(1311-08-31) The Trial
Summary: The trial of Kalisha, held at the ducal court and presided by the Duchesse de Mereliot.
RL Date: 31/08/2019 - 08/09/2019
Related: Incident at the Palace Plot
andre armandine desarae elin emmanuelle fenris jacquet jean jehan-pascal kalisha philomene ortolette tancred 

Great Hall — Ducal Palace

High and light colored are the walls of the Great Hall, woods of golden tones used in the wainscoting that reaches till mid-level, with elaborate ornaments of fish chasing each other carved into them. A great hearth governs one end of the hall, with a large shield looming above, showing the coat of arms of House Mereliot. With six tall windows on one side framed by long dark blue curtains of heavy brocade, the wall opposite has a line of a couple of shields of Eisandine Houses, placed at regular intervals, and the pair of impressive double doors, through which courtiers usually will enter. The floor is of polished cream colored marble, enhanced with white inlay work depicting the ever repeating pattern of Mereliot fish. Lighting is provided through the lamps at the walls and three large chandeliers suspended from the arched ceiling, polished glass beads glittering where they catch and magnify the light of candles.

How different the great hall of the ducal palace is looking today, on this early afternoon. While the banners decorating the walls are reminders of centuries of Mereliot ruling over Eisande, of opulent feasts and courtly occasions held in this very place, the arrangement of furniture is definitely different from their usual constellation. A long table has been set up on the dais, and seating, meant for the Duchesse of Eisande, certain members of her family and advisors. Several benches have been placed at the sides, close to the dais, directed towards a vacant space in the center. These would be reserved for members of nobility who wish to attend the trial. A chair has been placed at the edge of the space, facing the high table. It is vacant, for now.

But the many rows of benches set up behind that chair are not. Filled with lesser nobility, merchants, courtesans, and further back with commoners, people are already engaged in low hushed conversations, enhanced by their number, filling the hall with the murmur of many, a sound that is only interrupted now and then by the occasional noises of a herald announcing the name of a landed noble entering, the sharp sound of his stave thrust into the marble floor.

No one entering the great hall apart from the Mereliot guards currently on duty will be allowed to bring with him weapons of any kind. No daggers, no swords, and no rapiers are to be seen within the hall, but on the contrary, a number of them are piling on a side table in the entrance hall.

Seated already at the high table is Armandine de Mereliot. The Duchesse of Eisande has chosen for the occasion a long-sleeved gown of a dark night blue, with a pair of golden fish embroidered upon the bodice. The ducal coronet sits upon her head, twined within honey-blonde tresses arranged in a fashionable courtly style.

Her manner is composed and her demeanor slightly grave, because she is to preside over a trial today and such is one of the less pleasant duties a duchesse must see to.

Given that this is a formal occasion, anyone who’s anyone is proudly wearing the colours of their family today — the spectacle, after all, is almost as important as the justice being delivered, and anyone with any political savvy wants to be seen as part of the lawful machinations of the city. It might therefore strike some as odd that when the Vicomtesse de Gueret, Philomène de Chalasse, is announced and the ground struck firmly with the base of the herald’s heavy stave, the woman who enters is dressed almost entirely in gleaming black silk, with her only splash of colour a small red and green brooch depicting a bull, placed high on one shoulder to demonstrate some sort of allegiance to the Chalasse name.

As she steps further into the chamber, however, the distinctive limp giving her away even if the clothing might not, the light reflects from shiny black thread which has been embroidered across the back of her military-style jacket in the shape of the Aiglemort eagle — on the dozens of neat, well-polished brass buttons held together with frogging — and on the gleam of a number of old campaign medals, mounted and pinned to her breast. Today it would appear that rather than necessarily just representing her l’Agnacite land and title, she’s embodying something more symbolic of Camlach, the ducal rulers of that province, and their long history of military service. It’s simply a shame that her baldrics and blades have had to be left at the entrance, else she’d strike a Valkyriesque figure as, head held high, she makes her way to the seat reserved for her — but it’s certainly enough to elicit a hush, followed by a multitude of murmurs and whispers in the gathering crowd.

Another woman present is dressed with even greater sobriety than the vicomtesse de Gueret. In high polished black leather boots, and knee-breeches and a sleeveless doublet of blue-black silk gleaming as luxuriantly as the upswept braids of her blue-black hair, Emmanuelle Shahrizai, the former Dowayne of Mandrake House, entered the hall a step behind her half-sister Armandine and now sits nonchalantly beside her at the high table. Her shirt is in the same silk and just as plain, but thinner in consideration of the summer heat. The golden fish who swim across the duchesse's bodice have smaller cousins embroidered at her collar and her shirt-cuffs in thread-of-gold. Shahrizai colours from a distance — Mereliot colours, close to. This severe dark garb does nothing to disguise what is, on her lean frame, the unmistakable swelling of her pregnancy. She sits with one black-gloved hand before her on the table and the other resting idly upon her belly. Her painted features are expressionless as she watches the hall fill with onlookers. The unexpected and unannounced shape of her body, the impending birth of another niece or nephew of the Lady of Marsilikos, will be just one more tidbit of gossip arising from this afternoon.

Desarae sits with others of her family at the high table. The trial is reminiscent of one that she'd attended little more than a year before, and it’s unsurprising in light of that that a paleness underlies the usually warmer tones of her complexion. A gown of cobalt brocade silk embraces her figure, the neckline edged with thread of gold embroidery which matches precisely that upon the cuffs of her closely fitted sleeves. About her throat a three-row choker of luminous, precisely-matched black pearls gleams, fastened with a silver clasp set with two brilliantly glittering fishes. The sigil of House Mereliot, in diamonds. It's a family piece that was gifted to her by her aunt Emmanuelle, and as people begin to filter in and to take their places, it’s that particular aunt beside whom she finds herself seated. Inevitably her eyes drop to where Emmanuelle's hand comes to rest on her stomach. "I had no idea, Emmadame." A smile briefly lifts her expression. “Congratulations.”

Perhaps in the strictest sense the choker doesn't go with Desarae's gown — but don't diamonds go with everything? Emmanuelle's only jewels are the earrings that have become habitual for her in the last three months: a white-golden mandrake flower blossoming at each earlobe, the left one set above a lower piercing from which there hangs suspended a dark amethyst, marquise-cut, in a white-golden cage. Anyone who has met with Jehan-Pascal de Baphinol within those same months, will have noticed a like amethyst on the little finger of his left hand, supported by a pair of white-golden mandrakes, pale almost as silver but costlier and more enduring. Perhaps they don't quite go with her ensemble either.

Her eyes, however, are two incisive Shahrizai-blue diamonds. They glitter as she looks to Desarae and examines the choker about her throat before meeting her niece's own eyes. She drawls a soft, "Thank you, my dear," and then by a tilt of her ornately-braided head and a firm shift of her own gaze she redirects their mutual attention toward the throng below.

Seated between nobility in one of those privileged rows of benches flanking the center to the front are some of the foreign emissaries that are here mostly because of the great exhibition. Elin Asbjornsdottir has arrived early and already taken her seat. Her garb today is of the more courtly sort, green and blue with yellow ornaments, especially where those sleeves flare out at the elbows. Her long blonde hair has been done in one single braid, and a plain crescent headband with a single piece of amber set at its center looks more casual than courtly. More amber is worn in the pendant of her necklace, dangling from a plain chain of silver, and only vaguely flirting with her decolletage as it sits slightly below her collarbone. The Gotlander lady looks mildly expectant and attentive, as she lets the gaze of her dark grey eyes roam over those that are arriving, and her hands are neatly folded in her lap.

La Malade Mereliot, Ortolette, does not sit with her family at the table of judgement, but, rather, in a small area behind, toward one corner, where she appears quite without warning, such that the average person would be forgiven for wondering when, in fact, she had made her entrance. It is her lot, good or bad, to watch most court functions from this unconventional angle, her mother and family appearing in three-quarters hind silhouette — a fine angle from which to spy the evidence of Emmadame's condition, indeed, but not from which to comment upon it. Besides, today there are visitors with her in her 'box,' sitting in busily discovered seats set next to her wheeled invalid's chair: the heirs, respectively, to the Marquis of Perigeux and the Baron of Berck. She herself is dressed splendidly for court, with her pale, milk-colored shoulders bared, hugged to her sides with sculpted bands of silk striped in gilt chain, with a piece of the same fabric circumnavigating her upper torso, out from under which breast-band a golden silk gown spills like honey, overlaid in translucent, pearly chiffon — and her feet are encased in glass slippers with a gilt sole, beautifully wrought.

