The Mech Touch Chapter 1231
1229 The Tribunal
According to Calabast's take on the situation, the Ylvainan Inquisition came up with a plan to neutralize the opposition from the Curins and the Kronons.
The two leading dynasties both stood behind Ves and ensured his safety. Yet they were only able to lend their support to a foreigner so long as their core interests weren't at stake.
The three leading dynasties jointly ruled the Ylvaine Protectorate for centuries without falling out, but that didn't mean they lived in harmony with each other. Each of them emphasized a different vision of Ylvainan society.
Of the three dynasties, the Poxcos were the most fervent in their faith. This meant that even as the other two dynasties slowly drifted towards the reform agenda, the Attendants of Ylvaine firmly remained in the camp of the traditionalists.
Logically speaking, for a splinter organization of the Poxcos to preside over Ves' case was highly improper. The inquisition implicitly stood up for the interests of the Poxco interpretation of the Ylvainan Faith, which basically meant that they were highly inclined towards the traditionalists!
It was too bad that much of the Ylvaine Protectorate didn't care about the inherent conflict of interest in the inquisition. As long as they found sufficient 'evidence', they could accuse anyone of damaging the interests of the Ylvainan Faith and sentence them to death!
Normally, this should have been a real cause for concern, but the Ylvainan Inquisition acted with a considerable amount of restraint most of the time. It also helped that they showed a lot more care when accusing a Curin or a Kronon of a crime.
This was also the reason why Ves had been moved to a villa instead of a cramped cell. The backing of the Curins and the Kronons was crucial to his safety while he was under house arrest!
"It's because of the backing of both the Curins and the Kronons that your tribunal will also proceed more fairly than is usually the case when the Inquisition charges someone with a crime." Calabast emphasized. "Ordinarily, three judges from the inquisition will preside over your case, which is very bad because they rarely acquit the accused who have been put forward."
Ostensibly, the inquisition only charged a heretic or blasphemer with a crime when they gathered sufficient evidence to determine their guilt.
Ves was very skeptical of this explanation. He was more inclined to believe that the inherent conflict of interest within the inquisition turned their tribunals into show trials!
He could already see the result if he was being brought up in front of High Inquisitor Poxco's own colleagues!
Fortunately, Calabast offered a ray of sunshine to him. "You don't have to be afraid that the tribunal will rubber stamp the high inquisitor's charges. Now that both the Curins and Kronons have butted in, the Ylvainan Inquisition has been forced to take a step backwards. Only one of the judges is an inquisitor. The Curins have dispatched a respected judge from Kesseling VIII's highest court. The Kronons on their part have put one of their military judges forward as the third member of the tribunal."
"How are these other two judges inclined towards my case?"
"In the interest of fairness, the Curins and Kronons have dispatched what they consider the fairest judges they can push forward in a short timeframe. Both of the judges I've mentioned have excellent records. Personally, I think the high court judge dispatched by our dynasty will be the most sympathetic to your predicament. The military judge sent by the Kronons won't be as friendly, but will definitely be the most objective and impartial out of the three judges."
"In other words, the military judge will likely be the swing vote. My acquittal will hinge on his judgement."
While Ves had been surprised with the support he received from the Kronons, they were known for their integrity. Even if some of their higher ups liked him, they wouldn't bend the rules just for his sake.
This raised his curiosity of what happened earlier. "Why did the Kronons back me up at the mech workshop?"
"They like your mechs." Calabast replied. "The Transcendent Messengers that you've finished have made quite a splash among the hierarchy of the Protectors."
That was a very welcome piece of news, though it probably wasn't enough to sway the military judge they assigned to his case.
"So what happens now, madame?"
"The Curins have already prepared a team of lawyers to handle your case. They'll make the necessary preparations and will represent you in front of the tribunal that is scheduled to start after a week. The Inquisition always moves fast, so we don't have a lot of time to prepare your defense."
"A week?! That's way too fast!"
"That's the inquisition for you. They're completely different from the Protectorate's civil, criminal and military court system." Calabast sighed.
The Ylvainans were still very backwards in a lot of matters!
"So what do you think of my chances at the upcoming tribunal?" He asked.
"Not good. The problem is that the Ylvainan Inquisition has already started to rally public opinion against you. While that doesn't directly affect your trial, their true goal is to erode the protection that the Curins and Kronons are currently providing to you. With all the hysteria that ensued when the holy relic went missing, many Ylvainans are deeply indignant that it hasn't been returned after several months."
"So even if I'm innocent, as long as the entire public is convinced that I'm culprit behind the theft, the Curins and Kronons won't support me anymore?"
"While I can state with confidence that the Curins won't change their minds, the Kronons might not be so inclined. They have always considered themselves to be guardians. If they see that public indignation towards you has exceeded a certain point, then they'll realize that the only way to return peace to the Protectorate is if they bring forth a scapegoat who can satisfy the Ylvainan desire for retribution."
"And that means?"
"If the Kronons swing over to the side of the Poxcos, the Ylvainan Inquisition will have enough power to run their tribunal in any way they see fit! Instead of presenting your case in front of three different judges, you'll instead be dealing with three inquisitors who hold the power of life and death in their hands!"
