter rippled across the courtroom.
A vein throbbed on the Judge temple as he viewed the two maids with contempt.
“I suggest nothing but the truth. How else would Physician Ko be able to smash into a table and at the same time break his neck if he was not thrown across the room by the maids? A mere push would not cause such fatal damages to a body. My judgment itself does not seem to satisfy your Royal Highness, so please take a look at Cononer Mim’s investigation results,” the Grand Judge said and passed the thick scroll to a guard who handed it to Jaejoong.
He gave it a cursory glance and gave it back to the guard.
“Your Honour,” Jaejoong said patiently, as if explaining to a small child, “surely someone like yourself who has passed judgments on so many cases would know that the most important piece of evidence in any case is the account of the eye-witness or the persons present at the scene of the crime, is it not?”
“Well, o-of course,” the Judge’s composure was slipping away faster than Junsu when he’s encountered by a hoard of screaming girls, “but, r-really, I fail to see your poi…”
“Well then, if that’s the case,” Jaejoong cut in smoothly, “shouldn’t we hear the accounts of the only surviving witnesses of this most unfortunate incident?”
The Judge pressed his lips together and then nodded ever so briefly towards Jaejoong.
I shook my head in amusement; Hyung and our uncle have been at loggerheads ever since I could remember. Uncle wasn’t the nicest nor the most reasonable person to begin with but unfortunately for him, not many people can win against Jaejoong when he’s in his coolly persuasive mode….which was most of the time. I settled back comfortably in my chair and waited in cheerful anticipation for the upcoming drama that was about to unfold. I had missed these Court shows ever since I had been training on the mountains and this was definitely a good start.
“THAT was the most HUMILIATING performance I have EVER had the misfortune of giving!” Eris complained as she massaged her swollen eyes furiously.
“Crying and wailing like a mad woman… honestly Ker, and for all that, it had no effect whatsoever on the Judge. UNBELIEVABLE!!! If Crown Prince Jaejoong hadn’t interfered….,” she sighed and plonked herself on her bed.
I sighed and inspected my neck injuries in the mirror; they were now an attractive shade of purple.
“Well, we have to thank the Crown Prince for saving us and for going against his Uncle. Without him backing us up, the Judge would never have listened to our side of the story,” I said and leaned against the wall.
“Yeah. Well, at least we got rid of a piece of vermin. I wish you had let me slice that man’s throat instead, that sick bastard! My blood boils just at the thought of him,” Eris said venomously.
I threw Eris a new uniform and laughed as it hit her surprised face.
The whole show lasted much longer than I anticipated. We were all discussing about Jaejoong’s brilliant performance when he stepped into the room. Talk about déjà vu.
“Hyung! You were fantastic!” I said as I slapped Jaejoong playfully on the back.
“I swear I saw steam rising from Uncle when he let the maids walk free. Hyung! You’ve earned another place in my heart,” Changmin patted his chest and slapped Jaejoong on the back.
Jaejoong laughed and dodged Junsu and Yoochun’s thumps as they reached over towards his back.
“I wonder if Ker and Eris are alright. They might have been traumatized by Physician Ko’s actions and death,” Changmin said thoughtfully.
“It was an accidental death, and they were doing it to save themselves from Physician Ko. I personally don’t like him; he brings shame to us men,” I said and sank into the nearest chair.
“Hear hear!” Junsu answered back.
“I must say the maids are rather interesting. I mean, they’ve only been here for a few days, yet so much has happened. I wonder what other troubles they’ll get into in the future,” Yoochun said.
“As long as it does not agitate our dear Uncle, its fine with me,” Jaejoong smiled and punched Changmin playfully on the shoulder.
I laughed as Changmin tried to return his punch but was too slow for Jaejoong.
“Your Honour, you called for me?”
“I want all the information you can find on these three people,” I said as I passed him a sealed scroll.
“Yes, Your Honour.”
I shuddered a little as our hands touched briefly when he reached over for the scroll. His skin glistened under the flicker of candlelight; colorless and pale, it was an eerie sight. The red eyes gleamed brightly under the black hood and he bowed twice before retreating into the darkness.
Anger was still bubbling through me as the creature blended into the dark and then a flash of white skin when he reached out for the doorknob. Seething with annoyance, I stood up and paced the room hoping to calm myself down from the episode earlier on.
How dare Jaejoong mock him, he doesn’t even deserve to be standing in front of him.
Patience, you will get there soon; I told myself and breathed deeply as I glanced towards the approaching twilight.
hope you enjoyed the chappie:)
thank you to my lovely beta kiryu!
comments would be loved:D