Settling in quite politely among the varied ranks of the nobility rests Jehan-Pascal Aumande, of Baphinol. With a word to the person to his right and several to the person to his left, he maintains a genial countenance without rising, in this somber circumstance, to anything approaching joviality. He's dressed in a smart wine-red hunting-style coat with tails over a matching doublet fastened with a double row of golden buttons joined with chain. His trousers are a handful of shades darker of hue, just enough to offset the brightness of the coat and transition more smoothly toward well-polished black riding boots designed obviously to be worn to court and never actually ridden in. The dark brown polished level valise he carries across his hip is lowered into a place between his seat and the one to his left — from it he draws a silken lap-pillow sewn below a half-moon of polished mahogany, which he sets in his lap to serve as a desk. Then a note-book and two sharpened ends of graphite, and, finally, a dark sculpted-leather case which he opens and from which he draws a remarkable set of rounded lenses in a thin silver frame, the ends of which he draws delicately over his ears, lending this gentle, bookish dork an even more owlish expression with which he can take in all the edges of the proceedings — and record them for legal precedence.

With which done, he does send a somewhat fawning gaze toward the table at which Her Grace's family is seated — a little smile, a thumbing at the inside of his white-gold amethyst ring. That's all. His gaze drops to the notebook on his lap. He begins a brief prologue to what will be his annotations on the event.

<FS3> Jehan-Pascal rolls Law: Success. (2 6 4 8 3 5 6 4 4 1)

His knowledge on matters legal in cases of personal violence between d'Angeline citizens and those of foreign houses, though — that is rather limited. Avignon is just far enough inland that although he deals with a great number of foreigners while conducting business for his father from Marsilikos, very few of them ever venture up that far. But now, with his small tribe of expatriated Tiberians dwelling in the burgeoning Village des Bedarrides, this will be a valuable learning experience for him.

Having picked a bench in the back, Tancred has seated himself among his common class. He wears his finest clothes, stout cotton and finer grade wool, in bright colors, fitted but still of a practical cut, along with a suitable piece of day-to-day headwear that sits on his lap. Much to his annoyance, his sword and dagger have been taken hostage. At least he has a good view no matter where he sits.

He hasn't been for a long time in Marsilikos, as he has things to deal with back home. But here is Jean, clad in a purple Ch'in silk tunic with gold highlights and a large golden collar that drapes over his shoulders. The violet-eyed Namarrese makes his way into the gathering and stands somewhere near those aristocrats of middling rank.

No weapons about his presence, there's an unmistakable difference in demeanor from so many months ago to now. Some sort of quiet about him that aids in blending into the temerity of this event.

Among those on the benches for nobility, close to the high table, is Andre van Westerlo, the Prince of Brabant from the Flatlands. He is wearing clothes of finest black silks and leathers with the odd dash of yellow in a nod to the colours of his House. The Lion of Brabant featuring on golden buttons and a fine clasp holding his cloak together at the neck, golden lion on black gleaming onyx. The prince nods greetings to those he knows and recognizes, but otherwise sits silent and alone.

As soon as the great hall is reasonably filled and the Duchesse de Mereliot has cast another glance about the gathering, she signals for the herald to close the doors. At least for a moment.

Rising to her feet, Armandine addresses all those who have come to witness the trial. “Lords, ladies. Visitors to Marsilikos, and common folk who have come today to attend. You are welcome within these halls. I would like to stress that I’d prefer the circumstances to be different. It is not often that I am tasked with presiding over such an event, and as such, I want to remind you all that we desire to seek truth and speak justice as the case deserves. Any disturbances that don’t pertain to the case, or that express in any way disrespect towards this court, will be dealt with suitably. It is our wish to see the matter settled before night falls. But if it is required, we can easily extend the time devoted to this case.”

After which, Armandine retakes her seat and commands: “Have the prisoner brought in.”

Which will lead to those double doors opening again, after a moment. Through them there enters a group of guards bringing in the prisoner, the foreign woman called Kalisha.

It’s been weeks since a young foreigner has been dragged into the dungeons of a fair city of Marsilikos. It hasn’t been easy weeks. While one didn’t have to pay for the roof and meal, one also didn’t have a chance to shower or comb her hair. Not every guard was pleasant and a woman who looks barely reaching for her seventeenth autumn was granted an opportunity to see the other side of the glamorous and oh so shining coin. This idiom strongly fits to define the outer beauty of the d’Angelines and the rotting souls beneath a soft skin, in Kalisha’s opinion. The opinion which purely stays in her head when she is brought into the Great Hall. Her thoughtful gaze is focused straight in front of her. She doesn’t see those gathered. Doesn’t even bother to try and find a glimpse nor of those who desire to see her head roll, nor the ones who have fought for justice.

To be fair, she seems to be lost in her own world. The guards easily almost drag her to the seat. The chains rattle as she goes. She is pushed down and drops to a chair like a sack of potatoes. Her lips are slightly open that a tongue could peek through while harshly licking her fang-teeth. The grease and dirt is not that visible on her dreadlocks gathered at the back of her head by the leather band adorned with some stones and runes. Not only the half-inked face, arms and even neck add a touch of aggression and wilderness to her visage but also tattered leather clothes and the fur decorations.

She does move her head once to take a look at the Gotlandish guest in the room. A devious smile curls her lips up and she lets out a quiet cackle. Then she glances over her shoulder to take a look at the empty space between the wall and the back of her chair. That’s where she focuses for a bit.

Another murmur goes up from the gathered crowd: there’s a jostling and elbowing as everyone wants to look with ghoulish interest at this foreigner brought into their midst, over whose head the balance hangs today. It’s not as though any of them have met her, or know anything about her but the wild rumours that have spread through the city — but the excitement from the faceless crowd is palpable at the prospect of this creature who is clearly so Other being brought low today before the justice of Terre d’Ange.

Of course, not everyone is eyeing her up like sharks who’ve got a taste of blood. Some look genuinely stricken for the poor woman, and there are more than a few prayers being offered up one way or another.

Perhaps the person in the room one would most expect to be glaring and demonstrating her ire at Kalisha is Philomène, but the dark-clad woman only looks on impassively as the foreigner is brought in and dumped unceremoniously in her place. Even the harsh, unexpected cackle prompts nothing more than a straightening of the Chalasse’s shoulders and a lift of her magnificent jaw, directed into the middle distance.

Desarae falls silent. Where her aunt has the legendary eyes of the Shahrizai family, Desarae's own favour her Morhban father’s in colour: brilliant green. They’re filled now with a sharp intelligence as she watches with interest the faces that file into the Great Hall; faces which, for the most part, are familiar to her. Her expression is schooled to a careful neutrality, though she does allow an occasional smile to be bestowed whenever an acquaintance catches her eye. Whilst her mask remains perfectly in place, it does slip as Kalisha is ushered into the Hall to take her seat before them. Her eyes narrow and a deep breath is drawn; and she leans fractionally forward in her chair the better to observe the wretch of a foreigner in her rags and her filth. "Had she left when I commanded her, none of this would have been necessary." Her voice is hushed and quiet, and not intended for anyone's ears except, perhaps, those of her immediate neighbours.

Most eyes would be on the prisoner as she is brought in, the sergeant probably ignored. But it is in fact Sergeant Jacquet, the man of the city guard, of unremarkable features. Dark hair of medium length clings to his scalp, shining a bit from moisture or oil, scars visible at the sides of his neck and face. With his hand resting on Kalisha’s shoulder, he had guided her firmly into the great hall, his grip steadying and pulling her upright whenever she threatened to slump or even stumble. That hand will continue to keep her in place, even as she is seated, and Jacquet, like some ominous shadow, taking his place, standing behind her chair. His gaze is lifted but not really focusing on anyone lest he is called, but he stands there, upright and dutiful, and ready to give his testimony should it be needed.

"Skalds," Jean murmurs to himself as he watches the prisoner being brought in. There's a darkening of his expression but it is not long before it returns to its previous neutrality. The L'Envers makes his way to Desarae, offering a quiet murmur to the Eisandine before returning to his place. Whatever he says, it is followed by a slight smile before his return to the spot he had previous claimed.

[Jean to Desarae: I heard of your betrothal, back in Tonnerre. Congratulations.]

