A few days later, Richard, Elena, and the rest of the friends were back on a ship, returning to Maropa. Some of that time had been used wrapping up loose ends. Though Richard nominally held the title of a duke now, everything there was still being sorted out. Personally, Richard didn’t care if he ended up with the title. It would probably just cause problems that would outweigh the benefits it gave.
Among other things, though, was Geran’s execution. There was a short trial first, but it truly was short. A large number of tests performed by different doctors showed his infertility. This was enough to convict his doctor for criminal negligence. However, there was still more to be done. Geran himself denied knowledge of the falsification, though rather unconvincingly. His family doctor would also have no reason to lie to him, because even though a negative result for fertility was disappointing, the consequences of falsification were great. It wasn’t too long before more evidence turned up. The original record had been automatically logged, before being changed to indicate fertility. The doctor also hadn’t properly deleted the old record, so it was still found, though not visible from any public database. Geran might have been able to get away with a lesser punishment, such as being stripped of his title of nobility, if his former allies hadn’t abandoned him. Even so, that wouldn’t have been a possibility. He had lost his title in the duel with Richard which none could dispute.
In the end, the execution was short. The crimes of which he had been convicted were spoken, and then he had been executed. It was a somewhat disturbing sight, seeing a guillotine chop off his head. Richard knew there were painless ways to execute people, but that wasn’t the point. If people were being executed for crimes, there was no need to make things painless for them. At least this method was a relatively quick death. Richard took some time to determine how he felt about the execution. Certainly, Richard had not been on good terms with Geran. Beating him up had been immensely satisfying. However, him being killed was another matter. Richard thought back to the Ulph, the giant man who had broken his ribs, almost killing him. He had been expelled from the school, as well as getting a criminal record, but apparently that had been a light punishment. He had tried to kill Richard, or at least attacked in a way he should have known would be lethal, which was only a very slight difference at best. Still, Richard hadn’t really felt a grudge with him. He supposed he could have pushed for a harsher punishment, but he hadn’t felt the need. Geran, however… Well, he hadn’t actually tried to kill Richard. Technically, he hadn’t tried to kill Elena either, but he stated a plan of action that would have ended up ruining her life. It wasn’t an accidental side effect of the plan, either. In the end, the amount of suffering the plan would have caused would have been greater than if the Ulph actually had killed Richard. Perhaps Geran didn’t really expect or want that plan to go through, but that was the stated intention, and he certainly wouldn’t have been disappointed. Still, the reason he was executed was not because of the plan, but the deception involved. Richard decided he was glad Geran had been executed. He certainly didn’t want him around, and locking him up in a cell wouldn’t have accomplished anything. He didn’t act out of desperation, so he had no real chance to come out of prison a reformed man.
Richard shook his head. “People are crazy, and politics gets even more crazy.”
Mr. Smith nodded, “That’s definitely the case. Personally, when I have enemies, I prefer to avoid the politics and just kill them.”
“Does that work?”
“No, not really.”
“…Have you killed a lot of people?”
“Nah, just the one.” Mr. Smith coughed. “I figured out why I got challenged to a duel, most likely. It was with Geran Oulbriph’s father, actually. Presumably because of you, though I don’t know what they expected to accomplish. A normal person would have called the police or refused the duel. I supposed they were pretty ingrained in Noxian culture though.”
“Huh. So that’s why he had the title at such a young age. Also why it’s mine now, I suppose.” Richard paused. “I’m a duke now. I think that means I outrank you. I don’t know if titles transfer up through families.”
“Politically, perhaps that might be the case, but a father will always outrank his son. Plus, I’m not a Noxian- I’m officially a resident of Utopia which isn’t governed by the same system.”
Richard shrugged. “Oh well. Not like I could do anything by pulling rank that wouldn’t have been better accomplished by asking nicely.”
The time spent on the ship was long and uneventful. Not that there would be any events expected in space travel in known areas. Still, being in a confined space made everything feel more limiting than it really was. In the end, the group had really only missed a few days of classes, with the rest being attended via proxy. Of course, it still wasn’t the same as being there in person, especially with the strange conversions from inside the TDD to outside and back. Everything seemed to flow at about a normal rate, but it wasn’t quite perfect.
Richard sighed as he thought about going back to his “normal” life. Truth be told, Richard wasn’t surprised that he had gotten himself in a duel effectively to the death. He might have been unsure about the value of his own life since the curse… but in addition to that he really didn’t think he would lose. That wasn’t the point though. The point is that his life would become a routine again, and he would just be drifting. He wanted to decide what to do with his future… especially given the chance that it might not be long. Elena had a future in mind- curing her people of their infertility. Richard didn’t know what his other friends had planned, if anything. He supposed the easiest way to find out would be to ask them.