The king spoke, his deep voice resounding throughout the chamber. “As of this moment, all activities of the Ostana Wizard’s Guild shall cease. We deem them unfit for the duties they owe to the country and its people. In addition, individual justice will be enforced for its various members, appropriate to the severity of their crimes.”
Among other things, Cecil Lockridge was convicted of many crimes post-mortem. William had honestly not known about many of the things that were being done. However, even the one thing he testified for was sufficient. Burning the records on the Demon King was at best a foolish action that served no purpose. William was glad he had kicked him out the window. He was also glad that he now had an official pardon, because if that was not the case he wasn’t particularly looking forward to the consequences.
In the end, the authority of the guild was taken away, and a good number of its higher ranking members were given sentences for their parts in what was done. William felt that most of the sentences were too light, but he supposed executing so many people, many of which were nobles, wouldn’t have gone over well. However, there was too much evidence available for people to be able to protest at the sentences that were given.
The whole thing left a bitter taste in William’s mouth. He would have liked the guild to have functioned properly, even if he didn’t like the particular people in charge. Now, however, there was no guild, and that meant little to no magic would be available under Ostana’s control in the upcoming war with the Demon King. William knew that there were a number of relatively competent wizards in Ostana, but he wouldn’t want to trust any of them to be fighting in a war.
The one thing that made William feel slightly better was that the guild itself seemed to have no part in the other charges, besides massive misuse of power. As far as he could tell, none of the other members knew that the information on the Demon King had been destroyed, and the guild didn’t have any connections to the demons. That didn’t make their actions particularly better, and William wasn’t sure if he should have been glad that they were just semi-incompetent jerks instead of traitors to the country.
The final trial for the Lockridge family arrived next. William felt that this was even more personal than the wizard’s guild- and he felt strongly connected to that. Part of that was because of Chris’ testimony against them, and his connection to that. William liked the current leader of the Lockridge family, Albert Lockridge, even less than he liked Vincent Bachman in the short time he’d come to know him. In fact, he thought Albert Lockridge might even rank below the members of the Lockridge family he’d butted heads with in his previous life. Maybe.
Zachary and Ivy Cyril testified about the Lockridge members that had tried to kill them, and William as well. It had been brought up in the previous trial, and they had been deemed to be operating outside of the confines of guild authority. Zachary Cyril’s case was a bit more muddy, since he could use magic which would have technically placed them within their rights. However, Ivy Cyril could not use magic at all, which meant any action by the guild against her was completely unwarranted. This extended even moreso to the Lockridge family, since it was a personal grudge.
Other evidence was brought forth once piece at at time. Some of it was upheld, but some of it was deemed invalid. There were also many things that were insufficient to prove anything by themselves, such as various records that were suggestive of illicit dealings by the Lockridge household. However, together they started to paint a picture that wasn’t looking good for the Lockridge family. It wasn’t as if a few members seemed to be responsible for all of the problems, either.
Then came Chris’ chance to testify. This was the last of the evidence to be brought out. Someone was given the role of reading aloud the words that were written by him on the floor. Albert immediately took the chance to speak. “Your majesty, we can’t trust the ‘testimony’ of this… staff. Clearly it is being controlled with magic by outside forces.”
“Will you swear to that?” Amelia said after getting the floor to speak. “You are not the only wizard here. It is easy to see that there is no outside magic involved.”
“Bah! This is an outrage! A personal attack by a young man who happens to have a staff vaguely reminiscent of one in stories.” Albert turned and pointed to William. “I dispute your claim, and bring doubt upon your word! Tell me, can you back up your false accusations? Are you willing to back up your words with action? I challenge you to a duel of the truth!”
William had never heard of such a thing. He knew of duels, of course, but this seemed very specific. Fortunately, Javan was available to explain to him. “A duel of the truth can be challenged by a defendant in a case where it is only the word of the accuser versus the defendant. In this particular case… with the staff in your possession being the accuser… the target of the challenge falls to you. You do not have to accept the duel, but if you do, then if you win your accusation will be counted as fact, and if you lose it will be dismissed. If you do not accept… well, that casts some doubts on the validity of the accusation.”
William wasn’t sure what to think of the situation. It was rather specific, to be sure. William supposed he could see how such a possibility could come about, but he thought it was a rather stupid option for a court. On the other hand, he also very, very much liked it. “Can I hear more about the details of what such a duel would entail?”
A full overview was given to him. It would be a duel in a wizard’s arena, not to the death, but to surrender, or unconsciousness. It was basically the same as the duels he had experienced in his previous life, except of course it allowed for non-wizards to be involved, bringing with them suitable equipment such as swords, armor, and the like. The wards of the arena would prevent serious injury, as normal.
After hearing the full details, William tried to act nervous. “V-very well. I accept.” Inside, he was grinning like a madman.