Jehan-Pascal turns his chin toward his shoulder, just enough for the lens of his glasses to show him the procession of the prisoner into the midst of those who would gawk at her misfortune. Soon enough he comes back around straight, looking to the tribunal and the Duchesse with a measured breath, letting the rest of the prisoner's introduction into the setting to be relayed to him in auditory form alone — which can't help but make her cackle all the more unsettling, making the hairs stand up at the back of his neck, the corners of his mouth wince into an uncomfortable smile.

Elin leans a touch forward to get a better view as the prisoner is brought in. And yet, her features show little emotion, apart from a faint glitter of amusement, in those eyes of hers. In the moment, Kalisha looks her way, the blonde Gotlander raises a brow, and her lips purse when she hears that quiet cackle. “She looks filthy,” Elin remarks to noone in particular, but in d’Angeline tongue that shows the accent of her origin. “Why didn’t they go to the trouble of bathing and cleaning her up?”

Kalisha turns her gaze away from the emptiness between the wall and her. A deep blue eyes trace Jacquet's fingers which squeeze her shoulder and then climbs over his arm to take a glance at the man's features. A smile curls her lips up. A smile of someone who has no fears. The prisoner starts speaking in a very quiet whisper that only the guard could hear her. Her lips move slowly that every word would be pronounced as clearly as possible. Though, she does speak in Gotlandish. At the end of what appears to be more than a few sentences Kalisha's smile broadens almost as if she would be mocking the man despite his current authority over her.

But then a quick, quite sudden turn of her head moves woman's attention in another direction. While it seems that she simply stares at the crowd, a more keen examination would prove that she sees no people, almost as if her gaze would be piercing through an invisible shroud and observing whatever has been hidden under it.


Murmurs rising from the crowd of gathered people are filling the great hall, whispers and mumbled comments rising to the dome shaped ceiling, dancing back and forth in waves of echoes, ever growing and increasing. Until the sharp sound of the herald’s stave being thrust down into the floor can be heard, calling for attention as well as silencing the crowd, at least for the moment.

Armandine looks up and then gestures with a hand of hers, ushering the legal assistant to his feet. “Monsieur Labarre, would you be so kind as to read out aloud what the prisoner is accused of?”, she urges gently. The duchesse looks to Kalisha then, assessing the woman from afar with a look of concern.

“This woman, known as Kalisha is accused of the following.”, Monsieur Labarre announces. He is a tall man in his forties, thin and bookish, and his voice manages to carry, despite a certain quality to his voice that makes it sound like crumpling old leaves. The man has moved to stand, and his pale grey eyes focus on the piece of parchment he holds in his hands. “After seeking entrance to the ducal palace, but being refused by the palace guards, she chose to assault verbally a number of d’Angeline nobles. First the Lady Desarae, and then… the Vicomtesse de Gueret, whom she finally wounded in a fight of swords, wounded severely and almost lethally. A lady, crippled and much older than the accused woman. Mademoiselle Kalisha is accused of having made an attempt at Lady Philomène de Chalasse’s life, aiming to kill her out of vile intentions, in a cold-blooded act of calculation.” With his piece said, Labarre looks towards the Duchesse of Eisande, and Armandine nods her head, allowing him to retake his seat..

“These are grave accusations.”, Armandine de Mereliot intones facing the people that have gathered in her court, “and I wish to hear the testimonies of the witnesses. First of all… the Lady Philomène d*Aiglemort de Chalasse. Please, come forth and give us an account of what happened on that day, as you recall it.” Her gaze finds the vicomtesse de Gueret, and Armandine gives her an encouraging smile. “I am glad to see you have recovered well enough to attend this trial today, my lady.”

When Kalisha is brought in, André straightens some as if trying to make himself more visible to her and show her that he‘s around. But his faint smile is quick to disappear when the accusations are read out and instead he frowns darkly.

"If it might please Your Grace," Philomène begins, rising to her feet with her countenance schooled into a carefully neutral expression, only the tension around her eyes giving away the effort required for her to disguise her present pain, "I would have Monsieur Labarre correct his transcript. I am no cripple, merely a veteran of our continued wars against the Skaldi, with the natural mementoes to match and a new one courtesy of this… woman." Her hands go to her cuffs, absently straightening them as she draws herself up to her full, imposing height and lets her disdainful gaze rest upon Kalisha for a few moments.

"My account, then. I was delivering my Hirondelle — my horse, Your Grace," the vicomtesse adds by way of explanation, "to Monsieur Guillaume in the palace stables, by arrangement. I was greeted by our Flatlandish guest, Monsieur the Prince of Brabant, who encouraged this Kalisha to come out of her skulking in the shadows and who then presented her to me. I made it absolutely clear how brazenly I felt the young man was behaving in deliberately inviting our sworn enemy to stand, fully armed, in the centre of this fine city — to which he insisted that we, as the Flatlanders do, should make peace with the Skaldi." She gives a small snort at that, pursing her lips for a moment and switching her gaze to André before settling it once again to the front and the gathered dignitaries at the top table.

"The creature was initially scornful and offensive, but when she openly threatened to slit my throat and reached for her blade, I likewise drew mine. I should like to note," she adds more quietly, with a nod towards Jacquet, "that the guards are hardly at fault for not preventing it. I have been trained from birth to protect our lands and the people of Terre d'Ange from the Skaldi, and I imagine that the speed at which the altercation occurred would have been a surprise for them. Especially," and this is directed with a crisp nod towards Monsieur Labarre, "if those guards had mistaken me for an elderly cripple. There was a short amount of fighting, and the Skaldi was able to direct an incapacitating blow to my chest." She gestures towards the affected area, low and to the right. "I am informed that my lung was punctured and I was conveyed rapidly to the infirmary, where by the grace of the One True God and the skill of Eisheth's healers, and despite ceasing to breathe a number of times through that day and night, I once again failed spectacularly to die as expected. I'm afraid I can be somewhat stubborn that way,” she concedes with a graven smile.

Desarae listens with keen interest to the statement made by the vicomtesse, the thumb of her left hand idly spinning the ring on the third finger of that same hand. "It's almost enough to make a person wonder whether to take the life of a d'Angeline that day was the Skald's intention all along." She draws a slow, considering breath, and with Philomène's deposition now over, she allows her attention to slide from her and settle instead upon the blond-headed Prince of Brabant. A sad shake of her head is given in his direction, should he feel the weight of her eyes upon him.

It isn't the first time Desarae has voiced her thoughts aloud, albeit softly; next to her there is a slow rumble, Emmanuelle's voice in its lowest register. "Desarae, my dear, you must hold it within yourself," she suggests gently, murmuring to her niece without glancing aside to meet her eyes. "The time for us to speak is past; it behooves us now to listen and to consider." She gives no recognition to anyone who approaches their high table; she meets no eye, yields no courtesy, gives nothing but her implacable Mandragian countenance.

Kalisha leans forward with some curiosity in her deep gaze when a victim rises to speak up. However, the more words an older woman spills, the more this foreigner perceived as a villain relaxes. She slouches in her seat and slowly moves her attention on the legs which she extends forward. A snicker or a bit louder laughter leave her throat now and then. Kalisha rolls her eyes a few times before finally averting her gaze to focus on the architectural details of the ceilings. "Do angels to whom you pray consider lying a beneficial trait of the descendants of theirs?" She finally speaks out loudly with a clear mockery in her tone.

Jacquet’s hand rests on Kalisha’s shoulder, reminding her of his presence and keeping her in check as he observes how the Vicomtesse de Gueret steps forth. Dark eyes look Philomène’s way, and his features remain an unmoving mask as she begins to speak. That nod of hers in this direction is noted, and a brief flicker of something is visible for a brief spell, in those eyes that flick downward then, to check on the prisoner he is in charge of. When Kalisha speaks up, he silences her with a backhand slap to her cheek. “Quiet. It is not your turn to speak.”, the sergeant informs her, in a low but no less audible rumble.

André listens to the Vicomtesse‘s testimony with gradually widening eyes and bites his lower lip, as if perhaps trying to prevent his jaw from dropping. His eyes wander from Philomene to Kalisha and whoever else he can see to gauge reaction to this fable. And then he notices the Lady Desarae giving him A Look and a headshake. He narrows his eyes slightly at her and shakes his head as well, before his gaze returns to Kalisha and the slap-happy guard, an action that draws another shake of the head from the blond Flatlander.

