The stake was pulled out from Garry’s chest. He opened his eyes and saw that he’s in a big fancy room, with marble around. There were some chairs and a bigger table. The room was quite packed with vampires he saw Mister Lamb preparing to speak.
“Welcome back, Mister Becker. We’ve gathered here to trial you for the betrayal of Madame Lawler, Countess of Bronx.”
“Uhh….” Garry looked around slowly, as a mortal approached Garry.
“Please drink up, Mister Becker, we want everyone to be clear of mind.” said the Judex, before continuing, while Garry drank.“In attendance we have:
Mister Garry Becker,
Madame Dori Lawler, Countess of Bronx,
Lord Brewer, Speaker and the Notary of the Invictus,
Mister Nathaniel Arden,
Madame Suzanna McCloskey,
Mister Kerry Willis,
Madame Shirley Russel,
And me, Mister Greg Lamb, Judex of the Invictus.
If anyone would like to state anything before we begin, speak up.”
Nathaniel saw Garry’s eyes darting around the room, eyeing the present Kindred. He could practically see how his brain ticked, looking for a way out.
“Mister Becker, you are on trial for implicating Madame Lawler, plotting to usurp her position and murdering Master Wong, Master Barton and Miss Butler. Would you like to say anything before we commence?” he asked before lighting up his cigar.
Garry slowly looked around, meeting Nathaniel’s eyes. “Yes, Mister Lamb. I would like to confess. I have indeed plotted to take over Madame Lawler’s position, for I believe that she’s incapable of doing her job. As proven by the fact, that she took such dangerous individuals under her care, as Stanley. It was just a matter of time, before something like this happened, before the werewolf assaulted our fellow Kindred. I apologise to Madame Lawler.” he said, going over the lines more than actually being honest. “And I’d like to swear Oath of Penance to her for a year.” he said kneeling on one leg before her. “Right now in front of everyone. As for the other crimes, I’m being accused of – I’m innocent. During the event, I asked Mister Arden to deliver the package, which he’ll confirm, at that point I immediately went to meet with Madame Lawler.”
“How do you explain the fact that you so suspiciously sent Mister Arden with a tool which could face off against a werewolf?”
“Because I suspected that the werewolf will be met by Mister Arden that night. I had a prophetic dream. I could not risk doing nothing, so I made sure that Mister Arden would have something to defend himself with, and asked him to go. I hoped that he’d be there in time, or that perhaps I would be wrong about this.”
“Well, get used to it. The plan relied on you not knowing shit. Of course, you’d be questioned by the hounds – if it looked like anything but a coincidence, the entire thing would blow in our faces. And people will lie and use you all the time. That’s how Kindred society works. But at least this time, we both get to benefit from this.” Garry’s voice could be heard by everyone, coming from a phone in Madame Lawler’s hands. The rest of the conversation then unrolled for everyone to listen to.
Mister Becker looked shocked and surprised to hear it. He stopped for a moment. He took a breath. “Oh, Mister Nathaniel, it pains my heart to admit this. But I lied. I never caused the werewolf to do anything, I just knew that it’s a high probability that he would do that there.”
“Why did you not give warning to Madame Lawler then?”
He lowered his head. “As I already confessed, I have plotted against her, and I saw this as an opportunity. Inaction however, is not the same as doing the crime. I am deeply sorry.”
At that point Mister Willis, Madame Russel were questioned. Mister Willis and Madame Russel did not claim anything new.
“Mister Arden, please tell us everything which might add something to this story. We have quite a full picture here,but perhaps there are details which could change the outcome.” said the Judex.
Nathaniel stood up, glanced at the notebook on his table and answered “Mister Judex, thank you for this chance. As you’ve mentioned you’ve already have quite a full picture, I just wanted to point out some inconsistencies in Mister Becker’s lies and answers.” he picked up his notepad and continued.
“In the same recording Mister Becker claimed that he had to lie to me to make it look believable and look like a coincidence, but if he is now claiming that he lied about lying that creates a number of inconsistencies between his actions and words.” Nat paused to grab some air and continued.
“First, Mister Becker claims that he knew of high probability of the attack happening, yet, he didn’t tell that to me. Moreover, on the opposite, he forced me to go on foot to deliver a package specifically on the that night, during that time.” Nat glanced around when pausing to see reactions of others to his words.
“Secondly, he worked in secret to deliver me that silver tool through a mortal to hide his involvement in the action and a week before the event happening. Furthermore, he choose a casual item to not attract attention. Any proper silver weapon would have been way more useful.” Nate continued reading his notes.
“Thirdly, he described the dead Kindred as unfortunate effect of the plan, explaining that I was planned to be there few minutes earlier, which we took due to my questions about this unusual task.” Nat pressed on hoping that Judex would see plain mischief of his sire
“Furthermore, Mister Becker did not deny the knowledge of how the werewolf went on rampage, on the opposite, he even offered to teach me that when he became a count.” at that moment he even glanced at the judged liege.
“Finally, after hearing of my investigation and questions, Mister Becker wanted to keep me low and quiet for some months, likely by forceful torpor.” Nat finished his speech and put down his notepad.
“That’s it, your honor.” Nathaniel finished.
“Why would I tell you that? I dreamt of it. If I was wrong, I would be making myself a fool in front of my own trusted Childe. As for the car, I didn’t force you, I asked you to, because in my dream your car got smashed up by the werewolf, so I wanted to save it, because I knew how much you liked it.” he was explaining everything rationally, and obviously with some irritation that he even has something to explain.
“If I gave you a silver weapon, how would I explain myself, given that the only werewolf in here was Marsh? Especially if it turned out wrong. Why would I plot to kill somebody? Of course, I had to give you a tool to use in case it is real.”