Obviously, that was a really bad outcome for Ves! His guilt would practically be a given if the situation had reached that point!
As Ves tried to figure out a way out of his predicament, he noted something important.
"If we want to avoid the worst-case scenario, we need public opinion on our side, right?"
"Why not show off the Transcendent Messengers? You were at the mech workshop earlier today. You saw how fantastic they were, right?"
"You did not disappoint in that area." Calabast replied flatly. "Yet I'm not sure whether that matters at this point."
"Because the second charge the Ylvainan Inquisition has arrayed against you is blasphemy. They are essentially accusing you of profaning the great prophet and our entire faith by developing corrupting mechs!"
"What kind of nonsense charge is that?!" Ves angrily burst out. "Just look at my mechs! They're far more sacred than even the most piously-designed Ylvainan mechs! There is not a single blasphemous aspect about them even if you disassemble them into individual parts and use a deep scanner to scour their entire makeup!"
"I agree with you on this. This charge is on very shaky grounds. However, don't think the Ylvainan Inquisition is throwing this accusation at you for no reason. By presenting your mechs as a threat to the Ylvainan Faith, they have the right to lock down your mechs and destroy them on the spot!"
"What?! My mechs are innocent!"
"Whoah there, Ves! It hasn't come to that point!" Calabast raised her palm in an attempt to calm him down. "The Protectors of the Faith are aware of the value of the Transcendent Messengers. With their help, we managed to force the inquisition to move the mechs to a depot for storage while the trial is underway. However, this is probably what the Ylvainan Inquisition tried to accomplish in the first place. As long as they can force your mechs to remain under lock and key, we can't make use of them to influence public opinion."
Even if the argument for accusing Ves of blasphemy was nonsense and would definitely be dismissed in a fair trial, the goal of the inquisition had already been met. The six Transcendent Messengers would not be able to make use of their extraordinary X-Factor to charm the Ylvainans into supporting Ves and the reform agenda.
"What a dirty trick! This kind of manipulation would never happen in the Bright Republic!"
Calabast ruefully shook his head. "I'm not so sure. Shenanigans happen in every state no matter how clean they appear to be. Even your Bright Republic isn't exempt from miscarriages of justice."
"Yeah, but at least that happens behind closed doors. Your inquisition on the other hand is too brazen with their manipulation! It's obvious that they already decided to crucify me! How is that just?!"
"There's no use lamenting over the flaws of our justice system. This is the way the Protectorate has always been run. It's tradition."
Ah yes. Tradition.
Ves scoffed. "Alright, I get it. So if my mechs are locked up, what can we do? Can you instruct some mech companies to fabricate some copies of the Transcendent Messenger?"
"That won't work. The blasphemy charge not only targets the six finished mechs, but also their design. No mech company is allowed to use a design while their purity is in question. Only when the tribunal acquits your design of blasphemy will we be able to use it, but by then you'll already be executed!"
The inquisition truly prepared well this time! Ves had always felt weird about them when High Inquisitor Poxco dropped by for a chat a few months earlier. He expected the inquisition to follow up with another visit, but they had laid low all this time until Ves practically finished the commission!
"Okay, so now what?"
"I'm already working on the problem of public opinion." She spoke. "While the Ylvainan Inquisition has blindsided us with their sudden moves, the Protectorate is not their playground. The highest elders of the Curin Dynasty are very aware of your significance. We will do our best to hinder the inquisition from swaying the entire Protectorate."
Although she maintained a lot of confidence, Ves wasn't entirely sure the Curins would be able to prevent the Ylvainans from becoming outraged at him. He wasn't exactly the most likable person in the state due to his status as a foreigner.
"We are trying lots of different solutions. Your upcoming case is anything but a foregone conclusion." Calabast encouragingly said. "I know it's frustrating that you aren't able to do anything while you're in custody, but you are not without friends."
That reminded him of the people he left behind. "Are the others okay?"
"They're fine. The inquisition hasn't targeted them because they're not as consequential as you. Just to be certain, your staff and your Avatars of Myth are all confined at the guest compound."
That was good news to Ves.This meant that Lucky should be free to sneak around.
"Okay. Please keep protecting them. Even if the tribunal sentences me to death despite my innocence, I don't want to drag down my friends." Ves said with relief. "One more thing. Is the tribunal public or private?"
"They always take place behind closed doors. Because of the abhorrent charges arrayed against the accused, the inquisition doesn't want to expose the average Ylvainans to lurid stories."
"Is there any way you can convince the trial to go public?"
"No. The Ylvainan Inquisition has never publicized their tribunals. It's simply not done."
"Well, this isn't a regular tribunal. Since the Curins and Kronons managed to force the Poxcos to accept their judges, why can't they force out this concession as well?"
This put Calabast to thought. "It's possible, but you'll need a good reason."
"I want some parity. Since the inquisition has turned towards the court of public opinion, shouldn't I have an opportunity to defend myself at that very same court? Making the trial public will also ensure that it will proceed fairly. I think this should be enough of a reason to make an exception for me. I'm sure the Ylvainan public will be glad to witness the trial of someone who is accused of stealing their holy relic."
"That.. might actually work!"