Armandine listens attentively, elbows resting on the table in front of her, fingers loosely laced in slightly angled arms. Her attention is on Philomène, and she tilts a head a little here, and then inclines it in a nod there, in taking in the account of the Camaeline born lady. “The matter of palace guards not intervening won’t be discussed in this trial,” the duchesse finally states, in leaning back in her chair. “As far as I have been informed, the incident occurred on the Rue du Palais, far enough from the gates as to keep my Mereliot guards required not to leave them. They were however involved in the aftermath, arresting the accused and bringing the vicomtesse to the infirmary so that she could get treatment of her severe wound. My lady…” She looks up, obviously about to address Philomène about something, when Kalisha’s interjection echoes ominously in the hall, followed by an even more ominous sound of a light slap to a cheek. “Monsieur, please.” A faintly irritated look she gives Jacquet, before the duchesse turns her gaze towards Kalisha. “I shall be very interested in hearing what you have to say, in a moment.” There is authority in that tone. Even if Armandine’s brows furrow just a touch, holding Kalisha’s gaze for a moment longer.

“Lady Philomène,” Armandine then turns her attention to the vicomtesse de Gueret. “You say that it was the Prince of Brabant who suggested you should reconcile with the Skaldi? Did he infer explicitly that Mademoiselle Kalisha is a woman of Skaldia?”

When Kalisha calls into doubt the veracity of her words, both of Philomène's hands drop automatically to her hips, but upon finding no weapons there with which to defend her honour she must satisfy herself with tucking her thumbs into her belt and shooting an absolutely poisonous look towards the young foreigner — as though that might perhaps cause her to spontaneously combust, or better. It apparently causes a backhand from the guard, which is marvellous but doesn't in the least trouble the vicomtesse’s grey and stormy glare. There could be nobody there but the pair of them as far as she's concerned, and she takes in every detail of the prisoner’s painted face as though to store it away in her memory for later moments of quiet, her own seething hatred sure to unfurl in her own time.

So it is that the Duchesse's question is not answered immediately, but for a few chilling moments a silence is left to be filled in the hall — before, with a breath, Philomène returns her attention and a far less ominous look to the adjudicator of this trial. "The Prince," she eventually responds, letting the words drag out, "indicated at first that he was in agreement with me that the creature is Skaldi, in his suggestion that we and the Skaldi ought to put aside our differences and make peace as they do in the Flatlands. I would say,” she declares scrupulously, “that this was not explicitly stated, but very heavily implied. Only when that… thing,” her visage discreetly tightens, “decided that she would claim she didn't know if she was Skaldi or not, did Monsieur the Prince instead insist that she was at least a Vralian Princess."

She runs her tongue over her teeth, turning to look Andre over with a somewhat pitying expression. "I confess that I found this unlikely, and still do. Had she not drawn a weapon, I imagine that next she might have been from Menekhet, or the New World, or the moon, if he had thought that this might save his little friend from the hiding she deserved."

The Prince in question follows the exchange with wide eyes and barely remembers to breathe. Until Philomène comes to her last sentence and he audibly gasps “what now?” and glares daggers at the Vicomtesse. Then André just rolls his eyes and groans in defeat, falling silent again.

The Gotlander lady can be seen leaning a touch forward when Philomène speaks, and Elin studies the older woman with attentive curiosity. However, something in the vicomtesse’s speech makes the young blonde woman raise a brow, and she lets her gaze wander as if to take in reactions from others. To the prisoner, Elin looks, and her lips curve ever so faintly, hands folding in her lap as she lowers her gaze. Hiding thoughts she may have of her own, about the trial and how it is conducted.

The duchesse weighs Philomène’s words, considering the Vicomtesse de Gueret with a pensive stare. The smile is only a ghost of one, curving her lips. “Thank you for your clarification. I think this will do for now. Please, retake your seat, Lady Philomène. Perhaps, if it is necessary, I might call you forth again later. But for now… I understand that another Eisandine lady had an encounter with the accused, shortly before things escalated between Mademoiselle Kalisha and the vicomtesse.” She pauses and swings her gaze to the side, where her niece is sitting. “I call forth Lady Desarae de Mereliot, so that she may tell the court of what occurred when she came across the Prince of Brabant and Mademoiselle Kalisha…”

Jean watches the proceedings with a critical eye. There's a mildly incredulous look leveled at Philomène, then another, less incredulous and more accusing, at Kalisha. Her disheveled state certainly doesn't please the eye. When he catches the Gotlander's musing, not too far from him, he leans in to murmur, "Straight from the dungeon, Excellency. Not a lot of time to bathe a prisoner who happens to be a flight risk."

It seems as though the Vicomte has already decided on the culpability of the Skald, if not quite believing of the Vicomtesse's claims.

Desarae rises from her seat, pausing only briefly so that a servant in Mereliot livery has time to draw her chair back. A faint smile is bestowed the man for the etiquette of his timely assistance, and gathering the excess of her skirts within her fingers, she circumnavigates the table and takes her place in the cleared centre before her aunts, where Philomene has previously spoken. She curtsies deeply to Armandine before speaking.

"My recollection of the events of that day are both clear and simple, Your Grace," she says, her voice lifting enough that it might carry to all in the room. "I had been for a dress fitting in the city that morning, and noticed as my carriage passed through the gates that Lord André, the Prince of Brabant, was involved in what appeared to be an altercation between the guards and someone else." Her brow furrows lightly as she brings her focus to rest on André where he sits, "I had become acquainted with Lord André since his arrival in the city, and was concerned as to what the nature of the problem might be. I walked back to the gates to see whether I might be of some help, and found that the cause of the trouble was an aggressive and belligerent creature of apparently Skaldic origin. She claimed to be in the employ of the prince, and had been attempting to enter the palace grounds. I ordered the creature to leave under threat of arrest, whereon she set about cursing me in her own tongue. She was angered by me, and continued to shout and also to hit at her head with her hands, demanding that if I didn't like her, that I should fight her." Her eyes narrow at that recollection, and she squares her shoulders as she looks back to her aunt.

"I don't take kindly, Your Grace, to being threatened by Skalds, more especially I do not like being threatened by ones that carry blades and appear more than a little aggressive. Again, I ordered her to leave, which this time she did, taking herself a short distance from the gates." Teeth snick briefly at her lower lip, and she pleats her fingers together as she then further adds. "It was the last that I saw of her, and after speaking a few minutes more with the prince, I returned to my rooms in the palace. I saw neither Lord André nor his friend again, and only heard later of the attack on the vicomtesse, when informed of it by my maid."

Andre listens to Desarae’s statement in silence, his face and look carefully neutral. He does seem to nod ever so slightly to her words though, as if acknowledging the truth they contain.

Kalisha does not look at the white-handed lady when she speaks. The foreigner still holds her head leaned back and eyes averted to stare at the ceilings. Her lips slowly move but no words actually leave her throat. She seems to be talking to herself or perhaps to her own gods if she even has any.

Lord Gaspard ‘Fenris’ Valliers has been listening to this whole trial while wearing a cloak of finest leather. His jaw tightens at the words used against each. Finally, he sighs and removes his cloak revealing his Skaldic brands and tattoos. He’s wearing only the finest breeches with a bare chest and bare feet. It’s a perfect blend of Skaldic and D’Angeline. The man stays back and looks between Philomene, Desarae, and then Kalisha. He says nothing but he does keep watching with narrowed eyes. He keeps his hands holding his cloak so that he doesn’t seem too threatening, even if he was a built giant. Finally his blue eyes move to the Duchess and his eyes soften as he slightly bows his head.

Jacquet remains quiet and peaceful, for now, that Kalisha has elected to play along and mind her tongue. The sergeant of the City Guard lets his hand fall away from her shoulder, even. But his dark eyes linger on the prisoner, his charge, his responsibility. When Desarae speaks of her own encounter, and Kalisha calling out at her to fight her, that he looks up and gives her an ominous look. It is inevitable that such an act as shedding one’s cloak will draw the attention of a man trained to be perceptive of things, and so the sergeant’s hand returns to its previous place, on the prisoner’s shoulder when he sees Fenris Valliers baring his torso with all those tattooed Skaldic symbols. Dark eyes narrow, and the faintest twitch at the corners of his mouth occurs, but Jacquet maintains his post, fulfilling his duty.