“Of course it was unfortunate. My plan was that you are there in time and handle the werewolf. If he killed one or two vampires, it would just be proof that he needed handling. If you came in while all of them were alive, then the whole thing would be pointless.”
“And now the teaching part. More often than not, perceived power is much more important than real power. I trusted you, Mister Arden. If I could have caused this, I would have told you. Instead, I chose to be perceived as more powerful than I really am.”
“Forceful… I never forced you to do anything. Ever. Wouldn’t have done so either. And since you already knew something was suspicious here, you could have shown to everyone that those deaths could have been prevented, totally eradicating my chance for replacing Madame Lawler.” he answered.
Madame Lawler spoke up. “Mister Judex, I’d like to ask you to call in a ventrue or a shadow who could verify the truth.”
“That will not be necessary. I already made my decision. Madame Lawler, will you take Mister Becker’s Oath of Penance?”
She looked angry, furious even. She looked around, met Mister Becker’s eyes. “… Yes, however, I will also banish him from Bronx.”
“Then so be it, Mister Becker will swear the Oath of Penance to Madame Lawler for a year and will leave Bronx. In addition, Mister Becker will not be able to take any position or office, which has been Madame Lawler’s without her permission for fifty years. Does anyone have anything else to add to this?”
Madame Lawler looked angry, but she tried to hide it. Mister Becker was rather calm.
Nat was surprised, even shocked and disgusted that they believed the story of a fucking dream “Prophetic dream is your serious explanation for everything, seriously?”
He looked around as it seemed that other accepted it normally. He whispered “What the fuck…”
“While it’s rare for one of the Kindred to have prophetic dreams, Mister Arden, it’s not unheard of. Of course,if you have a more probable story to what might have happened, I’m all ears.” said the Judex.
After a small pause he continued. “So, since everyone is fine with this, Lord Brewer, would you oversee the Oath?”
He agreed, and then Mister Becker swore the Oath of Penance to Madame Lawler in front of everybody. At that point, Judex wanted to dismiss everybody, but Mister Becker interrupted that.
“Excuse me, Mister Judex. Since we’re already here, there is another matter for you to weight on. Mister Arden has broken his Oath of Fealty to me. For nothing more, but a perceived risk to his relative. I have invited his brother, a mortal, Sebastian over. Mister Arden at that point invaded my Haven, and attacked me, putting me in Torpor. That’s a harsh betrayal of the Oath… and of a Sire.”
“Perceived risk? You threatened him after I decided to turn you over. By the time I got there his mind was already googly, because of your charms on him. Even now he hasn’t yet recovered.” Nat answered obviously barely holding his temper.
“Even if it was a risk. So what, Mister Arden? It’s not a crime to take a mortal under your power. It is a crime however, to break your Oaths and stake a vampire in his haven.”
“He did it, only to hand him over to us,” said Madame Lawler. “For the previous trial.”
“This has nothing to do with the previous trial, Madame Lawler. He could have just walked away, we would have been in the same trial, and Mister Arden would have said the same, and the outcome would be the same. No, it is not about justice and your position. It was solely based on the fact that I had his brother. And as his Liege, I had the full right not only to take them under my power, but torture and kill them as well. Of course, I didn’t do such things. I cared for them, because my childe and my vassal cared for them. He didn’t care, as soon as he felt my influence, positive one if anything, upon his brother, he assaulted me.”
Nathaniel clenching his firsts, he wished at this very moment to end the undead life of that man, yet stupid laws favoured that lying piece of shit, so he stayed quiet, with head still bowed, not in reverence though, but simply to hide the rage on his face.
“Mister Arden does not object, I assume he’s telling the truth. Do you have anything to say for yourself, Mister Arden? Silence will be taken as your agreement to the accusation.” said the Judex.
Judex’s words brought some sense to him while he chilled “I did stake Mister Becker, but I did assume him a dangerous individual at that point as I think he was guilty of those murders. I did not do any other harm to his person, which can be confirmed by Madame Lawler, which came to the flat few minutes after.” he responded to the accusation.
He shook his head. “Your suspicions do not excuse you from the Oath. If you wanted, you could have came before me, asking to free yourself of the Oath. For your breaking of the Oath, I sentence you to two drinks of Mister Becker’s blood.”
Mister Becker spoke up then. “Mister Judex, may I suggest, that instead of one of those two drinks, Mister Arden would be forbidden from seeing his brother or father without my permission? That way, we would not only ensure that he would not strike back at me, but that he would understand the real price.”
“If nobody has anything else to say…”
“What?” Nat exclaimed “How does that not ensure you don’t strike back at me? Giving full control of my family to you, which don’t even have anything to do with this.”
“It doesn’t” answered Becker. “But that’s the thing, you don’t get them, so I don’t have to do something nasty to them. And in the end, I’m not the one who wronged you.”
The Judex nodded. “So be it. Mister Arden, a drink, and you’ll need Mister Becker’s permission to see them. And that’s only because you’ve helped uncover Mister Becker’s crimes. Consider that you got of easy. If you break this, your family shall be executed.”
“What’s the period of this punishment?” he asked for the first time cursing himself for following through with this.
“Until Mister Becker says otherwise.”
“But… but he’ll never say otherwise.” Nat’s anger was strating to be exchanged with panic and loathing.
“I’m not some cruel monster. Don’t worry, if you behave well, I don’t see no reason why you shouldn’t be able to see them from time. I can promise, that I will arrange some meetings between you and your brother. That, is for certain.” he said with a smile. “Now, let’s not waste Judex’s time.” he said extending his hand.