Elin, for her part, seems a little surprised to find herself suddenly addressed by a violet-eyed man in noble d’Angeline clothes, but even so, she meets Jean’s remark with a low chuckle and a slight rolling of eyes. “You make me curious as for how important prisoners would be treated.”, she replies in her accented d’Angeline subdued to a low murmur. “But I take it, this one already is causing quite the stir.”

“Thank you, Desarae,” Armandine says to her niece, and there is some weight carrying in that gaze she gives the young heiress to Chavaise. “So you observed a certain aggressiveness in the foreign woman, and some oddity in behaviour…” Her head turns and for a moment the duchesse gives Kalisha another long probing look. “This adds another facet to the case, and we shall consider it. You may retake your seat.”

There is a movement in those in attendance, and it is only natural that the duchesse looks in his direction, when Fenris seizes the moment to make a statement of his own. “My Lord Valliers…” It is Armandine de Mereliot who acknowledges the gesture, by addressing him directly. And for a moment, there is a sudden silence, settling and unsettling. An absence of noises and murmurs, as if anyone were holding their breath.

“Lord Fenris Valliers.”, Armandine completes the name. “Could I ask you to come forth, for a moment? You have lived among the Skaldi for a very long time, or so I have heard. I think I read your name in one of the reports. Have you spoken with the prisoner? Could you bring any light into her origins?”

Fenris bows his head to the Duchess and lifts his chin to look at her as he moves forward and keeps his cloak in his hands. Another bow to Armandine before he starts to speak. “Your grace, I was asked about a pendant. When I inquired further, I was advised to not get involved.” His voice is heavily accented with Skaldic. “The pendant was not Skaldic. That is a fact.” He states simply. The Lord takes a moment before he finally speaks again. He looks between Philomene and Desarae as he speaks. “Both judged her as being Skaldic. She is not. Neither were threatened by a skald.” He looks back at Armandine.

“If I may, your grace…” He takes a deep breath. “It sounds like someone who looked different from them caused them to instantly be on guard. Aggression from the prisoner didn’t help the situation though I also feel neither did judging her on how she looked and instantly vilifying her and her actions. Which in turn aggravated the already aggressive one which made emotions rise further. She’s just a girl. A girl who doesn’t understand the D’Angeline way of life or customs.” He grumbles a little. “Neither did I. I was over thirty years in Skaldia. When I first arrived here, I walked around wearing very little and painted myself with mud. Without the kindness of my family and those whom I call friends, I would not understand D’Angeline life as I do now. Why is she any different?” He asks softly. “Was a potentially fatal mistake made? Yes, but by the Companions, no one died. So is this not a teaching moment for her? For all of us?” He looks at the group and sighs quietly as he bows his head. “She may not be Skaldic but she is a girl. A girl who can be taught if given the chance.”

He finally looks kindly to Philomene. “Perhaps later we can speak.” His eyes move over to Armandine. “I’m sorry your grace. I had to speak my mind.” He bows to her.

When the lord of House Valliers approaches the dais to reply to the duchesse’s question there is quite the stir, his torso more visible now that is no longer seated all the more visible, and even more of a statement, with all those foreign looking signs tattooed into his skin.

Armandine de Mereliot silences those murmurs with a resolute gesture of her hand. She is then listening attentively to Fenris as he explains how he was asked about the pendant, and also when he adds his own opinion on the whole matter. Again, this provokes a wave of murmured reactions, not all in favor of his words. Whereas Armandine inclines her head to Fenris with a kind, empathetic smile.

“Thank you, my lord. We shall take your testimony into account, as well as we recognize your opinion, that is no doubt flavored by your own experiences. Regardless of the accused’s origin and motivations, a crime remains a crime, and it is our duty today to decide if it was a crime, after all. This pendant…? It belongs to Mademoiselle Kalisha, I assume?”, the duchesse inquires. “Perhaps the Prince of Brabant can offer more insights into the matter, as he was there in person. Lord André van Westerlo. Could you please step forth before this court and enlighten us by giving us the account of the incident, as you perceived it?”

The Prince of Brabant had been listening to the statements given by the witnesses in silence. The stony look that appeared while hearing Philomene’s speech begins to soften when it is Desarae’s turn and softens further upon Fenris’s words. He even finds himself nodding along. Then it is finally his turn! He bolts to his feet quickly and takes the stand in front of the Duchesse, greeting her with a polite deep bow, attention focused entirely on the woman now. “Indeed, the Gotlandish pendant is Miss Kalisha’s… and brought us to realize her true heritage. Anyway…” He pauses to refocus on his own witness account which he has had plenty of time to mull over.

“Your Grace, you are aware of course that I was washed upon your friendly shores after a fierce storm sank my ship. A similar fate had occurred to Kalisha, the young woman who stands accused here. I was lucky in that I knew who I was, in that you received me with kindness and hospitality and that I could turn to Flatlandish merchants in the port for help. When I met her, it transpired that she had no such luck. She had lost her memory during the shipwreck and didn’t know who she was and where she had come from and she had no one to turn to. So I took it upon me to lend a helping hand, made sure she had food to eat and a roof over her head. I am aware, of course, of the tense relationships between Terre d’Ange and Skaldia and I respect he resentment your people harbour towards the Skaldi. However, despite her appearance it was not certain whether she even was a Skaldi and I felt it only just to give her the benefit of doubt. Beside that, she was a single young woman. Why would a town of such magnificence as Marsilikos, filled with guards, warriors and trained nobles be quaking in its boots because of one young Skaldi woman? So I thought nothing of it.”

He pauses to let that sink in and takes a deep breath. “I had been out of town for a while to prepare for the exhibition, when I came upon an altercation at the palace gates, with Kalisha demanding entry and a guard refusing her. I confirmed that I knew her, but to avoid making matters worse, I decided to take her away from the palace. It was then the Lady Desarae arrived….” He half-turns his head to give the young lady in question a look. “She immediately threatened Kalisha with arrest. I tried to defuse the situation, but to little avail. Lady Desarae saw fit to heap more abuse onto Kalisha, calling her a dog, an animal and similar, before she walked away. I was hoping to move away with Kalisha then as well, when the Vicomtesse de Gueret happened to pass by with her lame horse. It was only polite to greet her and we talked about horses and potatoes. I introduced Kalisha to her…” His eyes drift from Armandine to Kalisha, to Philomene and finally back to the Duchesse.

“Kalisha told the Vicomtesse herself that she did not know whether she was Skaldi or not. Yet the noble lady saw fit to heap more abuse on the young woman, calling her a rat and other things…” He sighs and spreads his arms wide. “Your Grace, neither of the noble ladies saw fit to even consider the possibility that Kalisha might not be Skaldi. Or that it would reflect well on them and Marsilikos to treat even an enemy with kindness. Instead -” He pauses for dramatic effect, “Kalisha asked for us to walk away and the Vicomtesse de Gueret drew her sword on her, clearly spoiling for a fight and -” He tries his best to not make his lips twitch, “Perhaps overestimating her own fighting skills. Kalisha drew her own sword to defend herself and injured Lady Philomene gravely in the chest. It was self-defense, Your Grace, self-defense forced upon her by blind hatred.”

His speech done, he lifts his chin first, then bows to Armandine to indicate that he is done with his statement and returns to his seat.

It'd be remarkable indeed were André not to be aware of the weight of Desarae's attention upon him for the duration of his statement. Eyes that are unnaturally bright and vivid watch him, and her mouth sets in a tight line of disapproval as he criticizes not only Philomène, but herself as well. She huffs a breath of annoyance when he’s finished speaking, and turns to Emmanuelle beside whom she’s seated. “I fail to see how anyone can be blamed for believing the creature a Skald, when the prince himself informed me that she washed ashore from the wreck of a Skaldic warship, and in the very same storm that claimed his own vessel.”

The horrifying creature who has set half of Marsilikos on its toes, straightens up and even slides a bit closer to the edge of her seat when the Prince of Brabant steps forward. It was lord Fenris who has caught her attention first, though. She did turn her gaze away from the ceiling and cared to offer a few nods at his words. The man even received a pleasant smile. However, that pleasant smile turns into an expression of full confidence and unquestionable respect when Andre claims the attention. When his speech is over and if he takes a moment to honor Kalisha with his attention, a young woman bows her head to him in appreciation of Andre’s honesty.

Someone with perceptive ears might have overheard the remark. Armandine de Mereliot shoots her niece a glance, “So it was indeed a Skaldic warship that Mademoiselle Kalisha travelled upon? Did she tell you that, Lord André?” The duchesse looks once again towards the Flatlander prince that was about to retreat to his seat.

Andre turns his attention to the Duchesse when he is asked another question and he nods. “Yes, indeed, Your Grace, I was aware of that”, he confirms, then quickly continues before he can be interrupted. “However, I have sailed on a Flatlandish merchant vessel myself for a while and we had crew members and sometimes even passengers from neighbouring countries such as Alba, Skaldia and Gotland, so her presence on a Skaldic ship would not automatically make her Skaldi. Besides, as I said before, even if she was Skaldi, I was and am still of the opinion that a single young female poses no threat to this city and should have been treated with kindness and hospitality the same as I was able to enjoy here.”

“My lord…”, Armandine continues, lifting her hands, palms turned upwards. “Skaldia and Terre d’Ange have a history of wars, skirmishes and bloodshed. It may not be an excuse for certain animosity towards Skaldi, and believe me, this is more often to be found in Camlach, than here, so far away from the border. I slowly begin to understand how all of this came to pass, but yet, there are more witnesses to be heard. I would like to call Mademoiselle Kalisha before the court so that she can give her account of the incident. After that, I want to hear more about the gravity of the wound, and what more light the investigations of our city guard can bring into the matter.”

Jacquet’s hand shifts on Kalisha’s shoulder, as he pulls her to her feet. His eyes don’t seem to focus anywhere in particular, as he makes the prisoner stumble a few steps forwards until she stands before the high table on the dais.

"I have been found unconscious on the shores of your land," Kalisha starts after being able to stand still. She sends a brief glare to Jacquet’s direction before looking at the gathered crowd. She speaks well in d'Angeline with only a touch of a foreign accent. "When I woke up, I found a healer at my side. She was a very pleasant woman. Unfortunately, despite all her effort to help me in receiving my memory back, I knew only my name by the time I had to leave your healing facility." Kalisha makes a small pause to take time for a breath. "The few days after that have been very difficult. I had no money and no job. I have been sleeping on the street. People have been spitting at me, calling me terrible names and trying to pick a fight with me for reasons unknown to me. The fate has been kind since I ran into the Prince Andre one day. He agreed to pay for the roof and meal of mine until the situation of my mind gets better. My conscience did not allow to simply take the money and I have offered to work as a guard for him. If needed."

She offers a pleasant and a thankful glance to Andre before continuing. Her arms twitched a little bit making the chains rattle. Her head turns briefly to take a glance at the air which simply floats around her. "This is why that day I have been standing at the gates waiting for Andre to show up. First, I have met lady Desaera but I will leave that story aside. She asked me to withdraw from her sight and I did so even if that made me feel confused. Yes, I am guilty of being harsh to her by my words. Though, imagine yourself in my situation. You don't know who you are and yet everybody believes that they know that you must be a Skaldi. It doesn't matter how many times you say to others that you have lost your memory, they simply call you an animal and a skunk."

"When the Prince finished his conversation with that lady and moved towards me, he ran into another of his acquaintances, whom all call the victim here." Kalisha does glare at Philomene but does not focus on the woman for too long. "Andre invited me to join his side and I did so. Odin knows, that I have not been hostile. When I was introduced, I extended my hand to this woman." She does that gesture now as if to make a stronger point. The chain rattles again. "A handshake seemed to be the right way to show that I hold no weapon and I am open for a friendly conversation. However, she answered to this by saying, and I quote, - 'I will damn well run you through like the vermin you are. A rat is a rat.' By that time I have felt overly tired by the hostility I have received in this city. I was not in a good place since I was in a foreign land with no memory and majority of the people were treating me like a dog. So, I warned the Vicomtess that she should not run me through because I will defend myself and I will do that in all of my capabilities. The Vicomtess immediately draw a weapon. I had to draw my own in order to defend myself. Though, I did not make any moves. I only suggested that Andre should step aside. I did not want that he would get in between us and would be hurt by the Vicomtess. She attacked me first and I had to protect myself. I tried to avoid her sword. I am small and I simply rolled under the woman. I had no intentions of hurting her. Especially, when she had a limp. She was at the disadvantage. I prefer fighting with an equal partner. Unfortunately, I think, she has slipped and fell on my blade… I wish I would have had a chance to withdraw it but the fight… it started to bring my memories back and I was struck by thousands of images in front of my eyes…" Kalisha shivers at the thought of it. "One is clear, If I haven't had my own sword drawn, you would have a very dead foreigner on your land right now. It was she who chose to attack me. I couldn't explain anything at that time, unfortunately…" The last words fade out as Kalisha's mind do too it seems. Her gaze changes and she looks to the ground. She no longer stands in the Grand Hall but she has found herself back to the memory.

Her voice grows to be distant and her hands start to tremble. "I found myself in the middle of a battlefield. I saw hundreds of dead bodies around me. I heard men screaming in pain and I have smelled iron, piss and rotting meat. And then I saw how my mother has been slaughtered by a warrior with silver eyes. Grey like a silver… It took some time for me to receive my full memory back. My whole family has been slaughtered that day. I have seen my father's death, two of my brothers and my mother's. I have been taken as a prisoner and I have spend months locked in a cage. It was a rivaling family who has come to our lands and slaughtered our people…" A longer pause is given. But Kalisha raises her hand to request that she would not be interrupted.

"I am not a Skaldi. I am Kalisha Knutsdóttir and my father was the Jarl Knut Geirolfsson. I come from Gotland. I am the last of my blood and I was on the Skaldi ship because I was travelling to my cousin to bring back hope for my people who still wait for me," Kalisha confirms after that pause. "My memory is back and I can be thankful only to two people - Prince Andre and a young guard named Gal. Only two people in this country have decided to hear my words and not judge me purely by my looks. They put all the effort they can to help a lost soul and their gods will be kind to them for I have my memory back…"

Kalisha remains standing and her posture is full of pride as befitting to the daughter of Jarl and it doesn't matter that she is chained.

A faint snort from the high table can be heard in the silence that follows Kalisha's statement. "We are to believe that the vicomtesse slipped and fell on the sword of the accused?" Desarae queries indignantly. "A d'Aiglemort noblewoman that has fought more years on the borders of Camlach than I have been alive, not to mention a warrior that has been decorated many times over in recognition for her service to Terre d’Ange." Her nose flares with the breath that she draws, and her eyes burn bright with contempt where they rest on Kalisha. "Should we not hear the testimony of someone else that witnessed the fight, other than the prince? Surely the guards must have been close enough to see, if not to intervene."

The gaze of the Duchesse of Eisande lingers on Kalisha with calm curiosity, before her eyes flick towards the guard, in unmistakeable command, for him to let go of the prisoner who seems very well capable of standing on her own pair of feet.

Armandine watches the young accused woman attentively, with a touch of friendly encouragement, only tempered slightly by the grave tinge of her smile. “It is… a blessing it seems that you have recovered your memory, Kalisha Knutsdóttir,” the duchesse addresses her after Kalisha has said her piece. Lifting her hand, the Mereliot lady waves off Desarae’s irritated interjection. “It is unfortunate that you are introducing yourself to me under these grave circumstances. But please know that I am pleased to make your acquaintance, my lady.” And only a faintest sideways glance towards the other Gotlandish lady accompanies her words.

“So… the way you are telling the story, it was Lady Philomène attacking you, and that it was more of an accident than a true fight.” Armandine de Mereliot draws a breath through her nose, eyes looking thoughtful. “Believe me, we need to clear this matter. For now, I must ask you to retake your seat. At least to some extent, your testimony is backed by that of Prince André…”

Philomène takes a few moments to pull herself to her feet, eyes closing and expression freezing for a split second as the strain of getting up takes it out of her. Understandable when one considers that it's not three weeks since she was lying in a critical condition, somewhere nearer to death than to life. "If Your Grace might excuse my interruption, please," she begins, words softly spoken but crisp and clear. "I have been variously called incompetent, dishonourable and untruthful today. I have a great many faults —" There's a slight pause, an allowance for those who know her to fill in their own blanks, "but lack of honesty, honour and martial capability have never been among them. They cut as deeply to a d'Aiglemort's soul as the blade to my lung. She went for her weapon. I drew mine. And I assure you that there was no ‘slip’. One does not shout out a battle cry, get inside a veteran Aiglemort’s guard and choose the spot to cause most damage ‘by accident’."

The Gueret looks for a moment as though she intends to continue — but perhaps it's a gust of wind that causes her instead to sway a little on her feet, and surely it's the heat of the crowd that raises sweat upon her brow. One hand touches briefly to her chest, low on the right side; then she withdraws it with a glance at her fingertips, and sinks unceremoniously back down into her seat, exhaustion drawing her features tighter.

“I’ve told you what I know. But we all might have a different per… perception,” Kalisha bows her head to the Lady of Marsilikos just before the prisoner is asked to take her seat. There was no reaction given to the shouting, blaming or disapproving with Kalisha’s truth. Even when Philomene rises to her feet, Kalisha doesn’t take a glance at her. Instead, she tries her best to focus on the reflection of her own face on the metal which circles her wrists. The effort is necessary because a young woman seems to be avoiding for someone’s look. Someone’s who may be found sitting between the gawkers. Her right hand starts to scratch the top of her left hand. Harder and harder, almost letting the nails pierce through the skin and hold Kalisha’s focus on the pain.

Elin Asbjornsdottir remains the spectator, and where Kalisha elects to evade her gaze, the blonde Gotlander tilts her head a little to the side, as she glances towards the prisoner now again secured on her seat. Her gaze flicks to Philomène and there is a momentary chill in the grey stare of her eyes, a faint upturn of lips, as the statement brought forth by the Camaeline born Vicomtesse creates ominous echoes in the hall.

“Your Grace. If I may?”

The man speaking those words does not raise his voice from the benches of nobility, nor from the space further back where the common folk are watching.

He stands, conveniently enough, right before the high table. After he had accompanied Kalisha back to her seat and made sure she was looked after properly by the two other city guards.

Jacquet raises his gaze and his voice carries some quiet authority long forgotten.

“I am… Sergeant Florestan Jacquet, Your Grace. I have conducted some of the investigations.” His speech shows a faint Camaeline accent. “Upon visiting the scene of the crime, even some days after the incident… The cobblestones still showed the obvious traces of a puddle of dark red crusted blood. D’Angeline blood, Your Grace. A large puddle it was. From a wound as deep, as I find hard to assume that it came about by a mere accident.” The voice is of low register, gravelly but no less carrying. “As for my own experiences from questioning the accused… Her behaviour is erratic, and harmful to herself and others. She poses a danger to others, whether she’s a lady or not.” Dark eyes glance towards Kalisha, narrowing. “She is out of her mind, and she almost killed the Vicomtesse de Gueret.”

A pause.

“She requested of me that it will be your niece, the Lady Desarae de Mereliot, who carries out the death sentence. Is that… a request of a sane person? Is that… the request of someone who honors the family in charge of Eisande?”

His eyes glower darkly and Jacquet lowers his gaze. “That is all I have to say, Your Grace. Forgive me, if I spoke out of turn.”

Armandine de Mereliot turns her head to look in Philomène’s direction, and her gaze does not stray from studying the proud features as the vicomtesse gives her counter to Kalisha’s testimony. A nod then, a pair of Mereliot lips pressed together as this too is acknowledged by the duchesse. And for a moment, it seems as if there is a lapse of control, when the sergeant speaks without having been asked to do so.

Something in the things he says reminds Armandine of a valid thing she wished to see addressed, and so, instead of reprimanding the sergeant for disregarding her authority over this court, she instead slumps back in her chair, turning her gaze to that half-sibling of hers, of much darker aura. “I would like to call Lady Emmanuelle nó Mandrake de Shahrizai before the court, so that she, who was in charge of tending to Lady Philomène’s injury may inform us of its gravity.”

Occasionally Emmanuelle shifts her weight in her chair, to sit with her forearms resting upon the table and her hands woven together. Then, when one piece of testimony ends but the next has yet to begin, she sits back again. It would be difficult for an observer to tie such alterations in her posture to any particular phrase, or any particular idea. Her niece’s remarks and indeed her snort of incredulity inspire in her no more than a coolly considering sideways glance, and then another — she doesn’t affect not to have heard, that would be absurd — but a little later when there is talk enough below to mask her own words she inclines nearer to where Desarae sits beside her and murmurs something, her painted countenance tranquil as she surveys the spectators’ reactions to the evidence of Sergeant Jacquet.

When called upon to speak, she pushes back her chair and rises unhurriedly, and straightens her blue-black doublet with a sharp tug by both black-gloved hands.

Her cold blue eyes in which Shahrizai hue illumines Mereliot shape roam across the hall as the heels of her mirror-bright boots slowly sound her descent from the dais. There’s a sway in her step, not quite a swagger, put there by the child so proudly carried in her belly. Her gaze snags, perhaps, upon a bespectacled young lord who has just forgotten he’s taking notes — only to proceed smoothly past him and away, giving countless others their moment to shiver beneath the cognisance of a Scion of Kushiel whose thoughts are bent upon Justice.

And then, reaching the precise centre of the arena, she executes a neat half-turn and shows her straight dark back to them all as she addresses the only woman who counts.

“Your Grace,” she begins, in a quiet but resonant voice which with the aid of the Great Hall’s splendid acoustics reaches many a listening ear, whilst obliging less respectful spectators to hush their mouths and pay attention if they wish to hear the part she played. Her accent has more in it today of Eisande than of Elua — the bottle of uisghe goes without saying.

"On the last day of July I was visiting Eisheth’s infirmary on another matter when I saw a party of guards, in Mereliot livery, carry someone into the main hall upon a board — a woman bleeding so heavily that every one of their boots left red prints across the marble. She was barely breathing, by then. I recognised her as a former patient of mine, Philomène Aiglemort de Chalasse, the vicomtesse de Gueret — and being already acquainted with the particularities of her health, and of the wounds she sustained in her youth defending the borders of Terre d’Ange, of course I offered my aid," she says simply. "I found that she had suffered a sword-wound to her chest, which left a jagged puncture deep in her right lung. I succeeded in inflating her lung again and suturing the wound before all her blood had bubbled out of her body through her chest cavity," this given drily. "She had no other mark upon her barring a few bruises consistent with having fallen down backwards, hard," she drawls, "upon stone. That night she stopped breathing four times." A beat. "Were we not blessed to live in Eisheth's own land, or had the palace guards acted less promptly in conveying her to the infirmary, she would have died that day from a single blow.

“As a chirurgeon sworn to Eisheth’s service I can tell you that what I saw that day was not the accident it has been named before this court,” she goes on, quiet and sincere. “When I was up to my elbows in the vicomtesse,” she glances aside to Philomène with cool eyes which know just where to find her amongst those assembled, bestows a nod of recognition, and then looks back to the duchesse, “it was plain to me that the sword which dealt her that wound had been thrust into her chest not only with considerable force and a degree of follow-through that speaks of the wielder’s volition, but at an unusually deft angle—” She lifts one gloved hand already formed into a fist and pantomimes such an angled movement. “Directly into the narrow gap between her ribs and thence into one of her body’s most vulnerable organs. Such an unmistakable killing strike is not the coincidence of a moment,” with which backhanded compliment she affords a glacial glance to Kalisha. “It requires training, it requires finesse. It requires the blade to be held just so and… driven deep.”

<FS3> Emmanuelle rolls Medicine: Good Success. (2 4 7 6 1 6 4 3 3 1 7 8)

She quotes now a recent treatise upon battlefield medicine, composed by another Eisandine chirurgeon who has worked for many years in Camlach; the author’s extensive knowledge of sword-wounds gained via tending the casualties of that unending conflict seems to support her interpretation. She adds, “Had I not been closely acquainted with the work in question, I or another healer in my stead might well have failed the vicomtesse. We see, as Your Grace knows, few such ‘accidents’,” she drawls sardonically, “so far from the border.

“Speaking, again, in my capacity as a chirurgeon trained by the Temple of Eisheth here in Marsilikos, as well as a student of human nature who has seen into many a soul during my years in the Court of Night-Blooming Flowers in Elua," because why not name-drop two such venerated institutions with which she is intimately associated, "I should say it is not impossible that the accused is speaking the truth as she remembers it." A beat. "The consistently chaotic accounts other witnesses have given of her behaviour and her utterances — and her own description of the overpowering confusion of martial memories which came over her during the incident under examination here today — provide ample proof that her recollections and her perceptions of the world have both been disordered since the storm during which she was shipwrecked upon our shores. Such cases have come to my attention before over the years. Who can state with certainty what person Mademoiselle Kalisha supposed herself to be attacking, in the moment when she cut down the vicomtesse de Gueret—? Not I; not she herself; not any of us," she states, glancing slowly about the Great Hall as she enumerates these impossibilities one by one. "In pursuit of that truth, all any of us can do is to venture an opinion… But my evidence," and her focus returns to the duchesse sitting above her, "is not of opinion but of blood and of breath; not of ephemeral intentions, but of tangible deeds the consequences of which I mended with my own hands. I hope and trust that I have completed my task by shedding a measure of light upon Mademoiselle Kalisha's deeds since she arrived in Marsilikos," she stresses softly. "Such are surely the most proper matters for this court's concern."

After a last formal nod to the duchesse d'Eisande — she bows her head for several seconds — she leaves off her service as witness to the aftermath of such bloody deeds and strolls without haste back up onto the dais, to resume her rôle as sister, support, and sphinx.

Armandine’s attention is on her half-sister and she listens, when Emmanuelle shares her medicinal observations with the court. Those grey-blue eyes of the duchesse are alight, receptive for all the nuances that together form that complicated whole of reality. “Thank you,” is all she has to say once the Shahrizai lady is done and returns to her seat, this seemingly directed towards the sister. Until it becomes a more encompassing expression of gratitude, as the Duchesse of Eisande rises to her feet to address the whole of her court.

“I believe we have heard enough to come to a judgement, my lords, my ladies, people of Marsilikos. I shall give you my verdict. After conferring with my advisors for a moment.”

And thus, Armandine de Mereliot gestures said advisors over to have a few words at a low volume. Monsieur Labarre is among them, and so there are others. Family is for once kept out of these confidential discussions. They do not take long, anyway. There is a scraping sound of her chair sliding over the wood of the dais, when the Lady of Marsilikos once again moves to stand, to make her announcement.

“My lords, my ladies. Visitors currently in Marsilikos. Common folk of the city. Hear my verdict. I declare that the woman known as Kalisha, now revealed to be Kalisha Knutsdóttir of Gotland is to be banished from our city of Marsilikos and the entire province of Eisande.”, Armandine begins, in a voice both calm and clear. “She is not to be executed. Because, as I perceive it, the fight was a consensual one. Neither of the two involved backed away, especially not Lady Philomène who cannot deny her Camaeline origins and blood. Still. There is always the option, to not draw a weapon, to elect to seek help from guards. To refuse the duel. I also understand, that Lady Kalisha was in a deranged state, and that it cannot be definitely ruled that she acted out of self defence. The wound was too deep, too severe. I find it very likely, from her own account, that she was caught in traumatic memories of the past.” There is a pause, a breath drawn through her nose, before Armandine continues.

“I also understand that there was a certain build up to this incident. Many details play into this, such as the tensions with our neighbour country Skaldia, misunderstandings, but also… the mental state of Lady Kalisha. Her actions before and after being arrested make her a potential risk to my people. It is my conviction therefore that she is to leave Marsilikos on a ship headed towards Caerdicca Unitas, where she said she has family. Until such ship has been found, she is to be released from the dungeons, but will stay at the citadel, under custody.”

With that said, Armandine retakes her seat, lips twitching faintly at murmurs arising anew.

Jehan-Pascal has been assiduous in taking down the key points of all the witnesses, and has even gone so far as to craft a rudimentary matrix in which their points of similarity and difference may be marked. He has noted with singular augmentation of font the Duchesse's precept that the heredity and status of the accused will have no bearing on the trial's outcome… and below, in smaller print, how many arguments were subsequently based on her heredity and therefore should have no bearing on the case. He's chewing thoughtfully on his graphite-tip when the Duchesse calls Emmanuelle to speak before the court, and he lifts his head all of a sudden, hand moving to his temple to adjust his glasses upon his face, lips parted and with a grey smudge marring his lower lip where he had worried at it with his graphite. The firm, well-cited clarity of her case keeps him rapt, and he does, indeed, forget all about his notes-taking in favor of watching her declaim — from memory — such scholarly material, and, thereafter, tempering the gravity of such incontrovertible evidence of body with higher notions of mentality and soul which touch upon the case in most striking ways— which, really, sum up the whole of the trial, such that it's hardly a surprise to him that in its aftermath, the Duchesse is prepared to render a verdict, and does so— a brief sniff and a wrinkle of his nose nudges his lenses in place, and he lowers his eyes once more to ready himself for the verdict, creating a separate space for its delivery on his page of notes. And only glancing up briefly during the deliberation to send a fleeting, girlish smile to Emmanuelle, which evaporates when the Duchesse returns to proclaim the verdict, and the penalty, as well as her reasoning.

André‘s expression veers from anxious to annoyed and impatient when Emmanuelle keeps going on and on, but finally returns to extreme worry, when the woman describes the severity of the injury. And then she‘s finally done and as the Duchesse rises to speak, he must remind himself to breathe from time to time. A hand goes up to his chest when he may finally exhale with relief as the Mereliot announces her verdict. He looks to Kalisha to see how she will react to her life being spared, offering her a warm supportive smile, if she looks his way, then looks to Philomene and finally to Deserae to see how the local ladies are taking the judgement.

It would be impossible for anyone to read anything at all in Desarae's expression. She remains quiet through the duration of her aunt's judgement, her shoulders held square, her head erect and her eyes trained firmly upon Armandine. It's on the conclusion of that verdict that the smallest nod of her head is given and she finally allows herself to look back to those sat within the Great Hall, and most especially to Kalisha. But even then, even as she sits and watches the Gotlander to see how she herself might take the news of her fate, her countenance remains impassive, with neither the hint of a smile or a frown to be found in the planes and angles of her face.

Tancred hasn’t said a thing the entire trial, though his expressions do provide some insight. Stonefaced for most of the trial, he frowns at Fenris’s speech, dress, especially at that golden tidbit of covering himself in mud - apparently, only some of the ‘baser’ tribes will do things like that - and dons the same displeasure at Emmanuelle’s account, likely on account of having stabbed and been stabbed in his own time. The verdict, however, draws raised brow and blinked surprise. “Ziw presides,” he mutters in Skaldic.

There is nothing what Kalisha could say or do. Apparently even if she used d’Angeline language, she is not understood. Different traditions, different life, different values and even laws. Though, Kalisha takes a look at Andre when she hears the verdict. It’s a brief glance but then it is quickly turned away with an obvious disappointment. The foreigner looks up at the guard and raises her chained hands to him with a question in her eyes. Will he remove the chains?

Contrary to what may be expected, even with the murmuring of the gathered masses and the curious eyes immediately turned on her to see her reaction, Philomène neither rants, screams, gnashes her teeth, breaks her broomstick over her knee, nor melts into a hissing, steaming puddle of green goo at this verdict. If anything, she’s more a shade of grey than green - it’s been a lengthy trial, after all, and she’s clearly nothing like back to full health yet. Kalisha doesn’t even warrant a glance, and her grey-blue gaze flits keenly between the players at the top table instead. It’s almost as though the entire trial has already been played and played over in her mind, and this, the most likely outcome, already established, and so her peace is already made. Thus the only thing still to do is to see how that verdict affects the interesting political ties of the Mereliot house and extended family.

Jacquet had reclaimed his post by the accused, once he had made his point before the duchesse. While his demeanor and tone had given away a certain personal emotional investment in the case, the mask of dull indifference is back in place now, that the sergeant of the city guard waits for the verdict. There is not the faintest twitch of a brow as he listens to Armandine de Mereliot’s speech. It will be Kalisha who will receive a faintly icy stare as she lifts her manacled wrists to him in obvious request. There may be a moment of ominous hesitation, but eventually, the man of the city guard reaches for his chain of keys, fidgeting for a moment before he has found the right one to unlock the chains and free the Gotlandish woman of them. “There, m’lady.”, Jacquet rumbles at her, gathering the manacles and chains in one hand as he remains at her side.

“Take Lady Kalisha to the Citadel,” the duchesse intones towards the men of the city guard with a faint smile. “See to it that she receives a room, and anything adequate for a guest of the city.” Sweeping her gaze then to all those others gathered in the great hall, she moves to stand. “The verdict has been spoken. The court is dismissed.”

At which Armandine de Mereliot moves to stand, and after another glance towards Kalisha she takes her leave.

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